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DIY 112 Cree LED light build

1994 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Mr. Miyagi
Hi everyone, I am new to the forums so I just thought I would start right in with a super simple project I just finished up... Ok not so simple but if you have the desire you too can build one of these.

I started out looking for a good light setup for my 180 gal tank I just recently setup. Budget is always a big factor. I was looking at lighting and trying to keep with the theme of LED like I did with my nano reef (which all transferred into the new setup). AI was right around $600 per fixture (needed 3) and a controller for another $100. Little high so I started looking into building my own.

First I had to figure out how each of my 3 heat sinks would have my lights on them so they would all basically match. So I took the Plexiglas splash guard and drew a grid that was 1" squares (which luckily made room for each LED and the lens). You can see this above where I have the LED's glued down to the heat sink. There is special heat conductive Silicone that you can buy to glue the LED's down. If you buy a kit it will typically come with it.

NOTE: I wired the entire thing wrong the first time in parallel instead of in series (which is + to + and - to -). If I can teach you one thing is to not wire it like this because it took a heck of a lot longer (about 3 hours each) and doesn't work where as wiring it in series only takes about 30 minutes each and well... it works lol:

Again how not to wire it!

The correct wiring is each color should go from + on one LED to the - on the next one. Then when they make it all the way back to the driver board the + goes to the + and - to -. Seams simple but it can get way over complicated when you have 112 LEDs to wire up into 8 driver boards with 4 different light channels. I sadly was so burnt out I forgot to take a picture but google it and you will see it.

Next I connected it to the drivers, I put 14 LED's on each driver because they are 10w LED's and are on the 1000D drivers which will support the 140w load for the White 6500k's, Royal Blues, and Blues. The multi color channel I put in was a red, green, 2 violets, 1 ultra violet per heat sink, all in the same circuit into a 600D driver. The whites were strait forward because they were 1/3 per heat sink. The Blues and Royal Blues however were not so simple cause they were split between 1.5 heat sinks each. I instead of running a wire out the back to run wires between the fixtures to keep the circuit going up top instead of behind the scenes. This was harder but the nice thing about it was I was able to cut the flex covers to the exact length to space my lights once they were hung. This also made it so I could have one set of cables for each driver bank coming down from the light (total of 8).

Here is now I mounted the drivers... simply to a block of wood in a project box I got off Ebay so it looks good and wont get wet:

Other thing to note is I wanted to be able to plug each light in and also each power supply so that I could hang the lights easier. I got the plugs from a Electronic special parts store in Flint, MI but you can find something online. RadioShack no longer has anything but cell phones so don't bet on that.

Here is a look at lit up to test it all out with the lenses on. One thing I learned about installing the lenses is that you have 2 options and 1 that will wreck your LEDs. First option to glue on the lenses is use the heat sink silicone paste. Second is Plastic 8 min epoxy. NEVER use super glue or gel super glue. it will fume and burn out the bulb. I made this mistake also and had to replace about 20 bulbs:

Here is the final product, I think it looks as good if not better then name brand:
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I don't plan on building anything however it appears that you have provided some very available information from your experience.
Nice job!


Looks nice and clean. What was your final cost for all 3 units and controls?
Looks nice. Where did you get the heat sinks. Aren't the 1000D drivers maxed out at around 52VDC out at 1000mA for a total of 52 watts?
Just typed out an elaborate reply and added a picture and it was deleted... short version: I'm a civil engineer not an electrical engineer so it very well maybe only 52w I was assuming 10w leds to the recently mended 14 in series making it 140w. It cost $600 plus $100 in rework due to learning curve in glueing them and wiring them wrong first time around. I got everything from http://www.aquastyleonline.com then the rework from eBay.


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Whole tank under just blue vs whites with blue (found a trick to take pictures with only blues on. iPhone 6s Plus then use $1 yellow safety glasses as a photo filter!)
Here's all of them running:

Blues only:


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I will have to upload to photo bucket instead of using the mobile version. Will edit and show the HD photos tomorrow at some point.
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