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Build Log: Project Wyvern, The Ultimate Radiator Fan Controller

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
So a while back I bought a bunch of TFC Triebwerk 2600RPM 55mm thick fans from someone here on OCN. They're great fans, move a lot of air and come with a TON of accessories. The problem is they're loud, not obnoxiously loud but I have a hunch once I throw 12 of them on radiators they will be. XD The answer to that is simple, throw em on a fan controller. The problem is they draw 1.5 amps nominal current, so even if I bought one of the really nice 36watt fan controllers I'd be having to put two fans per channel and need to control them all separately, and even then I'd need two fan controllers to use them all. Well ever since then I've been working on a fan controller and after a few weeks of playing with different components, seeing what works better or worse, playing with different ways of controlling it all I finally have a working prototype hooked up on my breadboard.

The controller is really basic yet gives me loads more control than most of the analog fan controllers on the market right now. I've only tested it on a single fan on the circuit , and won't be able to test with more until I get it all mounted up as I'm not willing to push that much current through my breadboard, but I'm get full range of voltage control between 0-11.7volts, then I can control the fans further by limiting the current the fans get. I tried hooking a fans RPM wire into a mobo to get an idea of what kind of RPMs I got minimum but at minimum the fan was spinning too slow for the tach to register on the comp. I got out my trusty wrist watch and I got around 50RPM on my GT AP15s, so given the fact I will never need to go that slow I'm satisfied with that.

When this is all put together I should be able to get up to 20amps (240 watts) worth of fan run off a single channel controlled by two knobs, one for voltage and one for current.

The current control circuit (Now with less chips)


The voltage control circuit:


A quick video of a GT @ 12v being current controlled, from slowest to fastest then back to slowest. The potentiometer (knob you turn) is off screen.
The bearings on those GTs man, they just keep spinning and spinning with next to no resistance.
Edited by ZytheEKS - 4/24/14 at 4:43am
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post #2 of 20
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Reserved for end results
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post #3 of 20
May I ask why making a current based controller AND a voltage based instead of building just one? What's the difference?
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucas Bezerra View Post

May I ask why making a current based controller AND a voltage based instead of building just one? What's the difference?

Some fans undervolt REALLY well, others can barely go below 10volts without having issues and I wanted to future proof the controller. As far as having voltage AND current goes, due to the nature of how I'm controlling current after I drop it to below 50% current some fans like to stutter, almost like little hiccups. They speed up and slow down at regular intervals, creating a weird noise which is reflected by the current jumping 100mA as it speeds up and slows down, it really can't be seen with the GT but with my TFC Triebwerk fans which is what I'm making this for it was pretty bad. I'd considered using a capacitor to keep the current steady but the issue is caps that could keep up with the potential max load of this circuit would cost as much as all the other hardware combined. I added voltage control via a voltage divider circuit with a static R2 and a voltage controller resistor as R1 and I get complete voltage control since I can adjust the resistance on R1 almost indefinitely. After testing the new circuit on my TFC Triebwerk the current fluctuations seemed to stop. I'm using the GT for all the circuit testing ATM because my multimeter can't measure voltage on the TFC, maximum current of 600mA on the voltage pin. I burned out the fuse trying to test it on my Triebwerk. I actually got around to replacing the fuse on my multimeter today, and did a short video on voltage control here.
Notice how it doesn't go nearly as slow as current control.
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post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Next step is to modify the control circuit a bit to give me a longer range of control. You can't see it in any of the videos I have but the first 50% of the potentiometers (the knobs) do absolutely nothing, then the next 30% gives you the full range of control, then the next 20% continues to do nothing. This should be a pretty easy fix.
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post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZytheEKS View Post

Some fans undervolt REALLY well, others can barely go below 10volts without having issues and I wanted to future proof the controller. As far as having voltage AND current goes, due to the nature of how I'm controlling current after I drop it to below 50% current some fans like to stutter, almost like little hiccups. They speed up and slow down at regular intervals, creating a weird noise which is reflected by the current jumping 100mA as it speeds up and slows down, it really can't be seen with the GT but with my TFC Triebwerk fans which is what I'm making this for it was pretty bad. I'd considered using a capacitor to keep the current steady but the issue is caps that could keep up with the potential max load of this circuit would cost as much as all the other hardware combined. I added voltage control via a voltage divider circuit with a static R2 and a voltage controller resistor as R1 and I get complete voltage control since I can adjust the resistance on R1 almost indefinitely. After testing the new circuit on my TFC Triebwerk the current fluctuations seemed to stop. I'm using the GT for all the circuit testing ATM because my multimeter can't measure voltage on the TFC, maximum current of 600mA on the voltage pin. I burned out the fuse trying to test it on my Triebwerk. I actually got around to replacing the fuse on my multimeter today, and did a short video on voltage control here.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Notice how it doesn't go nearly as slow as current control.

Nice, didn't ever think about the idea of current controlling... I'll be here looking for the updates, good luck! (if it works would you mind posting here the PCB layout and the components needed? biggrin.gif. If you can't, no problem, it's a little painful thing).
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucas Bezerra View Post

Nice, didn't ever think about the idea of current controlling... I'll be here looking for the updates, good luck! (if it works would you mind posting here the PCB layout and the components needed? biggrin.gif. If you can't, no problem, it's a little painful thing).

Oh it works... All the components are rated for way more current/volts than I'll be using and I've tested the circuit in it's entirety and it all works. I just need to get it on a thick enough PCB to support the current. If I tried to put this on a standard 1oz/ft^2 PCB I'd need 6cm wide leads to allow that much current and even then I'm not sure it would work, then it would just burn out on the contacts. I'm going to use some 7oz/ft^2 PCB and beef up the leads with a bit of solder, or maybe gold plate it with a couple layers. 1cm PCB leads should be sufficient for that. One thing about this design is it's going to need a fan, and chipsinks on the fan cooler itself. If the fans combined draw 20amps nominal current and they're only getting 12amps then the other 8 are converted into thermal energy, and so on. The same goes for most fan controllers on the market with the acception of the Lamptron ones that use a self contained PWM circuits. The difference is they're usually using 3 amps absolute max, dissipating 36watts of heat isn't a big deal, a passive chipsink can handle that. Potentially dissipating upwards of over 100watts? Truth be told though I'm not that worried, I have voltage control divided between five static resistors, and three voltage controlled resistors, and current control divided between three voltage controlled resistors so I just need a really low RPM fan to make sure air is actually moving.

If it all works as well as I predict I might even order a few 10+oz/ft^2 PCBs from a professional and make a few controllers to throw on the OCN marketplace. Can't tell you how many threads I've seen of people struggling to put all their radiator fans on a single controller. XD
Edited by ZytheEKS - 4/25/14 at 6:54pm
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post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZytheEKS View Post

Oh it works... All the components are rated for way more current/volts than I'll be using and I've tested the circuit in it's entirety and it all works. I just need to get it on a thick enough PCB to support the current. If I tried to put this on a standard 1oz/ft^2 PCB I'd need 6cm wide leads to allow that much current and even then I'm not sure it would work, then it would just burn out on the contacts. I'm going to use some 7oz/ft^2 PCB and beef up the leads with a bit of solder, or maybe gold plate it with a couple layers. 1cm PCB leads should be sufficient for that. One thing about this design is it's going to need a fan, and chipsinks on the fan cooler itself. If the fans combined draw 20amps nominal current and they're only getting 12amps then the other 8 are converted into thermal energy, and so on. The same goes for most fan controllers on the market with the acception of the Lamptron ones that use a self contained PWM circuits. The difference is they're usually using 3 amps absolute max, dissipating 36watts of heat isn't a big deal, a passive chipsink can handle that. Potentially dissipating upwards of over 100watts? Truth be told though I'm not that worried, I have voltage control divided between five static resistors, and three voltage controlled resistors, and current control divided between three voltage controlled resistors so I just need a really low RPM fan to make sure air is actually moving.

If it all works as well as I predict I might even order a few 10+oz/ft^2 PCBs from a professional and make a few controllers to throw on the OCN marketplace. Can't tell you how many threads I've seen of people struggling to put all their radiator fans on a single controller. XD

I see... I'll PM you with some ideas and theoretical questions, if that is not a problem tongue.gif
Edited by Lucas Bezerra - 4/26/14 at 5:55am
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Got a bunch of goodies in the mail today, most importantly my new VRMs. I switched the voltage divider circuit with a variable R1 to an array of Adjustable volt regs, much MUCH more stable voltages, and lower heat density on the components when I give it bigger loads. Still have to figure out how to supply a 7v source to my potentiometers, multiple voltage dividers obviously isn't going to work all right, and my mosfets don't seem to respond to having a static resistor hold the R1 @ 7k on my 10k pot. Even more odd doing the 7volt trap on my molex seems to work on the pot. rolleyes.gif I'll play with it more tomorrow, but I'm all brained out for the night.

On a side note trying to find copper clad thicker than 6oz/ft^2 is proving to be very irritating. If anyone has any sources/ideas please let me know.
Edited by ZytheEKS - 5/2/14 at 8:24pm
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post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just an update, ordered some 7oz/ft^2 copper clad, and will be etching the printed circuit board as soon as that arrives. Then I can finally try this all with a 10+ amperage load.
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