DIY LED strip light for nano use

rebel

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Hi everyone,

DIY is not my strong point but since I've been aquariumised (again) since 2013 after long break, I have been dabbling a little. So this project is slightly more advanced than my previous attempts.

Goal was to make a nice looking low light for my low-tech shrimp tank.

Material Used
1. Heat sink - Bunnings fluted aluminium 3mm - I bought only 1metre
2. LED strip - left over 4500K 'waterproof' strip - similar to this
3. Connectors - simple male to female connectors
4. Power supply - 84W because I had one
5. Clear acrylic 6mm thickness

The simplicity of the build comes from the fact that the drivers are all built in to the led strips and you can cut them along the lines without any issues.

Learning points
1. Ebay ip67 strips are not water 'proof'; They rust and seem to discolour the silicon lining and lose their brightness and color eventually. My previous build fell into the water and completely rusted (my fault also).
2. The fluted aluminium is a good heat conductor but may not be enough for 4 strips that I have fixed - I can put my finger on it for 3 seconds before the heat is too much. - Time will tell whether there will be premature LED failure (possible)
3. Corded drills are infinitely better :O - After my cordless ran out of battery (OZito from Bunnings but apparently they don't have the same batteries anymore!), I got a corded drill and I am a convert.
4. Soldering skills have a steel learning curve (See pictures below and laugh)


I will let the pictures do the talking.

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C78203E5-B13B-4428-B180-D33C4C758FEC_zps8nhmev4r.jpg


C78203E5-B13B-4428-B180-D33C4C758FEC_zps8nhmev4r.jpg


A1B18C54-393A-44EC-8B71-1A021B9E8B3B_zpsxjkkqftp.jpg



E143B58B-B5FC-49CC-8FB3-D833FE1DA10F_zps2ni7uqo9.jpg



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1A2A6DFA-0CEC-4818-B1FA-7F395A7532F3_zps28tvwvai.jpg





Now, your challenge, if you wish to accept it, is to try and better this design, both/either aesthetically and/or functionally, and post your results and instructions here.




 
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Looks good.
Just a few questions/comments.

1. Are you using thermal paste to transfer the heat from the led to the heat sink. If not it would prevent hot spots on sections not making the best contact.

2.the fins on the heat sink look like they could be on the small side to move the amount of heat the leds produce. The deeper the sink the more surface area the air has to cool. You might need some sort of active cooling. pc fans would work fine. A rule of thumb that I live by for cooling is it should never be to hot to touch. Not saying it won't work the way it is. the cooler anything is the longer it will last (in most situations). I read that you had an issue with the brightness dropping off and yellowing. That may be due to the heat. Well I'm almost positive it's due to heat.

I think adding at least one fan you would bring down the overheating. And may solve you issues with the leds deterioration.

This is all just based on your pictures. I'm sure someone will get all into the specs of the leds and the power supply and voltage and current being a possible issue. I'm to tired for all that :) . But I think a better heat sink or way to cool it would be all you need.

All that being said I'm not bashing your design at all. just trying to help. I happend to have delt alot with heat sinks and heat issues and leds just thought I might toss out my two cents. Hope it helps.
 
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rebel

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Looks good.
Just a few questions/comments.

1. Are you using thermal paste to transfer the heat from the led to the heat sink. If not it would prevent hot spots on sections not making the best contact.

2.the fins on the heat sink look like they could be on the small side to move the amount of heat the leds produce. The deeper the sink the more surface area the air has to cool. You might need some sort of active cooling. pc fans would work fine. A rule of thumb that I live by for cooling is it should never be to hot to touch. Not saying it won't work the way it is. the cooler anything is the longer it will last (in most situations). I read that you had an issue with the brightness dropping off and yellowing. That may be due to the heat. Well I'm almost positive it's due to heat.

I think adding at least one fan you would bring down the overheating. And may solve you issues with the leds deterioration.

This is all just based on your pictures. I'm sure someone will get all into the specs of the leds and the power supply and voltage and current being a possible issue. I'm to tired for all that :) . But I think a better heat sink or way to cool it would be all you need.

All that being said I'm not bashing your design at all. just trying to help. I happend to have delt alot with heat sinks and heat issues and leds just thought I might toss out my two cents. Hope it helps.

I didn't use thermal paste (Still waiting on delivery) but super glue. :O Hopefully this is not a blunder.

I am also concerned about the heat issue. It's surprisingly hot but this may be due to the 5630 LEDs. Perhaps I should use 5050. It's a nano tank after all. I can't get hold of a cheaper heat sink at the moment but will keep trying. I am also trying to keep it sleek rather than terrible looking.

I think you are right about the LEDs yellowing. These strips get hotter than you might imagine!

Thanks for all your feed back.
 

zozo

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Now, your challenge, if you wish to accept it, is to try and better this design, both/either aesthetically and/or functionally, and post your results and instructions here.

First complements on your build.. :thumbup: No matter what your skillset is, this is always someting to be proud of.. Nice job!!

Giving instructions step by step is a bit to extensive :) but if you're a bit of a DIY you catch the drift.. But first do a proper research what's available in the led industry, (there is much more these days then those clumsy old fashion flexstrips.. Next brainstorm what constructive alternatives you have to make some out of it.. Here comes the design part related to what tools are available to you.. Not that you need so much, but proper tools are half the work, increase and benefit the design options.

These 2 design bellow are also just simple on the fly kitchen table prototype builds.. Using a vice, a dril, tap and dy set, dremmel tool with routing table, a saw, file, sandpaper and a flame torch. next to an alen key, a screwdriver, some pliers and soldering iron that's about it.

This one i did build last year from acrylic, and used rigid alloy smd strip, with rectangle alluminium ledstrip profile (heatsink). In this case i used little stainless steel profile clamps to click the profile to the acrylic. 12 volt SMD led doesn't get very hot, so it doesn't realy require a massive heatsink, those profile are sufficient. Since it's 12 volts and an open top tank and we're not planning to drop it in, it also doesn't need to be IP67 nor higher.

I'm not using this one anymore at the time, so it's dismantled and put a side, 60cm long x 10 cm wide, 50cm led strip..
DSCF6876 (Kopie).jpg


The acrylic is 10mm thick, the vertical stand panels left and right i did route a 2mm deep and 5mm wide slot, so it stands secure on the tanks edge. 10cm wide is enough for a bundle of 5 strips.
DSCF6877 (Kopie).jpg


This is how it stands on the tank. :)
DSCF6879 (Kopie).jpg


As you see i got some bushes growing emersed, so actualy this build didn't realy suite this setup anymore. So i decided to build a new one hanging. Using the excact same materials and tools.

Only this time didn't use the clamps, i drilled the alu profile and screwed them to the acrylic.
DSCF6881 (Kopie).JPG


Here i routed a slot to hide the cables internaly.
DSCF6882 (Kopie).JPG


:thumbup:
DSCF6883 (Kopie).JPG


Leds used are rigid aloy SMD 8520 dual chip. (but they come in different sizes whatever suits your needs). As said no need to spend extra money on IP68.. Those strips with profile are not realy that expensive they come about €3.50 a piece complete strip, profile, cover and endcaps (last 2 i didn't use).

DSCF6880 (Kopie).JPG

Just to give you an idea.. :snaphappy:
 
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rebel

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Superb build Marcel! That is certainly a few levels above mine. The aesthetics and your skills are superb!

I like how you used braided cable and different channels! How has been the longevity of your light?

A few questions.

1. Since acrylic is an insulator, did you have problems with strips overheating? Your strips appear to the abutting the acrylic?
2. Any tips for drilling acrylic cleanly?
3. Do you think the 8520 chips heat up more than 5630 for example? also do they produce more light? I can't find this info on the net
4. I was of the idea that one could use any 12V power supply for these (for example 200W for LEDS only using 50 W for example and the drivers would regulate the current accordingly yes? )
5. My idea was to use one warm white strip and the rest in cool white. What sort of colour combos did you use?
 

zozo

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Thank you Rebel.. :) It already burns for over a year now and still good to go.. Would need measuring devices to realy give an estimate if there is any loss. But visualy, looking at the plants all is ok.. and regarding the price €3.50 each strip, darn i don't give a flying figure to replace them every 2 years if needed, which i doubt, but just so to speak.

As said SMD doesn't get realy that hot, i measured it for a while and never realy exceded over 45°C on the profile.. I kept a small air vent gap with 1mm washer between acrylic and profile. Cooling is e.g. with a fan certainly can't do harm and probably benefit the lifetime i guess. Every bit helps ofcourse in our case we are keener on the light that the regular user who doesn't cool them for illumiating the kitchen etc. But the so called professional builds of these with SMD also have no cooling. So it's not realy an issue not having it. Side note: Those alu profiles are hollow, so there is room for a small tube to fit inside, i played with the idea to make it water cooling with tank water running through. It's possible, would be fun to build, but yet only thought about it. Might one day, dunno..

Drilling acrylic by hand taking 2 angles in account and depth of the hole is rather tricky and not every hole will be perfectly straight. It very soft material. I drilled it al by hand but a drill standard is highly recomendable..

SMD 8520 stands for chip size, the chip is 8.5 x 2mm, SMD5630 is 5,6 x 3mm chip size, there are many different chip sizes.. So it doesn't realy means one is stronger then the other it only represents the size of the chip used. So you always have to contact the seller to ask for performance specs if not given.. The 8520 is as far as i know, but it goes realy fast, the only one with a dual chip, that's 2 leds in 1 so 36 chips per 50 cm makes it actualy 72 light sources instead. But as said they come in different powers from 15 lumen per chip to 65 lumen per chip.. Size says nothing bout performance... :) Some sellers give luminous specs, other give candela, there are charts to find on the net how they relate to eachother..

Yes powersupply should alway address the power consumption of the leds.. if the smd uses 50W the power supply should at least be 50w or higher. With SMD it just stays 12 volt no mater how much strips you connect in serie or paralel, it only increases the wattage per strip. The controller should also address the power consumption of the strips.. They usualy go in amps for example 20 amp controller. So that would be 12 volt x 20 amp 240 watt max on the controller.

At the time i use 1 strip 10000k, 1 strip 4500k, 2 strips 8000k and 1 strip full spectrum (red/blue 3/1).. Color temp also varies a lot per manufacturer, in led industry this is by far not standarized. 10000k still can be in a rather wide range of color from redish to blueish, mine is more red (purple) them blue. So it's no way to say what you will get, depending on the materials used colors can be slightly different. But plants use a range of spectrum, as long as the human eye can see the light a plant can grow under it no matter wath K value it has. It even doesn'tmatter what the source of the light is, i grew plants under every bulb available, halogene, tungsten, led, tubelight name it.. How it will grow under that specific light is a matter of experience you have to make yourself. Without spectrometer there is no way to tell. As without other measuring tools there is no way to tell how much usable light reaches the plant. The plant will be your cheapest measuring device telling you over time.. :)
 
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zozo

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Here is an other design idea you might like, this is a clip on nano on a little 25 liter tank. And very easy to make.. :)
DSCF6884.jpg


Materials used same as above, acrylic and same strips, this time with cover and end cap. to make the clip on to the tank i used and old bathroom glass panel clamp (this one i want to replace with an acrylic one i didn't make yet). Then i took a small piece of 8mm aluminium tube, fit's in the clamp. And then i took apart such a cheap €5 mini tripod took of the legs and only used it's knee joint and screwed it to the acrylic. The thread size which you normaly screw the camera on is 6mm which fits snugly and deep enough into the 6mm inner tube diameter. It can turn side ways and if you loosen the bold also up and down or even around it's axel.

DSCF6886.jpg

There is so many alternative stuff around us we can make use of.. :rolleyes: You only have to see it.. :thumbup:
 
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I didn't use thermal paste (Still waiting on delivery) but super glue. :O Hopefully this is not a blunder.


Thanks for all your feed back.

Thermal paste will be your best friend. I had an opps moment on one of my pc builds and didn't have the proper paste on my cpu and it was the difference from running at at cool 22c to running at insane 120c in a matter of seconds befor shutdown.
 

rebel

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Thermal paste will be your best friend. I had an opps moment on one of my pc builds and didn't have the proper paste on my cpu and it was the difference from running at at cool 22c to running at insane 120c in a matter of seconds befor shutdown.
bear in mind that the heat is being transferred to the aluminium plate. I am getting about 51C using my kitchen/BBQ thermometer.

My thermal glue (is there a difference with thermal paste?) is on it's way via fleabay.

I've had a catastrophic CPU meltdown due to thermal paste as well! Mine went to 90 degrees within minutes and lucky I was measuring it.
 

rebel

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Here is an other design idea you might like, this is a clip on nano on a little 25 liter tank. And very easy to make.. :)
View attachment 85433

Materials used same as above, acrylic and same strips, this time with cover and end cap. to make the clip on to the tank i used and old bathroom glass panel clamp (this one i want to replace with an acrylic one i didn't make yet). Then i took a small piece of 8mm aluminium tube, fit's in the clamp. And then i took apart such a cheap €5 mini tripod took of the legs and only used it's knee joint and screwed it to the acrylic. The thread size which you normaly screw the camera on is 6mm which fits snugly and deep enough into the 6mm inner tube diameter. It can turn side ways and if you loosen the bold also up and down or even around it's axel.

View attachment 85434
There is so many alternative stuff around us we can make use of.. :rolleyes: You only have to see it.. :thumbup:


Superb Marcel. Once I master acrylic cutting a little more, I think I will definitely do some more projects.

What do you use to glue acrylic?
 
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bear in mind that the heat is being transferred to the aluminium plate. I am getting about 51C using my kitchen/BBQ thermometer.

My thermal glue (is there a difference with thermal paste?)

I'm not 100% on the glue vs paste.

It does seem that the heat is getting to the plate quite well. Now it's just getting it off the plate fast enough.

I love leds but man can they be a pain sometimes. :)
 
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zozo

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What do you use to glue acrylic?

I used Dichloromethane solvent which gives the strongest weld for acrylic.. Depending on your location this might be very hard to get.. In USA and UK a product called Weldon is readely available it contains dichloromethane.. If you live other countries it might be unavailable you could use acetone or paint thinner, but these bonds are very weak. You might find Dichloromethane in the acrylic nails beauty industry as brush cleaner, because there is no better acrylic solvent around. As brush cleaner it's ok to sell it in the beautyshop and as glue/welding compount it is regulated to controled industrial trade only and considered dangerous.. Strange laws with holes. With using a solvent to weld acrylic than you indeed need to work on the cutting any gaps will not be filled nor glued.

On the thermal paste vs thermal adhesive see arcticsilver.com :) Paste does stick, but not so good if it's not under pressure, as is with a heatsink on processor chip which is always clamped rather tight. So for a led strip it's not a glue and probably lets loos after a while. Thermal adhesive is usualy 2 component adhesive containing some metal oxide or something.. So any 2 component adhesive for metal repair can be used.. I'm not sure if this is a good idea for ledstrips, an adhesive like this is rather permanent and if a strip burns out for what ever reason you'll need quite some force to get it off again. Dunno how that's gonnna work out..
 

ian_m

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The issues your are all experiencing is due quite a few reasons:
- 8520 LED's & 5630 LED's aren't really designed for "primary" lighting. This is what 3W & 10W etc single LED's (Cree, Osram etc) are designed for, as primary light sources.
- These chips aren't meant to be placed so close together, which is why you have the heat issues. Heat sinking obviously helps. Heat seriously reduces the lifetime of LED's.
- These LED's especially from Ebay & China are probably 50-75% less efficient than an reputable make like Cree. So for same Cree light output you get 75% less heat.
- These LED strips are usually 500-800 lumens/meter. Cree LED strips start at 1400lumens per meter with same LED package.
- They will probably only give 30-50 lumens per Watt light, compared to a T5 HO of 80 lumens per Watt and an expensive LED of over 100lumens per Watt.
- The yellowing of the LED & plastics is due to cheap no UV resistant plastics being used. UV resistant for LED's is expensive.

The greatest advantage is they are cheap and readily available, via likes of Ebay and produce enough light for plants.

Unfortunately Cree LED strips like you have cost about £20/metre (30$/yard).
 
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I used Dichloromethane solvent which gives the strongest weld for acrylic.. Depending on your location this might be very hard to get.. In USA and UK a product called Weldon is readely available it contains dichloromethane.. If you live other countries it might be unavailable you could use acetone or paint thinner, but these bonds are very weak. You might find Dichloromethane in the acrylic nails beauty industry as brush cleaner, because there is no better acrylic solvent around. As brush cleaner it's ok to sell it in the beautyshop and as glue/welding compount it is regulated to controled industrial trade only and considered dangerous.. Strange laws with holes. With using a solvent to weld acrylic than you indeed need to work on the cutting any gaps will not be filled nor glued.

On the thermal paste vs thermal adhesive see arcticsilver.com :) Paste does stick, but not so good if it's not under pressure, as is with a heatsink on processor chip which is always clamped rather tight. So for a led strip it's not a glue and probably lets loos after a while. Thermal adhesive is usualy 2 component adhesive containing some metal oxide or something.. So any 2 component adhesive for metal repair can be used.. I'm not sure if this is a good idea for ledstrips, an adhesive like this is rather permanent and if a strip burns out for what ever reason you'll need quite some force to get it off again. Dunno how that's gonnna work out..
You are correct. The paste does need pressure so I guess its not the best idea there are some that dry up and act like a glue but that is usually when they stop working.
 

zozo

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The issues your are all experiencing is due quite a few reasons:
- 8520 LED's & 5630 LED's aren't really designed for "primary" lighting. This is what 3W & 10W etc single LED's (Cree, Osram etc) are designed for, as primary light sources.
- These chips aren't meant to be placed so close together, which is why you have the heat issues. Heat sinking obviously helps. Heat seriously reduces the lifetime of LED's.
- These LED's especially from Ebay & China are probably 50-75% less efficient than an reputable make like Cree. So for same Cree light output you get 75% less heat.
- These LED strips are usually 500-800 lumens/meter. Cree LED strips start at 1400lumens per meter with same LED package.
- They will probably only give 30-50 lumens per Watt light, compared to a T5 HO of 80 lumens per Watt and an expensive LED of over 100lumens per Watt.
- The yellowing of the LED & plastics is due to cheap no UV resistant plastics being used. UV resistant for LED's is expensive.

The greatest advantage is they are cheap and readily available, via likes of Ebay and produce enough light for plants.

Unfortunately Cree LED strips like you have cost about £20/metre (30$/yard).

There are quite a few reputable aquarium light manufacturers using SMD leds in their fixtures.. Even some sell tubelight replacements with SMD strips inside. They must be very bad informed advertising with this.. :) With all respect i'm probably the only one not experiencing any issues, nor with the quality nor with any heat. Before i desided to go with the SMD setup i was planing to go with high power led setup, but it was the price of a complete controlable setup pushing me towards the SMD t give that a try first.. And till now still after a year i'm glad i did. No regrets till now..

For anybody intrested satisled is good supplier of high powered cree's or PCB strips for high power led setups. :thumbup:
 

zozo

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What regrets are these ??
Non.. And as you say, they are so cheap, i got €18 worth of functioning strips above my tank still doing their job after a year. So if the burn out shortly with €18 i'm up and running again for a year to come. But it's still OK, i'm still waiting for it to fail. :)

You LED lights are very well designed and look "the biz". Their main point over my LED lights is yours are actually exist are made and working....:D Mine are currently a "round tuit." as in one day I will get a round tuit ;)
Thanks for the compliment... Well i would say get round tuit, those smd's aren't as bad/problematic aymore as they might have been a few years back. I do not know i wasn't into this a few years back.. And as far as i know the last review i did read about the ADA Aquasky, it uses SMD leds already since 2013.. It was also a 2013 review and not very positively set, but more towards overall build quality of the housing material, not about the leds. The light was far to much regarding it's reviewer. :)

Here is the ukaps review of it.
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/ada-aquasky-leds-hands-on-experience.24091/

Ofcourse there are cheap china sellers selling crap. It happened to me too. But not all of them, with a bit research good ones are to find.. Hence a lot of material from high reputation brands we use is made in china as well..
 
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ian_m

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I do not know i wasn't into this a few years back
I was well aware of LED quality a few years back. I helped my mate make some LED strip tank lights to enhance his existing T8 tube, mainly finding a suitable power supply for him.

He ended up with all the problems, you encountered.
- Corroded copper PCB, despite being called "water proof"
- Yellowing LED's and yellowing rubber/plastic.
- LED's failing, so group of three just stop working.
- Extreme difficulty in getting the LED strips to stick to anything, especially in damp conditions.
- Actually not very bright, only 400lumen odd per meter.
 

zozo

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The flex strip quality is still crap today and indeed the silicone coated ip68 are the worst.. They are ok for the bathroom to light the makeup mirror and that's about it.
Those rigid alloy strips are far better and easier to work with.. And why should it be ip68 if not in the water? Hence i've never seen a ip68 tube light setup in my life and when it comes to that it's far more dangerous with AC220 volts on it. But why should it a lid doesn't fall into the water. And if a 12 volt fixture does nothing much happens, the today powersupply instantly shuts down when in short circuit.

Those ridgid aloy strips and the name already says enough are aluminium, so the chip is already placed on an aluminium base pcb thus provided with a small heatsink, if placed in an extra aluminium U profile, you bearly feel it getting warm it's a double heatsink, the pcb is aluminium as is the U profile. Mount the U profile with screws and slide in the strip it fits snuggly and tight.. No need for glue nor paste or what so ever..

I do not know how much lumen i realy have with my SMD strips. The specs are 65 lum per chip with 74 chips per meter.. That's far above 400 lumen..
I do not know if it works like 74 x 65 = 4850 lum?, i guess not i don't realy care it's enough. If it would be 50% of that it still would be about 2500 p/m and i got 2 meters of it above the tank, 148 SMD leds..

As said see the above aquasky review, Viktor compares it with a 4x54 watt T5 setup and it's brighter with only 60 SMD leds at 0.4 watt per led.. :)
 
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Interesting read guys...I am so useless when it comes to DIY but very nice stuff.

What regrets are these ??

You LED lights are very well designed and look "the biz". Their main point over my LED lights is yours are actually exist are made and working....:D Mine are currently a "round tuit." as in one day I will get a round tuit ;)

Hey Ian, I was actually wondering if you are still around. You helped me out a lot a few years back with info how to fix my DIY led unit. I never got around at purchasing all the stuff I need but I am in a mood to fix the lights in the next month or two. It's from this thread below. I'll fill in the remainder of the query in it. Would you please have a look if you get the chance. Thanks a bunch.
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/led-light-unit-failed.31633/
 

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