by Bruce Gunter
The New Aurora Puck from Rapid Led will spark the interest of any “DIY-er” in the reef hobby. It packs a serious amount of light output in a very small footprint, maximizing your coral growing power. It features a full spectrum of colors as well as options like dimming and deep tank lenses to make sure you have total control over your reef tank’s lighting. On a 1-5 scale, the DIY difficulty of this project is a 2.
What’s in the box?
When you first glance at your box of parts for Rapid’s new fixture, it may have you looking around and wondering where the little soldier wires and LED stars are. Rapids’ new Aurora fixture has really scaled down in a good way how far you need to roll up your sleeves before you assemble your new DIY Led light. The entire soldier less kit is pretty much ready to connect up and get on your reef tank in under an hour. That is a far cry from the 4 hours or so it typically takes to build an LED array, or at least it did. Let me mention again, NO SOLDIERING NEEDED!
When you look in the box, you will see the following:
- One Aurora Puck (21 LEDs)
- One regular or wide angled lens (will need to be glued on using the included Arctic Alumina)
- One 6″ x 10″ non-drilled heatsink with splash guard
- 4 x 0-10V Nano drivers with pot or 4 x LDD-700HW drivers + SE-350-48 power supply
- 1 set Arctic Alumina
- 4 Driver Jumpers
- 4 Solderless LED Plugs
- 92mm Vantec Fan
- 12V Adapter
- DC Jack Adapter
- Y-shaped Hanging Kit
At the heart of the light is an aluminum core PCB (printed circuit board) with the LEDs already soldered onto it. So right out of the package you just plug in the power supplies to test this and it’s almost ready to go. The LEDs are soldered onto 4 different circuits which are what gives you control over the colors.
These circuits are as follows:
• 4 Royal Blue with 3 Blue
• 2 Green, 1 Blue, 2 Reds, and 1 Orange
• 4 Cool White
• 4 Violets
How it works
Each string is powered by its own power supply and in the case you buy the dimmable version that we tested, each string is then controlled by a potentiometer that is already wired up to the power supply. So you can just imagine the amount of options one has when it comes to the color temperature of the tank. This is our favorite part about the Aurora Puck. The amount of ways you can set this light is crazy and you get this control for a lot less than other controllable LED fixtures on the market.
We are now experimenting with each string to see if we can get more vibrancy out of our corals. Within the first weeks of using the Aurora Puck we saw our Acropora Tenuis go from a pastel turquoise with light blue tips, to a deeper more vibrant turquoise with purple tips so whatever combination we have it set on is going to stay put for a while!
The build itself only took around a half an hour from opening the box to having the light above the tank. We did already have a frame for it to sit on so this made mounting it easy. For many people out there who want to save by doing it yourself, but done have to time to solder a bunch of LEDs together, this is a great kit. Once we got the light above the tank we sat staring at the tank, messing around with the different strings and changing the color of the light.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Everything was separately packaged very nice and ready to be opened and put together. What comes in the box is your LED puck with lens (your choice of regular or wide angled), 4 power supplies, the heat sink with acrylic splash guard, all the wires/plugs needed, a set of heat sink adhesive, and a fan with wall wart. There are no additional things needed to have this setup and over your tank in an hour. The Aurora puck is expandable, so you can add another onto your heat sink and just wire them together. Controlling the dimming can also be done by your favorite reef controller. We are going to hook our APEX up to it here next week and see how it behaves, but the standard 1-10v hookup should make it a breeze.
Cons: About the only issue we had with the Aurora, was that the amount of controllability you get comes at the cost of having quite a few drivers and power plugs. As long as you have a spot to hide these though, you shouldn’t have an issue getting a nice clean look out of the fixture. One other thing we would recommend is that if you are going to hook a few of these together to cover a larger tank, you should buy them all at once to get Rapids’ larger drivers that will cover more LED’s. This will cut down on the footprint as well as reduce the # of plugs.
Rapid LED Aurora Final Verdict
Overall for the price this is an awesome DIY kit. It’s easy to set up and you will spend hours of fun customizing the light color on your reef tank as your corals grow. The packaging was organized and safe. We would recommend this DIY kit to anyone interested in putting LEDs on their tank for the first time to avoid soldiering etc. If you think you’ll end up grabbing another puck to add on we would say do it at the beginning and get the power supply that can handle it all. It will be worth it in the end. If spending time looking at your reef rather than being hunched over a soldiering iron is your idea of a good time, then we highly recommend you try the Aurora fixture from RapidLED.
Have you tried the Aurora? What was your impression?