A year or two ago, members of the online reef community got together to address a point of growing concern amongst would-be LED upgraders. This concern is the so-called “disco ball” effect that occurs when multiple light sources (read: LEDs) originate from different points, which is typically the case for traditional LED fixtures. Enter the multichip LED. These LED chips cram tens to hundreds of LEDs on a single chip, closely approximating a single point light source. Additionally, using multichips reduces the need to mount a bunch of individual LEDs on a heat sink fixture. The DreamChip was envisioned to be a full-spectrum solution for reef tanks on a single chip. It contains white, royal blue, and violet/UV LEDs all on a single chip, breaking out the LED strings in 5 individually controllable channels.

We wanted to have full control over each of the 5 channels, so we paired the DreamChip with one of our LDD-5 Driver Boards and of course a 6-channel Storm LED Controller. This combination of controller and driver should allow full control over the DreamChip.

5-Channel DreamChip mounted to a substantial heat sink

5-Channel DreamChip mounted to a substantial heat sink

Running at full tilt this beast is insanely bright. It’s too bright to look at powered up to merely 2% duty cycle. It also throws off a lot of heat. Passively cooled, I don’t think that this heat sink is good enough to cool the DreamChip sufficiently. The current setup has a 6″ x 9″ heat sink that has a base that is about 1/4″ thick, and the chip is mounted properly using Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound as well as #4-40 socket cap screws with nylon washers to distribute the load. Even with this proper mounting and thermal interface, it takes about a minute to get too hot to handle. Luckily this is just a demo setup so it won’t be running this way for long.

DreamChip mounted with lens

DreamChip mounted with lens

 

The chip is rated for a maximum of 1,400mA per channel. While we do have access to 1,400mA drivers, we decided to use the LDD-5 board for simplicity. Here we’re limiting the current to 1000mA via driver selection of Meanwell LDD-1000H drivers. Running at 1000mA per channel (x5) with a 36V forward voltage, that gives a total power consumption of 180W. Even though these EpiLED and EpiStar individual LED components aren’t as efficient as say Cree XM-L, it is still an amount of light to be reckoned with. The LDD drivers are impressive to say the least, with no discernible heat emanating from the fully potted package.

 

LDD-5 Driver Board wired up to power the DreamChip at 1000mA per channel

LDD-5 Driver Board wired up to power the DreamChip at 1000mA per channel

 

DreamChip powering up at 36V. Had to keep it at 1% brightness or else it would blow out the exposure.

DreamChip powering up at 36V. Had to keep it at 1% brightness or else it would blow out the exposure.

 

DreamChip with Coralux LDD-5 and Storm Controller

DreamChip with Coralux LDD-5 and Storm Controller

 

 


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