Air Cooled Paintball Mask




Posted in PlayPaintball

Introduction: Air Cooled Paintball Mask

About: Currently pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. contact: jamesrpatrick(at)

I work as a paintball referee and a chronic problem that I have is my mask fogging up. I consider this the worst thing to happen on the paintball field, whether reffing or playing. As a ref, I can't keep track of players or accurately declare hits. As a player, even if my marker fails or I run out of paint, I can still be a diversion or a flag runner. Nevertheless, I'm pretty useless when I can't see. I've tried various anti-fog sprays, but they only last a game before giving up. The basic idea here is to put a fan in a paintball mask to continuously circulate air and remove humidity. Pretty simple, right?

Step 1: Materials and Tools

1 paintball mask
1 computer fan, 12v
2 slide switches, DPDT
1 resistor, 10 ohm
1 9v battery, preferably rechargeable
1 9v battery holder or connector
4 1" long bolts, must fit through holes in fan
4 matching nuts
4 small zip ties
some wire
electrical tape

dremel tool
soldering iron
wire stripper

Step 2: Getting Started

The first thing to do is to REMOVE THE LENS. Also make sure your fan works. You wouldn't want to put all this effort into it for nothing. Just hook it up to a 9v battery. Red goes to the smaller snap. Now make sure it's moving air out of the side with the support structure. Next you'll want to test fit the fan in your mask. The most convenient place for mine was right under my chin. If you put the mask on, you probably won't have enough room in there, so you'll have to trim down the sides.

Step 3: Fitting the Fan

The next step is to cut four corners off of the fan. These should be the corners facing away from where your face would be. Use the dremel with a cutting wheel attachment. You can clean it up with some sanding if you want but this side won't be visible after assembly.

Step 4: Protect Your Face!

Now if you don't want this thing to eat your face while you're using it, you'll probably want to put some sort of guard on it. I think there are commercially made ones available but zip ties work just as well. I drilled two holes on each side of the top half of the fan, where my chin might come in contact. Then I threaded two zip ties through the holes and secured them with another two.

Step 5: Mounting the Fan

After you mark the fan's mounting points on the mask, you can use a small dremel bit to cut them out. they should point in the direction of the mounting holes. If everything fits, just bolt it all together with the screw heads on the inside.

Step 6: Prepareing the Electronics

The switches perform two tasks. One determines the ON/OFF position while the other selects fan speed by incorporating the 10-ohm resistor.

Step 7: Soldering

Follow the schematic to assemble the switch group, being careful not to get the resistor too hot. It fits nicely between the prongs of the switch.

Step 8: Battery Clip Installation

Drill two holes side by side to hang the battery from. Insert the leads through the left hole and back in through the right hole. Secure with a knot.

Step 9: Switch Installation

Position the group to the right of where the battery sits(looking at the inside of the mask). Drill four small holes for screws and two slots for the switch arms. Secure with screws with wires leading towards the fan.

Step 10: Wiring

Solder the black battery lead to the center pole of the power switch. Connect the red battery lead to the red fan lead. Solder the remaining two wires together.

Step 11: Test and Finish

Now you can hook up a battery and see if it works. Use the lower setting to conserve battery power and the high setting for high humidity and heavy breathing conditions.I recommend coating all of the components in something like liquid electrical tape or truck bed liner(if you have it) for added protection. Oh yeah, and try not to get shot in the face.

Update: I tried it out for a day on the field and it kept the fog out for a solid three hours. I also used hot glue to cover all of the electrical components.



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    Hey, nice instructable, really neat.

    Hey I bought a 12v fan and a 9v battery and a switch only 1.

    I hooked it up and the battery gets really hot. Is that normal because I don't want to be playing and having a battery exploding in the back of my head. Anyways thank you for helping me out.

    8 replies

    It's normal for batteries to get warm during use, but if it's too hot to hold, there's something wrong.

    I bought 1 fan thats not a computer CPU fan it's a industrial machinery fan, Do you think thats the reason, and also tried to hook it up and my switch has a ( - standing for on and a O standing for off, when I hook it up it turns on when the switch is off, its opposite, not a big deal just wondering if you could help me on that as well, Im not that mechanic looking guy, sorry.

    Could you post a link or a picture of the fan? Depending on what kind it is, it might require a load (e.g. be installed in a duct system) to function properly. Specifically there are blowers that will burn out if they are just allowed to run with no resistance.

    Sent u a link that will take you to youtube, thanks for helping me out. Means alot.

    Looks like your switch was labeled or configured wrong at the factory, but it should work just the same.

    From the UPC in your video it looks like you got this fan:

    I assume the price on there is 84 pesos, not 84 dollars. Anyway, yours is 130 mA while my fan is 0.3 A so that could be the issue. I've never had issues running Energizer batteries in mine. Does the battery get hot when you put the resistor in series with the fan and battery?

    Yeah the fan Was purchased at steren my bad, So If I go to another place like radioshack I have to ask for a 0.3 mA fan? and no I havnt tried with the resistor if I were to try adding the resistor what wire would I solder it to or what wires in general?

    Your 130ma fan should work fine. 130mA is less than half the power consumption of his 300mA fan. Be sure to use alkaline batteries and not so called "heavy duty" one. They suck. Other than that if battery is hot something is wired wrong

    If you get a 12V, 0.3A fan like the one I used, it should work for sure. You should also pick up a 3-position switch if you want the speed selection. Putting the resistor in series with the fan will make the fan turn slower.

    Won't the paint splatter into the mask and into your face?

    Never had problems as a player – most goggles I’ve used have anti-fog
    lenses. But as a marshal I see the long-term need for this – really cool,
    awesome to see its obviously helping a lot of players

    1 reply

    Yeah I'm still using this same rig five years later (no longer as a ref) and it makes a huge difference. I cringe at the sloppiness of the build whenever I look at it, but hey it works.

    At least where I live, it gets very humid in the summer. This is unfortunate because new players usually get the worst gear including goggles and are easily put off by the experience. They get shot before they can even see the other team. When I take a new player out, I let them use my mask and it makes the experience much more enjoyable. The airflow also keeps the mask from getting sweaty and gross.

    Cool as hell

    Also forgot to mention with the mask I am getting in the said kit, If you look it has a "grill" on the front allowing a fan to be installed without having to damage the mask in any way, Same goes for the grill feature of the sides of this mask, Can place power switches there again without any permanent damage :)

    1 reply

    120mm seems too big to fit in a paintball mask. You should try two fans, each <50mm.

    Great tutorial dude, I'm getting this kit;

    I will also be using a much much thinner fan like this; the higher the RPM the more coolness that is much needed!

    I don't know what people on here are moaning about the cost of a battery! :O if you can't afford that I don't know how you are affording paintball.

    I will try this with the air blowing "in" first then the other way and judge results, I am also thinking of covering 1/4 f the fan with a plate if you will that connects to some very very thin tubes to blow fresh air into the foam covered goggle area without sacrificing the snugness of the fit. Also to circumvent the need for the cable ties to cover the fan I will be wearing a buff anyway so not needed really :)

    I have some micro switches that are much smaller rubber buttons, Not as reliable and well built as a switch, but much more concealable.

    I only signed up to this to say thanks for the tutorial! :) I will share mine once my kit arrives and it's made

    Hi, i just wanted to point out that you said 2 DPDT switches, but in the diagram you put a SPST for the power and a DPDT for the speed selection.

    2 replies

    The DPDT switch for power only functions as ON/OFF, so you can use an SPST switch for that function. These switches came in packs of two, so it may be more convenient to just buy a single pack of DPDT switches.

    ah, ok, i see how that would make sense, just wanted to make sure u knew.

    I just tried this with a smaller fan (out of a game station cooling unit). It helped, but did not stop the fogging completely. The photos look like the fan is blowing "in". I started the day like that, but swapped at lunch (I love zip ties). Do you know if this fan system works best blowing "in" or "out"? I plan to put a larger fan in before my next outing, if I can get one to fit in my mask.

    Thanks for the instructions.