On simple solutions

A few years ago I re-purposed an old desktop PC from uni as a media and file server. A design goal was having the machine be as close to silent as possible. Noisy stuff is annoying anyway, but doubly so in a living room where silence really is paramount. To achieve that goal I used my steadfast Antec Sonata case with rubber-washer HD trays, an old fanless video card, and a new power supply with a 120mm fan (let me know when they make fanless ones for AT motherboards). The only noisy component left was the stock CPU fan which I replaced with a Thermaltake ‘quiet’ model. The result was a success if I say so myself, especially considering the total cost.

Last week that Thermaltake CPU fan hit the dust. The bearings just gave up. Luckily, that failure didn’t cause any other damage and since the motherboard is a few years old the replacement Zalman model fan was cheap. Unluckily, this Zalman was significantly noisier than what it replaced, despite claims of silent operation.

The solution was wonderfully simple: I attached a resistor to the red wire connecting the CPU fan to motherboard for slower RPM.

For a project that has lasted for so long and been so affordable I’m stoked how cheap and easy the simple solution was. EE FTW.

Author: Pat Skinner

I make apps. Full stack web, React, Angular, iOS, Rails, DevOps. I love helping people, saving time, and delivering delight. I also play piano and speak German.

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