Picture update on power harness for fans.
It's been awhile since I posted an update with any real progress, and there have been multiple reasons why. I've RMA'd a motherboard and received a new one. I've RMA'd the first of my two 32GB memory sets, and if this solves the memory errors I'm getting, I'll do the second one shortly. First 32GB kit is supposed to arrive today, so I should know within another day if this one can pass memtest86 without errors.
But the other reason its been so long since I've made some real progress, is I've changed my mind several times on how to do the power harnesses for the fans. My first approach was going to be like many builds that I've seen here on OCN, ...where all of the fans on a single harness are soldered together so that there is only one fan connector (female) on the whole power harness. The positives of this approach are that it is super clean looking, and it minimizes the amount of wires necessary, ...which should make cable management easier. I've seen some really slick examples of this approach in the build logs here on OCN. It requires soldering, which will scare away some. I found the hardest part was using some clamps to hold back the sleeving while I worked on the solder joins. Awkward....even with a helping hands tool. I started doing this approach initially, and made it through 1 power harness with 8 connections for my top 480 rads. It took awhile to do. I'm not showing pictures of this process since there are already some very good build logs covering how to do this. You can check out asg's build log for an excellent picture tutorial.
So after I had spent the time making this power harness, I plugged it in...and to my dismay, it must have had a connection come loose. The first 3 fans on the harness worked, but the last 5 were not spinning. That brings up the biggest negative to this approach on doing the power harnesses. If you have something go wrong....you are going to have to completely redo that section of the harness, and pull out your solder gun, clamps, new sleeve, new heatshrink, etc. It was a pain. But I redid everything around this one connection, resleeved, reheatshrinked.....and when I plugged it back in....everything was spinning again. Success! However, a couple of days later I heard a pretty faint ticking noise coming from one of the fans. I wanted to pull it off and check to make sure the fan blades were clicked into place properly...and maybe even lube it again. That brought to light another huge negative with using this approach to making a power harness. You can't remove one fan from the radiator....since they are all wired together. You have to remove ALL fans. Frustrating. So that got me thinking about other maintenance issues. If I stuck with this approach, anytime I wanted to remove a fan from a radiator, I was going to have to remove all of them connected to that power harness. Anytime I wanted to replace a fan, I was going to have to cut the power harness and the resolder, sleeve, and shrink it. I went ahead and decided at that point to scrap all the work I had done so far, and to start over with a different approach that would hopefully be a little easier for long-term maintenance.
My second approach involved using individual male fan connectors attached to various points along a single power harness. This would allow me to simply plug-in individual fans to the power harness anywhere I had made a connection. The picture below is an example of what I was doing with this approach:
To move to this second approach, I had to put back on the female connectors that had originally been on each fan before I removed them to solder wires together for the first approach. So that was a little project just by itself. And redoing something you have already done, is never as much fun as doing it the first time around. But I got through it, and started on the harness. Those are hooded male fan connectors coming off of the harness. The positives of this approach were that it solved the problem of not being able to remove an individual fan. Since each fan was joined to the power harness individually by simply plugging in the fan's female connector to the power harness' male connector.....I could easily take off one fan, or multiple fans, without having to redo any of the wiring or sleeving. Nice. However, it still required doing splices and soldering connections while pushing back sleeving and holding it with clamps. I would rate my solder skills somewhere around a 4 out of 10. And its never much fun to do something you are not real good at.
So....I scrapped this approach after making it through the first power harness. I decided to try something different. For this third approach, I went with a "no solder or splice" approach. This approach involved crimping double wires onto each male fan connector pin...and simply daisy chaining the male connectors together. It was very simple to do...and solves all the issues I had with the first two approaches. It allows removal of individual fans without redoing any wiring. It also allows redoing indivdual connections without cutting or soldering or resleeving. I would still have to redo the heatshrink if I ever need to go in and fix an individual connection....but I can live with that. Should have very little maintenance work on these going forward. And since I'll be using this case for a long time....I really don't want to have to be continually working on power harnesses.
So here are some pictures of making the daisy chain male fan connector power harness:
First decide how far apart you want to space the male fan connectors. Then cut plenty of strips of wire in the right size. I'm using 22 awg white wire. I'm using white because it will go inside white sleeve, and this will save me from having to tape it. However, ...I will need to carefully keep track of which wire needs to go in which hole since I won't be able to rely on color of wire. I'm using 22 awg because I find it much easier to work with than the super thin 26 awg. Take two wires and strip off a few millimeters of insulation from one end:
Then get one of the male fan connector pins. This is what they look like:
The you can start crimping pins onto the ends of two wires. You have to carefully put both wires into the crimper without letting one slide backwards from the other wires. You really need the ends lined up perfectly to get a good crimp on double wires with these pins. The male fan connector pins have relatively small fins to clamp down on insulation, before the fins that fold down on the bare wire start. If one wires moves even a little as you put them inside the crimper opening, you will not get a good crimp. I had about an 85% success rate on getting a good crimp the first try. If you don't get a good one...just remove it and start again.
These are the male fan connectors. Once you have crimped pins on your wires, you can just slide the pin inside the connector and it will click into place. Very similar to doing ATX pins.
Then I used some little bits of red tape to mark which wire was what (since they are all white). Need to do this before putting sleeve on, in case the wires get turned around inside of the sleeve.
Then you are ready to cut some sleeve and slide it on the end where you are going to add another connector. I always waited to strip insulation from this end of the wire until after I had the sleeve on already. Otherwise, it was too easy to catch individual wires on the sleeve and break them off while pushing the sleeve on.
Next comes to the trickiest part. You need to push back the sleeve enough so that you have room to crimp new pins onto this end of the wire. I found that if I loaded the crimper with a pin first...and then set the crimper down, ...that I could get the sleeve where I wanted it and line up the wires so that I could hold this into place with my left hand. Then I would pick up the crimper with my right, and I could complete the crimp without needing any "helping hands" tools or clamps. That kept me moving much more quickly.
Once you have your pins on....just click on another connector. Rinse and repeat for as many connections as you need on the power harness.
This is what mine looked like after getting 8 male connections added. Notice that I haven't put on heatshrink at this point, because I wanted to test it first and make sure it was working before I finished making it pretty. It worked!
Here are some pics after putting the heatshrink on. Notice that I have all 3 pins in this very first connector on the power harness....
...but only 2 pins on the next connector...and every subsequent connector. Since I'll be using the AQ5 to read the rpm's, I only want one fan to be returning a signal. There are only two wires connecting each male connector AFTER the first one on the power harness.
Here is what the power harness looks like for the top 480's in pull. I'm doing a separate harness for the push fans vs the pull fans. The harness just runs right down the middle of these pull fans, and each fan plugs into it nicely. I may end up using some cable clips to secure the harness to the case...although it doesn't really move around at all even like it is.
The female end of the top 480 pull power harness comes in from the top of the case and attaches to the strip I've made for the PA2's (far right PA2 in this picture). Just a single sleeved section of wire for all 8 fans. Keeps it looking very clean inside. I've also finished my second power harness for the push fans on the top 480's. It is almost completely hidden behind the PA2 strip...but if you look closely you will see parts of it in the picture below.
So now I have 18 of my 53 fans powered up and spinning. That's 8 push fans on the top 480's, 8 pull fans on the top 480's, ...and the 2 fans in the PSU's. That's 34% of the fans powered up. And although this seemed like it took me forever....now that I have my approach solidified, I don't think it will take too long to finish the power harnesses for the rest of the fans. Although...I still need to paint about 12 of the fans first. Since I've posted pics of my approach already now, I'll probably just post updates that tell how many fans I've gotten done. I'm trying hard to finish all wiring within the next week...because all of my loop parts should be here within the next 10 days or so. All blocks have been ordered. I'll be anxious to start the loop once I have it all...which means I need to knock out this fan work.
Thanks for sticking with me this long!