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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After seeing Niko's fancy light fixture from around 5 months ago I made plans to build my own slim fixture.
I wanted to share what I came up with since it was seeing his fixture that inspired my own.
I also see you are up to making fancier and cooler fixtures even now.

Specs:
2"x3" approx plastic vinyl raingutter downspout (found at Home Depot)
Supported by 3/4" conduit bent 90 degrees at the corners.
aluminum shower rod was used for the part inside the fixture itself.
4x T5HO reflectors inserted into the U-shaped gutter (chose Tek 2 reflectors because of size constraints)
4 x Giesseman 54W Midday Sun T5 HO

Build:
Cut the downspout using tablesaw into appropriate sized pieces (2 - 48" tubes)
Each 48" tube was then split down the thinner side forming two U-shaped structures.
The remaining approx 2 foot scraps were then split down the center again forming a __| (L shaped) to
act as trim to hide the aluminum rod supporting the upside down downspout light cavities.
Silicone was used to adhere the gutter to itself (hoping it holds up) forming the fixture itself.
Small pieces were cut to fit on each corner to hide the gap between the side piece and the front gutter.
Flipping the entire unit upside down silicone was applied into each U-shaped cavity where the reflector will touch the sides and bottom.

The aluminum shower rod was chosen to support the downspout because it is easier to cut holes into to allow the wires to reach the bulb end connections. In order to keep this fixture as slim as possible (barely thicker than the actual T5 reflectors used) I used Niko's trick of wrapping the wires tightly around the T5 bulb ends. Silicone was then applied to the makeshift sockets and allowed to cure.

The lights themselves are Giesseman Mid-day T5HO 48" bulbs. I really like the color that these bulbs produce.
I just finished moving and I am currently in the process of setting up the tank again so there is not much to show you there. Current inhabitants include a few pond snails (would like to get rid of them) and 5 olive nerites.



There are a couple of other shots of the fixture in place and operational on my 75 gallon tank found in the gallery linked below.

Light Fixture Gallery

Thanks for the inspiration Niko!

-Travis
 

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Aha! Am I not the most inspirational, smart, handsome, cheap, and humble internet character you've ever known?! :D

This fixture you made indeed looks extremely slim. Slimmer than anything I've made I think. Next time I'll try harder, because you beat me on that.

Here are my questions:

- Why did you choose 3/4" conduit? Why not 1/2"?

- Why didn't you use tiny screws to assemble the "housing"?

- Why plastic? (I'm totally paranoid about fires so I always looked at the PVC and promptly ran away before ideas get into my head.)

- How do you cut this plastic? Especially length wise.

- How much did all this cost you? (Let's promptly forget the time and effort.)

- What ballasts did you use? (I see you can turn on/off the bulbs in 2 groups)

- What paint did you use?

- How did you bend the 3/4" conduit?

And a suggestion - paint the conduit that supports the fixture in the color of the wall. It will really make it blend and be much less visible.

With this much excellent quality light you are up for a treat. Plants will love it, you will see. And yes, the color of these bulbs is truly something to behold!

For those who haven't seen my version of such a fixture:
http://picasaweb.google.com/ddasega/DaveS

--Nikolay
 

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Travis,

Excellent work. I'm thinking about constructing one also?

Can you please share the cost for all the parts you had to buy to put this together? And where did you hide the ballast?

Also, how did you get the reflector to be affixed to the "U" frame?

regards,
Ravi
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I added my comments inline below.

Aha! Am I not the most inspirational, smart, handsome, cheap, and humble internet character you've ever known?! :D

This fixture you made indeed looks extremely slim. Slimmer than anything I've made I think. Next time I'll try harder, because you beat me on that.
Not sure you can go much thinner than this one ;) Good luck!
It is barely thicker than actual reflectors inserted into each cavity. (Just so happened that way I didn't plan it)
I do get light spill however once you drop below the rim of the light.

Here are my questions:

- Why did you choose 3/4" conduit? Why not 1/2"?

Perhaps using 1/2" would allow an even slimmer light?

I chose the 3/4 because the aluminum shower rod that supports the gutter just barely slips over the conduit.
I actually do not need the extra strength given by the 3/4" but I felt the tighter fit for the shower rod would be better to prevent sagging as much as possible.
- Why didn't you use tiny screws to assemble the "housing"?

I didn't want there to be any visible screws in the assembly.
I think using rivets would be the most ideal since they would be about as flush with the surface as is possible.
My original plan was to rivet the thing together but I never could find a cheap rivet gun. The funny thing is after I finished siliconing it together I found a cheap one (~6 bucks) at a neighborhood hardware store.
For my next light I might use rivets when I build another one in the future. (I want to replace the wooden hood on my 30 gallon with something similar to this light)

- Why plastic? (I'm totally paranoid about fires so I always looked at the PVC and promptly ran away before ideas get into my head.)

I was shooting for using metal because of its heat dissipation properties.
Alas, I was not successful in my attempts to find similar metal to what you built that first light with 5 months ago.
I chose plastic in the end because it is easier to cut and work with than metal.
Also the T5 reflector I had from reefgeek just happened to fit perfectly into the downspout square shaped gutter I found at HD.

I have not investigated yet how hot the thing gets while it is running.
I will check tonight when I get home and update this thread.
- How do you cut this plastic? Especially length wise.

I used a table saw to cut the plastic.
You just have to set the cross bar at the appropriate width before running it through without stopping if you can manage.
I must admit my cuts were not perfect but I put the damaged pieces in the rear where you can not see them.

For the end caps I used a dremel tool to shape the plastic to fit.
It was also used to cut the holes in the shower rod for the wires to protrude from.

- How much did all this cost you? (Let's promptly forget the time and effort.)
Fixture Materials:
- T5HO Tek2 parabolic reflectors $21.95 x 4 = $87.80
- Workhorse Long 5 $26.95 x 2 = $53.90
- 3/4" 10ft conduit $5.89 x 1 = $5.89
- Rain gutter downspout ~ $10 = $10 (have to check receipt later)
- GE Silicone I (clear) $4.28 = $4.28
- Bulk lampcord (approx length) $0.35' x 20 = $7.00 (some was used on another fixture)
- Krylon Fusion ~$4
- conduit brackets ~$1.00
- Extension cord (for plug) $1.00 x 2 = $2.00

Fixture total: ~$175.87

Additional cost:
- T5HO Giesseman 48" Midday $18.95 x 4 = $75.76 (not included above since they are expendable)
- 3/4" Conduit bender $39? (reusable for next project)

- What ballasts did you use? (I see you can turn on/off the bulbs in 2 groups)
There are 2 workhorse 5 ballasts located underneath the stand.

- What paint did you use?
Krylon Fusion Black Satin​

- How did you bend the 3/4" conduit?
I bought a 3/4" capable conduit bender at Home Depot.
I actually bent a little past 90 degrees on the conduit so be careful when you are bending these if you attempt this yourself. I tried the best I could to bend them back to a true 90.

And a suggestion - paint the conduit that supports the fixture in the color of the wall. It will really make it blend and be much less visible.
That sounds like a good idea but I am not sure I like the wall color. :)
I actually inherited the wall color (just recently bought and moved into this house)
On second thought:
Considering the aquarium is not moving anytime soon perhaps I should paint the conduit to match so that the supports seem to dissapear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Travis,

Excellent work. I'm thinking about constructing one also?

Can you please share the cost for all the parts you had to buy to put this together? And where did you hide the ballast?

Also, how did you get the reflector to be affixed to the "U" frame?

regards,
Ravi
The costs are shown above in the reply to Niko so I won't repeat them here. (perhaps I should edit the original post with that information?)
Both of the ballasts are attached to the back side of the internal side of the stand on the lower right.
I just used some wood screws to attach it to the wood. I might show pictures of that area later once I clean up the wiring a little bit.

Regarding attaching the reflector attachment:
Everything in the fixture is attached using GE Silicon I that I had on hand.
I was worried it wouldn't stick to the gutter very well but after testing it on some scrap I felt it would handle any reasonable normal stresses on the assembly.
I simply applied it to the parts of the gutter where the reflector would make contact trying the best I could to keep it off of the reflective portion side. The main places I applied it were where the bolts go through the reflector to hold the bulb clips and then down each top rim where it meets the sides of the gutter. After sticking it into place I wiped down the dribble off of the reflective side.

I didn't take pictures of this part of the process since my hands were sticky with silicone and I didn't want to get any on my camera ;)
 

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That is a very nice looking fixture, and I especially like that the electric wiring is completely hidden. I'm waiting now for Niko to make one with just the reflectors and bulbs, no housing at all!;)
You would then have the ultimate minimalist design, and it would be so lightweight you could use near invisible wire to suspend it from the ceiling. (I will leave it to you guys to figure out how to hide the electric wiring if you do it that way.)
 

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Ah, a word about grounding the Workhorse ballasts.

The ballast has a hole on the aluminum lip. It's right by the white and black wires that come out of the ballast. I use this hole to put a small screw with a nut. Then I wrap the green wire of a 3-wire cable around the screw and tighten it.

At times I use the hole to put a wood screw in it and use the screw for both attaching the ballast to the wood stand and for grounding.

How did you do it?

--Nikolay
 

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Hoppy,

About the ultimate minimalist design; Actually I have thought about only using the reflector as a housing. My idea was to build 2 U-shaped metal "sleeves" that will cover the end caps and overlap 1/4" over the reflector.

The best, I mean the least distracting, way to support any fixture is with a single metal tubing. Similar to the old style ADA bracket. Similar to this:

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u312/plantbrain/lightrailresizedADA.jpg

The vertical part of the pipe is mounted behind the side glass. In my case the thickness of the glass and the thickness of the tubing matched really well and you could not tell at all there was pipe behind the glass! Instead of the stupid thing that extends above the Halide housing there was a gooseneck that curved forward and attached to the fixture. I actually made an ADA looking black stand and attached a single 24 watt T5HO. The thing looked better than ADAs light, I'm serious, because it did not extend above the light. The housing of the light was tiny and really, really didn't distract from the tank. Of course the wires where hidden inside the pipe. You could also adjust the height of the pipe/light. Nice.

Two different glass guys made custom tanks for that stand. Both split along the silicone seams. So this project looked amazing only without water, ahaha.

--Nikolay
 

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Undoubtably the glass tanks split their seams out of embarrassment at being in the company of such an elegant light fixture.;) Only an ADA tank could withstand that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ah, a word about grounding the Workhorse ballasts.

The ballast has a hole on the aluminum lip. It's right by the white and black wires that come out of the ballast. I use this hole to put a small screw with a nut. Then I wrap the green wire of a 3-wire cable around the screw and tighten it.

At times I use the hole to put a wood screw in it and use the screw for both attaching the ballast to the wood stand and for grounding.

How did you do it?

--Nikolay
I must admit I did not think about grounding the ballasts. I will have to check into that and do so.
Currently since there were onlly 2 leads coming off of the ballast (white, black) I hooked those directly into the power cord (old dremel tool cord for one of them) this only had 2 wires as well so I thought it was a perfect match.
I am probably making it a bit more dangerous without grounding? :) I will try and rectify this soon.

BTW: I left an electronic temperature sensor that can record maximum temperatures sitting on top of the fixture between the middle two lights. The maximum reading it had for yesterday was 94.8 degrees Fahrenheit. I am not sure if that was a fluke or not but I reset it to get a new reading for todays time period (8 hours). I have not enabled the other two bulbs as of yet because I was waiting to get my CO2 dialed in a bit more (weekend project) since I don't want to gas the fish while I am not home.

I do not think that temperature is anything to worry about. This plastic was designed to be outside and to be baked by the sun which I believe might get it to a higher temperature than 95 degrees. What do you think?
 

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Very good write up, I'll be referring to this in the future. The plastic gutter material should easily withstand temps of 130+ degrees, and much higher I would say.
 

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Tomeiningen,

I'm not paranoid about fires caused by T5HO running normally. They run so cool that you can even touch and hold them.

But if some day, for whatever reason, there is a short circuit and sparks start to fly I'd rather have non-flamable materials around the bulbs/sockets. That's my only logic, a little paranoid, but that's how I am.

--Nikolay
 
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