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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 10 gallon tank I plan to experiment with, first with a non-CO2 approach. But, the light is a single tube 17 watt fluorescent bulb. This could be enough, but it might not be, and the bulb is buried in a narrow white plastic slot - no reflector to speak of. So, as a fun project I am modifying it to use two spiral CFL bulbs, first two 15 watt bulbs, 6500 K. And, I am putting in a DIY reflector. First, the Perfecto Hood:

and its removable light fixture:



Notice that the light uses a starter and a magnetic ballast.

I removed the light parts, which involves unscrewing 4 screws and cutting the wires:


Then to the hardware store for parts: the sockets, ceramic ones to best resist any heat, a package of threaded nipples and matching nuts, and the bulbs:



A lot of studying of the housing, how it was shaped and how the bulbs would fit inside, and a lot of sketches, and I decided I needed a 6 inch by 14 inch piece of aluminum sheet, so I went back to the hardware store for that, then marked it for cutting and used tin snips to cut it:



The first photo shows the surface of the aluminum sheet before I started trying to make a mirror finish on it. The second, the opposite side, shows it after using 220 grit sandpaper, followed by fine grit coated cleaning pads, followed by #0000 steel wool equivalent polishing pads, rubbing with toothpaste, and using commercial metal polish on it. Still not close to being a mirror.
 

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A trip to Home Depot's tool department led me to buy a cheap hand drill model polishing pad set, with polishing compounds.

After using that to polish the flat metal surfaces as best I could, I bent the mirrors to a crude "parabolic" shape, re-polished the surfaces again, washed it with dish soap and water, and sprayed it with clear spray can lacquer.


The lacquer is now drying, so I started assembling the light.


And, this is where I stand with the project for now. After another couple of hours for the lacquer to dry well I will continue the assembly and continue the reporting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here is the reflector installed, with the bulbs installed to check how much added area of the bulbs can get light into the tank.




You can see from the reflections of the bulbs that considerable more light can be collected this way, but the reflections are far from perfect - maybe a third of the light actually gets reflected. So, the question I need an answer for is: should I use it this way, or add aluminized mylar to the surfaces, and why? I was able to get some very good quality mylar from nokturnalkid and jazzlvr123 that I can use, nice thick stuff, but I'm concerned that so many seem to have found that mylar isn't able to survive well in this application for over a year. So, what should I do?
 

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when you replaced the pin sockets from the fluorescent did you just connect the two new bulb sockets to the power and ground? with the one starter ballast?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Those are the energy saver bulbs that go into standard incandescent bulb sockets, with no starter or ballast needed. Both are in the bases of the bulbs. So far I haven't done the electrical connecting, and I don't think I have an wirenuts, so I won't do that until tomorrow. But, first I need to decide about the mylar.
 

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ok so you took out the starter and ballast all together and just left the a/c plug for the new sockets to connect to.
 

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Instead of the mylar, would you want to use a regular PC reflector?

AHSupply has the Part 36117 - MIRO 4 Reflector for one 36 watt compact
17.25"L x 4"W x 2"H
Price: $15.99
http://ahsupply.com/mcart/index.cgi?code=3&cat=9

Marine Depot sells a PFO reflector that's similar to the one used with AHSupply's 55w kits. It's 23" long; so it will need to be trimmed. It's $1 cheaper and the shipping may be less too since they are in Anaheim, CA.
Description
23 inch Polished Aluminum Reflector for a single 55 or 65 Watt Bulb
23" L x 3.7" W x 1.4" H
Mirrored Finish
Our Price: $14.99
http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_ViewItem~idProduct~PF7131.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The light fixture housing has moulded in "towers" where the screws held the original guts in place. Those have to either be used to hold the reflector, or cut off leaving a problem trying to hold the reflector in place. I left them there and bent a zig zag into the reflector to get the reflecting part as far from the bulb centerline as I could. I couldn't easily do that with those pre-made MIRO reflectors. And, my goal was minimum cost or I would just have purchased a 2 X 13 watt AH Supply kit. Besides it is more fun this way.
 

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The light fixture housing has molded in "towers" where the screws held the original guts in place. Those have to either be used to hold the reflector, or cut off leaving a problem trying to hold the reflector in place. I left them there and bent a zig zag into the reflector to get the reflecting part as far from the bulb centerline as I could. I couldn't easily do that with those pre-made MIRO reflectors. And, my goal was minimum cost or I would just have purchased a 2 X 13 watt AH Supply kit. Besides it is more fun this way.
I know that tinkering with things is really right much fun and you really like to do it.;)

By the way, here's some info. Kim at AHSupply told Fishy_girl at PlantGeek.net that he is not going to be carrying the 1x13w or 2x13w kits any longer. She may of bought one of the last ones that he had in stock. There just isn't enough demand for them, he said. But, he will still be carrying parts for them though. I sent Fishy_girl an unused 2x13w reflector that I've had for a few years. Kim hasn't carried these in a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, after thinking about this for a day, and thinking about those beautiful mylar reflector sheets, I went ahead and installed the mylar. I used 3M Super 77 spray adhesive, sprayed on the aluminum reflector surfaces, then just pressed on the mylar. The easiest part of this modification. Here is what it looks like now with the lights on. (Note that one bulb is defective.)


Looking at the light from the ends, to see how much gets reflected back to the ends of the tank:


And looking to see how much gets reflected towards the area in between the bulbs.


If this holds up well, and if I can get a bulb that isn't defective for the second socket, this seems like a real winner for increasing the light intensity for a 10 gallon tank. The parts cost about $15, not counting the bulbs, which cost $12.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This light does a good job covering the entire substrate with light, probably high light intensity. Because the water is cloudy from dust in the substrate you can see the light pattern looking from the end of the tank:
 

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very nice.
im in the process of adding 2-4 more 24" t8's to a hood w/1 t8.
do you think 60w over a 30g is good enough or a 80-100 is perfect?
i'll see how easy ripping out and installing the t8's are from a commercial light fixture.
it's about $15 cheaper for two t8's than going with something from an LFS.

where did you get the mylar?
i know TapsPlastic has some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
PM sent.

I think 60 watts of T8 on a 30 gallon tank, if you put a reflector behind each bulb shaped to capture most of the light from the back of the bulb and direct it into the tank, will be close to high light intensity. And, 80 would definitely be.
 

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Wow I had a lighting canopy that was exactly the same, except in a 20 high version.
Man... if only I had learned about what you did before I did wrecked mine.

Good job! Really helpful and informative. Now I know what should be done the next time.
 

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the perfecto i picked up at petsmart now uses pc lights with reflectors, 2 13watts to be precise.. strange
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
the perfecto i picked up at petsmart now uses pc lights with reflectors, 2 13watts to be precise.. strange
If the reflectors are good ones, that lighting should be adequate for most plants. Apparently there are several versions of the Perfecto hood. The one I have was brand new, but I bought it through Craigslist from a lady who had not set up the tank, and decided to get rid of it instead. She may have had it for months if not years.
 

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Try jeweler's rouge. That's what I use for polishing CD's.

Also, don't you have a rotary tool? I've found that those polish much faster than the drill buffers. Even on larger surfaces.
 
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