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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coming back to the frogworld after a two year break. Dusted my old tanks and started my new project. Really excited!

So for a start I've decide to upgrade my lighting system to LEDs, but cant really afford those LED reef lighting systems. So I've instead built my own hood and use some GU10 CREE LEDs.

This is for a 45x45x45 Exo-Terra, which I have now decided to modify heavily (More pics to come).

I am now waiting for my GU10 light bulbs and I've gone for

- 4 CREE Daylight 6500k (3X3W)
- 2 CREE Warm 3500k (3x3W)
- 1 Orange Led (3W) for dusk and dawn effects
- 2 Blue led (3W) for moonlight effects

I'm planning to pain to whole interior with fire retardant silicone and painting the exterior black.

So, anyone out there with experience on making their own hoods can provide any feedback?


Cheers everyone for reading!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My bulbs have not yet arrived, but I've tested the hood with some other LEDs I had around (just normal warm light ones), and here's the result on the empty tank. Already pretty bright. Kept them on for a couple of hours to see if there was any heat comming off the bulbs... none. So quite pleased. Received my fire-retardant silicone today, so will have a go sometime soon at covering all the inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Decided that the 18x18x18 exoterra was too short for my liking. Was never really conviced by the shape, found it tooo squaty. So... I decided that it was time to upgrade to something taller.
I considered the different options comercially available, but the 24" tall one was not tall enough for me, and the 36x36 is way to expensive. So I was left with doing my own, and thought that it might be easier to transform the one I already have. I quite like the exoterra design where you can fully open the front, and it would be less expensive than starting from scratch.

So last night I took my knife and hacked the exoterra... a few hours later I left with a base and a stubb of a front....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
And finally today I got all the needed glass and silicone and rebuilt my new 18x18x36 exoterra! Yeay!

Now were talking.... thought, in retrospect, I could have gone for an extra 5 inches... but really pleased with this.

Will now have to extend the air circulation ducts to suit the newly reached hights!
 

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Looking good! I love homebuilt vivs!
 

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what exactly is going on with the LEDS?

I have not heard of the GU10's what is this? based on your pics it looks like screw-in bulb setups....it would have been cheaper to buy the LEDs+heatsink and wire it up directly (and merely mount it into any generic hood) wouldn't it? how much did 9x of those bulbs cost you?


Which LEDs are you using exactly? The light output between the XM-Ls and the older models is significantly different; I personally prefer using the weaker LED models if you are going colors since the XM-Ls only come in white variety (afaik)


EDIT: FYI, the moonlight effects can be done with barely any light. I purchased 4x XP-Gs (running at 700mA) for my 3'x3'x8' build and they are *WAY* too strong; I have to both deflect the light and probably remove 1 maybe even 2 of the LEDs


I don't understand the need for the fire-retardant silicone, can you clarify this? Are you coating yoru entire light hood in silicone?? why!?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone for your compliments! It's been quite fun modding the tank.

EvilLost, the GU10 are just normal 2 pin spotlights like the ones normally installed at homes. I went for those because I know how to install them, but not how to deal with the "raw" leds. Tried to find out how, but I'm no electrician, so I thought I'd go for what I know how to install. The fitting are bathroom fittings with rubber seals around themn (moisture proof) that were on sale at the local DIY store, so quite cheap for 8 of them (I've added another two holes to the hood since the pics were taken).

The actual bulbs were around £8 each, though I'm not sure of the specifics, other than they are 3 CREE LEDs x3W and 6500k. Here's the link (GU10 DIMMABLE 9W LED BULB COOL WHITE CREE CHIP SUPER BRIGHT . | eBay)

Regarding the Moonlight, I agree. Dont want a blue tank, but thought I could use a dimmer/timer to adjust the intensity should I wish to do so. It's a bit of an exercise and I'm just experimenting with the colours (never used orange or reds before, but willing to give it a go, see if I can recreate a sunset). I still have my old single led "moonlights" that I can go for if they prove too strong.

And the silicone was more as a precaution. The hood is made of fibreboard and I wasnt too confortable with the idea of all those electrics inside a highly flamable box, hence thought of "fireproofing" the hood just in case something melts it wont instantly catch fire. But if you know of a better method, I'm all ears!

Cheers for the feedback!
 

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ahhh I see, I suspected that was your purpose for the hood.

I just make my hoods out of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood and give it a coat of all-weatherproof stain (blizzard-proof stuff supposedly). I give the inside a second coat of drylok just incase. All that is for moisture issues tho...

Honestly though, I've never thought about fireproofing....I'd imagine if a source was hot enough to light 1/2" plyboard, its gonna be way bigger than a spark, but I never work with fibreboard I dunno there
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey everyone,

Quick update on my new tank. Mounted my DIY led hood and siliconed the back (more to be done soon, run out of silicone). And been playing around with some wood, trying to decide which effect I'm after for the tank.

On the light front: Received the LED lightbulbs and the brightness of these seems to be quite good, I'm quite happy with it all (lets see if broms, mosses and orquids think the same). In terms of colours I like it, ive tried a few houseplants underneath to see how did they look like. I think I'll get another two daylight, or higher K lights if I can find them, instead of the blue LEDs. My old blue leds seem to be enought for the moonlight effect and having two extra sockets will allow me have more light bulbs.

Now need to decide If I'm going to go for a GS only bg, or will I have some fake rocks too... decisions decisions....
 

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Probably for a mounting similar to a normal household pot light.

Nice job! If you ever have any heat worries, I'm sure a nice adjustable computer fan would do nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Aaron,

Indeed the wholes are for the fixtures. They're just normal household G10 bathroom fixtures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Everyone,

Sorry it's taken me so long to post some pics of progress. Lots of pressure at work and little time to play, but here comes a few pics of progress to date.

I decided to make a background of fake stone (with a small waterfall), with some tree stumps at either side.

This is my second attempt at doing fake rocks, so dont me too tough on me.. :)

So first there was a lot of carving of white polystyrene. Then 6-8 layers of grey grout. Darkened the first few layers with black/blue acrylics, and then used slightly lighter colours with every further layer. In between layers I've scratched the settled grout with a metal brush to give it a bit more structure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here are some detailed pics of where the water will be sprouting, then going through the "hole" in the rock, dripping down the rock wall, and going through the "river" into the pool.

Before finishing with the rocks, I worked on the tree stumps. I used aquarium pieces of wood and expanding foam to fix them, and then carved them.

I was going to used to silicone and peat technique to cover the foam, but then decided to used Epiweb instead. A couple of years ago I used it to cover foam and I'm really pleased with that tank. The epiweb areas will give me a lot of surface to grow plants.


By the way, please ignore the blue light, it wont stay long there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A few more details of the Epiweb'ing.

Then there was the issue of internal circulation. Initially I had constructed some ducting to circulate air from the bottom to the top and blowing it to the front and side panels. All hiden by the fake rock and tree stumps. But after I tried it, I realised the fans were not strong enough so I removed all the ducting (before constructing the fake rock) and went instead for free fans attached to the bg. I'm not really pleased with the final look of them (they actually look horrible), but I'm hoping that with some plants and moss they'll be less intrusive.... time will tell.

Then there's my begining of liana making....

More pics to come soon.... I hope to be able to work quite a bit on the tank over easter.

So.... what do people think?
 

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