Supercoley's DIY LED minimalist luminaire

By: Supercoley1
October 20th, 2014
9:08 am

Supercoley's DIY LED minimalist luminaire

With a new 140ltr Opti-white aquarium replacing my old 125ltr and a complete redo of my lounge to a very minimal modern appearance I thought I would make a new luminaire to match the cabinet and other furniture in my lounge.

The MkII version was still working well after 3 and a half years. It hasn't been ditched. All the electrics and LEDs have been re-used in my emersed cupboards meaning that now all 11 of my aquariums are lit by LED.

Originally I was looking for a slimline unit and planning on either using MDF (painted white) or using some steel sheet that I have left over from another project. First I found the TMC modular mounting with the tiles and thought something similar but then.........I stumbled upon the 'Vitrea Bridge' and instantly fell in love with it.

With the Vitrea costing circa 1000+ for my size I decided to try and do something myself whilst using the Vitrea's design to house my electrics. Mine will have much less LEDs and wiring is a lot cruder. I will be using 3 seperate plugs each going to a driver that runs 6 x 3W. A total of 18 x 3W LEDs. Of course mine won't have the controller or anything techincal either.

Rather than a glass sheet I will be using acrylic.

So with the design decided upon I drew up a plan of where I want the LEDs over the tank and then came to the measurements of the acrylic piece I will be needing.

The Opti-white is 80cm x 40cm and the acrylic are for the lighting is 60cm x 28cm. Adding 3 cm to each end to fit in the 'brackets' I ordered a 12mm thick piece of acrylic with the dimensions 66cm x 28cm.

When the acrylic sheet arrived I set to work on it, drawing out the LED positions and then routing some 21mm holes for the lense holders to fit in.

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26 comments on "Supercoley's DIY LED minimalist luminaire"

  • Supercoley1
    October 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Originally Posted by TropTrea
    1. In my past experience I learned not to use MDF in my fish room. The reason is that when water penetrates through any needle holes the MDF wants to swell. What did you use to seal the MDF to prevent this. Also did you consider making these side brackets out of acrylic or Polycarbonate?
    I had considered acrylic but it is very hard to cut and bend. I may have to try it in the future if something goes wrong though. I weighed up the risks and am hoping that the vast amount of acrylic spray paint that the mdf soaked up will have sealed it to some degree. It soaked up loads before they started to look white.

    Originally Posted by
    2. You mentioned you used a total of 18 3 watt LED's. Dependent on the driver this means you have up to 54 Watts of LED light.
    Yep. potential 54W

    Originally Posted by
    Your tank is basically a little over 30 gallons and I have found that with the newest LED's out there X-PG2's 1 watt per gallon is edging on excessive. But more important the selection of the color of the LED's will drastically effect the plant growth and amount of algae blooming in the tank. So may I ask what current you picked for your drivers, and what color or colors you picked for your LED's?
    The tank is actually 144 litres/38USG (if filled to the top) so nearer to 40USG. I would think I will be filling it to about the 36USG mark

    These aren't the newest LEDs though. I did most of this project in 2012 and it has been a slow waiting process to build some motivation to get on with this scape. lol.

    I know the Cree and Bridgelux fans will give a collective 'meh' or 'pffft'. These are the ebay chinese luxeon3 copies. I find they are much better than people say. When I made my first luminaire in 2009 they weren't brilliant. Looking at the LEDs you could see there were slight colouration differences in the LED or its die. very very slight tint of yellow in some, very very slight tint of blue in others. Not noticeable looking at the tank. I only noticed looking at photos I'd taken of the luminiare itself.

    I think I remember that these LEDs require 700ma

    By the time I made the Mk2 in 2010 they had mastered that problem and the LEDs were also brighter.

    This unit is the Mk3

    In terms of current I'll have to read the driver labels. Like I said I did most of the work in 2012. All I did last month was alter the wiring. I'll post the current details later. I assume I am under-powering in terms of ma if not wattage itself but can't remember off the top of my head.

    In the post of mine above this one I detailed that I had altered the wiring. I now have flexibility of using 1 row, 2 rows or 3 rows whereas before it was wired to be more of a novelty thing with series from left to right letting me stagger a sunrise/sunset effect from one side of the tank to the other.

    So now I can use the centre row on its own (potentially 18W/0.5WPG based on 36USG) or I can use just the front and back row (potentially 36W/1WPG) or I can use all 3 (potentially 54W/1.5WPG.)

    Originally Posted by
    3 Would be great to see some pictures after the tank is planted for about 3 months. Any hope of seeing these?
    I have a journal started for this scape:

  • Supercoley1
    October 20, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Taking the specs of the stars as they are on ebay at the moment as follows (they may well be better now than they were in 2012 although I doubt it. They will have been focusing improvements on better technologies)

    Each LED emitter = 3W
    Voltage = 3.4V to 3.6V
    Current = 700ma
    Lumens = 170-190LM

    So the drivers are:

    The front and back row series is powered by a meanwell 48V 700ma driver.
    The centre row series is powered by a chinese generic 12-21V 650ma driver.
    Both drivers are AC input that convert to DC.

    So that should mean (by my probably incorrect calculations)

    The front and back row are potentially 36W if run at full.
    So voltage to run 12 LEDs on full = 12 x 3.6V = 43.2V so unless the driver is using 4.8V for itself then that base is covered. The ma is the same so no loss there. So I assume that the front and back rows are running on full power circa 36W

    The centre row is potentially 18W if run at full.
    So the voltage to run 6 LEDs on full = 6 x 3.6V so we shall assume that the driver takes its power from the AC and outputs 21V. That leaves us .6V short of current for the LEDS.
    So 21 / 21.6 = .972222 * 18 = 17.5W.
    The driver is 650ma where the LEDs max requires 700ma. 650 / 700 * 17.5W = 16.25.

    So the front and rear rows seem to be running on the full 36W whereas the centre row is running underpowered slightly at 16.25W totalling 52.5W

    Guys with electrical knowledge will be able to correct me if I am wrong on these

  • customtanks
    November 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Excellent set up, great work!

  • k zeller
    December 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Might I as where you were able to find the heat syncs for this design (MK3)

  • Supercoley1
    December 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Send this fellow a message. I got 600mm x 25mm ones from him.

  • AaronT
    December 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    This is easily one of the nicest DIY LED setups I've seen. I hope that MDF holds up over time for you.

  • k zeller
    December 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Originally Posted by Supercoley1
    Send this fellow a message. I got 600mm x 25mm ones from him.
    Awesome thank you!

  • Supercoley1
    December 21, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Originally Posted by AaronT
    This is easily one of the nicest DIY LED setups I've seen. I hope that MDF holds up over time for you.
    Thanks for the compliment and I hope so too

  • Supercoley1
    March 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Thought I would add some pics of it working over the flooded scape:

    My daughter is more interested in the light than the scape. lol:

  • janey
    April 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Wow it turn out nice.. thanks gave me some Idea s....

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