26 May 2012

Bulding AI SOL Suspension Frame

We decided that in setting up the new 90 gallon tank, we wre going to make some lighting changes.  Our old 2 x 250 watt metal halides were in need of at least 1 new ballast and transformer and the remaining working electronics showed some cracking as well.  Rather than repair the old unit, we decided to try LED lighting.

After doing some research, it seemed as if the Aquailluminations Sol units had many of the features I wanted.  Independently controllable white and blue channels, enough power so that two units would allow me to grow stony corals in my 90 gallon tank, a price tag less than the equally intriguing Radions, and finally, the ability to interface with my Reefkeeper Elite controller.

One issue was in mounting.  The ceiling wire mouting brackets that come as an option with the AI Sol lights allow for mounting across the width of my tank, not down the long axis.  I saw one person on YouTube mount them down the long axis of the tank on a single mounting rail, but I saw two problems with this.  First, the lights balance on a single rail so the smallest amount of weight, say from a power or data cord, would tilt the light away from an an angle normal to the water's surface.  Second, a single suspension bar running down the length of the fixture blocks the cooling fan which is centered on the AI Sol module.

I built my own mount using 80/20 aluminum extrusion.  Using the 1" x 1" Series 10 material, I simply made a frame using two 36" lengths of extrusion as well as four 12" lengths. The 12" cross braces were set far enough apart so an AI light module could hanng from two of the cross braces using the OEMs mounting screw.  I used a plug tap (13/64") to thread the ends of the 36" extrusions in order to accept an M10x1.0 screw which attached the entire frame to my ceiling mounting wires.

The assembly and mounting are shown in the video.

Thankfully it all went well.  The lights look great.  I was worried that they would be too blue but at 100/100/100 they give out a great, cool white light.  The photos make it look far bluer than the eye perceives.  Tomorrow I wil work on setting up the controller and cleaning up the data and power cables on the unit.

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