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steve1981
08/12/2017, 07:35 PM
So I built a cheap LED light unit for my 100g mixed reef. I used 3w star LEDs from eBay and 80 degree optics. Controlled via an Arduino. I built three lots of double led rings like the radions with about 110 LEDs in total.

All was working fine but then two Radion XR30W G3's came up cheap and thought I'd treat myself. I was surprised with how little difference there was between the to and thought I'd share it.

PAR readings taken from a Seneye were about 50-100 less on mine. The pictures below show one Radion on the left and one double ring of my LEDs on the right.

Just posting out of interest of your thoughts really.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/ba872c3161a22847666e7597fcf09e47.png normal white

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/77d4c6109ff6bb06ef3e9cdf34741f0d.png cool white.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/be804b6d7e573e73e03e10f15282b63b.jpg royal blue

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/c21158e958f9e034d38f76471c02677c.jpg bright blue


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steve1981
08/12/2017, 07:38 PM
https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/aa14faf0a601a37842967f22f44f0046.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/46d7c9473524f693bf3ac7b0ed13f8ad.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/0901cfd42de3e64ecf44335d88764c7d.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/9993b4db1fbf160c43481c3ab0092bcd.jpg

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170813/267686bb1bde0c952c743bddc7049bd8.jpg

Ps. I hadn't put the lenses on when these photos were taken.


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savvybuckeye7
08/12/2017, 07:42 PM
What was the cost of building the leds per unit? And did you use the radion clusters as a template for your units?


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steve1981
08/12/2017, 08:37 PM
What was the cost of building the leds per unit? And did you use the radion clusters as a template for your units?


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Well I built it as three in one but costs roughly were...

LEDs (including wire, thermal paste, etc) 100
Wood 10
Nuts and bolts 5
Perspex 8
Lenses 10

Arduino 10
Drivers 8-10 each (already had these)
Driver board 8

Probably about 200-220 total. Oh power supply, 28 so say 240. Cost per twin light unit approx 80. Compared to 500 for Radion.

Don't forget the learning and programming of the Arduino. It's taken me about 18 months to learn how to right the code and even now I get stuck. However mine had a 4 stage daylight routine with dimming up and down to each set point and also an in built storm just like the Radions.

I must admit the colours at a little more vivid on the Radions, and I feel happier knowing that the exact colours that they use are tried and tested for reef aquariums, however my old lights were doing great with a couple of test SPS corals that I had so not sure if they are worth over 6 times the price.

The other downside is I am having everything runnning through the Arduino and displaying/controlling via a Samsung tablet. Dosing, feeding, temps, overfill sensors for the sumped skimmer compartment, plug switches, all run off the controller. However now the lights will have to be separate. But can't have everything.


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steve1981
08/12/2017, 08:39 PM
Sorry yes I used them as a template. I got the total wattage that they use and got the appropriate number of 3w LEDs to match. I didn't really follow them in physical layout though as they is quite a few more LEDs than on the Radion so had to work that out myself (you can see my plan on the laptop screen on one of the pictures)


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steve1981
08/12/2017, 08:41 PM
One thing I have learned from the Radions though is that you don't need so many different whites. I have 12k, 8k, 6.5k and 4k. The Radion only has one temperature and uses the bright blue to make it a higher kelvin


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SFish
08/12/2017, 08:45 PM
I was wondering the cost difference between the two myself.

Gorgok
08/12/2017, 08:48 PM
Yeah from my experience in DIY LED i'd just go with a warm white high CRI to cover a bunch of the spectrum and color it up with a mix of blues from cyan down to near UV and maybe some special ones if you feel like it.

You are not including your time into the cost too, which i generally exclude also. But it may be more fair to add it in...

steve1981
08/12/2017, 08:48 PM
Well yeah, quite a bit. And personally, and from what you can see in the first four images, you certainly don't get lights that are 6 times better, but they are 6 times the price.


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steve1981
08/12/2017, 08:51 PM
Yeah from my experience in DIY LED i'd just go with a warm white high CRI to cover a bunch of the spectrum and color it up with a mix of blues from cyan down to near UV and maybe some special ones if you feel like it.

You are not including your time into the cost too, which i generally exclude also. But it may be more fair to add it in...



Well now I'm debating whether to sell the Radions and modify my ones, especially seeing as how much effort I have put into them. But then again, I'm not sure I wanna give up the Radions being as they are... well the BMW of lights. Predicament. I may even make a new controller and sell the DIY ones as it's a waste to put them in the loft to get dusty.


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Ron Reefman
08/13/2017, 06:20 AM
Congrats on your excellent DIY build.

IMHO, the difference between your well made DIY fixture, a good Chinese black box fixture and any high end (like the Radion) fixture isn't the light itself. Any fixture with the right spectrum of leds can provide good light.

The real difference is the ascetics of the fixture itself, the features that the fixture offers for the human owner to play with and the build quality... oh, and the profit margin. LOL!

Your DIY fixture looks as good as any I've seen and you are to be congratulated for that. It's as good, or better looking than any black box fixture looks when hanging over a tank. I'll just say I like the look of my fixture a bit better, and yes, I pay a premium for that.

It only took me about 10 minutes to learn how to use the remote control so I could program the sunrise/sunset and set the color look of the 6 channel color control. You said you're still learning the programming of your Arduino system after 18 months. OK, I paid a premium for that too.

I think if you have the skills, and obviously you do, and you enjoy the DIY process, and again, I assume you do, then what you've done is great! And I completely agree that Radions are over priced. But lots of people are willing to pay for the premium brand. To each his own.

I use a Chinese made, premium fixture. It cost $600, is 50" long and covers a 60" tank and has 88 leds (some 5w Cree and some 3w OSRAM). It has 6 channels of color control, sunrise /sunset control and easy to use remote control. To do it with Radions would have cost $2200 to $2400 given my tank's size and mostly sps coral. So my mid-priced fixture cost me about a quarter of what the Radions would. Yes, that's probably twice as much (maybe even more) than your DIY fixture cost. I assume you had fun building yours and you should be proud of it. On the other hand, I couldn't build what you did, so I pay a small premium for the quality I want.

If money isn't an issue, I'd keep the Radions as a backup. I tend to keep a backup for most every piece of equipment I run on my tanks. Especially if they replacement is hard to get quickly, is expensive (and like you, I've found a spare used that was a great deal) and if not having it can cause harm to the tank. I have 4 tanks and I have 2 spare fixtures (older leds from a different tank).

steve1981
08/13/2017, 06:52 AM
That's for your reply Ron, it was a pleasure reading it.

Yes you are right do/did enjoy building it. Its not just the lower cost it is the fun of building it and learning about it, and the enjoyment of knowing that I did it all myself.

Yes I agree about the aesthetics. It looks ok but the Radions and others that I have seen knock it out of the park and if I had an open top without a canopy it would be a fancy sexy fixture like the Radions all day long. I just think I surprised myself with how good (not blowing my own trumpet, I mean overall how good these LEDs, drivers and lenses perform) that these Chinese LEDs and other stuff are. I mean if you open up the Radions like I did to clean them when I first got them, there's even less to them then my one, just a little more specialised tooling like SMD LEDs on a custom made PCB. But of course you would expect that if you're making tens of thousands of them in bulk. (You can make PCBs yourself but looks messy.)

Well still needless to say I'm still in two minds. The Radions do still have the edge however I feel I have a loyalty to my ones, and seeing as they are actually 'almost' as good, it's not helping my decision. Lol.


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Gorgok
08/13/2017, 10:56 PM
A pro and con of a DIY led is also that if something goes wrong you probably know what and how to fix it (and have to fix it yourself). My drivers were a very old design and keeping them running got to the beyond economical repair point. Replacing them with a updated one would also be a little weird as the strings were designed for those drivers (~21V max).

With a bought led you can have it serviced hopefully for reasonable rates for quite a while. But then again you may not be able to do anything to it other than ship it back...

Also with DIY, if you need a feature you can always add it, whereas you are stuck with what you are given on the bought ones. Like if you wanted to simulate the lunar cycle, it wouldn't be that bad to add it as a separate thing on your DIY one.

djbon
08/13/2017, 11:20 PM
Congrat!. As DIYer myself, I like the endless possibilities of trying out (good and bad) new things. The knowledge we learn along the way is priceless. Here are my tank running on 110cm length , 93 pieces LED (disco colored combi) running on 3 channels, arduino controlled non-dimmable.

steve1981
08/13/2017, 11:23 PM
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steve1981
08/13/2017, 11:24 PM
A pro and con of a DIY led is also that if something goes wrong you probably know what and how to fix it (and have to fix it yourself). My drivers were a very old design and keeping them running got to the beyond economical repair point. Replacing them with a updated one would also be a little weird as the strings were designed for those drivers (~21V max).

With a bought led you can have it serviced hopefully for reasonable rates for quite a while. But then again you may not be able to do anything to it other than ship it back...

Also with DIY, if you need a feature you can always add it, whereas you are stuck with what you are given on the bought ones. Like if you wanted to simulate the lunar cycle, it wouldn't be that bad to add it as a separate thing on your DIY one.



Yeah you're right about being able to fix and adapt them. I really am in two minds as I could sell the Radions for 600 (150 more than what I paid for then) but then again, they are Radions. lol.


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steve1981
08/13/2017, 11:25 PM
Congrat!. As DIYer myself, I like the endless possibilities of trying out (good and bad) new things. The knowledge we learn along the way is priceless. Here are my tank running on 110cm length , 93 pieces LED (disco colored combi) running on 3 channels, arduino controlled non-dimmable.



Wow mate. Good job. Colours look awesome. What LEDs did you use? Have you got a pic of the unit? How comes you didn't go with dimmable?


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djbon
08/13/2017, 11:32 PM
Wow mate. Good job. Colours look awesome. What LEDs did you use? Have you got a pic of the unit? How comes you didn't go with dimmable?


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I still have my arduino 5v PWM diy board, but I realized a 3 channels are good enough to simulate dawn/mid day/dusk. All are 3w leds (royal blue, cool blue, warm white, cool white, amber, pink, deep red, green and violet). Let me dig my album for some pictures.

steve1981
08/13/2017, 11:36 PM
I still have my arduino 5v PWM diy board, but I realized a 3 channels are good enough to simulate dawn/mid day/dusk. All are 3w leds (royal blue, cool blue, warm white, cool white, amber, pink, deep red, green and violet). Let me dig my album for some pictures.



Your rock work looks great too. Need to re-landscape mine, think it looks a bit 'just thrown in'.


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MurphyLong
08/16/2017, 11:54 AM
While my 'scape is nowhere near done, I have to say I'm quite pleased with the aesthetics of my Chinese lights.

Yes, my glass is dirty, I'm nowhere near "presentation ready" status, just wanted to share my lights. I love the "industrial" end result.

378098

steve1981
08/16/2017, 12:03 PM
Mate you should go into production, those things look awesome!!


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sleepydoc
08/16/2017, 06:53 PM
Many fixtures are made in China. A (potential)difference between a brand name and a cheap black box generic is consistency and quality control. Beyond designing the fixtures, Ecotech also has a vested interest in ensuring that all its fixtures meet standards. Unbranded fixtures may be fine or may use sub par LEDs or drivers depending on supply or cost. Reputable companies will also stand behind their products, too.


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