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Fan controller that responds to 2 pwm input signals?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Howdy,

This could apply to air or water cooling really, here goes...

I'd like my case fans to be regulated by both the CPU and GPU temps. The motherboard produces a PWM signal with a duty cycle sensitive to CPU temps. The graphic card produces another that's sensitive to the GPU temps. I'd like my case fans to speed up and down in response to both of those signals.

I've just put together a new system with a ACX 2.0 cooler on the GPU and an H240-X on the CPU in a Phanteks EvolvATX case. Both of those coolers dump heat into the case, the rad is setup in the roof as intake to not choke on the gpu's exhaust. I've got three 140mm DC case fans, 2x intake at the front, 1x exhaust at the back. Currently the case fans are regulated by mobo fans headers that react to cpu temp, they do a fine job of pushing heat out the back provided there's a load on the cpu.

But this doesn't work well when the cpu load is light and the gpu load is heavy.

The cpu is a hexacore running 4.4Ghz so it takes a lot to put a load on it. Running crysis3 max'd out takes about 25% to 40% cpu usage, a walk in the park. Farcry 4 is even less. Meanwhile, the 250W GPU is working much harder and dumping a whole lot of heat into the case. In that situation, I'd like the case fans to run real fast, but since the CPU is not really doing much, that doesn't happen (w/o manual intervention) and everything in the case gets a lot warmer then it should.

I haven't owned a gpu with a cooler like this before, all of my other gpus had blower coolers that pushed their exhaust out the back without depending on case fans to do anything much for them. Given how popular the axial fan gpu coolers are now, probably somebody else has dealt with this already and found a way to dynamically cater to the CPU and GPUs needs. Any pointers to different ways of solving this problem are welcome.

Here's what I have in mind as a solution.

An arduino based custom fan controller that samples 2 pwm signals, does a little math with the two duty cycle numbers, and produces a 3rd pwm signal as output. Feed that output into a phanteks fan hub (http://phanteks.com/PH-PWHUB.html) which can control multiple 3pin fans based on a single pwm input.

I'm pretty sure arduino can handle a task like that but I don't know all the details yet.

I found a spec for 4pin pwm fan control
http://www.formfactors.org/developer%5Cspecs%5C4_Wire_PWM_Spec.pdf

Some examples of how to sample pwm inputs.
http://www.benripley.com/diy/arduino/three-ways-to-read-a-pwm-signal-with-arduino/

A pwm library that should let the arduino produce a 25khz pwm output per the fan spec.
http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=117425.0

One thing I'm not quite sure of is grounding? The device will have multiple inputs for "ground" and will need to provide a ground as part of its output.
- ground from cpu pwm in
- ground from gpu pwm in
- ground from psu power
- ground for pwm output signal

Should my device tie these together? I think probably "yes". The one i wonder most about is the input from the gpu, I hope that cards notion of ground is as grounded as the mobo's. I hope my digital-multimeter can answer that question. If ground_gpu != groung_psu, i'm not sure how to handle that.

Also, I have a couple of practical examples of how to handle the grounding. The phanteks fan hub take power from molex and also takes a 4pin fan header with a ground. I'll take a look at that device and see of ground is tied together? I've also got a power pwm fan splitter (swiftech device) to look at as well.

Maybe there's an easier solution to this or something that can be bought off the shelf to do this? Seems like there should be a ready made solution but I haven't stumbled across it. I'm not interested in something with knobs or lcd displays that's intended to sit in a 5.25" bay (my case doesn't have any). I want something small enough to bury in the bottom of a case or behind the mobo tray. Once setup, it shouldn't need user inputs anymore.

I'm thinking an arduino nano maybe?
https://www.arduino.cc/en/Products/Compare

It's got pins and a usb port that should help during development, but the pins can be removed and leads soldered once its figured out and crammed into a tiny black box. I'm sure to fry more than one of those devices so I'm wondering how many I should order smile.gif

Wdyt?
Edited by michael-ocn - 10/25/15 at 3:51pm
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post #2 of 35
Thread Starter 
dbl post, deleted
Edited by michael-ocn - 10/25/15 at 3:45pm
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post #3 of 35

Try doing it with software. Speedfan, for example.

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post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ehume View Post

Try doing it with software. Speedfan, for example.

Not really what i'm looking for, I don't like a software based solution for a few reasons.
1. Wont function if the system crashes.
2. I have multiple os's, Linux and Windows.
3. Bugs me to have junk running in the background.
A device of some kind that does it independent of the OS is what I want.

beginedit
But speedfan does have the right feature set. I might take a look at it as an interim solution. Could be nicer than manually changing speeds thru aisuite.
endendit

I think I need a nano and a terminal adapter to start with. Eventually I'll need a small plastic box to put the finished project in. The nano is very small, 0.73" x 1.70" (18mm x 45mm), like the size of a usb thumb drive. I'll try to minimize the number of inputs and outputs. At a miniumin, i'll need 5 wires going into / out of the box...

pwm_in_cpu (from the mobo fan header)
pwm_in_gpu (from the graphics card fan header)
pwr_5v (from psu)
grnd (from psu)
pwm_out (fan header pin 4 to the powered phanteks hub)

I don't know if i'll need to supply the hub with grnd or 12v in pins 1 and 2 of the fan cable connecting to it? I hope not. It's got its own power leads from the psu.

Also the nano has a tiny mini-usb port but I don't think I'll need access to that once final assembly is done.
Edited by michael-ocn - 10/25/15 at 9:25pm
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post #5 of 35
I don't know about Asus Q-Fan Control, but Gigabyte EasyTune is only a windows interface to set the motherboard Bios. Once it is set EssyTune can be closed .. even uninstalled with no effect on fan curve settings.
post #6 of 35
Be aware that PWM sampling rates on motherboards and GPUs are often non-standard.
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post #7 of 35
Indeed!. "PWM" can mean many things. thumb.gif
Biggest problem is claiming to have "PWM" control when in fact there is no PWM signal on pin-4, but instead have pulsed power to the fan .. or no PWM signal on pin-4 and just variable voltage on pin-2.
post #8 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyll View Post

Indeed!. "PWM" can mean many things. thumb.gif
Biggest problem is claiming to have "PWM" control when in fact there is no PWM signal on pin-4, but instead have pulsed power to the fan .. or no PWM signal on pin-4 and just variable voltage on pin-2.

One of the inputs i'll be sampling is definitely an actual pwm control signal, a cpu_fan header of an asus x99-pro. I'm pretty sure the mini header on the evga 980ti ftw is too, but I'll have to confirm that. Btw, I like the term "pulsed power" to describe the distinction.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billbartuska View Post

Be aware that PWM sampling rates on motherboards and GPUs are often non-standard.

Do you know how non-stardard? 60Hz? 100Khz?

Thnx for the heads up. I don't have an oscilloscope so observing the signals directly to see the frequency and waveforms isn't an option for me since I don't plan on buying one. The arduino examples I've seen of reading pwm input signals function by observing the timing of rising and falling edges. It doesn't look like they depend on the signal being in a particular frequency range. After "hello world", probably one of the first things I'll do with the arduino is detect and report the pwm frequency of an input its sensing.

Devices must be fairly tolerant of non-standards freqs. Another thing I can look into is how tolerant phanteks powered hub is. If it can accept a 500Hz pwm control signal, I might not need that PWM Library mentioned in the first post. Arduinos have built-in support for generating 500Hz pwm signals, good for dimming LEDs. It would be nice to not need the extra lib, less is more smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyll View Post

I don't know about Asus Q-Fan Control, but Gigabyte EasyTune is only a windows interface to set the motherboard Bios. Once it is set EssyTune can be closed .. even uninstalled with no effect on fan curve settings.

I dislike how invasive AiSuite is and how many interdependent moving parts there are to it. The way I use it, is the way you describe easy tune, alter the bios settings and let the bios take it from there. But AiSuite can also be used in ways that require additional services to be running at all times. Just don't press the annoyingly blinking "calibrate my fans" button. The way i use it, AiSuite leaves 3 services running in the background after changing the fan curves, but they don't have to be running and they can be stopped without affecting anything.

Just starting and stopping AiSuite, and doing nothing with it, causes those 3 services to be started and left running. AiSuite fails to start if you disable any of the 3 services. It'll be nice to uninstall AiSuite once the device is done.
Edited by michael-ocn - 10/26/15 at 10:56am
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post #9 of 35
This will be a really cool project. I hope you document everything very well. Subbed.
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by michael-ocn View Post

One of the inputs i'll be sampling is definitely an actual pwm control signal, a cpu_fan header of an asus x99-pro. I'm pretty sure the mini header on the evga 980ti ftw is too, but I'll have to confirm that. Btw, I like the term "pulsed power" to describe the distinction..
I'm just a layman, not an electronics tech. Have often wondered about being able to use two PWM signals to control case fans. It would be nice for whichever is fastest to be controlling the fan. That way either CPU or GPU under heavy load would speed up the fans.

The Phanteks PWM controlled variable voltage fan hub is nice. I'm using several of them. But they do not give a very wide speed range to work with .. which makes it kinda hard to lower the rpm down as much as I like. I much prefer using PWM splitters with PWM case fans (or radiator fans).
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