Moonlights are one of the most attractive parts of an established aquarium but they can be expensive and hard to get hold of. Who wants to pay $30 or more for a few LED’s and some wiring? Not me.
This guide will explain how to make your very own set of DIY, moonlights, not only do they look amazing but you can customize both there brightness and however many you need for your application.
You will need:
- Soldering iron and solder
- Insulated copper wires, around 1-3mm are fine (black and white) buy about 3m of each to be safe
- An electrical DC adapter, I didn’t buy one of these I just found an old battery charger that was around the right voltage that i needed.
- Tape or even better – heat shrink wrap (it looks super neat and professional)
- LED bulbs – more info below
- Resistors – more info below
- Some plastic zip ties.
For the LED’s, you want to look at the major factors. Firstly the best coloured blue for moonlight is about 470 – 480nm (this is a wavelength that determines colour).
Secondly the mcd rating will give you brightness, mine are around 5000 and are very bright.
Thirdly the forward voltage, you want the normal size LED so it should be about 3.3V, the mA can range between about 20-35 but this is irrelevant until the circuit.
Lastly you want to make sure the viewing angle is as large as possible, if it is too narrow it looks more like a spotlight than moonlight.
Wiring it up, put the number of LED’s you want, the voltage of your power adapter and the specs of your LED’s into this calculator and it will give you everything you need to know http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz
It will also tell you how much power is dissipated through the resistors and LED’s, you want to lose as little power through the resistors as this will be a more efficient setup.
Next is to solder the whole thing together, break up the wire into the parts needed and solder the resistors to the wire/s. Depending on your generated diagram you will either be using a series or parallel circuit, assuming it is parallel each LED will need to be separately attached to the positive terminal before the led. Make sure to only apply heat for 2secs at a time when soldering the LED, as if you leave it for too long it will break. Basically follow the directed diagram but between the bulbs leave as much wire as necessary to give you the correct spacing.
For a parallel the best way to do this is
Once the circuit has been soldered, slide heat shrink and shrink with a lighter, or simply wrap electrical tape around the joints to prevent short circuiting. Zip ties can be used to make the whole circuit into a single rope. When you have sealed everything accordingly it is time to set it up, I attach mine directly to my T5 light setup, the zip ties hold it in place. It is easiest to attach them to an existing light or place them at the back edge of the aquarium.
Congratulations, you can now enjoy your aquarium at all hours and not just during the day!