Upgrading Viparspectra 165w to SB Reef Light PCB DIY Picture Tutorial

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by WhiskeyCoffee, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. WhiskeyCoffee

    WhiskeyCoffee Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Just upgraded my Viparspectra 165w to the SB Reef Light PCBs. This was a fairly easy upgrade, however they use a different shape Molex connection so I had to splice my wires and use my old pin connections. It was nerve wracking but simple when using butt splices.

    First thing I noticed was on the side of the box, it says "PCB Board" with Chinese characters. I believe SB orders the boards from China and then retrofits them with their own LEDs. At least I hope this is the case.

    [​IMG]

    Second thing I noticed was a rattle in the box, this was due to light covers coming off. Fortunately they snap back on and they have a layout available on their website so you are putting the lenses back in the correct position.

    [​IMG]

    I was very impressed when I opened the Viparspectra lights. Very clean and organized, didn't seem like they cut any corners. As you can see the SB and VP almost look identical from above, expect VP adds additional heatsinks on top. The effectiveness is debatable and unfortunately I don't own an infrared thermometer.

    [​IMG]

    At this angle you can see that the VP and SB boards are the same thickness, 1/16". Many of the lower end black box lights use boards as thin as license plates (supposedly).

    [​IMG]

    Here I've completed the upgrade and you can see the butt splices I had to use.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the SB Reef Light LEDs definitely have more purple (right):

    [​IMG]

    So in my opinion, Viparspectra definitely seems to be on the "higher end" of the black box spectrum. The color and arrangement of the lights seems to be almost on par with SB, with SB having more true UV and better lenses for light distribution. I would say it's almost not worth it to upgrade if you already own Viparspectras and this upgrade would be a better choice for people who bought extremely cheap black boxes such as Mars Aqua, Galaxyhydro, etc.

    Time will tell if this was a solid investment, though.
     

  2. Bronc

    Bronc Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks for the write up! I have Viparspectras and this was good info!
     
  3. WhiskeyCoffee

    WhiskeyCoffee Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    No problem. I tried to lay it out as objectively and fair as possible, unfortunately I am not able to make any empirical claims so we'll go with my gut feeling haha. People who are having success with VPs are probably fine with them as they are... However if my corals start growing out of control I'll come back and let y'all know. ;)
     
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  4. Flippers4pups

    Flippers4pups Fins up since 1993 R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor

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    Good write up. I would go with the SB upgrade only if I had a mass diode burn out with my modded Mars units. The 3w diodes are very cheap and easy to find. So with that said, I'll replace my diodes if and when they burn out. Now if I was to replace my entire units down the road, SB or possibly the Viparspectra's would be a good choice.
     
  5. Ranjib

    Ranjib Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Thank you for sharing this. Very informative.
     
  6. WhiskeyCoffee

    WhiskeyCoffee Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Yeah in hindsight it would have been more economical to wait until I had burnt out diodes but with all the rave about SB I wanted to get something "better". When I opened up the VS I was expecting something that looked like a Mars Aqua - cheap, flimsy, rats nest of wires. I wasn't expecting it to look as professional haha.
     
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  7. Ranjib

    Ranjib Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Hey, at least we know now that some of these blackboxes are actually pretty good. Someone had already asserted that, but now we know specific brands, and how/what good bits are in there.
    Thanks for sharing,
     
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  8. WhiskeyCoffee

    WhiskeyCoffee Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I agree! All black boxes are not in fact created equal! :p
     
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  9. 2015GaTor

    2015GaTor Member

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    I just switched to the SB Reeflight PCB Boards from the Mars Aqua. The Mars Aqua are about the same thickness as the SBs and the connectors are the same which was nice. The holes don’t line up though but I just left it in there laying flat with the rubber seal around the board so it didn’t vibrate. The blue channel isn’t much different alittle more purple the main difference was the white channel which was a big improvement from the Mars Aqua board, the light are more blue than yellow which I like. Well worth the $70.
     
  10. Ranjib

    Ranjib Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    One of the reef-pi user, @jcmental was also able to mod the viparspectra to be dimmable via reef-pi (or any other controller) , I am impressed
     
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