SOooo for those who dont know, as a proof of concept I made a lighting fixture for my 20L planted female betta tank to hold 4 18watt screw in CFLs. It was waaaay too much, so Ive been running the same raggy looking old rain gutter (literally) with 14 watt CFLs with one bulb removed. it did the trick and vanquished the algae but it still looked like garbage (which it was, scavenged from work lol) and its output was uneven due to the poorly spaced bulbs (because one was missing) and dirty interior.
SOOOOooooo off to home depot I went today. I scored an 8ft section of regular style plastic rain gutter AND a pair of plastic end caps for all around 10 bucks.
first things first, cut her down to 28.5", which didnt have to be perfect because its going over a glass hood, and snapped on both end caps. I think the end caps will wind up needing glue.
once it was all done I drilled out the rivets that held my home made socket brackets to the aluminum rain gutter, and disassembled all of my wiring. I cut off the 2nd outlet side of one of the brackets, so I wound up with one double bulb bracket and one single. I measured out the spacing of the bulbs so that the 3 bulbs sit a uniform distance from each other and from each end cap. hopefully this will eliminate any dark spots.
marking each hole in each bracket with a pencil, i used my drill and a 1/8" bit to drill through the plastic, and used 1/4" by 1/8" rivets to secure the brackets to the new plastic shroud.
new 14 watt 5500k CFLs, reattach my wiring, drilled a small hole for the switch in the back (even used a grommet where the wire passes through the plastic housing! safety first...) and away we went. Up and running in about 45 minutes, and that includes 3 union breaks, a smoke break, a pee break, and a whole lot of brain storming.
the pics follow, from start to finish. if you started from scratch, youre only looking at about 25 bucks IF THAT in lamp parts including the bulbs, but please dont play with electricity if you dont know what youre doing. you WILL be sleeping on the couch for a VERY long time if the wife finds out you almost burned the house down :)