Introduction: 3D Printed 17" Laptop Cooler

This laptop cooler is designed to work with a 17" laptop (specifically an Asus G73JH) or similar sized laptop to create better airflow underneath. Now my Asus gaming laptop doesnt really need a laptop cooler, but I thought it would be a neat challenge to teach myself how to use AutoCAD 3d to create some complex shapes and explor them as .stl files for printing on my newly acquired Makerbot Replicator 2 through a grant I recieved.

IMPORTANT!! - I designed this cooler to be higher off the ground because of the depth of the fan. I also typically use a USB keyboard when I game so the height of this design is irrelevant for my original application. I am working on designing different legs to create an inclined position for the keyboard to create a better position for individuals using a laptop keyboard.

Why AutoCAD 3d?

I am well aware that AutoCAD is not the greatest program in the world to work on 3d models. There are much better programs and even cheaper ones that make it easier to work in a 3d space. I am using AutoCAD 3d because I am planning on implementing my 3d printer into my middle school technical drawing course and they are learning to use AutoCAD as part of the curriculum.

In the next few slides I will go throught he materials I used along with issues that may occur while printing.

Step 1: Overview of Parts

At the top of this page I have include images of the fan, furniture grippers, potentiometer, heat shrink tubbing, and control knobs that I needed to safely wire and complete the laptop cooler. Pricing seems to be better in store than online.

Parts

Furniture Grippers (Lowes)

http://www.lowes.com/pd_310997-255-4118495N_0__?Nt...

I got these for about $5.00 each in store. I got these because I loved how they work and they really provide excellent traction.

NZXT FN-200RB (Performance Fan)

http://www.amazon.com/Nzxt-200mm-37-25-Bearing-FN-200RB/dp/B0039825M6/ref=pd_sim_e_8?ie=UTF8&refRID=0BRFRDPQYMYQ6VW3BG8W

IMPORTANT!!! - If you are duplicating this project, make sure the fan is 7.9" x 7.9" x 1.2"

I chose this fan because I wanted the focal point of the laptop cooler to be the fan since there was such a large surface area due to the size of the laptop. This fan also is very quiet and has very little vibration. Also, I have an Amazon prime account which saved me on shippint so I only paid about $13.00 for the fan. The other benefit later on was I didnt have to modify the fan at all, there was a separate cord that connected the fan to the built in pc power supply that allowed me to modify that cable instead of the one attached to the fan.

Heat Shrink Tubing

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-3-32-in-Heat-Shrink-Tubing-8-Pack-HST-093B/202797272

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-3-4-in-Black-Polyolefin-Heat-Shrink-Tubing-2-Pack-HST-750B/202797319

This tubbing material is necessary unless you want to use electrical tape to insulate your electrical wiring. I like the tubbing because it looks better and creates fewer issues. I got these at Home depot for a collar a pack since you don't need much for this project.

25 Ohm Rheostat Potentiometer

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062299

I chose this patricular potentiometer at Radio shack because I didnt want to completely limit the fan speed, but wanted to have some control over the speed. The value of this potentiometer will also be dependent on the power source you are using. I used a .5 amp level 2 transformer I had laying around which was perfect since the Performance Fan only required .42 amps. I also liked the shorter dial on the potentiometer. I also purchased a knob for the top of the potentiometer.

Level 2 Transformer (For Toys)

I happened to have several of these K'nex level 2 transformers for toys lying around and they are perfect for powering this fan. You could probably purchase them online.

Step 2: Electrical Wiring

The circuit for this particular project is not complicated. Its a basic series circuit where the potentiometer (or variable resistor) controls the amount of current that reaches the fan. By limiting the current we control the speed of the fan.

Wiring the Potentiometer

Looking at the picture above, you are only going to use two of the three poles on the potentiometer. The hot wire from the power source will be connected to either of the end poles of the potentiometer, and one of the leads from the fan will be connected to the middle.

WARNING!!! - I highly recommend twisting the wires and using electrical tape to temporarily setup your ciruit to make sure the circuit operates the way you want it to. Fans do not have a hot lead so depending on which way you wire the circuit will depend on which way the fan spins.

So to summarize, the hot wire from the transformer goes into one of the two outer poles of the potentiometer while one wire from the fan gets attatched to the middle pole. Once everything works the way you want, solder everything in place and use the heat shrink tubing. You will then need to solder the remaining wire from the transformer to the other wire coming from the fan. This will complete your series circuit.

Step 3: Modifications to the Fan Itself

Before I could finalize the designs for the fan brackets, I had to modify the stock fan I purchased. If you click on the amazon link below, You will notice that the fan actually has two sets of circular mounting points. There are 4 on the same side as the fan guard and 4 on the side without. the problem is they do not line up and are at separate 90 degree angles.

http://www.amazon.com/Nzxt-200mm-37-25-Bearing-FN-200RB/dp/B0039825M6/ref=pd_sim_e_8?ie=UTF8&refRID=0R7MREZAQMZW9TCDDBMZ

I also had to grind up some addition obstructions that I have highlighted in the pictures above. I used a dremel alot on this project and makes life soo much easier.

Step 4: Laptop Cooler Parts and .stl Files

UPDATE!! - I have recently descreased the height of the feet that hold up the laptop by 3/4" so that should lower the laptop a bit. Still need to leave about a 1/2" of room for air flow.

Just to review, I did use AutoCAD 3d to make these parts so they may not be as smooth as they would be if created with another program. I used this software because this is the software my technical drawing students will be using next year to create docking stations for their celluar devices.

The pictures above show the best alignment of the parts in Makerbot Desktop. Their are very few issues with printing except when printing the largest piece (fan bracket). I had trouble finding a good alighment that would limit the amount of rafting removal, but would also produce the best quality part without using as much support.

You will also find the .stl files to print the box I used to make my speed control box for the fan. This may vary depending on the potentiometer you use.

NOTE!! - when aligning the "Absolute Final Fan Bracket V2" file in Makerbot Desktop, make sure you go to the scale menu and click convert from inches to millimeters. For some reason the other parts prompt you, but on this piece because of the size it doesn't. Otherwise it will look very small.

Step 5: Basic Assembly

To be honest, the assembly isn't rocket science. The top of the feet part shaped like a dowel gets fed through the hole on the legs. The cap is designed to align with the contour on top of the leg piece so it gets snapped down on top. The fan brackets align typically with the fan mounts.

You should be alright if you just look at the pictures.

You will want to use 4 1/8" diameter bolts with nuts that are about 3/8" wide.

I eventually attatched the legs using super glue, specifically Gorilla brand super glue.

I have also included here the graphic I used for the speed control dial.

Step 6: Final Product

Here are some pictures off the final assembly and how it sets up with the laptop. The pictures of the laptop sitting on the laptop cooler isn't quite accurate since i have recently shortened the legs.

So far everything works extremely well. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

UPDATE!!! - Since I posted this Instructable, I have made some alterations. If you are using this basic setup the way I currently have it, I have lowered the feet by 3/4" which should lower it quite a bit.

I have also posted a new Instructable that includes parts that work with the same fan brackets, but allow you to angle your 17" laptop. I haven't completely tested this design, but i would say about 70% of it I have been able to test and it works.

here is this link: https://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-17-Lapt...

Thanks for your input!

Comments

author
Darknessblade. (author)2016-02-21

why did you cut the fan, you could also change the design of the 3d printed parts, wich is quite easy nowdays in sketchup

author
NPTechman (author)Darknessblade.2016-03-19

I absolutely agree. This was one of the first projects I did with 3d modeling and printing. We're I to make another one I would alter the design so no cuts would be needed.

author
Darknessblade. (author)2016-02-21

why did you cut the fan, you could also change the design of the 3d printed parts, wich is quite easy nowdays in sketchup

author
Obot101 (author)2014-07-27

Great job, might actually want to make this and I think I have the exact same laptop.

author
NPTechman (author)Obot1012014-07-27

Thanks! I used it at my last lanfest with a large group of friends and it works great.

author
efahrenholz (author)2014-06-18

This project caught my eye and I really would like to have a go at it. The main thing though is that your stands are way too tall. That's going to be very uncomfortable. In retrospect, the fan needs clearance. How about a small compromise: shorten the front stands significantly, putting the base of the laptop at an angle. This would relieve lots of strain on the wrists and arms. The fan will then eject hot air backwards away from the user. Everyone goes home happy. The current design is intelligent, but due to the offset off the working surface, you need to be sitting very high relative to keep the arms in a somewhat perpendicular fashion. Kudos!

author
NPTechman (author)efahrenholz2014-06-18

Thanks for the input! I thought about the issues you described as I was making it. I will look at various leg sizes. Other than clearance issues as you mentioned, the reason I made it as high as I did is because typically when I play games I use a usb keyboard and not the laptop one anyway. I will see what I can come up with.

author
efahrenholz (author)NPTechman2014-06-18

On my gaming laptop, I have a steel series keyboard so I'd prefer to use that. Maybe you could do a collapsing front leg design, so those that want the USB keyboard room have it.

author
NPTechman (author)efahrenholz2014-06-21

Here is what i have been able to come up with so far. It hasn't been completely tested, but It should do what you want.

https://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-17-Laptop-Cooler-20/

author
NPTechman (author)efahrenholz2014-06-19

Alright, I really appreciate your input. Here is what I have done so far: I have lowered the current design of the feet by 3/4" which should make it significantly lower. I am also working on a ball and socket configuration to allow lower front legs and more customizeable gripping. Should be done by tomarrow. Thanks for the Challenge!

author
NPTechman (author)efahrenholz2014-06-18

I will look into it. Had a thought about designing feet that pivot on a sort of ball and socket joint allowing flexibility with various surfaces. Have to experiment with it. Sadly now that the school year is ending I wont havevas much time. I will look into it

author
NPTechman (author)2014-06-18

I will have to see how smaller front stands work with larger back ones since the 4 arms are at 90 degree angles and not straight out. I will see what happends.

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