DIY Screen Top

Discussion in 'Anything DIY Related' started by ascheff, 7 Sep 2014.

  1. ascheff

    ascheff

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    After some discussions in another thread about screen tops, I have finally built my own screen top, and thought I'd share my experience and learnings.

    My tank is a 600mm x 600mm rimless tank, with a skinny overflow. The water level is about 10mm from the edge of the glass. My tank is still new and while researching what fish I'd eventually want in my tank, I realised that many of them are known jumpers. I didn't really want to add a hood to my tank, so decided that I need a screen top, that hopefully wouldn't detract too much from the rimless look I really like.

    After some failed attempts and some compromises, here is the final result of my effort:

    [​IMG]

    The product I used for the frame is called Spiritflex, which consists of a length of aluminium and a length of plastic tension strip. Spiritflex comes in different profiles; the one I used is called F-Section. Maizeys sells it in 3 meter lengths; natural aluminium and a choice of either black or white plastic strips. Here is a side view of the aluminium and tensions strip clipped together:

    [​IMG]

    After measuring the sides of my display tank, I cut the aluminium and plastic into lengths to fit the top of my tank exactly. I cut the ends at 45 degrees:

    [​IMG]

    My LED light unit has a perspex bracket that sits on the edge of the glass. I had to cut grooves in the aluminium for the perspex to go through.

    Unfortunately what I didn't realise was that the perspex was wider than the aluminium edge I cut the grooves in, which meant that the aluminium wouldn't be able to sit flush with the edge of the glass, on the sides of the tank. I had to shorten the front and back sections so that I can move the side sections inward.

    Anyway, with all the sections cut, I could lay out the pieces to make sure everything will fit together:

    [​IMG]

    For my first try I proceeded with putting the netting onto the frame, but that was a bit of a flop. The first problem was that the sides didn't really stay together at right angles and the second problem was that the whole thing was a bit flimsy when I picked it up. I wasn't happy with all this, so I went looking for something to fix the corners together.

    I found a flat corner bracket that would work, but its not aluminium. Its made of galvanised steel, so I'm a bit worried about rust. I couldn't find anything else, so I took a chance, and will keep a close eye on it for any signs of rust. If I find the same thing in aluminium at a later point I'll definitely replace them. Anyway, here is what the brackets look like after pop riveting them to the aluminium:

    [​IMG]

    With the frame now very sturdy, I laid my netting over the frame:

    [​IMG]

    The netting I used is a shade netting, with a 30% shade rating. I'll probably replace it if I find a more suitable netting. I tried two other types that failed. Both were a harder brittle plastic, and due to the way the net is fixed to the frame using the tension strip, they cracked. So the netting needs to be quite flexible. Here are the other two types I tried that didn't work:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    With the netting in place I could now start putting in the tension strips, using a hammer. A rubber mallet is preferable, but I didn't have one, so I just used a normal hammer and covered the plastic with a cloth to prevent the hammer leaving marks on it. The tension strip is installed by lightly hammering it into the aluminium groove, working from the one end to the other:

    [​IMG]

    Here all four tension strips are in place:

    [​IMG]

    Next step was to cut off the excess netting using a blade:

    [​IMG]

    I then used a lighter to get rid of all the frayed edges:

    [​IMG]

    And that was that. I could now place the screen on top of the tank. Here it aligns to the front edge:

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately due to me having to shorten the sides because of the light bracket, it doesn't align as well to the sides:

    [​IMG]

    It would probably have worked a lot better if the lights were hanging over the tank. One other thing I would probably have done differently was to not cut the aluminium lengths by hand, as the corners are also not perfect.

    Because it sits so close to the water, an added bonus is that it will also prevent any snails from climbing into my overflow:

    [​IMG]

    It definitely blocks a bit of light, not as much blue as white, so I'll keep looking for a more suitable netting.

    I'm fairly happy with the result, in spite of the compromises I had to make, and I think it will definitely serve it's purpose.
     
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  3. Gesiggie

    Gesiggie Challenge accepted

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    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  4. vipercore

    vipercore

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    Good idea and easy to make.
     
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