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Old 06-19-2011, 07:52 PM   #1
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Default Stirplate with 5V computer fan and arduino

I know a lot of DIY computer fan stirplates have been posted before, but everything I have found has said that you need a 12V fan from a desktop so I wanted to post my experience using a 5V laptop fan.
I wanted to make a computer fan stirplate, but didn't have an old desktop available. I did have an old toshiba laptop available. I tore it apart for the fan and hard drive and then used a minimum of other materials that I had around the house to make this. I have an arduino uno controller board that I have been using for a project at work and used it as a controller for this. Please ignore the ugly soldering job on the PCB. The case is from the hard drive and the plexiglass is from an old TV, I used a coping saw to cut an appropriate sized piece. I used a little JB weld (the grey stuff) to better attach the screws. The black cord in the photo is an external power source for the arduino, essentially I can upload the program and then let it run using the adaptor and not need the computer to be connected.
The Arduino program is very simple. I use digitalwrite for a very short burst to get it spinning, then use analogwrite on both leads essentially as PWM to run it a bit slower. If anyone is interested, I can post the code, though it is easily reproducible. I could also write it to be able to vary the speed using the serial monitor, but this works, so why bother.
This wouldn't be cost effective unless you already have a controller board handy, it usually costs 30 bucks or so for the board. I plan to use the arduino in a fermentation chamber later so it can to double duty.
In the photo there is a spacer between the magnet and the fan itself. This is because the magnet is strong enough disrupt the motor unless you give it a bit of distance. The spacer was also from the hard drive.
I'll admit, it is probably a little underpowered compared to the larger ones. I can get a very small vortex going, which should be more than adequate. A 1 inch stir bar is perfect for this, the larger ones don't really work. It may burn out at some point, and I'll update if it does. I picked up this 3 quart container for 4 bucks at Kroger. I will have to modify the top to fit an airlock, but is a cheap flat-bottomed container.

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Old 01-18-2014, 03:26 AM   #2
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How did this turn out for you? Can you post the code you used?
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Old 01-19-2014, 01:11 PM   #3
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Sure. Code at the bottom. The plate works fine. It is a little finicky, sometimes the stir bar will just jump around so usually check on it twice a day or so when it is running and sometimes have to shift the position of the container to get it to spine optimally, but when it does I get a nice vortex.

Stirplate simple program to use PWM with arduino to control 5V laptop cooling
fan. Fan has two hot wires and one ground. 6 and 7 are connected to hot wires
and optimal PWM found to be around 200 with anaolog write. Have to use 1 cm
stir bar and magnet is rare-earth from hard-drive.

void setup() {
delay(2000); /* gives two seconds to position magnet and let rotor stop
spinning if on.*/
pinMode(6, OUTPUT);
pinMode(9, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(6, HIGH);
digitalWrite(9, HIGH);
digitalWrite(6, LOW);
digitalWrite(9, LOW); /* this jumpstarts the motor to start spinning because
not enough torque to start with the PWM less than 100%*/
analogWrite(6, 190);
analogWrite(9, 190);

void loop() {}
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