Instructables

Automatic, Biorhythm LED Aquarium Light

Normal aquarium lights are fluorescent tubes that require that you turn them on in the morning and off at night. This isn't the most efficient way to light a tank, but for some reason it's the default kit you get. Another issue is that the high-voltage circuit that powers the bulb is loud!

Also, in my house, we inevitably forget to turn on the light in the morning, or we turn it off way too late in the evening, and that means the "day" for the fish is always a little off. Considering that these are living creatures that base their life patterns on the sunshine, I always thought it must really be messing them up.

So this project had a couple of main goals:

1) Replace the fluorescent light with something that is quieter and more energy efficient
2) Come up with a way to vary the light intensity with the natural sunlight outside
3) Package it all within the existing light hood
 
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Step 1: Materials

Setup:
1 - Existing fluorescent aquarium hood
4-5 feet - Braided steel picture hanging wire

Electrical:
1 - Amtel ATMega168 Microcontroller
50-70 - High Intensity, White LED's
3 - 1M resistor
1 - Potentiometer
1 - Light Dependent Resistor
1 - Push button switch (SPST, default off)
1 - Project board
1 - 7805, 5V voltage regulator
1 - IRF510, N-Channel Power MOSFET
2-4 feet - copper hookup wire
1 - 12V power supply (at least 2A, whatever you have lying around)
1 each - Male and Female headers

Tools:
Drill
Wire cutters
Pliers
Soldering Iron
(All the basics)
AlirezaFire2 years ago
hi
thanks for your perfect post would you post schematic , if you don't have program i can help you. i would be appreciate if you send handy drawing model to my E-mail and i will draw schematic and send circuit back to you for sharing
Email: Alireza.Ahmadi@live.com
Alireza.Ahhmadi917@gmail.com
you should prolly delete your e-mails on here Private message them to him.. There are spam bots that look for this. next thing you know you are overwhelmed with spam.
I think this instructable is awesome, especially since I have little knowledge of this type of electronics. I was wondering how would I go about making this into a timed based system instead mimicking the natural light outside? I don't keep my tank close to a window nor do I want to string that long of a cable to a window. I want the light to slowly turn on and off over the course of 30-45 minutes and turn some moonlights off and on an hour or so later/ before. Any suggestions???
Old post, but I think you could just use the micro to "dim" the lights by turning them on and off super fast (like >1kHz) and adjusting how long they were on vs off. This is called the "duty cycle", and it's a common control for LEDs. You'd also have to adjust the code so the micro knew what time of day it was. I am not familiar enough with these to know if their internal clock will even keep accurate time for a day, so you might need an external part to keep time. You'd also have to have some interface for setting the time, something like a reset button, or an hour/minute button.
ahp22674 years ago
I really love this Idea of lighting. Would it be possible to get a copy of the schematic or a drawing of the breadboard model. I am not electronic savy, and would need as much help as I can get in doing the electronics. I would like to build this lighting system for my aquariums.  Thank you for this instructable.
navyredman4 years ago
Sorry, I'm new to this site and didn't see anywhere that I could edit my comment, but I have a question now. What is it that you pointed out that you left on the PCB but don't use anymore? Is it an AC or DC plug?

Also, I may be missing something completely, but you have the firmware included, but is there no place to see how this curcuit is wired? I mean, I can see you have a switch and a resistor, maybe two, looks like maybe an IC, a jumper and a few other things, but I'm just not getting how it's wired. I know you said you have no place to create a schematic, so I gave you the link to that freeware(it works really well by the way), but as somebody esle pointed out if you could just throw a drawing on a piece of paper that would be awesome. I am really interested in doing this.

Also, the LED's you ended up using you said were put together in series, so when you took them apart you didn't have to re-solder them right? All you did was put the LED's you already had in series and then put those in paralel correct?

Another  thing. Since I don't know how this is wired  or anything, do you think it would be possible to add in moonlight that would gradually increase and then decrease just like the daytime lighting?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just really interested ini this. 
paryl (author)  navyredman4 years ago
Thanks for the questions!  I appreciate the link to fritzing...I'll try it out and see if I can get something posted for you.

As far as the unused component, you're correct, it's a DC plug that Iwas using for power while I was working on the circuit on mybench.  I left it there in case I decided to pull the board out tothrow in more changes.  As it is, the braided wire provides powerto both the circuit and LEDs at the same time.

For the LEDs, indeed I DID resolder them.  Take a look atthe photos and you'll see what I mean.  I soldered several stringsof 4 LEDs in series, and then wired all of the 4 LED strings in parallelwith each other.  That means 12V is provided to 4 LEDs at a time,for 3V each.  As long as your power supply is a steady 12V, thisshould be fine.  YMMV.
Where did you find that stinkin LED flood light. I've spent two daystrying to find one. Looks like if I want to complete this project I'mgonna have to dig into my bulk bought LED's 

I'm not sure how this site works, but I'm planning on making a fewchanges to your design for safety and usability. For one I have touse insulated wire to put the LED's on. I have been designing andmanufacturing electronics for some time now and looking at that makes mecringe lol  I'm gonna use a single core copper wire it will beanywere from 14 to 22 AWG and insulated. I'm also going to cover thoseflat nuts and bolts that you have on the side of the lid so I don'tshock myself. Just an idea for ya
paryl (author)  paryl4 years ago
I forgot your last question...

I'm not sure if a moonlight switch would be possible or not, at leastnot in the same way.  I'm not sure if an LDR is sensitive enough todetect the moonlight, and I definitely think you could have issues withstreet lights or other outdoor lighting causing it to getconfused.  Since the sun dwarfs these, it's easy enough to filterout the less intense light.

That being said, as I mentioned in one of my other comments, the IRF510seems to have a certain amount of bleed voltage when at 0 in my case, sothere is definitely a slight 'moonglow' at night with mine, it justdoesn't change intensity through the night.

Incidentally, I've been using this setup for a solid 6 months, and havehad ZERO side effects on either plant life or fish life.  The tankseems to be perfectly happy.  I hope it works out the same for you!
navyredman4 years ago
If you'd like to publish a schematic or a drawing or a breadboard model try this  fritzing.org/    that may do what you want
thewhite5 years ago
You have to remember that LED light is not suitable for most aquatic plants (don't bother if they are artificial ;-)), otherwise excellent job. (if you've got no plants, remember to change water on weekly basis about 20-30% a week. might be tap water) Also you can think about night light, 1-2h after main is switched off. For example 5 blue LEDs... Cheers.
paryl (author)  thewhite5 years ago
Initially I would agree about the plants, but I'm honestly not sure... do you have more information? If you see the first comment and my reply... I haven't been able to find any information to say that LED light is any better/worse for the plants at all. I did find several LED "plant light" products though... so apparently they can be tuned to get the right balance. As to your second point, very true! In my case, when I brought the signal of the IRF510 to 0, it allowed a bit of bleed voltage (I don't know if mine is defective, or if that's expected and you have to negative bias it?) which gives a very faint glow. Simulates moonlight quite well.
thewhite paryl5 years ago
Hi, sorry for delay in answering. Output light from LED is monochrome, in some circumstances that is ok, (car light for example). For human eye there's no difference, for plants the difference is HUGE. http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/BIOBK/BioBookPS.html here is basic article about photosynthesis, but you can find plenty of them on wikipedia or Internet.
Anyway, I haven't seen any serious planted tank setup with LED light.
Probably for some less demanding plants LED lights are fair enough, not for all definitely.
It might be tempting to use tricolour LEDs to create a certain colour of light from the red, green and blue components, but that would be unwise because that is really only a simulation and will have huge ranges of the visible spectrum absent (possibly excluding critical wavelengths for plantlife). "White" LEDs, on the other hand, should be OK because they are not monochromatic at all. They are actually a blue or ultraviolet LED "chip" coated with a scintillant that glows in a fairly broad spectrum in almost exactly the same way as a fluorescent tube does. It's probably far from an an ideal solution, but white LED's should be pretty right.
Actually I'm testing at the moment luxeon LED's as a source of light. They are 2 x 3W white (very small tank, rather jar than tank, without CO2 only easycarbo as a source of carbon). So far exactly as I expected, some demanding plants not growing as under normal T8/T5 light tubes. For other plants like java moss its ok, more or less the same growing ratio. I'm going to set up small tank/jar with glosstigma next week and see what happen.
White led alone may not be suitable for plants. But what if you also added red and blue led's to match the Florescent lamp's spectrum?
peninbrant4 years ago
I agree, great article. Looking to build a "reef capable" LED based lighting system. Any help of course much appreciated. But again way to go!
luptakt4 years ago
Hi, this is great article but would be even greater if you could publish the schematics. ;) Just try to draw it yourself to a piece of paper and scan it. Should be good enough.
Hermeez5 years ago
How could this be adapted for a small saltwater aquarium. I think the LEDs need to have another spec.
lemonie5 years ago
Do you get the right frequency / intensity distribution from the LEDs? I'd always thought that the aquarium tubes were expensive because they're designed to produce the right balance of light, but I know little more than this.

L
paryl (author)  lemonie5 years ago
That's a great question! As to the frequency, I think it depends on what bulb you buy. You can definitely buy tuned bulbs, but they still don't limit themselves to the specific frequency that's best for fish. From my research, 555nm is the goal for aquarium lighting, but most lights spew white light across the spectrum. Because of that, I figured it wouldn't be a huge deal in my case... the white LEDs will emit light across various frequencies. For the record, I've been running it as in the post for a while with no perceivable negative effects. As far as intensity distribution, that took a little bit of tweaking. I installed them all and then pointed them to get the optimal mix. Because of the way I suspended the LEDs from the power cables, the wire they are mounted on allows them to be pointed wherever needed. Something else that I failed to mention... some people like to put in plant bulbs that increase plant and algae growth. In my house we tend to try to control algae as much as possible in our tank, so I wasn't going for optimal plant growth. We just drop in algae wafers whenever our pleco looks hungry. If you were concerned with algae growth, you would probably want to throw in some UV LEDs or even a mix of other colors to give you the right lighting.
lemonie paryl5 years ago
I maybe should have used "colour temperature" instead. Like you make reference to UV, aquaria tend to use fairly high colour temperature lighting, with more UV I think. This would be important for plants, but I'm not sure about anything else. Anyway, it's a great build gives me a few ideas L
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