Canopy and Stand Build for 42 Gallon Hex Tank

n2585722

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I wanted to get back into the hobby and try out LED's as a light source. I had a 42 gallon hex tank on hand to use as a test tank for this. My better half had a few requirements if I set this tank back up. She did not want to see a water line or the gravel or sand below the surface level on the glass sides of the tank. Also she did not want to see any equipment hanging off or under the tank. So I had to come up with a way to accomplish this and still have a working tank. I got her to compromise on 5 1/4" tubes from the wall plate to the tank along with the backup battery for the Vortech pumps. Otherwise I believe I have met her original conditions. I did not want it in a corner due to how it was built, but that was the only location I was allowed to use. But I did get a compromise on allowing it to be out from the wall enough to allow access to the back of the stand and canopy. There was carpet in the room where it was to be install. It was rather old carpet so I was allowed to cut the squares enough to allow the stand to sit on the concrete slab. I do plan on replacing the carpet squares in this room in the future. The photo below is of the finished product. The stand and canopy is made from pine like you can get from Lowes or Home Depot.

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There was no plywood used in this project. Lots of screws though. I think it was close to 800 of them. The doors are raised panel doors that are 5 separate pieces.

The canopy

I will start with the canopy build. Below are the pieces of wood for the project. This photo was taken after the tear down from the initial build. After the initial build the stand and canopy was tested in the garage for about 4 weeks before it was torn down for the final assembly where the parts were glued sanded, stained and final touches were added. This project was started in 2008, so it has been going on for a long time. My saws are in the garage and in Texas there are only a few days that are comfortable to work for any length of time in there. Also I have had limited free time for the project.

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The canopy consist of a inner frame that has side panels, bottom outer frame, top outer frame and lid attached. Below is the top inner frame after it was glued and had a couple coats of primer. This view is from the top. The large rectangular hole is for the acrylic cover for the LED's. The LED's and other electronics are not exposed to the area above the tank. The pocket holes drilled at angles at the corners are how the side panels are attached at the top.

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Below is the bottom view of the inner frame. The open section is to allow a overflow box on the back of the tank. This tank is not drilled so I decided to use an overflow instead of drilling the tank.

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The bottom outer frame holds the panels together at the bottom. It is attached to each panel with 2 screws. Below is a photo of the assembled bottom outer frame. This is a top view. There is a pattern cut out of it that matches the bottom edge of the side panels.

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Below is a photo of a single section of the bottom outer frame that shows the pattern a little better.

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Below is the top outer frame bottom view. This also has a pattern cut out to match the top of the side panels.

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Below is a photo of a single section of the top outer frame. It is a little easier to see the pattern in this photo.

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Below is an assembled side panel with door attached. The door is not completely done at the time of the photo.

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The parts of a side panel and door are in the photo below.

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Below is a picture of the top rail on the side panel it has a pattern cut into it to allow ventilation of the compartment where the LED's and electronics will be kept. Also the bottom is cut at a 15 degree angle so that water drips are kept in the canopy and not on the floor the bottom rail has the same 15 degree cut on the top. Both slant down toward the inside of the canopy.

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The corner view below will show the slits that are used for ventilation in the top of the side panel. Also it gives a good view of the insert at the corner where the side panels come together. I think this was purchase from Home Depot. It does add to the overall appeal of the project.

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I guess this is a long enough post for now. More to come.
 
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n2585722

n2585722

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That is really good looking woodwork! I look forward to seeing your updates.
Thanks for the complement on the woodwork. This is my first major project like this. My last tank seemed to always have accidental leaks. Not from the tank itself but from equipment outside the tank. I wanted to try several things to help mitigate spills. I am trying these out with this build. Also electronics usually doesn't fair too well around salt water so I tried to make the electronics as isolated from the water source as possible. Time will tell if the things I am trying will help.
 
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FugeReefer

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Thanks for the complement on the woodwork. This is my first major project like this. My last tank seemed to always have accidental leaks. Not from the tank itself but from equipment outside the tank. I wanted to try several things to help mitigate spills. I am trying these out with this build. Also electronics usually dosen't fair too well around salt water so I tried to make the electronics as isolated from the water source as possible. Time will tell if the things I am trying will help.

It's great to see that you have a plan and have learned from past issues. We all have things that we would like to do differently and a new build allows us to put in solutions for those issues. Thank you for sharing more detail of what you have experienced in the past that is affecting your new build. We will all benefit from what you have to offer.
 
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n2585722

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It's great to see that you have a plan and have learned from past issues. We all have things that we would like to do differently and a new build allows us to put in solutions for those issues. Thank you for sharing more detail of what you have experienced in the past that is affecting your new build. We will all benefit from what you have to offer.
Thanks, the previous tank was up and running in the early 90's a lot has changed since then. I will go into the things I have done to hopefully help reduce accidental events from getting out of hand as I go.
 
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The inner frame barrier is made up of 6 parts that are connected using pocket hole screws and glue. Once the inner frame barrier was assembled and glued the pocket holes were plugged. Hopefully this will protect the screws from the salt environment. Below are photos of the top inner frame parts and inner barrier parts.

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The bottom inner frame parts along with the rest of the inner frame parts are shown below. The inner frame sits on top of the tank. The side panels and bottom outer frame drop below the top of the tank to hide the top of the tank from normal viewing.

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The photo below is the canopy from the back. It was assembled here for testing and was not the final assembly. You can see the height difference between the bottom outer frame and the bottom inner frame in this photo.

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Below is a photo of the inside of the canopy through a door opening. This photo was also taken during initial assembly and testing. It also shows the vent for the LED's and electronics in the top of the canopy just below the top outer frame. All panels except the back panel have these vents. I was trying to make them blend in and not be so noticeable. The LED heat sink has 2 fans that exhaust the air out the top of the lid. In the final assembly parts were added to carry the 15 degree slant through the bottom at top inner frames like on the panels. Any water that accumulates there will drip back into the tank.

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More photos to come.
 
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I used a template to make the cuts in the top outer frame and bottom outer frame sections. These same templates were used for top outer frame and bottom outer frame sections of the stand. Below is a photo of the two templates and the fixture used to help attach the templates correctly on the sections of the frame. A section of the outer frame is below the fixture. The fixture was made out of some scrap lumber. The hard part was making the templates to match the top and bottom edge of the side panels. Unfortunately I did not take any photos of that process. I used a few wooden pieces that were taped to the wood template against a assembles side panel. Since the templates were cut all the way through I used a bit with the bearing away from the router or the top of the bit.

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The photo below shows the outer frame section inserted into the fixture. It is now ready to attach the templates.

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To attach the templates I used double sided foam tape. The photo below shows the templates ready for attachment. Just peal off the backing and attach to the section in the fixture.
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The photo below has the inner template attached to the section.

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The photo below has both templates attached. Now the section is ready to be removed from the fixture.

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Below is a photo of the section removed from the frame. Ready to make the cut.

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The bit used to make the cut is shown below the section in the photo below. The guide bearing is on the router side of the bit or bottom of the bit since the cut doesn't go all the way through the section. The bottom sections inner portion was trimmed off with a saw after the cuts were made with the router. This was done on a router table and not a hand held router.

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Hope this helps show how to get a pattern cut into several wood sections when all have to be near identical for it to work correctly.

More photos to come.
 
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OK, I didn't forget the LED's. That is one of the reasons for the canopy to begin with. When I started this build there were not a lot of choices in LED's. Now there several fixtures you can get that are ready to go. The first photo is the bottom of the heat sink with the LED's attached. This is the original setup. It has changed some since the photo. There are 6 white, 6 blue and 6 royal blue. There are also 2 RGBW LED's. The two black assemblies are moon lights. The acrylic barrier is in place here.

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The next photo is of a top view of the LED heat sink set where it will be mounted in the canopy.

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The next photo is the top of the canopy with the acrylic barrier in place. This keeps the salt spray and water splashes away from the LED's. These photos were taken during the initial assembly.

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The original build was using LED drivers that were controlled with a 0-10v input. Unfortunately these would not turn on until around 1 volt and the LED's were on at 10%. I later changed to the Meanwell LDD drivers that use a pulse width modulation control signal or PWM. These turn on at a lot lower light output. The current setup has 8 LDD drivers and 26 LED's. The LED's consist 6 white, 12 royal blue, 4 UV, 2 RGBW, 1 deep Red and 1 cyan. I use 2 power supplies a 12 volt and a 24 volt supply. The 12 volt supply is also the supply for the 9 fans used in the build. There are 3 strings of 6 one white and two royal blue. These are driven by the 24 volt supply. The string of 4 UV LED's are also driven by the 24 volt supply. The rest are all driven from the 12 volt supply. There are 6 control channels white, royal blue, UV, red, green and blue. Currently the total on time is 10 hours but there is a 4 hour ramp up and 4 hour ramp down so there is only 2 hours at max output.

More photos to come.
 
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The stain I used was Minwax Bombay Mahogany with a clear coat of polyurethane satin. I did brush on and wipe off with the stain to get the color I wanted I did 2 applications of stain and 2 coats of the clear. The two photos below are of the finished top outer frame and lid.

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The areas where electronics are housed is painted black. The areas exposed to water are painted white with a rubber spray on coating. If the coating holds up good I will use it again on another build. In the photo below you can see the white interior. The doors are not painted white because I intend on adding panels on the inside of the door like I have on the stand. There are five doors to access the top of the tank. I still have not chosen any knob hardware yet. I may not except for the lid. I will need to get something for that.

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The photo below shows the canopy from the rear. The white rectangles hold 3 keystone inserts each. The one to the left has a jack for the 12 volts and 24 volts for the LED's. The one on the right has one 6 pin RJ11 connector and one 8 pin RJ45 connector. The RJ11 is for the controller buss and the RJ45 is for any control signals I need to run from the stand to the canopy. There are 2 spare slots for any other keystone inserts I need in the future. The black bracket is for attaching the conduit that runs from the electronics cabinet in the back of the stand.

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The photo below shows the bottom of the bracket for the conduit. Also more of the interior of the canopy is shown.

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The photo below is a little blurry but it shows the conduit connected to the bracket and the cables plugged into the jacks. There is a back cover that hides the back of the tank and canopy. It sits on top of the back cabinet that is attached to the stand. In these photos the back cover has been removed.

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The photo below shows the overflow in place. The conduit attached. There are extra cables that are in the conduit on both sides for future use. The cables dangling on the right hook to the fans that are mounted in the back cover.

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Sorry for the blurry photos it is hard to get the photos from behind the tank. With the low light it causes them to be grainy. More photos to follow.
 
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The Stand

Now on to the stand. The stand consist of the inner frame which is the actual stand for the tank. Side panels are attached to the stand by screws at the corners underneath the inserts. Below are three photos of the wood cut and ready to use for the stand and back cover. All three photos are of the same wood just different angles.

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The post of the stand were trimmed 2x4 to allow a sump to be positioned two different ways. These are the darker pieces piled together in the above photo. Below is a photo of the sections of the lower inner frame which is also 2x4's.

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The photo below show the bottom inner frame assembled.

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The photo below shows the post attached to the bottom inner frame. Also you can see the inserts where the side panels will be screwed the stand.

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In the photo below is the top inner frame sections. To the side is the sections of the bottom inner frame.

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Below is the upper inner frame assembled.
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The photo below is the top inner frame attached to the post and bottom inner frame. The stack of wood to the right is the bracing that goes between the post at the top and bottom
These also have the 15 degree slant like the panels.

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More to come on the stand.
 
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The pieces for the bottom of the stand are in the photo below. Once this is glued and screwed together the pocket holes will be plugged.

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This show the bottom put together for a test fit.

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The photo below is stand with the bottom in place. The bracing is also attached it the photo.

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The front inner panel pieces is shown below. This is for mounting the electronic modules for all the probes. This will be accessed behind the front door of the stand. Access to the sump area will be through the four side doors of the stand.

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The assembled front panel is shown in the photo below.

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The photo below is of the stand after final assembly. This is a view of the bottom.

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The photo below is the front view of the assembled stand. The inner front panel has the inserts for mounting the modules installed. Also the pocket holes have been plugged. The rectangular hole at the bottom of the inner front panel is for the cables on the sensors and probes. A flap will be mounted on the sump side to keep any water from splashing into the electronics section. The hole is above the spillover of the bottom of the stand. So water will spill out to the floor before it can enter the electronics section.

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The photo below is with the sump in place. The two holes in the inner front panel are for conduit where the wire cables between the front panel and back cabinet run.

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A top view of the stand with the sump in place is show below. It is almost ready for primer and painting at this point. The grooves in the top are to allow water if spilled to drain back into the stand instead of out onto the floor. The stand once it is completed will hold water without leaking. The sump will fit in the stand a either of two angles. The position show just happens to be the way it is now placed. The stand is capable of holding the weight of a full tank without the side panels attached. A side panel at either end of the sump would have to be removed to get the sump in or out of the stand.

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More to come on the stand.
 
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Wow. Everything is looking great.
Thank you. It came out good enough for my wife to ask for me to make her new kitchen cabinets. So I guess that will be my next big project.
 
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The photo below shows the stand with a couple coats of primer. It also has the trim attached to the upper frame to block the water from spilling off the outer edge. This will only stop minor leaks. A catastrophic leak I don't think there is a way without going to extremes.

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The trim is easier to see from the top view below.

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The photo below is with the white pant on the area that is possibly exposed to water. The other areas are painted black.

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The photo below is a front view showing the area for the controller modules. The upper frame support blocks the view of the two conduit holes for the wiring. I was not too worried about the transition from white to black as this happens in areas that are out of sight when the panels are attached.

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A view from the back in photo below. You can also see the slit for the flap that will cover the access hole for wiring between the sump and the modules. There is also one of these access holes in the back cabinet that is larger for the power cords for the pumps and heater used. Once the painting was complete and rubber coating added I filled the bottom of the stand and let it sit for hours to check for leaks. It hold about 3 gallons without the sump installed. I would guess it will be more like a gallon once the sump is in place. There will be two float switches installed to sense a leak when it happens. Notice I said when and not if.

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More to come.
 
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n2585722

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Jason thanks for the compliments. I am by no means an expert at this. It is just as fun for me to build the stand and canopy as the rest of the build.
 
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Next the side panels for the stand. The width dimensions are the same on the stand and canopy. The only difference is the vertical pieces are longer. Since they are the same other than length I will go into a little more detail here. There are five side panels that are the same for the most part. The front side panel is a little different since it covers the area with the electronics. Below is the parts for a side panel.

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The assembled side panel is in the photo below. The main difference between the panels is the side the door is mounted on.

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The door pieces are in the photo below. The horizontal pieces are called rails. The vertical pieces are called stiles. The inside piece is called the raised panel. To make the doors requires a bit set specifically for raised panel doors. There are several styles of cuts available. There are usually 3 bits in the set. One for the raised panel, one for the rail ends and one for the side of the rails and stiles that face the raised panel. It will take more than one pass to complete a cut. You don't want to cut too much out at one time. The cross cuts require pieces at the end of the cut to keep it from chipping the wood as the bit comes out. I used some scrap for this or 1x2's if no scrap was around.

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Below is an assembled door.

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The next two photos are of a assembled side panel and door assembly. It the photo below you can see how the vent was done at the bottom of the photo. That also happens to be the bottom of the panel. The stand has the vents at the bottom and the canopy has them at the top.

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The photo below has the door open. This gives a good view of the side piece. The side piece is where the side panel is screwed to the stand. There are recess cuts made to accommodate the screw between two panels and to accommodate the screw head and washer behind the insert when it is in place. The side piece of two adjacent panels and the insert form a column at each corner of the stand. The insert hides the screws from view when in place. There are 4 screws on each side that hold the two adjacent panels to the stand. The side pieces were cut to be used on either side so that is the reason for 8 sets of cuts.

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That is about it for the front and side panels for now.
 
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