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Jerad's DIY LED Build

33928 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  saltohio
I decided to make my build all in one post so people can find everything about what I am doing, without reading through a ton of comments first. I will throw all of the things I think I forgot in post #4 as the post progresses so that way people can follow up without having to reread a lot of things. I have read a lot about the LED's and I have a seperate post where I asked questions as I went. I advise other people to do the same.
Here are some pictures of my "finished" product

Here is a list of some of the readings I collected:

Before I start I would like to thank Dan Zeinert, many members of, Mike at, and everyone else who paved the road which allowed me to do this build.

Also I would like to appoligize for my pictures... they were taken with my phone (year old Sprint HTC Evo with cracked lense)

I purchased:

Quantity________ Item Description _____________________________________________________________ Site ______________________________ Cost
-2x---------5.886x16 heatsinks-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------[]----------------------------------67.00
-1x---------36 Ultra Premium LED DIY Kit with Dimmable Drivers (18ww &18rb,Thermal paste, 60 degree 60-48D)----[]----------------------315.00
-1x---------DIY 2 color Dimming Kit-------------------------------------------------------------------------------[]--------------------------------------30.00
-8x---------Bulk Wire (blue)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[]---------------------------------------2.00
-8x---------Bulk Wire (white)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[]---------------------------------------2.00
-1x---------80mm Vantec Stealth Fan Kit-------------------------------------------------------------------------[]------------------------------------ 43.00
-1x---------75 feet of 20 gauge wire (green/red/black)---------------------------------------------------------radioshack-------------------------------------------- 8.00
-1x---------Rubbing Alcohol----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Menards----------------------------------------------2.00
-1x---------Drill bit--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Menards----------------------------------------------3.00
-1x---------Oil for drill bit-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Menards----------------------------------------------4.00
-1x---------Eraser(3 pack)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Menards----------------------------------------------1.00
-1x---------Weller 140/100w soldering iron-----------------------------------------------------------------------Fleet Farm-------------------------------------------30.00
-1x---------Plexiglass sheet ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fleet Farm-------------------------------------------16.00
-1x---------4% silver solder ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------radioshack--------------------------------------------5.00
-1x---------extra soldering tip (2 pack)---------------------------------------------------------------------------radioshack-------------------------------------------3.00
-1x---------shrink wire tubing--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ace Hardware----------------------------------------3.00
-2x---------Aluminum frame----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fleet Farm-------------------------------------------15.00
-1x---------plexiglass cutting tool----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fleet Farm-------------------------------------------3.00
-lots--------Nuts and bolts------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fleet Farm-------------------------------------------4.00

Other things that I used:
-wire stripper
-other sized drill bits
-wire cutters
-tape measure
-needlenose pliers
-allen wrench
-box cutter

The total cost of my lights was $558. Many of you have some of this stuff already and I may save up to $55 easily. If I had the tools and a nice group buy discount from, I could have made this for about $440. My costs put me at about $10 per gallon but with the tools and a discount someone could make the same fixture for $8 per gallon.

The reason for choosing WW (warm white) LED's is because I have heard that SOME people are not big fans of how blue the CW makes the tank look. I didn't know if I would like the intense blue look, so I decided to just do WW.

The reason for choosing a heatsink from was because rapidled ran out of the size I wanted and I was too eager :p

So on July 15th at around 5pm I placed my order. I then sat around thinking about my setup and at 6pm I realized I wanted some more wire!!!! Frantically, I emailed rapidled's employee, Mike, and told him. He replied within 15 minutes and said that he cannot change my order because he packed my order and it was already out of his shop. WOW! 15 MINUTES! Then he told me that he forsaw me desiring more wire and decided to give me extra wire free of charge! I knew, prior to ordering, that even if I could have gotten a better deal (probably wouldn't as their prices are low), I would buy from rapidled because their customer service record was outstanding.

Moral of the story; Rapidled offers good prices, quick service, helpful staff, and generous staff.

I also talked to a lady named Amy from and she didn't know much led wiring but gave me the names of employees and phone numbers of companies that she sells balk to that can assist me.

I recieved the rapidled items on Monday and the heatsinks on Wednesday. I tested each led (took like 30ish minutes but I'd rather test than find out later that there is a problem) and then started to think about how I wanted them placed on the heatsink.

At first I was kind of mad at rapid because I THOUGHT they gave me 18 RB (Royal blue), 9 WW (Warm White) and 9 NW (Neautral White). Upon further inspection I realized that I recieved what I ordered and that the NW was actually WW and the ink just got smeared... I felt dumb.

The starboards that the LED's are attached to are hexagonal and measure 2cm in diameter and the LED itself was a square with sides approximately 3mm across.

For the build, I was thinking of hiding the wires on the other side of the heatsink. To do this I would drill 2 holes near each LED. When recieving the heatsink, I realized I would like to be able to position the LED's under two fins of the heatsink. That way I would be able to place the blue wires on different rows as the white. Also this would be nice for disappating the heat. The heatsink's fins are 1.15cm apart from each other. I was able to get this to work but it was a tight fit for some of the LED's.

Since I am placing 18 LED's on each heatsink, I decided to leave 2.5cm surrounding the edges where I do not have any LED's and then space them by 4.7cm and 2cm. I considered using a program to map out what would leave the most even distribution of color while still allowing maximum heat distribution using the fins (probably using a program called ARC-GIS), but I was lazy.

Using a drill press would have been nice for this but I didnt have access to one.
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I think after doing it once, I could make a LOT nicer fixture in less than 7 hours.
Did my BC29 build (from Rapid LED) a month ago and it took about 8-10 hours. Could do it again in half the time. The "shimmer" does take some time getting used to, at first it looks like a heat distortion illusion, I'm used to it now and enjoying some nice coral growth.
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