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My DIY Build questions

3963 Views 65 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Jerad
So I started to do a write up as I was doing my DIY LED Build and I figured I would check with everyone and make sure I am not making any grave mistakes (don't worry, I will do a cleaner build write up later). Tell me what you think so far:

I purchased:

Quantity Item Description Site Cost
-2x 5.886x16 heatsinks [] 66.85
-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 Balk Wire (blue) [] 2.00
-8x Balk Wire (white) [] 2.00
-1x 80mm Vantec Stealth Fan Kit [] 43.00
Totalish LED's for 55g tank to hold SPS 458.85

I choose to get WW and RB because I heard it gave off a commonly desirable color (I don't know what I would prefer as far as the Kelvin scale goes).

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 Friday 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 am blown away. Most people, when giving people a good deal, they will let them know. 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.

So I recieved the rapidled items on Monday (3 days) and the heatsinks on Wednesday (5 days). 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 receiving the heatsink, I realized I would like to be able to have 2 find on the opposite side of the heatsink per LED. 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. This means things can work out fine IF you have an odd amount of fins (assuming you have 3 rows of LEDS). I have 14 fins so this doesnt work for my center line of LED's (no big deal).

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.

I am planning on borrowing a friend's drill press for the drilling and using a nice strong bit. I was told keeping it lubricated and cool is necessary and that since we are drilling into metal, a drill press will help keep the drill bit from bouncing around the heatsink.

I plan on keeping my fans raised up about 1 inch above the heatsink so it can take air from all of the columns. I am not sure yet how I will do this without tapping the heatsink, but I will look into it. One thing I thought of, was that it may be nice to have holes drilled across all of the fins to allow for more movement. On a side note, the fan's I ordered turned out fine but I guess I underestimated how much air 27 CFM was. When I get more money, I may change out the fans for ones with more power.

For soldering, I have read that solder with silver in it is easy to work with and conducts more electricity. I looked into what kind of soldering iron I wanted and found that when people use low wattage soldering irons, they often will burn out the piece they are installing due to too much heat being transferred. I looked at butane soldering irons but they seem to be more of something to use on plumbing and I read they often burn the circuits as well. I have a friend who is working on being an electrician and he wanted a new soldering iron so I offered to pitch him some $ if I can use his. That way I can use a nice soldering iron and not pay $300 for it.

Here is my tenative plan:
Sketch out where I want holes drilled
Drill holes
Clean board with rubbing alcohol
Attach LED's to heatsink
Wire up the LED's
Attach Fan's
Lower Amprage on driver
Attach Driver and dimmer
Fine tune my driver
Repeat with other heatsink
Mount on tank
Borrow a PAR meter
Party like a rock star
MAYBE in the future, I will buy more lenses and take par values using the different lenses but I am poor so... doubtful.
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61 - 66 of 66 Posts
1. Inside my driver
2. Right next to my thumb is a white screw for the potentiometer in the driver
3. How the drivers are held close
4. Used shrink wrap for my wires
5. The nuts and bolts I used to connect the heatsinks and aluminum frame
6. The nuts and bolts I used (They are threaded to the top)


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1. Plexiglass cutter
2. Aluminum Frame
3. Frame attached to heatsinks
4. Attaching drivers
5. Spun the wires with needlenose pliers to keep things clean
6. Top right and bottom left of fan are drilled to fit 1/4 inch bolt


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1. The piece of plexiglass covering the wires in the center
2. The plexiglas is held in by bolts and nuts (I need one more on the end)
3. How close my lenses are to the plexiglass


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61 - 66 of 66 Posts
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