New to the forum

Hello all,

My name is Tony, and am currently starting to work on a project for me and possible to later produce for others in my situation.

I have only slightly touched the surface of programming. I currently am a computer science major and have been working with computers since XP (pre-SP1); before that I couldn’t walk if that give you a hint as to why I am so late in the game.

I have a high technical aptitude and look forward to exchanging ideas with y’all. Currently live in East Texas.

My project started like this, met my significant other about 2 and half years ago, she had a, what I thought, massive freshwater fish tank. I got really into the fish keeping scene over the next year. Skip ahead a year and I built my first reef tank. Had a crappy light over it that was not worth a diddly and then I discovered LEDs on reef tanks. Put some together and have been a fan of them ever since.

Since that time i have upgrade my tank, upgraded my light and everything is working perfectly. Now it’s time for me to go even further into the electronics part of it. I want to build a controller for it. Not just a timer on and off type thing, but a simulator of sorts for the brightness, intensity, etc. Basically I want the light I have on it simulate dusk, dawn, sunset, sunrise, cloud movement, and if possible control other things later on, so I need room for expansion.

I expressed my interest on other forums and they said give Arduino look-see, and so here I am. New to the programming world, not even sure what I am getting myself into, but hell, I think if I’m competent enough in computers to remotely fix an offline computer in Australia, i think I should be able to handle a little programming basics.

So, this is where the questions come in.

I read through most of the website and gathered as much information as I could and still was mounds of it left over to absorb that I went into an overload and confused myself entirely.

What exactly do I need to control something like that?

  • Currently I have 48 LEDs in 12 string series on 4 dimmable drivers by Meanwell with a multi-voltage PSU to control the dimming in 3v increments.
  • Max current, (before life expectancy of LED shortens drastically) is 1000mA but would like to keep it under that by 50-100mA.

I would like to have everything controlled automatically, but also manual override to show off some of the workings of the light controller.

Expansion options:

I need to get something up front that will accommodate expansion of additional electronics that are in my tank, not just the light.

So does anyone have any insight as to what I am trying to achieve?

Do a search and you should find quite a few posts like this one…

Good luck and have fun

Sounds interesting.

Remember to simulate not only sunrise and sunset but also moonrise and set.

The manual override should be fine. You can write a “main” routine then have subroutines that you can have it run if you push a button. Look up “interrupts”.

Expansion should be fine as long as you have pins available on your Arduino. You’d just need to hook up new components then do some more programming.

For a daylight simulator?


He said he wanted a manual override to “show off” what his setup can do. He could use an interrupt to have it do a little 1 or 2 minute sequence maybe moving through day and night at a faster pace. Maybe mimic an entire day/night cycle in 2 minutes.


Just thought of this… These fish ever have to deal with lightening storms? ;D ;D ;D

I have toyed with the idea of grabbing a range of coordinates over say the Great Barrier Reef and simulate exactly what is occurring over area, but that I would thing, would get far too in depth of what I am wanting for right now.

What I’m looking for right now is just the basics, like what hardware would I need the UNO, the mega etc?

Next questions, and probably the most important to be honest, how will I connect everything to say the UNO?

I’m not looking for a “hold my hand while i put this together” but I haven’t actually found anything, while searching for builds for lights, documenting how they actually connected anything.

EDIT: And yes, I want a “time lapsed” override to show off the control ability of it.

EDIT2: I found this while searching as well.

This is similar to what I have set up, but instead of 4 buckpucks I have 4 Meanwell 48-60D and 48 Cree LEDs (21 Royal Blue, 3 Cool Blue, 12 Cool White and 12 Warm White) 4 strings of 12 LEDs in series.

Edit 3: So from what I have gathered from the other threads of builds similar to mine, I was thinking of starting a list of my materials I would need to complete my controller.

Arduino Uno

RTC Module

Something like this LCD

SD expansion slot for added memory just incase i need it

…and that’s all Ive gotten so far.

So I picked up the Beginning Arduino book and dove right in, but have some questions.

What is the major difference in projects that use the UNO vs the Mega?

I will eventually want to control this wirelessly perhaps even from an iphone app i will design in the furture, complete controll over every aspect of the tank, skimmer, pumps, heater, water circulation, obviously the light, etc.

The one big difference I know of is the Mega has a lot more digital pins (54 compared to 14) and 16 analog pins compared to 6

It also has more flash memory which will allow for larger sketches, I think…

For a daylight simulator?

Well time does fly when you are having a good time. ;D