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Modding a basic case fan with multiple LEDs

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    Modding a basic case fan with multiple LEDs

    Posted this in another forum around a year ago but thought some of you guys might like to see...

    In this tutorial I will be adding 16 Orange LEDs to a Xilence Red Wing 120mm case fan.

    So the fan in question, all basic and boring.



    I used several tools, bits and bobs. Some were required, some just to tidy things up.

    16x Super Bright Orange 3mm LEDs.
    4x 100 ohm resistor 1/4w
    Soldering Iron and thin solder.
    Scrap wire Thin.
    Insulation tape - Black
    Hot glue/glue gun (Cheapo off the bay)
    12v Power Source
    Molex connector and a bit of wire (off an Antec Tri-Cool)
    Switch
    Drill, 3mm drill bit.
    Post-it Yellow
    Cable Ties
    Heatshrink Black

    A few pics of my equipment.









    Deciding which Resistor and shape of array.

    I always wanted to use Orange LEDs and built my design around this. An Orange LED has a typical voltage of 1.8-2.2v and a current draw of 20mA to 30mA (Max).
    I can safely string up to 5 in a line as the max voltage would only be 11v, which is fine in a 12v application. I could possibly do 6 but they might be underbright, only getting a max of 2v each.

    Using V = I R transposed to R = V/I because we know Volts and Current and wish to determine resistance.

    Our voltage is 12v-(2.2 x 4) because of the 4 LEDs in series. This gives is a required voltage drop of 3.2v.

    We know the current is 20-30mA, so I picked 25mA.

    Now the formula R=
    Gives me R = 128 ohm

    I dropped it down to 100, because I had some available and I fancied them just a little bit brighter.

    Measuring up and deciding where to put the holes.

    My fan is 119mm in diameter and therefore has a circumference of 374mm
    I wish to place 16 LEDs so worked out that the pitch between LEDs is 23.375

    [IMG]

    I drew equally spaced crossed on a post-it so that my holes would be more or less perfect. I made a small hole at the crosses and used a felt tip marker to make a mark on the fan. A hole punch would also work.



    Drilling

    I am using 3mm LEDs so chose a 3mm drill. I purposefully offset the angle of the drill by about 15-20 degrees for added effect.



    Here's the holes all nicely drilled. I needed to clean up some burrs on the internal side of the fan with my fingernail. Biters, use a knife blade or something



    Install some LEDs just to see how they fit. Nice.



    So now we are ready to start loading in LEDs and soldering up.

    I kept the same convention, always placing the LED in with Anode to the left and Cathode to the right. The first LED needed a bend or two on the Anode to receive the positive wire and cut on the Cathode because the leg was too long. The second LED needed both legs cut.



    I bent the legs directly out of the housing so at not to encroach upon the surround of the fan too much. Added the next two LEDs, forming the Cathode of the fourth on to receive the future ground wire.



    It was particularly happy as the rigidity of the legs allowed me to ensure that the LEDs pointed where I wanted and it also made it much easier to solder them in place.

    So easy to solder, just applying some heat to the joint and pushing some solder into the joint. The tight fit of the LEDs in the holes held them in place beautifully.



    Then adding the resistor the Anode on LED one.

    LED branch removed from fan.



    Testing one string of 4 LEDs. Hooking up to my 12v power source and spinning the fan manually.



    Adding a bit of hot glue to hold them in place. Some LEDs needed holding away from the fan while the glue cooled. I found the 3mm LEDs just a tad long through this particular frame.



    Repeat the same process so that you have 4 individual strings of 4 LEDs on each side of the fan.

    Wiring up the common Positive and Ground wires.

    We must provide 12v goodness to all resistors so that each string of LEDs can receive the proper amount of voltage.

    I used the thinnest insulated wire I could find, some telephone installation wire that I had kicking about. I removed the black and red from the insulation.

    Wiring a red wire from the unattached side of the resistor to the one on the next side in a clockwise rotation. I started this at the wire inlet for the fan's standard wiring so that it can be bundled up in the same place. Then repeating the process with a black wire, starting on the negative side to the left of the standard wiring and moving counter clockwise from final cathode to final cathode



    Do not join the red back up with itself, only 3 sides needed to be spanned.

    Then adding a couple of wires for external power. I run out of thicker red wire so used blue wire. I hot glued the wires onto the fan here as the solder joints aren't particularly strong. A cable tie gathers things.



    Wiring in a switch

    I can't imagine ever wanting to turn this off but I thought I'd wire in the capability anyway.

    Here's my switch. It's a '1 off 2' type switch so one side will be unused. I may use a different switch later. The 12v source is wired to the centre pin, the LED array to the top/bottom post as desired.



    Wiring up to a Molex for Power

    I could have patched the wires directly into the existing fan wiring after the switch but I like to have separation with things like this, it also allows me to route the cables to a different location if needed.

    Donor Molex, a chopped power Molex for an Antec Tri-cool which now runs off my fan controller using a 3 pin fan header.



    Soldering the wires to the Molex, with heatshrink on the wires before I join them.



    So we are all done.

    Looks awesome I think.














    The profile of the wiring on top of the fan could short out against a case.





    So added some tape to insulate the wiring from my case.



    And finally some other pictures.









    I'm extremely happy with the way this turned out and feel it is so much better than my first attempt at this type of mod, whether this is due to the increased number of LEDs (16 vs 12) or learned techniques or just that the Red Wing reflects Orange better than a Antec TC Black does. http://i959.photobucket.com/albums/a...EDBlackfan.jpg

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    Here's a MS Word produced wiring diagram.



    Calculation and considerations for your own array of LEDs.

    Very useful website that allows you to plug in your LED values and it outputs a visual representation of your array, along with resistor values you could use. In the case of complicated circuits it'll even give you options.

    http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz

    Do NOT wire too many LEDs in parallel. This is where a single resistor feeds several branches of LEDs, it puts a big current draw on the resistor and the resistor will fail. Each branch of LEDs needs it's own current limiting resistor. Or buy a heavy duty resistor if you must.

    Always wire in series where possible. Make a string of LEDs from a resistor as long as you can while staying under 12v.



    LEDs have different operating voltages. Here are some typical values.

    Red - 1.8 to 1.9v
    Yellow - 1.8 to 2.1v
    Orange - 1.8 to 2.2v
    Green - 2.8 to 3.2v
    Purple - 3.2 to 3.6v
    Blue - 3.2 to 3.8v
    White - 3.2 to 3.8v

    When wiring LEDs in series make sure that when their voltages when added together is less than 12v.

    Calculations are done using V = I x R. Volts = Current x Resistance.

    Don't forget that LEDs are polarized and will only work one way around. Most LEDs have the Anode (positive side) as the longer leg and the Cathode (negative leg) as the shorter leg. The other way to differentiate is to check the inside of the LED. The smaller element inside the LED is the Anode and the larger element is the Cathode.

    Night shots (had to be done)

















    And a couple of videos showing the fans and other LEDs I've added to the case..

    In the daytime..
    [youtube]b8RnoatCkFU[/youtube]

    At night..
    [youtube]JiBtuYQAiD4[/youtube]

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    Fast forward a few months..

    So I finally installed the second attempt at doing this to my case. I can't believe I'm so lazy, but anyway.

    Top fan is the 16 LED version on the Xilence fan, much neater work. The bottom fan is the 12 LED version done on a Tri-cool, a little haphazard I think.

    Day shots, one with filters closed and one open.


    Night shots, one with filters closed and one open.


    I wish I'd removed the grille of these before I installed the hardware instead of rushing to fit everything the day the case arrived.

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    So I dragged out my old DV video camera and recorded the fans, switch panel and case lighting.

    In the daytime..

    In the daytime..



    At night..

    Last edited by Tealc; 08-19-2011 at 04:12 AM.

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    And forward another little while.

    An update..

    Decided to grab another Xilence fan and mod it. I've also removed the fan grille and added some 6mm u channel.






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    Decided to paint the older black fan with a lacquer paint.


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    News Fetcher Pob3008's Avatar
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    Nice work mate.

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    Very cool and impressive, I added 4 red LEDs to my laptop fan pad months ago and thought it looked cool but seeing this has made me want to add more

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    Founding Member Supermasterpig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tealc View Post
    Urgh no Youtube option.
    To get youtube on here just press the little film tape button and input the url. Very nice I love the orange.
    Quote Originally Posted by Favs View Post
    I added 4 red LEDs to my laptop fan pad months ago and thought it looked cool but seeing this has made me want to add more
    How did you manage that?
    Last edited by Supermasterpig; 08-18-2011 at 10:09 AM.

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    Wow, is all I can say LOL. I was eyeballing that thread yesterday in the overclocker forum you linked to. Impressive (net effect) and tedious (in doing it with all those LEDs and wires) I would imagine, all at the same time.


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