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Tiny Inexpensive Custom PWM Controller - Working prototype!

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 
Hello there!

Following a drastic change of direction in this project, I am completely redoing this post.


>About the project

Following a series of frustrations with onboard PWM fan controllers on various motherboards, I decided that none of them suited my needs nor functioned as I wanted so. I spent some time ranting with a friend about this, and we concluded that there are very few manufacturers that actually provide decent PWM controllers on our motherboards, and getting an external fan controller is almost a must.

I decided it would be a good idea to build a little board that could drive a single fan and be put inline with the fan cable, as a means not to occupy much space nor be an eyesore.


>What does this exactly do, and how does it work?

The goal of this device is to provide PWM control for any device that can be controlled with PWM, be it a fan, a water pump, or a RGB LED strip.

Its operation is really simple. You plug it to a motherboard fan header, adjust the temperature limit, place the temperature sensor where you want to get the reading from, and it does everything by itself.

Why does it plug to a motherboard header? Because that way not only it gets power, but it can also provide the fan RPM signal back to the motherboard for monitoring purposes. Of course, were you to not need it, it can also be plugged straight to 12V for more fan grunt.

The temperature sensor is entirely waterproof.


>Dimensions and details of the various parts

The board itself measures right at 15x35mm, with height being of 5mm at the highest spot because of the connectors.

The temperature sensor is around 3.5mm in diameter, but I am aware this is very large for some placements (such as inter-fin placement), and I'm studying ways to manufacture much smaller sensors, possibly in the boundaries of 1.5-2mm of diameter.

It uses a regular 3pin female fan connector for the motherboard, and a four pin male connector onboard for you to plug your device.

The temperature sensor is also detachable for convenience during installation or replacement, and it uses a non polarized two pin connector (polarity is irrelevant for it).


>Electronic stuff details

The brain of this little thing is a PIC 12F683, with four native 10bit analog to digital converters (functioning in 8bit resolution mode, or 256 possible values, for conversion speed) and a high resolution PWM module.

How is it programmed to work?
It picks a voltage reading from the temperature sensor voltage divider, sends it to an ADC channel, compares it to the voltage limit imposed by the potentiometer voltage divider, and adjusts the PWM duty cycle according to those values.

Everything is done on the fly and updated around a thousand times per second to ensure real time functioning, although that is subject to modifications until the final production boards hit the stage.

The PCB and manufacturing is entirely done my myself, from the PCB cutting to the etching and soldering, so I hold it to my own quality standards.


>Let's talk about aspect customization

The PCB itself is brown. Yes, light ASUS brown-like. And not evernyone likes that color, I know. Therefore, the possibility of coating it with black heat-resistant paint (such as the one used in brake calipers, or exhaust pipes), just so it looks more discreet.

Update: I've switched to black solder mask. More durable, easier to apply, and (tadaa!) more inexpensive!


>Final notes

This project is an open project, and as such, I am ready to listen and possibly implement modifications suggested by you mates.

So if you feel like something should be changed, or that I could improve it somewhere, drop a comment smile.gif

As soon as I have a prototype that resembles production units, I will do a small video myself explaining the details of it.


>Notice about sales

Following OCN's guidelines, I am unfortunately not allowed to sell the controllers anymore. If you still wish to own one, contact me for information/parts/help on how to make one. I will try my best to help you out!


>Media





That's it, and thanks for reading smile.gif
Edited by Artikbot - 9/18/13 at 5:34am
   
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post #2 of 56
Thread Starter 
And a bump following an update and redesign biggrin.gif
   
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post #3 of 56
Sounds nice. Look forward to more information and pictures. thumb.gif

As a PWM addict I can appreciate this. biggrin.gif
post #4 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyll View Post

Sounds nice. Look forward to more information and pictures. thumb.gif

As a PWM addict I can appreciate this. biggrin.gif

wheee.gif for PWM addicts thumb.gif

have undergone a minor bump (namely my PICKit broke and a replacement is on the way), but that shouldn't delay anything. Keep you informed!
   
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post #5 of 56
Thread Starter 
Since this thread is worthless without pics, I decided to give the boards a go and etch a sample board, in this case with the same etching mask the Review Sample nº1 would have. I need to do some minor adjustments to the printer to get the best results possible, but we're getting close. This board is functional! (albeit unpopulated)

The baby board etching happily in her pool:



And the finished board!




I miscalculated a margin while cutting out the copper clad, and an ugliness showed up on the rightmost track... It would still work, but it doesn't look good. This happened because lazy me didn't bother setting up the electric saw and used a hacksaw instead lachen.gif

Production boards will be millimetrically cut, though biggrin.gif


Now I'm awaiting the components to arrive so I can assemble a prototype wink.gif
Edited by Artikbot - 8/22/13 at 3:43am
   
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post #6 of 56
LOL. Almost said something yesterday about no pics.biggrin.gif

Looking good! What will you house the completed board in?

As for the uglyness, it's a prototype. You can't expect them to be perfect. thumb.gif
post #7 of 56
Thread Starter 
As for housing, I'm not sure. Perhaps leave them as is (as they stand they can be hid behind the motherboard tray), perhaps a piece of shrink wrap for security, I don't know.

Guess I'll listen to what you guys have to say biggrin.gif

In reality it doesn't look as ugly as it looks in the picture, because those crapped spots (the UV resist failed there) are like half a millimeter wide tongue.gif

Here's the board besides an AAA battery, for size reference (protip: I've got medium sized hands with stickman figure fingers xD):




Taking your word on the sample! smile.gif
   
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post #8 of 56
I find that plastic tube - in all its various forms and sizes - provides a well insulated housing for this size of project and can be incorporated into the cable set involved without having to find particular locations for any of the units.
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Calimo Min
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post #9 of 56
Heatshrink works well too. wink.gif
post #10 of 56
Thread Starter 
Hm, things have delayed a bit, mostly because my replacement PICKit took much longer than expected, and I have had to find compatible parts for my initial choices, as my dealer doesn't carry them.

Whatever, the components should be here on Tuesday, so expect a working prototype by the end of the next week! thumb.gif

Meanwhile, I have optimised a little bit more the board layout. It keeps the size of the old one, but the power traces have been reinforced. It could take a 40W Delta without any sort of issue now, as opposed to the previous 15W limit smile.gif

Here's the new one!



I've quite improved the etching solution, so as you see, the traces are much more well defined now. Mind the gibberish in that corner up there, I just randomly marked the board with sharpie to test how well does it resist acid attack.

Oh and by the way, more design details. Final PCB color is black! I've found a situable source for decent quality black solder mask that doesn't force me to buy a several gallon tank smile.gif
   
AGP bencher
(14 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom X6 1055T ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 Sapphire HD 6950 2GiB GSKill Ares 2x4GiB 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Crucial MX100 Seagate 7200.14 Samsung SpinPoint F3 EK Supreme HF 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK CoolStream XT360 Alphacool Coolplex Pro 10LT Phobya DC12-400 XSPC Rasa GPU 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
W10 Pro LG IPS235V LG E2250V KUL ES-87 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
NOX Sonar 780W (Kingwin 750W 80+) Lian Li PC-A05NB Logitech G9 ASUS Xonar DX 
AudioAudioAudioOther
Sennheiser HD555 SMSL SA S3 Desktop Amplifier Kenwood KFC S1394 + Custom 10L Bass Reflex cabi... Logitech G25 
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
AMD A10-5700 Gigabyte F2A75M-HD2 G.SKILL Ares 2133 CL9 Hitachi 5K750 
CoolingOSMonitorPower
Noctua NH-L9a Citrix XenServer AUO B156HW01  PicoPSU-80-WI-25V 
CaseOther
AIO Aluminium Handmade Alfa Networks N-150 500mW 
CPUCPUCPUMotherboard
Core2Duo E6400 Core2Quad Q6600 Pentium Dual Core E5200 AsRock 4COREDUAL-SATA2 R2.0 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveOptical Drive
A dumpload of ancient AGP cards Kingston Value DDR2-667 CL4 2T @CL3 1T Seagate 160GB 7200.10 LG IDE DVD-ROM 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Ghettomade CPU waterblock 49cc 2stroke engine copper radiator WinXP SP2 32bit ProView 17" 
PowerCase
Tacens Radix V 550W Ghetto aluminium bench 
  hide details  
Reply
   
AGP bencher
(14 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Phenom X6 1055T ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 Sapphire HD 6950 2GiB GSKill Ares 2x4GiB 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Crucial MX100 Seagate 7200.14 Samsung SpinPoint F3 EK Supreme HF 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK CoolStream XT360 Alphacool Coolplex Pro 10LT Phobya DC12-400 XSPC Rasa GPU 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
W10 Pro LG IPS235V LG E2250V KUL ES-87 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
NOX Sonar 780W (Kingwin 750W 80+) Lian Li PC-A05NB Logitech G9 ASUS Xonar DX 
AudioAudioAudioOther
Sennheiser HD555 SMSL SA S3 Desktop Amplifier Kenwood KFC S1394 + Custom 10L Bass Reflex cabi... Logitech G25 
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
AMD A10-5700 Gigabyte F2A75M-HD2 G.SKILL Ares 2133 CL9 Hitachi 5K750 
CoolingOSMonitorPower
Noctua NH-L9a Citrix XenServer AUO B156HW01  PicoPSU-80-WI-25V 
CaseOther
AIO Aluminium Handmade Alfa Networks N-150 500mW 
CPUCPUCPUMotherboard
Core2Duo E6400 Core2Quad Q6600 Pentium Dual Core E5200 AsRock 4COREDUAL-SATA2 R2.0 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveOptical Drive
A dumpload of ancient AGP cards Kingston Value DDR2-667 CL4 2T @CL3 1T Seagate 160GB 7200.10 LG IDE DVD-ROM 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Ghettomade CPU waterblock 49cc 2stroke engine copper radiator WinXP SP2 32bit ProView 17" 
PowerCase
Tacens Radix V 550W Ghetto aluminium bench 
  hide details  
Reply
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