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Making an ADA style light fixture for Cheap

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I recently made an ADA style light bar for, well, peanuts.

    I used conduit pipe, a pipe bender, a pipe cutter, some brackets.
    All said, it ran about 40$, and I have enough material to make several more.

    The light was cheap as well, much like the Aqua medic lights but about 150$ less(135$ ea with 10K bulb). The stand was made without a table saw, just a few cheesy cuts at Home Depot and some wood, that ran about 40$ at the end of the day for paint and construction ties/angles.

    So I made a nice stand, light rail and light set up for about 220$.

    This will serve from a 60 gallon cube to a 20 gallon tank.

    ADA price:

    Light: 480$
    Rail: 180$
    Stand, you don't want to know.

    About 1000$ or more.

    All in all, this was a pretty easy DIY project.
    And I can make plenty more light rail bars for other folks as well as the 5 tanks I have.

    ResizedADAstylelightstand.jpg

    lightrailresizedADA.gif


    DoublebendforADAlightrailresized.jpg

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Please note, I am going to paint the conduit bar white so it's not so ugly.

    I have a 24LX20HX18D 3/8" rimless custom glass tank going in here with 2 drilled 1/2" bulk holes, screw those Lily silly pipes ADA makes, I've never liked them.
    PITA to clean, easy to break, cost too much, hard to get to fit some tanks.

    I just drill the holes and plumb the canister through the bottom of the tank, no hoses and other garbage in the way.

    Here's the bending tool:

    conduitpipebender.jpg

    And the brackets holding the conduit to the stand.

    The light weighs about 2-3 lbs, and is very easy to adjust up and down(150w HQI) and ran about 135$ with ballast/bulbs handing kit, nice clip on legs. Excellent deal.

    Bracketsholdingthelightstand.jpg

    Several folks have detailed using the conduit in the past, I chose to alter the bends to better suit the design and layout I like.

    You can bend various patterns if you play around.

    Enjoy

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. mrkookm

    mrkookm Guest

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    The one piece idea is really cool! I have built mine using conduits which I painted black but I used backets to get the angle I needed. After seeing this though I will be re-building mine using just 1 piece. ;)

    BTW where did you buy the lights?
     
  4. rusticitas

    rusticitas Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nice! I was just planning out my own DIY project along the same lines. I am very lucky to have fantastic shop resources at work, which I want to learn, so I need a project to do. The shops' manager is my co-worker and friend, and he seems willing to help out.

    Can't wait to get started after seeing your pics.

    I should draw it up in SketchUp for shits'n'giggles... Want to email/send me the dims?

    Which light is that, anyway? Do you have a URL?
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I got it off ebay, a local guy here in SF sells them.
    Fishneedit is the user name.

    I got a couple more in case I want to use them for another project or not like the Aqualight pro coralife hoods.

    I can make the bars in a few minutes.

    I'm actually tying two similar matching pieces( a left and right) together for the larger heavier hood fixtures. So one connector in the middle to add strength.

    I'm going to see how heavy the 24" coralife fixtures are, but I do not like a single bend with the ends pointing out at you.

    I like a nice line, but I do not like the U shape design attached to the sides of a tank either.

    ADA has that as well.

    I could hang a support wire up to the ceiling and do a larger version of this same design.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. mrkookm

    mrkookm Guest

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    I totally agree with you on the issue of not likiing the bars at the side and the sticking out as well. Simple, effective and cool looking.

    I took a look at the sellers fixtures and they do seem nice. How is the quality of the fixtures in person?
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I was expecting something cheaper, but was pleasantly surprised.
    They are as good as the AM Ocean lights.

    I felt the coralife aqua light pros where better than the AM stuff.
    ADA is just extremely over priced for what they sell.

    I just cannot justify it.
    The same issue was true in the past with Dupla.
    So folks started DIY and testing etc.

    Same deal here, just 25 years later.

    I've found a good rimless glass tank maker locally, he does really good work, I wish I'd found him before getting the Glass Cages stuff, but I'm still pretty happy.

    ADA aqua soil is all I really need and that's reasonable in price and available.
    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. PaulB

    PaulB Subscriber

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    Hi Tom,

    You said that you were drilling the bottom of the tank for the in & out flow, how are you doing the out flow to the filter. I ask because I will be going down the same path with a 36Lx18Wx21H. The guy who will drill my tank has recommended gluing a piece of glass diagonally acros the corner of the tank to create a weir. This will eat up a large area in the corner of the tank. Is there a better method?
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's not an overflow, it's a sealed closed canister filter loop, no sump in other words.

    So the water is taken in down on the bottom, cycled through the Canister, then sent to heat and CO2, then back to the bottom.

    I use heavy duty Sch 80 Bulk heads with seals on both sides and E6000 glue as well for long term seals. A good wipe with silicone lubricant for rubber gasket seals helps as well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Here's the 3/4" version with a Croalife aqualight pro(24lbs):

    resized60WAcube.gif

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    One nice thing about that plumbing setup is that when you change water you have no need to reprime the filter - the inlet and outlet are never exposed to air. Will this give enough surface disturbance to keep any film from forming? One problem with reading this stuff is that I am getting an almost irresistable urge to switch to a rimless tank with pendant fixture.

    Do you have any idea what the local rimless tank maker would charge for an ADA 75P size tank, already drilled? This might be enough to kill my irresistable urge!
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It's 250$ for a 24x20x18" tank.
    I have two 40 cubes, 24Lx24Dx20H for sale BTW, 250$ each BTW.
    They will be available in about 1 month.
    You can get starfire glass, holes, whatever you want.

    To add surface movement, you Tee the inflow.
    One goes upwards from the rear corner at about 60degrees to the surface, the other blast through the center at about 10-20 degrees.
    This is rich in CO2, so mixes well and gives some surface movement.

    It's not a large issue, you can use Lok Line to do whatever you want as far as flow/Direction etc. and that can be hidden under the gravel/wood/plants etc, covered in Xmas moss etc.

    For automated water changes, simply add a solenoid and a Tee on a timer+ a float switch with a refill.

    You can also hard plumb a Tee and use that to permanent drain to flush and also set it up so it backflushes the canister(so between the canister in take the body of the cnaister filter, so the water comes in backwards from the other end and then out through this point).

    Put a hose connection on this Tee, then drain with a garden hose outside.
    Take the other drain end(the end outside), and place on the garden hose attachment on the shower to refill.

    Water comes in and flushes the filter(or can be diverted through the intake into the tank).

    Should only take about 10 minutes for a 60 Cube to drain and refill, and during that time, about 5 minute to wipe the glass.

    Filter is cleaned
    Water change 50-60%
    Refilled
    Glass wiped
    Not one bucket lifted.

    Can be drained and refilled upto several hundred feet.
    Not bad in 10 minutes.

    Now I've heard whiny crying hobbyists claiming they cannot do routine water changes due the remote locations, they cannot install drains/semi automation etc.

    That's fine, you can still pull out a hose and you still have a bath or shower.
    It can be a 100 ft away and still no issue, all you do is snap the hose on and drain and fill.

    I place a valve at the end of the hose to turn it off when I'm at the tank rather than running back to the bathroom.

    Simple plumbing modifications and using hoses works like a charm.
    You can also use a drain pump like the Little giant one and toss that in the tank to drain tanks below group or that require the water to be pump up(say from the basement to the yard) and you can mix the water in the bath tub etc, dechlorinate first, then pump to the tank etc.

    This pump method is good for marine water changes.

    So no crying or whining about any of that:p

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Genius design - everything. I love it.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Do you folks have the pipe available in the UK?
    You can save yourselves a bundle of dough.

    I'm doing another for the 180 gallon, but it'll not have the double bend, likely just a J hook shape, mostly because that hood weighs 20 kg, vs these are only 1 to 10.
    Also, they only come in 10 ft lengths, so I cannot have a single pipe that will cover a 2 end x 180cm high X 180 long X 2x25cm bends.

    I'd have to add a connector and I really will have a tough time bending that complex of a shape and have even and strong as a simpler design.

    I also do not save any pipe doing it that way, I still need 2-3 10ft lengths, so I may as well opt for 2 easy bends and less obtrusion.

    These are practical matters.

    I could do a larger version and leave the one end open like this design, but then I'd have to add a wire to the ceiling to hold the end for support.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. riverrat

    riverrat Prolific Poster

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    I like your light rail very much Tom.
    For giggles I looked that MH pendant up on ebay.
    Very reasonable price. I am going to do a new tank sometime this year.
    Either a AGA 50 or a 90p. Which one depends on my willingness to separate from my money. I have been pretty sure that I have wanted a Tek t5 4x39watt.

    But.... this MH light fixture is pretty inexpensive. Would it be manageable above a 48 to 50 gallon 3' tank? Say a 8 hour lighting period with the proper distance up from top of tank. Co2 and E.I. of course. I have only used pc's and from what I have read for the most part , Metal Halides should only be run for 4 to 5 hours a day with a supplemental low light the rest of the day.

    I am sure the T5 offers more flexibility with the two banks and all but for the money ($200 less) could this be a viable option. Either way I want to hang a fixture so no pc's on legs ...ect .....ect.

    I imagine I know the answer already but curious none the less.

    What are you going to use this setup for ? Planted or reef?
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    One of my tanks will be a Marine tank.
    The HQI are really nice and small.

    I'd use 2 of them for a 3ft tank though, run them 6 hours each to stage a total light time of 10 hours, with a 7 middle "both on" period.

    They are really light, so this same design rail will work for several lights.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. riverrat

    riverrat Prolific Poster

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    Two of them....:eek:

    6 watts per gallon of MH. I do not think my skills are that good yet. Maybe in another decade or so.:D I suppose the Tek may be a wiser choice. Running 2 bulbs for most of the day with a 4 bulb burst for several hours should be much more manageable.

    I knew a 3ft spread for a single MH may be pushing the limit. I saw your light rail and checked the price of the fixture. This got my mind going planted tank gagagoogoo. I then spent most of last night and today trying to convince myself that one fixture would work on a 3 foot tank. The thoughts of the shimmering effect and shadows of a MH danced in my head.


    Well that and the $200 difference in the two. :rolleyes:
    Ya mostly that. But I do not think I can handle 6 watts per gallon.
    I only have 3 watts per gallon (pc) now and it seems to run a nice tank I have really stay on top of my co2.

    Forgive me for steering this thread off topic.
    Great design for suspending lights! Thanks for sharing it.


    Dave
     
  18. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The watts per gallon measure doesn't mean much with a hanging MH fixture. That fixture could be two feet above the water or 2 inches. Obviously the light intensity in the water would be far different for the two heights. So, I don't think you would see "6 watts per gallon" with that fixture in any meaningful way. So, go ahead, indulge yourself!
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You do get a lot out of a MH light, but the spread is a big issue, on a small footprint, not a big problem, but as you get a longer tank, you end up with different growth rates and effects on plant growth.

    The tek's will be nicer for most folks.
    But if you have to have the MH's, then that's what I'd do.

    Cost more though.

    Here's some more pics:

    This is the AM 2x 150 HQI + 1x 70 W HQI in the middle for a 120 Gallon tanks that's 4 ft long:
    120hoodwithhangerresized.gif

    No Powercompacts for this one.

    Here's the 180 gal with the rails added but no hood yet(Coralife has not yet sent it, but it's on the way as they always tell you).

    180lightbarADAAS.jpg

    Regards,
    tom Barr
     
  20. JessyCat77

    JessyCat77 Junior Poster

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    I just won two Solaris 14" fixtures that I want to mount above my tank. And I love your bars... Since I'm not particularly savvy on how to bend poles, could you let me know how much you'd charge for 2 poles to fit over a 90gal tank?
     
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