My aquarium stand has a wooden lid that opens and closes on a hinge. I installed the light strip and the QT Py inside the lid. The lights are powered directly through the QT Py's USB port. I used a short USB cable and daisy-chained my USB power switch inline with the cable and then onward to the power outlet. 

My 1m of lights was exactly the right length to go 3/4 around my 20 gallon tank - along both sides and the front edge. I left the back edge alone, since that's where the filter is and where the wires come up for the heater. 

Tape them in place and turn them on to be sure you're happy with placement and alignment.

I used wire staples to secure my LED strip to the inside of my aquarium lid. You could also use clear packing tape over the strip, secured with staples or more tape along the edges to keep water from seeping in. 

Avoid using silicone glue or other chemical-heavy solutions. Fish are very sensitive to their environment, and introducing smelly glue into their environment could be bad. To you it's smelly, but to them, it's toxic.

Plug your NeoPixel dot strand into the end of your NeoPixel strip and run the extension cord down the back corner of your aquarium. Bury the whole strip underneath the gravel so the wire is hidden. 

Use glass beads or seashells to diffuse the light pixels on the bottom. Diffusion can be achieved with a variety of aquarium props or plants, and it's really important - your fish are sensitive to light and probably don't want to live in a 24 hour disco, so give them a break and soften the lights.

Capacitive Touch Control

Run the two capacitive touch wires out the back of the aquarium and connect them to your control pads. Capacitive touch control pads can be made of anything conductive. I used a length of copper tape lining the edge of my aquarium. It is a lovely decorative accent, but also functions as a mode-changing switch.

If you're using copper tape, strip a lot of shielding from the end of your wire - at least 3/4 inch to get a really good connection. Stick the bare wire under the tape and press it down really well. The entire strip of tape becomes your conductive switch - touch anywhere on the tape strip to switch color modes.

The wire attached to A2 will cycle through color modes, ad the wire attached to A3 will toggle the lights on and off.

In order to have two different functions along your copper tape strip, you'll need to leave a small gap in the tape. I also found that attaching too much tape can make the switch really sensitive, which makes it go a little haywire. It works best to just use a small section of tape as your switch area. With my setup, touching along the left side cycles modes and touching along the right side turns the lights off or on.

Another option is to use nylon fabric squares. You can cut them into any shape you like and stick them to the wire the same way as you would to the copper tape. 

This guide was first published on Dec 01, 2020. It was last updated on Dec 01, 2020.

This page (Install the Lights) was last updated on Apr 04, 2021.

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