First a little backstory, pull up a chair.
I was a big drinker for the better part of 22 years, and when your young you can put the hammer to the streets, when you get up in age it really starts killing you literally. I've stopped drinking in December, and I have to say a big part of my success in staying alcohol free has been Marijuana. I would typically vape anywhere from a 1/2 gram a night, and that was all I needed to take the edge off.
Were it not for the weed, I'm sure I would have easily given way to the temptation to grab a six pack and be right back where I was. Looking back at where I've come from, I can safely say that for myself Marijuana is about 100 times less harmful than alcohol. (At least for someone who drinks more than one unit of alcohol daily hah!) My only source for bud was from a friend of a friend. That friend has moved away, I've completely run out of flower and I haven't vaped in about two months now, while I'm a bit bummed, it's definitely not like going from drinking daily to abstaining, not by a long shot.
Let me detail my plan for providing myself with a bit of flower.
I've always been interested in growing, but I'm in a state where marijuana is still very much illegal.
Out of the three bags I got a hold of, to my surprise there was a few seeds rolling around in the bottom of one of the bags. I smiled a bit and stuck those things in the refrigerator.
I've been looking at all of the progress that's been made with LEDs recently and started thinking about a stealthy way I could possibly grow a small plant and maybe harvest some flower. I'm a bit of an electronics buff, so when I started seeing LEDs get large enough for lighting, the gears started turning. I've made a few stabs at grow lights, and saw the space bucket phenomenon take off, but again, when your getting pissed every day, and working, couple that with lost weekends, shit tends not to get done, so while they were neat ideas that's pretty much what they stayed.
I really started jazzing on the stuff Mr. Sparkle was doing, I had for a long while started thinking about microcontrollers for system control, and built a temperature based fan speed control with an arduino. Between the different chinese COBs, powersupplies, and other ideas I had rolling around in my head, I realized that I was getting mired in the design of the grow equipment and not really building anything!
I decided on a PC case, ( Ugh yes I know ) because it will blend in well and looks natural in the environment it will be sitting. The bucket is a great idea, but it really kind of stands out like a sore thumb. I also decided on using off the shelf LED light bulbs for lighting, after I saw a lot of threads on Phillips light bulbs I decided on this route, but the implementation went a bit off the rails heh. I started looking at PC cases last year, and with what I was doing in mind needed something that was big enough for a decent sized micro grow. I finally decided on a sorta large PC case from Antec called the PC100. This case called out to me, because it was simple, and didn't have big clear windows. It was all steel, and had a hole in the top for two fans. Immediately I knew where I was going with this case. I'd mount the LEDs to a large heatsink and suspend it from the top of the case, and pull air over the heatsink out the top.
I had to cut away a fair amount of junk like drive trays and stuff from inside the case to make room, fortunately it was mostly pop rivets and drilling them out made the stuff I didn't want in come away easy. I used dollar store poster board to block out the larger holes in the case, supplemented with aluminum A/C ducting tape. One of the most difficult parts about adapting this case was getting rid of the foam sound dampening that was contact cemented to both steel side panels! Ugh! I ordered a rather large heatsink, it was 17-1/2" x 5-3/8" by 1-3/8" this is where my COBs would be mounted. The heat sink weighs about 7~8 lbs.
All of this hinged on the ability to bolt these off the shelf light bulb COBs to the heatsink, so I went through a few brands before I settled on the winners. I started with GE, Phillips, and another house brand I can't remember the name of. My primary goal was heat dissipation, I live in a hot part of the country, and in the dead of the summer I can only get the temperature in the house down to 83 degrees without spending a fortune. This also pretty much precludes growing in the summer. So I can't cram too much into the case as it is. The house brand of LED bulb lost out immediately, it had a complicated ballast with a tiny transformer and a whacky DC/DC converter, the Phillips and GE both used a simple full wave rectifier with a tiny filter capacitor. Both used a little resistor as a fuse on the AC mains input. Both GE and Phillips use the same constant current driver chip on the COB. Between the GE and the Phillips, the GE won due to the fact it had three holes in the COB to which I could bolt them to the heatsink.
The Phillips only had two, and they were awkwardly in the way of input as well so getting them soldered up would be a pain. I liked the simplicity of this, so I decided to mount four of these GE 2700K 9 watt LED COBs directly to a big chunky aluminum heatsink. I'd then build a simple circuit that would rectify house current, then supply them in parallel to all four of the COBs.
I checked the driver chip on the COB and it's listed as a LED driver which will take anywhere from 100~200 volts input to drive the COB. I was kind of guessing due to the simplicity of the circuit in these bulbs, so I measured the input to the COB with them screwed into a socket and sure enough, I saw 150 or so volts DC. I was relatively certain that this was what was going on in the bottom of the bulb. My other primary goal was not burning the house down!
As Dieter from Sprockets says, "Your story has become tiresome!" Here is a schematic of the case:
Sorry for the gigantic wall of text. I have three plants growing in it now, I have pictures of them and I need to post them on how far they've come! Give me a bit and I'll get them up.