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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi All,

I have been out of the hobby for a number of years. My career as an Audio Engineer who mixes rock concerts has caused me to be very mobile in recent years and therefore not able to sustain a tank. :-(

Firstly, let me thank everyone in the hobby for the kudos on my little treatise on DIY Co2 systems. I have received many wonderful emails over the years thanking me for the work. At the time it was a labor of love and great fun to compile the data and ideas in one place for all of us in the hobby to use and enjoy. Thank you all for recognizing my effort and I hope it was useful and fun.

With that said, I have a humorous story ....

In my musical travels, I recently had an experience that I will never forget. I was in Europe doing a number of shows. I was mixing a performance in a municipal community center in Switzerland. In between sound check and the actual performance I had five hours to kill. I was strolling around this facility and came across a series of halls where there was a gathering of planted aquarium folks complete with tanks, fish and wonderful plants.

Apparently, in this particular part of Switzerland there is a large group of hobbyists who gather every two years at this facility. For a full two weeks, they setup and display Planted Aquariums. They even compete for the best setup. Some tanks were massive, but most were modest. All were beautiful. Very very cool!!!

I walked in and started looking around at the setups. Strangely I noticed every setup except a few of the large tanks were using what seemed to be my system in some form or another. I said to myself, "Nah ... this can't be. I'm just being narcissistic. This is just coincidence." Well ... I walked around some more, shrugging off this obviously pretentious notion. Then I suddenly notice behind a display table a big board, at least 10 feet wide and five feet tall. It was written in whatever language it is they speak there (Swiss?). But oddly, I noticed all my drawings were there! Then up at the top I noticed my name. On the table, there were copies of my treatise, translated and photocopied and even bound, being handed out to all who wanted them for free. They had translated my paper and placed it in prominence like it was some holy scripture of DIY Co2 Systems?!

Huh!? What? Naaaaaah? NO WAY?!

I walked up to the table and inquired to the man sitting there, "Do you speak English". The man looked at me and said, "Yes". I said, "What is this big board about?" This man, in very good Queens English, "went off" ad nauseum about how, "...this is greatest paper ever written about yeast generation of Co2 written by a renowned American bio-chemist, academic and expert on yeasts". He went on and on and on ... I unfortunately and quite inappropriately began to laugh hysterically in his face.

I didn't mean to be rude but he was gushing over my little treatise. I mean really over-enthusiastic. The use of the word "renowned" is what got me into giggling. It was nervous laughing and I think I was embarrassed, as well. He had a very strange look on his face, and he was obviously somewhere between upset and confused. Yet he continued to describe how "... this single paper has helped so many hobbyists achieve great success in planted tanks without alot of expense". He then asked me if I would like a copy. Still giggling, I reached into my pocket and handed him my passport. He frowned, opened it and looked at my name. His mouth went agape. He looked at the passport in one hand, then pointed at the name on the bound paper he was handing me in his other hand. He said coyly, "You?". I nodded in the affirmative and apologized for my giggling.

Now mind you, at the time I was touring with a Heavy Metal band. I had long red hair down to my butt, and I was in biker leathers and even snake skin boots. I did not look like the "bio-chemist academic" he had just described or probably envisioned. I explained that I was indeed the author, I was not a chemist and told him why I happened to be there by shear chance. He began to laugh along with me at this point. I told him I was just a hobbyist like himself. He began to tell everyone I was there, the cameras came out and I took pictures with over twenty people and met many fine aquarists. It was wonderful. I even signed some autographs. I was humbled beyond belief.

Funny thing, the guitar player in the band I was working for, walked by the hall and and happened to see me there having my picture taken and signing autographs on the copies of my paper. He's very well known and accustomed to being the center of attention. He rushed over and said,"Hey man ... What the #*%# is this?" I pointed to the board and said, "See the name? I guess I'm a guru." He looks at me and says, "We come to Europe and you get to sign autographs? You're the soundguy, this is just wrong!"

Go figure.

My fifteen minutes are up ... I guess!

I'm settled now, working locally to my home and I am about to embark on a new planted aquarium again. Yippie!!! Well, I've had some recent experience with LED based theatrical lighting. No heat and incredible output. Maybe a new treatise on DIY LED Lighting for Planted Aquaria is forthcoming? Who knows ....

Regards,

John LeVasseur
 

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Welcome back to the hobby, John.
 

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Thats soo funny!! I actually have that article up on my computer right now , getting ready to make up my own diy yeast. lol congrats on your fame!!
 

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That’s a funny story! I can just see the guys face after he realizes that he’s telling you about yourself. It would have been funny to ask him if he had permission from the author to copy and translate the article before you told him who you were. Then you could answer “Don’t worry I give you permission.”
 

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do you have a copy of the article in mention...if it's good I'm always interested in reading about these kinds of things.

congratulations on the '15 min. of fame'! it's always nice to be noticed for accomplishments. let alone hailed as a bio-chemist without actually being one!
 

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I think I'm going to translate this into Bulgarian now! It's funny!

But it is possible that those folk, just like the Swiss folk, know about your page already and have followed your advice.

--Nikolay
 

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ohhhh, yeah I've read that before. Thank you for the link Mary.
 

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John.... I read this post and was laughing my @$$ off because I have written a few gardening articles that were printed in the local paper and recieved a similar response from customers who came in and learned my name. To me.... it was funny because I was a plant geek just like them and they were treating me like some rock star.

I've since given up a sixteen year career in agribusiness to work with glass. Whoudathunk?

My plant geek still shows through through my MASSIVE (by 2000's standards) veggie garden and my new interest in planted tanks.

You can rest assured that I will find a copy and read five times through.... your "treatise".

Will you sign a copy for me if I meet you in Switzerland purely by chance? :)
 

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Unwanted attention can be a problem at times but it is amazing how much we know in reation to others.

I look forward to any information you may have on LEDs. Your experience is greater than most of us so share and be convinced that a lot of us will listen. LEDs seem to be the coming thing but information is extremely lacking.

I am convinced that LEDs will light my tanks in the future.

Incidently the article that you rererenced is no longer available on that site and I am not savvy enough to look it up so if you can post it again I would appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Holy Cow!!!

Well .. it's been quite a few more years now and I have not yet written the article on LED's. Why? Every time I go to sit down and look at the data, the technology improves tenfold. Many new and exciting advances happen in LED tech every few months and it is tough to keep up with. Also the companies that are producing LED lighting for aquaria can't keep up, so the products are obsolete once they release them.

I do have some data, some designs and some results from my own experiments. I have been playing around with multiple color LED systems. Large arrays of lower power high intensity LED's with a custom electronic controller that can adjust the color temperature (and even light intensity levels) and therefore fine tune spectrum for individual plant species or groups of species. Even to the point where you can change the color temperature with the array of LED's to have different color temps & intensities in different sections of the tank.

The idea came to me working at a concert. I was back by the drum kit grumbling at the drum tech for moving my microphones during the set-up. There was one of those huge video projection screens along the back of the stage. I noticed how the colors were changing on the white drum heads while the video techs were running tests. These screens use tens of thousands of these tiny tri-color high intensity LED modules arranged in huge computer controlled arrays. Each module is self contained, waterproof, and has three LED's which make up an RGB (Red-Green-Blue) cluster on a black background. At the time the techs were adjusting for color temperature and on the drum heads I could see the subtle changes in the white light. They were essentially changing the spectrum of the white light. A little "light" went off in my head, and of course I was thinking about fish tanks & not concert lighting. Crazy.

This system works really well in the very very large aquascapes in particular. Currently the controller is hooked up via a USB port to a computer, running a program I wrote to program the LED array. You can design the lighting scheme in advance using a virtual tank graphical interface, connect the computer to the controller and upload the settings, then disconnect the computer. You can also do the programming while the computer is connected to the controller & the array in real-time. It's kinda crazy, but it works.

I was sitting there one weekend in front of my big tank, with a spectrometer (a device that measures and graphs out spectrum), my lighting system and my laptop. I was turning on & off individual LED clusters to see which cluster (or groups of clusters in some cases) was illuminating which plant in my big tank. Then I would adjust the spectrum and light levels for that species. The array uses 60 RGB LED modules on a 260gal tank. Due to the high output of these modules and the large number of modules in the array, they are running only at about 27-34 percent output per module. It was crazy overkill, but it was experimental so it didn't matter.

The plants are growing very well, and the Co2 absorption levels are through the roof. I'm using 30% more Co2 with these settings, a good indication of the plants health due to species tailored spectral lighting. I have Cabomba sitting next to Java Fern and each is receiving a specific spectrum and light intensity appropriate for each species. Here lies the great promise of LED lighting. A very specific targeted lighting down to specific species requirements and being able to selectively illuminate specific individual plants. Something not achievable with standard high-intensity light-flooding technologies like Compact Florescent or Halide lamps. Also this array uses at max light output only about 200 watts of power, including the controller. However it can produce nearly 30 times the light output of a similar wattage CF system.

You can also set what I call a "show mode" where the color temps and intensities are set to solely bring out the color of the fish and plants temporarily, like when you have guests over for a few hours. Wanna talk about vibrant reds in your Cabomba furcata or Rotala macrandra? Wanna make a school of a hundred Neon Tetra's explode with shimmering blue & red brilliance? It works really well. It may be cheating yes, but your guests won't care, they just go "ooooo ... aaahhhh". And when they leave, switch it back to "grow mode". Only your fish have to know, and heck they can't snitch anyway!!!

However, and this is a huge caveat, the cost of a system like this is prohibitively high to the extreme. LED tech, especially of this complexity, is very expensive at this time. Well outside the realm of the idea of DIY. Also the construction of this type of system may be outside the abilities of most DIY builders. However, this was done as an experiment; to collect empirical data, test whether theory can be developed into practical design, and to explore the full potential of the technologies involved.

I have also been playing around with more practical designs. One uses high power white LED's with only a few LED devices in a hood design. Another uses multiple mid power LED's to reduce heat issues, plus other more practical designs. All sorts of things. The jury is still out. However because of the heightened interest in LED tech right now in the mainstream, due to energy concerns mostly, I'm still always trying some new devices and revise my designs. These new technology developments are happening monthly right now. There is great promise in a new generation of LED devices that will be coming out in late 2012, and I am waiting on the data with great anticipation.

I will follow these technology developments. Once I come up with something lasting, that is comprehensive, and has both complex and also simple designs, another DIY treatise will be authored. This time, A Treatise on DIY LED Based Lighting Systems for Planted Aquaria. There, I already wrote the title.

Damn, why do these things always take years?! Last time out I spent two years researching solely on the subject of the biology of yeasts, for gosh sakes!!! I least this time I'm in my natural realm ... electronics.

And no ... No name dropping on the Metal bands. That's just not cool!

Stay tuned ...

John LeVasseur
 

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I'm encouraged by your new "project" and results. I just tried Echo Tech's new Radion fixture for my tank. While they were plenty bright enough and able to grow plants, I just wasn't able to get the color to look right. It was horrid. I went back to me T5HO and metal halide fixture. I sure wish there was something out there that was decent!


Thanks for your dedication to the hobby, Mr. Famous!
 
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