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Old 10-19-2015, 06:08 PM   #1
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LED Lighting with custom laser cut parts

Hi folks,

This is my first post here in the forum - hopefully it can be of some use to some of you somewhere!
A brief introduction; I am a secondary school Physics teacher and we have recently been gifted a lovely 70L Jewel tank with pump and filter media which I have gratefully taken care of in my lab. The school’s chemistry technician is a bit of an aquarium/fish fanatic (he used to breed fish and still has 15 aquaria at home – some of which still have water in he informs me) so he has helped with setting it up and teaching me the ropes.

The bit he has left to me has been the lighting, see the transformer for the fluorescent tube was bust… one of my hobbies is electronics and RC planes/ helicopters – and that has resulted in me building quite a collection of various LEDs and controllers which I have attempted to put to good use over the last week – retrofitting an RGB LED system into the existing space in the tank. This should offer me a wide range of lighting colours and intensities including moonlight and programmable daylight intensities.

The Design has had to overcome a couple of issues:

Design 1 - Having LED strip simply stuck to the underside of the lid with no protection.
Fault: Once LEDs are switched off and cool down condensation forms on them. After the first night the moisture had already started to corrode some of the contacts on the LEDs.
Solution: Using 3mm clear acrylic I designed and had laser cut a simple box in which the LEDs were put. This had the advantage of allowing me more space to fit 5m of LED strip for a total of 30W light output.

The results were pleasing and for the first couple of hours there were no issues.

Fault (number 2): As the day wore on I noticed that the heat build-up from the LEDs was beginning to become an issue, with them being in a pretty much sealed container and no airflow across them the top of the lid was staying at over 70 °C (yes, whilst relatively efficient for their low voltage they still are pretty good at kicking out a lot of heat, enough to fry the colour controller so they were stuck on white and full intensity)

Added to this is the issue that access to the LEDs is impossible, they are completely sealed in and any maintenance and repairs (from damage caused by high temperatures) is impossible without completely disassembling the box and then regluing it.
Solution (number two): A complete redesign of the LED compartment and lid to allow for the following issues
• Easy access to repair and replace LED strips as and when is needed,
• Improve airflow to allow for better cooling
• Improve light dispersion – having some quite directional LEDs and half of them pointing forwards has resulted in a relatively lower light intensity toward the rear of the tank.

Design 2: This design incorporated the compartment which is normally sealed to house the transformer for the fluorescent tubing, this space had already been used to house the control for the LEDs, however it has been reassigned to be used as access to the LEDs.

The front and underneath of this compartment was removed and another box extending to the back of the compartment created out of 3mm acrylic(again laser cut by our wonderful DT technician) was to be glued to the underside of this.

The LEDs are now attached to a removable tray which can slide in and out of the access panel and also has all of the electronics on board (there is no advantage to this however is makes for a neater design). This tray means that every LED is now pointing straight down on a tray measuring 140mm in width compared to the 50mm of the previous acrylic box, has airflow around the entire shelf and is easily accessible with the LEDs and their electronics removable and easily replaceable.

Of course by placing 11 rows of LEDs in parallel it did result in quite a lot of soldering and wire cutting, as you can see we had to solder 44 separate jump connectors across to rails that were set up down one side of the tray – each of those copper rails is for the 12V DC, Red, Green or Blue LED control.

Currently the photos show a white plastic – this is just the cover applied to the acrylic to protect it during construction – by tomorrow I will have some (hopefully) finished photos to show you – so long as the glue has gone off!

Any questions just ask, or if there is anything I have done which is particularly stupid let me know!

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Old 10-21-2015, 03:58 PM   #2
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