Rapid LED - should I get them?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Vincerama2, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Hi guys, I've been out of the loop for a bit. I had been meaning to reuse my 175W MH x 2 setup on my new 180g tank, and I have another unused ballast ready to make it 3 x 175W MH.

    I also have a dual 150W MH unit that I could use.

    However....not that LEDs are what the cool kids use, and I'm terrified of the electric bill, I've decided to go LED.

    Since I'm lame and don't want to read a lot, I thought I'd be lazy and ask your opinions.

    I went to the Rapid LED site and see they have a DIY kit for 180g (how convenient-ish!)


    What say you?

    It's like $900 (OUCH!) and I'd have to DIM(yself) but I've handy enough around soldering irons. Sort of.

    Is there a better/cheaper option? Well, scratch that, how about "Is there a better quality option?" These will sit on the tank forever, so I'm not going to sweat the money on it to some extent.

    I plan to go mostly LPS, some softies, my infamous RBTAs (which are living and mulitplying under 3 year old MH bulbs) and maybe a stick or two.

    If If necessary, I could, of course stick a MH dead center and stick any high light requirement corals under it and give it a couple of hours per day of MH light to supplement them.

    So, sorry for being lame and not doing more research, but ... hey, I'm lazy!


  2. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    They also have solderless kits just incase you are not feeling all that handy. :)

    And there is the RapidLED Onyx ($279) that is a plug and play unit. It's listed under the 'Fixtures' menu. You could ask them for their recommendations as to how many would be good for your tank.
  3. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Pretty sure you'd want three of them, but yeah solder less is sweet and not that much more. Their fixture is not dimmable tho
  4. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yeah I'm in the same boat as you right now, I'm making the transition over to LEDs one step at a time.

    First: If you're going to build it yourself, solderless is the way to go unless you LIKE soldering LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS ... of junctions.

    Second: I've always been weary of "kits" in the same way a "reef cleaner package" might give you a lot of stuff you probably don't need. Looking at what you got there... that's probably a lot of light. I've always been a fan of "you don't need every square inch of the tank to have the same amount of light, I'd rather just put light where light is necessary" which translates to clusters of LEDs but less of them. Besides you get to pick and choose colors you want.

    Third: Those ELN drivers don't have any PFC, and could potentially become an issue for your whole house wiring just because of the way they work to power your LEDs, especially with 8 of them. There's been a few threads over at RC about how they work.

    Fourth: If you're going to spend $900 on a DIY LED kit for a 180g tank, spend $1000 and get a couple the 160W Maxspect Razor fixtures, 2 over a standard 180 should be more than enough, they're sleek, slim, have built in timers/dimming, and best of all you don't have to do any work except mount them.

    I got a few more points.. but shit didn't realize my class starts in 30 minutes I gotta go :D
  5. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    RapidLED sells quality LEDs and accessories, the only thing their product line & development is lacking (as is every DIY LED supplier) is the lack of clustered LED options, you can get a triple LED chip from them (like the AI Sol configuration) but the options are not as wide as single chips. If you look at the better plug & play systems they utilize at least 3 LED's to a cluster, Radions have custom clusters with custom lenses combining a wide range of colors and blending them together, that is in my opinion the best feature when you step up to that high of a price tag (If you spend big you should get the best) too bad Radion's $/watt ratio is nuts.

    In my opinion RapidLED's offerings are great for smaller less technical systems just not something really big like what you're looking at.

    I plan on calling CREE as well as the bigger suppliers of these products and ask them if I can directly or indirectly order or find a multi LED PCB's with the configuration of my choice along with a matching lens since no DIY supplier has a readily available product like what I'm describing and from there I can solder the bare naked LED onto the PCB in the configuration I want. That is the only problem I have found in the DIY arena, if all fails I will end up building my setup by grouping single chips as close together as i can get them (like Maxspect Razor did) which seems to work well too.
  6. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

  7. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Does that mean you might prototype your own PCB's with Eagle? :)
  8. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Honestly if I was thinking of coming up with a new product to sell it would make sense to go the custom pcb route but I am not, I just want to build a couple of fixtures to light my tank and for that reason I need to find a PCB that is readily available, that is close to what I need and has matching optics that will work for my application. Though I couldn't help thinking about using Radion TIR lens over a custom board.
  9. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Darnit! There is no clear answer! LOL! I'll check out those Maxspect ones too.

  10. CookieJar

    CookieJar Guest

    I haven't done much wtih the DIY LEDs, I've just bough finished ones. My experience is i'm currently trying out and liking a lot 1 AI Vega Color over my 180. I have left AI Vega, middle Kessil 350w and right side Evolution. I like the AI Vega over the others due to to it's color variations & controllability, not a surprise since that's basically what you pay extra for it. Also, it easily covers 24" x 24" area. Consider getting 1 of whatever type of light you like and trying it out. Almost any controllable LED you'll like, just depends on the feature set important to you and your enthusiasm for DIY.
  11. i found a decent chinese made fixture with 112 3w epistar LED's for 280 shipped.
  12. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Better watch out, if you scroll down it says that the fixture is made out of iron. Be prepared for a rusty box .
  13. Tape and a 3 dollar can of rustoleum would solve any chip, which might lead to rust. Most things rust when you don't dry,clean, or care for them.

  14. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    You don't think the Rustoleum will inhibit any of the heat dissipating properties of the heatsink, do you?
  15. I think first the unit would have to chip, then rust would have to form. The size of the chip and the amount of rust covering product used, would be minor to the heatsink. The option of changing the fansize attached to the heatsink would also be a possibility if heat were a concern.

    Here is a unit with 40x 3w cree's I'm unsure of what the shell is made of. I just don't know if I'd go 40x3w cree or 112x3w epistar.

    I don't mind trying something out to test the quality. Someone had to test bubble magus when they were cloning name brand skimmers. Now you can find tons of positive reviews on atman pumps and bubble magus skimmers, once considered chinese knock off.

    I also find it odd to only comment on rust, like rather than some constructive comments were seriously talking about rust possibility....
    I have hamilton MH ballast that have rust on them.People are still buying Sicce pumps they rust in the tank. Other threads were posted about rusty thongs/grabbers.
  16. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Here you go Vince, banged this out in a day


  17. Dang that looks pretty sick. How much did it cost for all the material and supplies?

    And how many hours did it take to bang out.
  18. uxdesigner

    uxdesigner Guest

    Hello Vince,

    I've built 5 custom DIY lights using Rapid Led and their kits/products and support are first class. Mike and his team are always willing to answer questions and get you exactly what you need, great guy! If you're specifically looking at the 180g kit and wondering if that will be enough light, it will! Make sure you get the dimming version to acclimate your corals and consider the wider 80 degree optics if you're going to run them low to mid height from the water surface. Some information/tips below that I've learned along the way. Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions.

    The red are very strong, consider a eliminating the red and going with 6 Neutral/Warm whites instead.
    UVs run at a lower 700 mah, meaning what ever other other lights you run on that string will have to be run at that lower power.
    Consider mixing the blues and the whites on a channel since they run on the same power.
    Take your time soldering over a couple of days, the 180 kit is a lot of soldering!

    Latest Builds:
    Red Sea Max 250 Build
    (48) 3 Watt Cree Leds = 12 Cool White / 4 Neutral White / 20 Royal Blue / 12 Blue
    (Note: I ran these with no optics because they were in the stock hood and so close to the water, amazing growth and color. Ended up selling tank but just bought a new one.)

    [img width=400]http://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l556/uxdesigner/Snapbucket/CC88DF19-orig.jpg[/img]

    50 Gallon Starphire Cube

    (26) 3 Watt Cree Led on 3 Dimmable Channels
    • Channel 1 (Blues Actinics) - 10 Royal Blue Cree XT-E
    • Channel 2 (Color Matrix) - 2 Blue Cree XP-E / 2 Royal Blue Cree XT-E / 2 Cree UV / 2 Green Cree XP-E
      Channel 3 (Whites) - 1 Warm White Cree XP-G / 4 Cool White Cree XM-L / 3 Royal Blue Cree XT-E
    (Note: I just sold this tank and will be adding these to my new Red Sea Max 250. Unlike my previous RSM250 build that was all LEDs, this time around I'm going to run 26 LEDs and keep 4 of the T5s for a combo light.)

    [img width=400]http://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l556/uxdesigner/Snapbucket/103FEDFC.jpg[/img]
  19. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Looks sweet mike! What colors too?
  20. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Lets see, LEDs cost around $200, Heatsink, drivers, power supply, lenses, and assorted things (screws, thermal grease,etc) maybe another $100 (note not everything is in the picture :D). I got inspired when I saw Meanwell's LDD series of drivers, slick as all hell, controllable, and cheap ($6 each) so you can pair them with a DC power supply of whatever choosing (make sure it has enough power/voltage) $60 and you're good to go, as opposed to spending $35 per driver for the Meanwell ELN series (which don't have PFC, which could get problematic with lots of drivers). Also I'm sizing my power supply such that it can power two of these fixtures, so it's a cost that splits with size, so over the cost of 2 of these fixtures, I'll spend $108 to power everything as opposed to $280.

    As to how many hours, I dunno a bunch :D Took a while to figure out which orientation I wanted (spent days overthinking this part I'm sure :D). Once I figured it out, I made a hole jig, and used my drill press to crank out the holes (maybe an hour worth of work) had the press so all the holes were straight and went to the right depth without drilling through the heatsink. Then screw, grease, screw x 48, which took maybe 2 hours as I took a few breaks as my hand hurt as did my neck, ditto with the wiring, the RapidLED ones went fairly quickly because they have the plug in connectors, the LEDGroupBuy ones took a little longer because I had to measure wire, cut and strip the ends, again though starring down at this thing does fatigue the neck. I think I started around lunch-time, with breaks, goofing off, and all that tested all the channels by 8pm or so. So good half a day of work, although if I ignored my neck and took some Ritalin for the ADD ;) I'm sure I could have done it in half that time.

    Channel 1: Neutral white Cree XTE, 3 per central cluster, the XTE Crees use a different phosphor that I'm guessing will give me more than enough 'red/amber/green" rather than wasting time with a dedicated LED
    Channel 2: Royal blue Cree XTE: 3 per central cluster
    Channel 3: Blues, Cree blue x8, Cree royal blue x4, staggered 3 per section on the outside
    Channel 4: "UV" (420nm violets) x12, staggered 3 per section on the outside.
    Unfortunately my drivers haven't arrived yet so I'm stuck with wiring up each channel with an older LPC-700 I have to see if they work (they do and it's bright as all hell without lenses). I have some more free time next weekend so I can slap everything together and have it hanging. But my palm feels bruised from too much screwing (shaddup)

    The idea is channel 1 & 2 get tuned to a color level that appeals to me, channel 3 gives me dusk/dawn plus some additional blue, channel 4 is that pre-dawn/dusk with a little actinic thrown in for flavor. Each channel ramping up as necessary. Really don't save anything over a non-dimmable version (drivers are the same cost) except perhaps the cost of the controller.

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