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Picture of Air Cooled Paintball Mask
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?
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials:
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
solder
electrical tape

Tools:
dremel tool
soldering iron
wire stripper
pliers
screwdriver

Step 2: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started
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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Won't the paint splatter into the mask and into your face?
PeterC61 month ago

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.

JamesRPatrick (author)  PeterC61 month ago
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.

JamesRPatrick (author)  PeterC61 month ago

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.

JamesRPatrick (author)  PeterC61 month ago

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: http://www.steren.com.mx/catalogo/prod.asp?p=3755

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?

JamesRPatrick (author)  PeterC61 month ago

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.

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

JamesRPatrick (author)  allisajacqueline1 month ago

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.

haole122 years ago
Cool as hell
pkubicki2 years ago
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 :)
JamesRPatrick (author)  pkubicki2 years ago
120mm seems too big to fit in a paintball mask. You should try two fans, each <50mm.
pkubicki2 years ago
Great tutorial dude, I'm getting this kit; http://ry4.eu/paintballkit

I will also be using a much much thinner fan like this; http://ry4.eu/fan 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
tynow3 years ago
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.
JamesRPatrick (author)  tynow3 years ago
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.
kmgcmk3 years ago
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.
JamesRPatrick (author)  kmgcmk3 years ago
This one blows inward(toward the face) and works like a charm.
ilpug3 years ago
Well, This is a great design for paintball. I have the same chronic fogging problem in Airsoft, and i am trying to figure out a way to build in a fan. An idea i was working on earlier involved a small turbine on the outside front of the mask and tubes to carry air into either side of the goggles. Unfortunately, this design was noisy (i have no extra computer fan), and looked positively ridiculous. I would totally adopt this design, but the inside of my mask has no room for a fan! I am also wondering how much noise your version makes, because in an Airsoft application i need the system to be virtually silent. Does the bottom edge of your goggles in your mask have holes in it? i am wondering how the air circulates into the goggles.
JamesRPatrick (author)  ilpug3 years ago
The foam doesn't seal completely around the eyes. There are gaps on either side of the head, so the air gets around.
Okay. I am going to experiment with drilling holes in the bottom frame of my goggles, because they have no holes in the bottom or the sides. I will have to get another type of fan and build it in.
very cool, and it seems to work, based off of what ive heard from other modders. I have seen people put two smaller fans above their eyes or near the earpieces; propably less chance of getting paint splatter on them than in front of the mouth. But that's still slim odds that you get hit right in the mouth.
It's a huge advantage if you have any amount of humidity in the air. Especially if it's raining, you can sneak around other players who can't see more than 20 yards. I actually did get hit in the mouth the last time I played, and the fan still worked fine. It wouldn't cost much to replace anyway. I think the fan kept the sharp pieces of shell from getting to my mouth, too.

Smaller fans would work well, but I was sourcing from an old desktop at the time and only had the big ones. However, the overhead design might be more susceptible to rain damage.
That makes sense. But what do I know. It never rains here, and its never humid (lol).
Lucky...I bet an evaporative cooler would work especially well in your area.
goober64 years ago
why truck bed liner??
JamesRPatrick (author)  goober64 years ago
It's like liquid rubber. I usually have a can somewhere in the garage and it's good for waterproofing.
BOOM56014 years ago
Me likey, cheaper alternative to the actual fans.
JamesRPatrick (author)  BOOM56014 years ago
Next challenge is making it waterproof.
Sugru!
JamesRPatrick (author)  BOOM56014 years ago
I was thinking more like hot glue and a different motor.
Nah, you should be fine without waterproofing it. Unless you're a really clumsy woods player, or an unlucky speedy, it wont get wet.
JamesRPatrick (author)  BOOM56014 years ago
I've used it on two rainy days(out of 7 total days) without issue. But I'm concerned about nonstop scenario games in the rain. I might spend the day laying in the mud and I don't want to even be thinking about my goggles.
Well, the water wouldn't really do anything to the circuits, but the mud might jam the fan.
JamesRPatrick (author)  BOOM56014 years ago
Never used Sugru before.
mikeybo24 years ago
I just made a simpler version of this yesterday. I used a very old pc fan 9 volt connectors and electrical tape. I stripped the ends of the fans wires electrical taped the 9 volt wires to the fan wires. Then i taped the fan in with electrical tape. Now when ever i connect the fan to the battery it keeps running keeping me cool.
JamesRPatrick (author)  mikeybo24 years ago
Sweet! Can you post some pictures?
I have to get a new fan when i do ill post some pictures i accidently knocked the fan out of the housing
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