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Help me plan a simple custom fan controller.

post #1 of 19
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I have 9 high speed 120x38mm Panaflo fans humming away at full speed, all directly connected to the SPU via standard clunky molex connectors.

I'm getting ready for a partial rebuild, and in the process I want to include a fan controller. Focus is on cheap, easy, and effective. This system is 7 years old and I'm not looking to invest much effort or money into it, beyond what is needed to keep it working and reasonably up to date.

I'm not a fan of front bay controllers. Most of them look ugly sticking out the front of the case, they are expensive, and they create wiring nightmares (which this particular build really can't afford any more of! lol).

AFAIK, Panaflo fans are not PWM fans, so the obvious solution to me seems like slapping a rheostat in between the fans and the PSU. Obviously I'm going to need a pretty beefy rheostat (or more likely two of them, with one per radiator) for all those fans, but that should be doable.

So the idea is to basically make one or two of these.


To make my life easier, I'll probably buy a pre-sleeved molex splitter and just cut the ends off where appropriate. Something like this.


I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rheostat itself. It will be hanging out the back of the system, between the I/O area and my external radiator, so I don't care too much how it looks, but I would like to give it an enclosure as not to accidentally screw with it. Any ideas in that department would be great.

It all sounds very simple in my head, but I've never done this before, so I could be way off. Anyone see any issues with this idea? Any suggestions for improvement?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 19
Do you need the fine control of a rheostat? If not, easier and cheaper to make and hide fixed resistor versions. And even easier to make 5V or 7V adapters. Have you tried running the beasts on 5V or 7V? That's the easy place to start.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'd like to be able to adjust the fans in real time, without having to unplug the fans and swap out a fixed resistor. "Fine" adjustment isn't a priority though, a few easily adjustable steps would work fine.

Is there something that offers a few "steps" of adjustment, that is also cheaper than a rheostat?

I know I could use a switch and a couple fixed resistors to basically make what I just described, but that sounds like a lot more work, and I've never seen such a thing pre assembled.



As for my fans, I've always run these particular guys full bore. It made sense when I built the machine, with the incredibly toasty GTX 295 (and the second one I planned on adding before coming to my senses with the awful 4way scaling I would have had), a 9800GX2 for folding, 95 degree ambients, and my rig in the basement two floors away from where I sleep.

Never got around to changing that when I moved into a small one bedroom apartment with my bed 6 feet from my PC, cooler running parts, and usually more reasonable ambients. Laziness I suppose.


Thanks for the support.
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post #4 of 19
Panaflo 120x38mm high speed FBA12G12H1BX fans are rated 5.52w each, so 9x of these is about 50 watts .. that is over 4 amps!. I don't know how Panasonic does their power rating so no idea if it's running amps or startup. Startup can be twice as much as running.

Resistors may be good idea because they are lower cost, but with switches to give different speeds probably similar total cost.

Either way you will need good ventilation so heat can be moved away.

I would use a Molex extension instead of a splitter to make it up with.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doyll View Post

Panaflo 120x38mm high speed FBA12G12H1BX fans are rated 5.52w each, so 9x of these is about 50 watts .. that is over 4 amps!. I don't know how Panasonic does their power rating so no idea if it's running amps or startup. Startup can be twice as much as running.

Resistors may be good idea because they are lower cost, but with switches to give different speeds probably similar total cost.

Either way you will need good ventilation so heat can be moved away.

I would use a Molex extension instead of a splitter to make it up with.

Yeah I was thinking two 25w rheos or one 50w. I need to actually look at how I have things wired up behind my motherboard at some point. It's been a few years. I didn't account for startup power though, so thanks for mentioning that. I could bump that to two 50w rheos to be safe if I can't find any any more info on how the panaflos are rated.

I am a bit concerned with dissipating the heat from the rheos. They'll have a little ambient airflow due to their proximity to my case fans, but I'm not sure that would be enough. Perhaps I could use some double sided thermal tape to stick them to my external radiator's metal casing. I know it isn't in contact with the water, but it is a rather large sheet of steel with air blowing on it, so it should work as a heatsink yeah? Better than one of those dinky little stick on heatsinks with nothing blowing on it, I imagine, and much better than being stuck inside a sealed up junction box behind a sheet of drywall that they were probably designed for.
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post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero4549 View Post

I'd like to be able to adjust the fans in real time, without having to unplug the fans and swap out a fixed resistor. "Fine" adjustment isn't a priority though, a few easily adjustable steps would work fine.

Is there something that offers a few "steps" of adjustment, that is also cheaper than a rheostat?

I know I could use a switch and a couple fixed resistors to basically make what I just described, but that sounds like a lot more work, and I've never seen such a thing pre assembled.



As for my fans, I've always run these particular guys full bore. It made sense when I built the machine, with the incredibly toasty GTX 295 (and the second one I planned on adding before coming to my senses with the awful 4way scaling I would have had), a 9800GX2 for folding, 95 degree ambients, and my rig in the basement two floors away from where I sleep.

Never got around to changing that when I moved into a small one bedroom apartment with my bed 6 feet from my PC, cooler running parts, and usually more reasonable ambients. Laziness I suppose.


Thanks for the support.

Wow! You must be a deep sleeper. biggrin.gif

Could make 5V and 7V molex adapters and then after training with a F1 pit crew for a season, be able to swap them all out in under 2 seconds.

Here's a quick how-to at HardwareSecrets

If don't want to make your own, could spend the big bucks ($3.99) on a pre-made 3 setting cable from the CoolerGuys

The issue I have with using a pot is the wasted energy converted to heat..
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MicroCat View Post

Wow! You must be a deep sleeper. biggrin.gif

Could make 5V and 7V molex adapters and then after training with a F1 pit crew for a season, be able to swap them all out in under 2 seconds.

Here's a quick how-to at HardwareSecrets

If don't want to make your own, could spend the big bucks ($3.99) on a pre-made 3 setting cable from the CoolerGuys

The issue I have with using a pot is the wasted energy converted to heat..

If those wires at coolerguys came in full size molex versions I'd probably buy one just to see how the fans perform noise and temp wise at those levels. The cost of buying a pack of molex heads to make one myself would probably be more than just getting the premade cable. lol

That said, in the long run I really would rather have something I can adjust without having to unplug and replug things. It isn't easy getting behind my computer so the less effort it takes to switch/adjust the better.

I'm not too worried about the wasted energy. The heat that that energy turns into could pose an issue though. What do you think about my idea of thermally coupling a rheostat to my radiator's metal side plate?

Oh... and yeah I sleep like a log. I grew up in a household where 5am weekend vacuuming was a thing for some reason. I'm honestly more concerned with lowering the noise floor for my music (and maybe avoiding tinnitus) than for my sleep at this point. xD
Edited by Zero4549 - 6/24/16 at 11:46pm
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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero4549 View Post

Yeah I was thinking two 25w rheos or one 50w. I need to actually look at how I have things wired up behind my motherboard at some point. It's been a few years. I didn't account for startup power though, so thanks for mentioning that. I could bump that to two 50w rheos to be safe if I can't find any any more info on how the panaflos are rated.

I am a bit concerned with dissipating the heat from the rheos. They'll have a little ambient airflow due to their proximity to my case fans, but I'm not sure that would be enough. Perhaps I could use some double sided thermal tape to stick them to my external radiator's metal casing. I know it isn't in contact with the water, but it is a rather large sheet of steel with air blowing on it, so it should work as a heatsink yeah? Better than one of those dinky little stick on heatsinks with nothing blowing on it, I imagine, and much better than being stuck inside a sealed up junction box behind a sheet of drywall that they were probably designed for.
I would suggest going a little higher rating. This will lower the amount of heat they radiate. As long as they have a little air movement they will be fine. I grew up using them in cars on heater fans and for 12v conversions on old 6v systems. As long as they are in open areas with just a little airflow they will be okay. They are designed to run quite hot, which is why many have their windings on ceramics. Just don't grab one when you have the fans idling. biggrin.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by MicroCat View Post

Wow! You must be a deep sleeper. biggrin.gif

Could make 5V and 7V molex adapters and then after training with a F1 pit crew for a season, be able to swap them all out in under 2 seconds.

Here's a quick how-to at HardwareSecrets

If don't want to make your own, could spend the big bucks ($3.99) on a pre-made 3 setting cable from the CoolerGuys

The issue I have with using a pot is the wasted energy converted to heat..
For one normal 1 or 2 watt fan you can get away with it, but with the kinds of wattage these guys use I would not do Rube Goldberg 7v power power. The way that works is feed 12v into 5volt lead to kill 5 voltsof the 12volt coming from PSU. Not a good idea to ever do, and definitely not when there is lots of power is being used. The 5volt supply is just that, a SUPPLY. Using it to get 7volt is not using it as a it is designed. While 5volt and 12volt is fine, 7volt is asking for
. doh.gif I'm amazed CoolerGuys are stooping so low.
Edited by doyll - 6/25/16 at 2:56am
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
So... this looks like poop, and if the specs are even close to accurate, it is well into overkill, but it is dirt cheap and should work, right? I mean, hey, this is OCN, overkill is the prefered method of of operation here after all.

https://www.amazon.com/TOOGOO-Ceramic-Rheostat-Variable-Resistor/dp/B00TK0WSTW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1466849557&sr=8-5&keywords=rheostat

I'll probably end up using two, so I can control each radiator separately... for dumb reasons. Suppose that would make it even more overkill, but that's fine. I wasn't able to find any 50W units for a lower cost anyway, so why not, right?

Besides that I just need some molex cables to cannibalize, some heatshrink, and something to use as a mount. Oh... and a knob I guess.

Assuming I didn't screw that up somehow, I guess the next step is to figure out how I want to attach this thing. I'm kind of liking the idea of mounting it to the side of the external radiator the more I think about it, even if it isn't needed for cooling. It would just be a really convenient place due to my setup.

I'm guessing I should drill a hole large enough for the rheo to fit into, in a plate or block of some sort, and then I could easily attach that to wherever with just about any method I'd like. Wood would be easy to work with, but wood is also a poor thermal conductor, and I've even heard wives tales about wood being combustible so... maybe not the best idea?

Any recommendations?
Edited by Zero4549 - 6/25/16 at 3:35am
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post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zero4549 View Post

So... this looks like poop, and if the specs are even close to accurate, it is well into overkill, but it is dirt cheap and should work, right? I mean, hey, this is OCN, overkill is the prefered method of of operation here after all.

https://www.amazon.com/TOOGOO-Ceramic-Rheostat-Variable-Resistor/dp/B00TK0WSTW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1466849557&sr=8-5&keywords=rheostat

I'll probably end up using two, so I can control each radiator separately... for dumb reasons. Suppose that would make it even more overkill, but that's fine. I wasn't able to find any 50W units for a lower cost anyway, so why not, right?

Besides that I just need some molex cables to cannibalize, some heatshrink, and something to use as a mount. Oh... and a knob I guess.

Assuming I didn't screw that up somehow, I guess the next step is to figure out how I want to attach this thing. I'm kind of liking the idea of mounting it to the side of the external radiator the more I think about it, even if it isn't needed for cooling. It would just be a really convenient place due to my setup.

I'm guessing I should drill a hole large enough for the rheo to fit into, in a plate or block of some sort, and then I could easily attach that to wherever with just about any method I'd like. Wood would be easy to work with, but wood is also a poor thermal conductor, and I've even heard wives tales about wood being combustible so... maybe not the best idea?

Any recommendations?
Maybe I'm missing something but all I see on that 'thing' is power in and power out connector tabs .. nothing for mounting or putting a knob on it. Only views are front side, so no idea what back is like.

While I'm no expert I would consider trying something like this first. It's PWM control (pulsed power) to the fans so no heat buildup and can be adjusted down to very low output. Basically what it does is varies the speed of 12v power pulses to the fans, meaning they run progressively slower the shorter and farther apart the 12v power pulse is. Very simple and no heat buildup (I use Phanteks PWM to 3-pin fan hubs which do similar thing).
As you can see they are not expensive and all you need to is order and wait a couple weeks for it to arrive. Then hook 12v power into it and a a socket for fans on it's output. and adjust the dial. I see no reason it shouldn't work just fine. With this you only have to drill a small hole to mount the control knob in and maybe extend the knob's control wires to where controller is spliced into power between power source and fans. wink.gif

There may be cheaper ones available too. I just grabbed one as an example. If it works you save money work and heat, and if it doesn't work you are only out a few dollars.

Edit: Oh! And if you want to monitor rpm on any of your fans, you can use the rpm lead to any normal 3-pin or 4-pin plug plugged into a motherboard fan header .. the rpm will show as a fan on that header. I have drawings of how to do it if you need them.
Edited by doyll - 6/25/16 at 4:25am
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