New here couldn't even tell u what a volt is!

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by MattL22, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. MattL22

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2010
    Hi my name is Matt I'm 29 from long island and my main hobby is my reef tank! I really interested in building a few projects for my reef that involve electronics and circuitry !
    The first being a diy dimmiable LED fixture
    The second being a wave box which basically creates a continuous wave in your tank which is great for a reef tank

    Where do I start? I know less than nothing about this stuff!
    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated
  2. MattL22

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2010
    I know I should start by reading but there is so much info here just wanna try out these two projects
    Can anyone recommend some reading about the projects I. Intrested In I couldn't find anything on the Internet that was clear enough
  3. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    Here's a DIY wavebox video; link to the build/discussion thread is also provided:

    As far as the LEDs, you can look at Bill_Marsden's blog for low-powered LED drivers. We're working up a higher-powered LED driver, but it's still in the testing phase. For saltwater reef tanks, you really need a heck of a lot of light, and the right colors, too.
  4. tyblu


    Nov 29, 2010
    Dimming LEDs is typically done by turning it on and off quickly, more quickly than the eye can perceive (kHz range); this is pulse-width modulation or PWM. You can also lower the current, but that's a bit finicky as the current ramps up in LEDs rather steeply with voltage (exponentially). Can can be done in 3 ways: a digital controller, like a microcontroller, is programmed to do this task; a PWM chip like a 555 timer (old chip) or other is calibrated and hooked straight up to the LED; or an analog monostable oscillator, which can be made in a variety of ways (transistors, op amps, crystals), is fed into an amplifier (transistor, op amp) which drives the LED.

    To get waves going... well, you likely know more about that than those in electronics.
  5. MattL22

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2010
    Hi guys thank you I'm actually gonna buy all the drivers/ parts necessary to build the led fixture and I have the instructions for the wave book controller it seem simple and was reffered to as 555 controller. Thing is I have never sodered I don't know how to add these components to a circuit board or what a circuit board is and how it works, so I'd like to read up on this stuff!
    I'll try and post the list of parts for the Wave box controller later but all it does is turn a pump on and off and it's adhustable up to 1 /10 of a secound
  6. MattL22

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2010
    And with the LEDs I'll be buying a kit from reefledlights .com I also wanna read up on LEDs to understand how they work and can be set up I'll also list the parts later so u guyshave a better idea what I. Trying to do
    Again thanks a lot for the help
  7. Rbeckett


    Sep 3, 2010
    Welcome Matt!!!! If you will start off at the top of the page and follow the ebooks above you will be pretty smart in a short period of time. The book above is an outstanding resource as well as wiki and several other sites such as the NEETS book developed by the US Navy for the training of their techs. It takes a little patience and the willingness to make a few mistakes, but none will be expensive or lfe threatening if you follow a few simple rules and avoid mains voltages. So start studying and ask questions, but remeber that the search function is your freind and will help answer more of your questions than you know you have at the moment. So jump in and welcome.
  8. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
    I'd suggest getting an electronics kit to assemble first. They can be found at surplus houses like or for reasonable prices.

    Soldering isn't an instantly learned practice, there is skill involved. Doing it wrong can destroy components you are working with.

    I mention this as you will be working with hundreds of LEDs to get the amount of light and the proper wavelengths, possibly even using surface mount LEDs (SMD) for higher density. This is especially where practice is very valuable.

    Also, get a good multimeter, preferably one with a capacitance range and diode check. I'm partial to the Fluke 87 line, they can be found on eBay for the cost of a lower quality DMM new. That is one investment I wouldn't skimp on, as everything else you will do with a circuit depends on the measurements you make with the DMM.
  9. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
    Dang BILL! That Canadian called your 555 old!


    Welcome MattL22! You should consider reading the eBook as Rbeckett said.

    When you decide on an LED or array to use, that is when you decide on the driver that handles the powering and dimming aspect.

    There are many available and there is no use overwhelming you with numbers you yet understand.

    Read some basic wiki pages on LEDs and reef tanking and figure out what wavelengths are best for your application.

    I am assuming you will want a sun-light colored LED so the reef and fish reproduce accurate colors as seen in nature.

    OR, you can whack it out and do a Martian reef tank. ;)
  10. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    BUY THIS BOOK!!!!!
    I can't reccomend it enough for total newbs. It will save you hours of wondering. For a follow up I recommend
    Its basically the same thing but a college level where the make book would be a highschool level. Once you've read those two you can pretty much read anything because you will have a firm grasp of the basics. Just always remember to do the labs!

    Also talking about a coral or reef light. You must compensate for the refraction and filtration of the water and light. Its quite severe I'm told.