• For a Limited Time the R2R Partner Membership is NOW OPEN! Get some cool swag and chances to win part of over $20,000 in prizes! Click here for more details

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

WhiskeyCoffee

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
534
Reaction score
401
Location
Silverdale, WA
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.



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.



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.



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).



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





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



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.
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
WhiskeyCoffee

WhiskeyCoffee

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
534
Reaction score
401
Location
Silverdale, WA
Thanks for the write up! I have Viparspectras and this was good info!
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. ;)
 

Flippers4pups

Fins up since 1993
View Badges
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
18,018
Reaction score
58,926
Location
Lake Saint Louis, Mo
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.
 
OP
WhiskeyCoffee

WhiskeyCoffee

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
534
Reaction score
401
Location
Silverdale, WA
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.
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.
 

Ranjib

7500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
8,280
Reaction score
14,752
Location
Palo Alto, Bay Area
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.
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,
 
OP
WhiskeyCoffee

WhiskeyCoffee

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
534
Reaction score
401
Location
Silverdale, WA
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,
I agree! All black boxes are not in fact created equal! :p
 

2015GaTor

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 30, 2017
Messages
227
Reaction score
33
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.
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

Rahtid27

New Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
5
I just purchased 2 Vipars' and I am considering adding supplemental T5's. Anyone have an opinion on this combination?
 

Bronc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
1,330
Reaction score
2,173
Location
Tulsa, OK
I just purchased 2 Vipars' and I am considering adding supplemental T5's. Anyone have an opinion on this combination?
I have two Viparspectras, 2 T5s and a ReefBrite TechStrip and I love them. I’d definitely recommend adding some T5s to add more PAR and fill in shadows.
 

Pmj

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
257
Reaction score
217
The SB really doesn't have any fins for the heat sink at all? That's surprising, the original evergrow has heat sink fins on the whole thing. Vipar has to cool better than nothing.
 
OP
WhiskeyCoffee

WhiskeyCoffee

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
534
Reaction score
401
Location
Silverdale, WA
The SB really doesn't have any fins for the heat sink at all? That's surprising, the original evergrow has heat sink fins on the whole thing. Vipar has to cool better than nothing.
They claim they aren't necessary. I haven't had any issues so maybe they are right.
 

chicago

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 28, 2014
Messages
1,241
Reaction score
437
Location
chicago
you did not mention it5080.... are we thinking those are not worth the coin compared to the viparspectra?
 

Would you be shocked by today's reefing hobby if you had just returned after a long period of time?

  • Yes (tell us why in the thread)

    Votes: 202 52.3%
  • No

    Votes: 71 18.4%
  • Somewhat

    Votes: 109 28.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 1.0%

Online statistics

Members online
2,329
Guests online
5,221
Total visitors
7,550
Tunze
Top