A Cool Computer Fan Project

Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 2-6 hours

Technical Specifications

This project all started when I had an innovative idea to make a desk fan out of old computer parts and a few salvaged electronic parts I had in my parts box.

For this project, I had about a dozen 80mm fans taken from old power supplies available, lots of associated wires, and of coarse, the scrap metal remaining from the empty shells. I saved the circuit boards for later to desolder them.

Visit my instructables page to see a photo gallery of this project

To build one of these fans for yourself, follow these essential pointers I've made below:


Your final design will ultimately depend on the materials you decide to use. If you plan to use metal as the construction material, then your design will be less beefy than if you chose wood to work with.

Choose metal if:
- you have a lot of sheet metal lying around

- you want a more sleek and slim styling

- you want a high strength-to-weight ratio

Choose wood if:
-you have or have access to a wide variety of woodworking tools and machinery

- your good at woodwork

- you prefer a wooden finish

- wood is a more available material for you

Choose plastic if:
- you'd like to be more creative and use more stylish recycled plastic shapes

- you find plastic easier to work with

- you'd like to mix a variety of different colors and textures for a more artistic look

Whatever material you choose, make sure it's strong enough to resist deformation and falling to pieces. Also, you want to make sure that the material is not too thick because that makes it much heavier.

You want to strike a reasonable strength-to-weight ratio depending on your material of choice with the material thickness as the main factor.

Size and Number of Fans

To make the best decision as it relates to fans, you have two main things to consider:
- the total build size, and
- the total airflow

As a recommendation, I'd advise you not to exceed a total of 6 smaller fans to reduce complexity.

If you have a few PC fans lying around, then I'd suggest you integrate them into your design to promote recycling. If you would like something different, then my suggestion is to purchase 2 or 3 larger diameter fans for quieter operations and increased airflow.

Click here to see a few examples

You can purchase these online or at your local electronics store.

Design Sketches

At this stage, you will decide how you want your desk fan to look and feel. Here are a few pointers to help you put some joy and creativity into the design process.

- Before you start building, start making a few sketches of the layout of the fans, controls and ports.

- Decide if you want a folding design or a rigid design. This largely depends on the materials you chose earlier and the level of intricacy you want.

- Do you want this to have a second power source? If so, then decide on the type of battery you want to use and integrate the battery bay into the design.

- Decide on the type of switch you want to use and how you want to operate the fans. Also, if you decided to use rechargeable batteries, then you want to include a battery charger in the circuit or use a removable battery instead.

- Decide where the power adapter will plug into your unit and arrange the circuitry to suit your needs.

Build Time!!!

OK, now it's time for the construction.

The first thing you should build is the base. This will be the most important part to get right as it will be the foundation on which you will mount all the fans.

To get started, you will first need to gather your tools, namely:

-Cutting tools such as a hacksaw or tin snips

- Boring tool such as a drill

-A file and sandpaper and if you have one,

-A Dremel toolkit

Based on your choice of materials, you will shape each piece as desired and make sure you use your sketches you made earlier as a guide.

For the best results, make sure you work with dimensions and not just rough estimates. if you want every part to fit as planned, then i suggest working with a ruler or a tape measure for all your dimenssions.

make sure you make provisions to integrate the circuitry ports and switches into your workpiece.

As for the fan assembly, make sure that the construction is study and won't fall apart.

Circuit Time

Once you've finish building the main structure of your fan, its time to build the circuit.

The circuit will be a function of the number of fans you use, the sequence in which the operate and any other optional extras such as lights, a on/off timer or a battery charger.,p>What I did was to first draw a schematic of the circuit based on my configuration then solder each component to the breadboard.

Aferwards I soldered the switches and the fan extension cords to the circuit board.

The next stage was to test the circuit to make sure every setting worked perfectly.

Here is an example of my circuit below:

IC1 is a LM7812 voltage regulator to provide a smooth 12V to the circuit. The green box represents the battery charging circuit I got from the portable worklight.

The 15V represents the voltage from the wall adapter and G1 represents the battery. SW1 disconnects the charger from the circuit and SW3 switches the power source from the adapter to the battery.

SW2 is the fan selector switch and D1 to D5 are the diodes that controls Fan# 1-4 and Fan# 5 respectively. The two super bright LED1 and LED2 with its associated resistor is also controlled through the diodes.

Please note that for every diode the current passes through, there is a 0.7V drop.

Spray Time

After you have successfully tested the circuit, natrally you will want to assemble everything into your finished product.

But before doing so, depending on how your structure looks, it may need to be sprayed first to make it more pleasing to the eye.

If you used plastic, then this step may not be applicable to you.

Choose your favorite paint scheme and spray as desired. If you chose to use metal, remember to use metal primer first for protection against corrosion.

Also remember to spray in a well ventilated and opem area and to wear the proper gear.

Final Stage

This stage is the moment of truth. It's where all the bits and pieces come together and form a unit.

Assemble all the individual components to complete the final product.

By the end of this product, you should feel a real sense of joy and accomplishment.


My Example Project

Check out out mine looks:

Click here to see the specs on my unit

Click here to see the lessons I learned from this project