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Fan Controller Mod


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#1 fahrenheit

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 03:14 AM

Since Iíve been running this mod for 7 months and it isnít a WIP, Iíll skip straight to the videos of it in action.





Donít bother asking where I got ĎItem Xí. Iím downunder and none of the stores I use to source any of my hardware, or the prices I pay, have any relevance to the majority of you reading this. They are all fairly generic parts that you should be able to source in your respective region.


Now for the contentious part...

It is my opinion that people are far too fixated on cooling the 360 during active use and do not pay enough attention to combating the post-shutdown temperature spike that occurs when air stops flowing over the heatsinks.
As soon as you shutdown, the GPU/CPU/RAM all stop producing new thermal energy, but because the fans stop at the same time, the remaining energy has nowhere to go. Starved of air, the heatsinks quicky load up with heat and their temperature rises very very quickly. The spike is the fastest themal change the console goes through at any point in its working-life and it is doing this every single time you shutdown.
The conditions are ripe for damage to occur.

The temperature at time of shutdown directly affects how extreme that spike will be. So although 12 volt mods and other aftermarket cooling solutions do help to minimise the spike, the spike still occurs. Any sudden raising or lowering of the temperature is a negative thing. And when you factor in the PCB, X-clamps and lead-free solder, its little wonder that so many consoles wake up dead.

My solution is to stop the spike altogether, so that as soon as I shutdown, the temperature begins to drop at a slow and steady rate.

The idea for an aftercooler isn't new. Even the much maligned Nkyo Intercoolers have an aftercooler function on their *TS model.
But I'm not a fan of sandwiching a set of fans on top of another set of fans. Do you see those products in the PC world? No.
I would like to thank RBJTech for planting the seed that this project grew from.
His solution of having an internal and automated ramp-down of the fans is far more elegant than mine, but I havenít got the skills needed to implement such a system.


So the brief was simple.

1. Run the existing fans after the console shuts off.
2. Do it simply and elegantly enough that it does not deter the general use of the console or deface the look of my already modded case.
3. Do it for the hell of it.

All good designs start on paper, but I will save you the pages and pages of my scribblings. This layout was finalised before a single component was purchased.



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Higher res image here Ė
http://i3.photobucke...ram_highres.jpg




I settled on adapting a standard 2 channel PC fan controller bus as it gave me plenty of flexibility with controlling the rate of the fans (each independent of the other). It also gave the option of temperature monitoring with probes that can be placed in strategic areas.


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I also wanted to use a single pluggable cable between the fan controller and the console to make sure that everything was tidy and modular, easy for portability and disassembly. A PS/2 cable, (6 pin mini DIN) was perfect for the task, but good luck finding one in black. It seems beige still rules some of the PC peripheral world.



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Initially I planned to have the fan controller and the fan connector on the motherboard joined with the fans wired up with a passive splitter, the idea being that when the console shutdown, the fan controller could then be switched on to take over. This was going to save me having to place a switch on the console, but it also had some drawbacks.

If there was some overlap where both the console and the aftercooler where both trying to feed the fans juice at the same time, this could be very bad... I was also concerned that even with the console shutdown and in standby, the aftercooler would be feeding current back through the motherboard and out through the power supply. I donít have the knowledge to really understand if this was ever an issue, I just preferred caution.
So I decided that a switch to completely isolate the motherboard from the fan controller was the way to go. This would insure that I could start the fan controller before shutting down the console, or even choose to run the fan controller while the console operates.

With that decided, I then turned my attentions to powering the fan controller.
Without having ordered the fan controller at this point, I didn't really understand how it received and distributed its juice. As a PC component, it is designed to be used with a PC powersupply.
So thats 12v, easy right? I'll just get a 12v DC wall wart (those big blocky plugs) and modify it to work, right? Wrong.
PC supplies of course have four wires, two for 12volts and the other pair for 5v. So when my DC wall wart finally arrived, I found I couldn't use it.
There was no way I wanted to use a bulky PC ATX/mini power supply, so I was feeling desperate, then I found this -

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Cheap 12v and 5v DC with a molex connector that is precisely the connection the fan controller utilises. Perfect.

It came bundled with an IDE to USB adaptor like this one Ė
http://www.amazon.co...p_ptcn_edpp_url

So after picking out a suitable sized plastic enclosure for the controller to live in, I began following my wiring guide and the task of making this thing work.


At this point I have to make a note of my own stupidity. Do not do this stuff when its late and you are tired. Not only did I manage to solder a wire to somewhere it shouldn't be, but I failed to pick up on it when doing pre-power up testing.
The result was smoke from my brand new fan controller, smoke from one of the 360's fans and the familiar acrid smell of an electronics misadventure.

Despite the smoke from the fan motor, it did not seem to kill it. The fan controller however was complete toast..
I added another fan controller to the shopping cart while lamenting the mistake and was soon back in business. However, the loss did infact have its benefits...

Once the new replacement was wired up and working, I discovered a couple of things that I wasn't happy with. The manufacturer had installed a Piezo buzzer (alarm) and had set all hell to break loose when the themal probes reach 50 degrees Celcius.
For a PC, this might not be such a problem, but a Xenon model 360 will reach 50C just sitting idle in the dashboard....
So I suddenly had a hgh-pitched beeping problem and nothing that could be adjusted to turn it off or change the threshold for when it kicks in.
I went looking for technical information to see if there was a resistor I could remove or something i could bridge or cut etc and the results were as disappointing as they were hilarious...

http://www.made-in-c...r-HBC-031-.html

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So I opted to butcher the old fried fan controller to see if I could stop the piezo buzzer from sounding without having to remove it completely.
That was unsuccessful and so the next best option was to remove it from the pcb panel altogether. Trouble was, its solder points were located under the LCD, which was another aspect of this controller I wasn't quite happy with.

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Iím not a fan of blue. Not only that, but it has no place in the overall theme of my modded case with its white, dark cherry and black hues. So being forced to remove the LCD to get at the annoying little buzzer gave me the opportunity to replace the blue LED with something a little more suitable...

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I would have been a bit reluctant to make these modifications on a working fan controller, so having the broken one to experiment with helped make these alterations happen. Happy accidents are great.

Assembled fan controller Ė
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The 360's topside case panel required two new holes to be cut. One for the control cable and one for the switch.
This task would have been an absolute breeze on a stock 360 case.
But the case I was using was pre-painted with a pricey custom colour and clearcoating.


Despite my best efforts, during cutting and drilling, the paint did get damaged and chipped off, taking chunks of the plastic with it. This required extra work to smooth out.
I settled on using flashings to hide the mess and to also protect the holes from further chipping and scratching.

An old VCR case provided the perfect material with holes already pre-cut.

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The console's metal casing had to be cut to accommodate the switch and ps/2 socket
(easier to do on a Xenon thanks to the lack of HDMI).

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There is a significant space between the metal casing and the outer shell. The outer shell also has a curve to it which made lining up the holes a difficult task.
My initial attempt with the hole for the PS/2 cable was a failure. It was out of alignment only slightly, but it was enough that I had to insert the cable at a slight angle. I decided I could live with it, but then I accidentally tore off the flashing while trying to disconnect the cable. A whole lot of dry superglue, paint and case plastic came off with the flashing and the incident cost me considerable time recutting, resanding and repainting.


The switch was initially a design challenge because I had to have 4 poles (two fans with a pair of wires each). My hunt for a 4 pole switch that suited the consoleís aesthetics proved fruitless.
I then decided to use two 2-pole switches joined side by side. The benefit to this is I have independent control of the two fans, so I could decide, if need be, that the 360 can run one fan while the fan controller runs the other. Its unlikely I'd use it in this fashion, but its an option.


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The problem with using a switch is that it is entirely possible to unintentionally run the console without the fans. If I accidentally leave the switch in the wrong position and don't have the fan controller running, then the console will start up and run (until it overheats).
However, its unlikely Iíll overlook the 360 suddenly running in silence thanks to the obnoxious drone it makes when its on.

The other problem was that the switch had to be fixed to the top-side case panel, but the wiring had to connect to the internal metal case, so that meant that I had to be able to either connect them modularly or have long enough wiring that I could separate the top side from the metal case.

I decided to make it modular (which makes it a hell of a lot easier when doing paint touch-ups).

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I made a simple little PCB junction with pin headers for mounting inside the case. This would allow me to simply lift up the top panel and plug/unplug the switch wiring.

This is the rear of the junction -

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And front side, mounted inside the case -

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The two thermal probes were the final consideration.
It made sense to focus on the GPU temperature and you can see here where I placed it Ė

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The second probe I placed in then fan controller housing and that monitors ambient (room temperature). During cool down if the two temperatures match, I know its safe to turn the fan controller off and running it any longer wonít be any more beneficial.

Obviously this mod was done for a Xenon console (which is arguably a model that needs all the help it can get) and doing this mod for anything other than an Opus would be much more difficult because of the extra HDMI connector.

Its not the most straight-forwards way to tackle the issue of aftercooling and it does require a degree of juggling between switching/plugging/unplugging and requires a dedicated power supply which wonít appeal to a lot of people, but Iíve found in practice it is very flexible.

I can take it to a LAN and have my console cooling off while the power brick is already packed away. I can ramp up and down the fans to whatever I feel is appropriate and I can even decide, if I prefer, to use the fan controller during play (though I prefer less noise).

Short of watercooling, there isnít a hell of a lot you can do to preserve these now warranty-less Xenons. This is about as kind as you can be to them.


#2 NineLime

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:31 AM

I like your tutorial, If I hadn't butchered my old fan controller for the LEDs I'd do this, although a simple 10K pot taken from the fan controllers on one of the lines and the other going to a 12v source works on my computer's front intake fan (loud).

The video was very informative, as my temp controller is powered by my xbox, I had no clue that it got hotter after the shutdown. I think if I added a switch to my temp monitor LCD that runs at 5v, and hooked it to the 5v standby, and then had a switch to power my 4 fans after shutdown from a 9.6v battery recharger wall plug it would work alright, I might just do that. My xbox doesn't exceed 118F (47c) with all 4 fans at 9v, but this is very worrying to me because I'm trying to prevent a RROD, I got this xbox for free because it was freezing, I assumed it was the heatsink being loose because it was a refurbished unit by a private company, but I knew it could have been the RROD.

#3 blkfxx

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 07:47 AM

Very nice tutorial!
Pin this

#4 AstraXtreme

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 08:26 AM

Very nice guide. One question though. What exactly is the housing that you put the fan controller in? Even though, as you said, the places you bought the parts aren't relevant to us, is there a website you got it from that you could give us a link for? Just so we have specs on all of the main peripherals. Thanks! smile.gif

#5 fahrenheit

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 10:36 AM

QUOTE(AstraXtreme @ Nov 1 2009, 08:26 PM) View Post

What exactly is the housing that you put the fan controller in?


I used a Bulkhead mounting box dimensions were 110 x 66 x 36mm.

But you should be able to find a generic project box from any electronic outlet, like this -
http://www.radioshac...oductId=2062279



#6 martin_hawk

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 12:28 PM

i found the fan controller like this one:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...T#ht_4850wt_958

is that similar with yours?
do you know how much ampere does it consumes?

#7 WorldFormula

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 07:17 PM

You could always just hook up a 12v/5v switch and leave it at 5v when you turn the console off, and then you don't need an extra power supply. I like how you did this though, it makes everything clean and exact because you know the temperatures.

#8 fahrenheit

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 09:34 PM

QUOTE(martin_hawk @ Nov 2 2009, 12:28 AM) View Post

i found the fan controller like this one:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...T#ht_4850wt_958

is that similar with yours?
do you know how much ampere does it consumes?


Yes that looks to be the same as mine with slightly different graphics on the face.

#9 Burn the Martyr

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 03:55 AM

this is genius. Thanks for posting this ! I'm going to be doing this very, very soon !

#10 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 07:18 PM

I found a cheaper price for the controller on eBay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...=item19b760dabd

#11 fahrenheit

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 08:56 PM

Get two biggrin.gif

#12 martin_hawk

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 09:52 PM

yep, but mine just for 11,99 bucks. don't know why the seller changed the price...

you could also get this one for more expansive custom mod:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...T#ht_2103wt_754

#13 Robotboy1

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:14 PM

I think I would be able to do this. Haha. It would be a fun mod. But I would place the switches/plugin to another spot on mine.

#14 PhoneyVirus

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Posted 03 November 2009 - 12:36 AM

This is what it's all about I love little mods, not to big just right Excellent work and will be trying this soon after I got my other drive can't do every thing at once. Excellent work man +++ wink.gif

#15 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 08:35 PM

I'm having a hard time finding a PS/2 port like the one you used. Any suggestions? smile.gif




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