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 Post subject: Best RETAIL fan controller?
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 5:57 am 
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What is the best retail (as in available pre-built/ready to install) fan controller that fills the following requirements:

- voltage NOT controlled by PWM (because it can cause extra noise in fans)

- minimum 4 channels (i.e. control the voltage of at least four channels separately)

- manual adjustement with knobs (i.e. no going through menus, clicking various buttons up/down, but straight honest knobs)

- minimum voltage trimmer (so you can adjust each channel with the trimmer to give at least X amount of Voltage when the knob is turned to the lowest position. This is to ensure that the fan in that channel will NOT power off accidentally). However, must be able to go down to 0 Volts with the use of trimmer and knob together, if the user wants it.

- decent built quality (you don't find holding spare knobs in your hand after the first time you turn it), doesn't look like somebody built it in 15 minutes in their backyard. Has it's own faceplace (no drilling case plates).

- minimum 2W / channel

- preferably low profile knobs (so that one can still close the front door of the case, if one has such).

Please be advised that the following controllers do not quality:

- Sunbeam Rheobus (no minimum voltage trimmer, too easy to turn off fan completely)

- Zalman ZM-MFC1 (no minimun voltage trimmer, goes only down to 5V)

- Enermax UC-A5FATR2 (no min. voltage trimmer, goes below 1000rpm advertised and gives a 'false' alarm)

- Thermaltake Hardcano 8 (no min volt trimmer, goes only down to c. 7 V)

- Vantec Nexus NXP-201 (PWM based, makes fans tick/whine)

- Only4Pro fan controller (ugly as hell, not a ready-made box, but has 4 channels, trimmers for each channel and can go down to 0 volts, more than 2 W / channel)

What other options are there?

I'm not interested in building one from scratch (even with the very nice projects available in this forum) due to cost and time associated.

regards,
Halcyon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 7:21 am 
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1] Why would you want to go below 5 volts? Having said that, the Zalman is reportedly flimsy.

2] any info on Only4Pro in English? Do they have a US distributor?

3] Which Enermax are you talking about, the 2- or the 5-rheostat one? Don't know much about either, though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 11:32 am 
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Good questions. let me try to answer:

1. Some fans, esp. 120mm ones are usable and super silent at 3 volts. They may need more to start up though, so ideally the fan controller should give max voltage at startup time for 2-3 seconds so each fan starts up properly, even if the voltage is dialled to minimum voltage that keeps them running after they've been once started.

2. Only4Pro is at www.only4pro.com. No info in english i'm afraid. It's really crude kit, although with some nice basic ideas (gives max volts at start up time, minimum voltage trimmers, can go down as low as you want, but uses pwm unfortunately and is not a ready made/sturdy controller)

3. The Enermax model I meant was the four channel controller with the model number I gave. I've read two reviews of it's smaller version (with only 2 fan controller channels), it's called UC-A3FATR2 I think.

I'm still looking for a good controller and will report back if I find any.

For me the minimum voltage trimmer is a really desirable feature as it allows me to set the minimum voltage for each channel based on what kind of fan I am running on it and what is the intended purpose. I really like it on my Only4Pro controller, which I only dislike for it's pwm functionality.

regards,
Halcyon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 11:48 am 
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Not likely you'll find something so specific. Why not take something like a cheap but decent device like the Sunbeam & mod it? Easy enough to add a mini-trim pot in series to the variable resistors.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 12:20 pm 
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I wonder what is so difficult to find cheap trimmers on the controllers? It is as if the manufacturers weren't really thinking what kind of fans the controllers will be used with?

I mean, the choice of minimum voltage on most controllers seems a little arbitrary.

Why not let the user select it with a simple trimmer?

Maybe I should write to all the manufacturers and ask them to add these 50 cent parts to their devices :)

And Mike is probably right that I need to find one that I can modify to have trimmers myself.

Time to start looking at the PCBs and locally available parts then.

sigh.

regards,

Halcyon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 5:46 pm 
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Location: Virginia
After playing w/ my 3 new Panaflo L1 120mm's just now I think I've figured out what I need in a controller for my new system.
1] 3 channels (one per fan)
2] start at 12V and drop to 5 to 5.25 volts after spinup (would be nice to have an adjustable drop-to voltage but not really necessary with 3 120mm fans in a LiteOn FS020 case)
3] internal mount is acceptable
4] good contact with the case would help heat dissipation

Anyone have schematics for above? My level of sophistication with control devices is soldering molexes to 100 Ohm 5W Jameco rheostats.

Does anyone have 120mm L1's that will actually start at 5V? Did I just get a bad batch?

Speaking of 100 Ohm rheostats (5W). I left 2 of the above 120mm L1's hooked up to a single one (I guess at about 6-7 volts) and an hour later the thing was so hot I was looking for a burn mark on the floor. Back to 1-on-1 hookup for me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 4:14 am 
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Haha, I feel like an idiot. After posting above I took a good look at my "L1A's". Turns out Directron sent me the H's by mistake. No wonder 2 of them overheated a 5W rheostat!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 8:04 am 
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Both of my 120mm L1A's start just fine at 5V. I've never tried them on the 3.3V line but if I get some time I just might. My Enermax rheobus only goes down to 5V, no lower.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 12:45 pm 
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I am very intressed. I just blew up my home made controller. No serious injury just a burned finger :roll:

But i am wondering if there is any decent pre-made controller out-there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 9:09 am 
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What RPM does the L1A use at 5V?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 11:03 am 
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I think the Zalman ZM-MFC1 and Sunbeam Rheobus are the best out there at the moment.

I don't personally think they are perfect, but they are decent.

Having searched the web for hours, I'm now pretty sure that there is no such controller ready-made as I want.

I'll probably order Zalman or Sunbeam myself to experiment on.

regards,
Halcyon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2003 12:48 am 
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Let me know what your experiences are...


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