DIY Laptop Cooler

A plexiglass constructed notebook cooler equiped with spiffy lighted fans for some trippy late night surfing/gaming safari's..
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Step 1: Getting some stuff together...

You will need some stuff, so dig around in your parts drawer for the following items:
-a switch (toggle, SPST type)
-some wire (about 22g, roughly a foot or two, coated!)
-sheet of plexiglass or acrylic (a like the 1/4" stuff)
-2 comp. fans (standard 80mm or 120mm)
-some nuts and bolts (#8-32 x 1 1/4")
-old power supply (for this project I used an 24VDC from an old epson receipt printer)
-some tools (Dremel (of course!), hobby knife, Drill, solder gun, solder (the good electronic component stuff) heat shrink tubing, heat gun or blow torch)
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hamza_shahid11 months ago
nmaddux13 years ago
i want to create something close to this but it is going to be built right into the side of the desk. sort of creating a laptop station with where i can hook up my two 23 inch monitor up to and keyboard and mouse....

anyways, i have three fans i just dug out of old computers and what not
two of them are identical and are: DC12v and 0.20A.

the third can is a little smaller (going to use it on the side as to suck the hot air out completing the airflow) but that fan is: DC12V and 0.12A.

I work at a hardware store so i have easy access to a SPST toggle switch, all the wiring, and power supplies.

But what power supply should i buy? The only power supplies i could find at home was an ACDC adapter which has:
Input: AC120V 60Hz 2W
Output: DC9V 100mA

would i be able to get away with this power supply?

any feedback would be great!
silverHalo (author)  nmaddux13 years ago
If you plan on running all three fans off one power supply, you will need it to be 12v 500mA or bigger. Add up the amperes of each fan to find the minimum current draw.. 200mA + 200mA + 120mA= 520mA or a bit over 1/2 Amps. A 9v 100mA PS would burn out trying to provide enough power to turn the fans, just too weak to work. 12v PS's are pretty common at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales for a dollar or two, or free from a friend with a broken printer, scanner, etc.... Just find one with 500 mA's or higher.
newbiest3 years ago
If one is building a base from scratch, why not use a single big fan with a similar diameter to the laptop's length? :) Wouldn't it cool better while being quieter?
You could, if you're going to do that use two Megaflow 200mm case fans from Cooler Master.
yeah, 200 mm or even 250 mm would do the job perfectly :)
silverHalo (author)  newbiest3 years ago
That would be a big fan!
Hello! I'm sorry for not answering earlier but when I got this email I didn't remember having signed up for this forum so I mistook it for spam. Now that I got a second email I finally realized it wasn't :P. Yes this would definitely be a big fan but size matters right? heheh ;) I just don't understand why don't manufacturers do that because it would probably be more efficient and quieter. But it's probably more expensive also... Far from sure but I feel that way
ryanboosh3 years ago
im building one right now, and i just picked up 4 fans with these specs...
Rated Voltage: 12 volts
Operation Voltage: 10.2-13.8 Volts
Input Current: 0.15 Amps
Input Power: 1.8 Watts Max

but im not to sure what the Ohms ratings are on the fans. now ive found a few different power supplies lying around my house to choose from. here are thier specs.

Output: 12V- 1.66A
Output: 18V- 600mA
Output: 12V-1000mA

if anyone could help me out, that would be great :)

silverHalo (author)  ryanboosh3 years ago
If you wired all 4 fans in Parallel they would all pull 12V @ 150mA each. So all 4 fans together are drawing a total of 600mA's. (150 +150 +150 +150=600). So either of the 12V power supply you have would suffice. Just remember to wire the fans in Parallel and not in Series.
It would be easier to just buy a 12v power supply from eBay with 2000MA, they're 5 bucks, just chop off the barrel plug, strip the heatshrink and wire, and viola!
dylanw3 years ago
how do you wire the fans in parallel and series
silverHalo (author)  dylanw3 years ago
Series is one after another in a row. For example, the red wire of fan #1 is connected to the black wire of fan #2. That leaves the black wire of fan #1 to connect to the negative side of the power source and the red wire of fan #2 to the positive side of the power source. (See my illustration in the instructable above).
When you wire in Series, the voltage of the fans gets added together.. (so 12v fan + 12v fan = 24v's of power it needs to run them, so you need a 24v powersupply.).

Parallel is when the black (negative) wire of fan #1 and the black wire of fan #2 both go to the Negative of the power supply and the red wires of both fans go to the power supply's Positive side. Then both fans are only using 12 volts of power but the amperage is doubled. So if both fans were 12V @ 500mA then you would need a 12V 1A power supply. (500mA + 500mA =1A)

There are a lot of better explanations on the web, just Google wiring in series & parallel.
Ahahah non-skid action during quake tournaments, thats awome.

Great instructable BTW =D
bgerlt3 years ago
I have a question, still learning so be patient please.

Couldn't you power the fans through a USB port on the laptop?

Or would they draw to much power through the laptop power supply or battery?
silverHalo (author)  bgerlt3 years ago
Standard computer case fans (like the ones I used) are powered by 12 volts. USB ports only supply 5 Volts of power @ 500 milliamps, so they wouldn't even turn the fan blades, not enough juice. There are 5 Volt fans available that you can buy that will work, but usually they are smaller in size.
cylove4 years ago
is there any codes, schematic diagram, circuit diagram for this? thank you in advance!
silverHalo (author)  cylove4 years ago
I have a pictorial diagram and long explanation of how to wire it up in step 5. There really isn't much to it to necessitate a schematic, just a power supply, a fan or two, and a switch. If you use 12v fans and a 12v powersupply then you can just wire them up in series.... If you can find some 5v fans then you can actually use the USB port as your powersupply instead since they supply 5v @ 1/2 amps....
cnorwood4 years ago
nice i may have to try this at home or hack my 9 dollar cooler pad i hate i ever bought.
yes. those cooler pads stores sell surely arent very effective. the fans are in the same place on all of them
shooby4 years ago
I do a lot of work with plexi when making models.  Generally it's considered a good idea to heat it in a well ventilated area, because when heated plexiglass/acrylic gives off toxic fumes.  Don't fry your brain to cool your laptop.
kevin074 years ago

I made this cooler and it is great. It looks great but i think i am going to refine the electronics a little bit. Now my sister wants one :>)

SmAsH!4 years ago
have you thought about putting the fans in parallel?
then both could have 12v from a 12v supply...
silverHalo (author)  SmAsH!4 years ago
Yep, that would be ideal, but all I had at the time was a free 24V power supply. So that what I used.
Ahh, i see. Then its all good.
(removed by author or community request)
plexiglass (or acrylic) is a form of plastic.
NRoberts8 years ago
Nice project, cool idea. One addition since your dealing w/ a laptop, you should make it more portable. What about making the fans USB powered. I forget what it puts out, something like 9v or so. Should still give you enough not to roast the boys if ya know what I mean!
5v 500mA
I made a portable one out of lightweight masonite and is powered by USB also... look for it HERE
colin NRoberts8 years ago
USB can deliver 500mA at 5V, so in order to run the fans at 12V you're going to need to use a switching regulator to upconvert the voltage. This can be done with a few chips and an inductor (I'll probably post an Instructable soon with the Eagle files) but your max current will drop correspondingly which means that you'll have a hard time driving your fans. Switching to lower voltage fans would obviously make it simpler.
silverHalo (author)  colin8 years ago
Sweet! Can't wait for the specs on the current reg., I'll be more than happy to make a fly portable version with some tiny low volt fans!
(removed by author or community request)
you could try putting rubber on the feet, or you can put tyhe fans at a lower voltage, lets say 7volts is enough
kccupp_20007 years ago
if you have a usb cord from a broken ipod you can strip it and use this to hook your fans up to it. that taakes carer of your power issues.
Identity7 years ago
I too have an Alienware with a storied history of overheating. When I get the time, hopefully I can implement this. Thanks for the ideas.
ceebee8 years ago
i actualy built a very basic one in my metalshop class. Basicly I just screwed a fan to the stand and took an old 12v adapter, striped it, wired it to the fan w/ a switch i bought at the hardware store. Its been working perfectly for over 2 years now and i run it almost constantly. I've got a powerbook (get very hot) and because its metal, just cooling the bottom surface actualy keeps the temp down at around 52ºC from 60º I didnt want to use a usb power supply mainly because of complexity and also usb uses energy wich = heat.
For a lower-rent (and lower performance) but more portable solution, I took two of those rubber plugs that are used to protect sheetrock walls from door knobs, and attached them with a length snipped from a zip tie. Two of these work as a base for my laptop, lifting it off the table surface, allowing air to circulate, and thus keeping it cooler.
silverHalo (author)  pescabicicleta8 years ago
I'm working on a portable verison sans the fans, that folds up to a small footprint. Having a laptop that weights 10 pounds one doesn't want to carry around much else :)
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