Introduction: Raspberry Pi Case Fan

Picture of Raspberry Pi Case Fan

I purchased an inexpensive snap-together acrylic case for my Raspberry Pi from a seller on eBay. Overall I was happy with the case, but although this case has holes for passive air circulation I noticed that after running the Pi in the case that some of the chips were running a bit warm (even with heat sinks installed). Since this Pi will be running a web server 24/7, I decided to design a new top which accommodates a small (quiet and low air flow) cooling fan.

NOTE: When installing and setting up the software I referenced the following 2 instructables:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Host-your-website-...

https://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Web-S...

I primarily referenced the first instructable, but I used nginx rather than Apache server software and I referenced the second instructable for the nginx installation and setup.

NOTE: Since I made this project, I have found several cases that are available on eBay for the new Raspberry Pi2 and B+ that include a small fan. The Pi2 uses a 900 MHz ARMv7 quad core whereas the older Pi uses 700 MHz ARMv6 single core

Step 1: The Original Case

Picture of The Original Case

This picture shows the original case. It can be snapped together (no glue or fasteners are needed) in a few minutes.

Step 2: LibreCAD Design of a New Case Top

Picture of LibreCAD Design of a New Case Top

LibreCAD is a free (and very capable) 2D CAD application that runs on either Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (so it is possible to run LibreCAD on the Raspberry Pi to redesign its own case). I used a caliper to take measurement from the original top. I did not include the I/O access slots from the original case since I will not need these for my application of this Pi. I also did no include the hinge tabs from the original case. The new top is just be held in place by gravity and it can easily be removed if needed.

I have attached the dxf file for the new top. This file can be used as input to a laser cutter. I don't have my own laser cutter but I have a friend who has one (a 60W CO2 laser cutter). He used 1/8 inch thick (~3 mm) acrylic (scrap) material to cut the new top.

NOTE: LibreCAD can be downloaded here: http://librecad.org/cms/home.html

NOTE: In LibreCAD, the smaller holes must be places on a different layer than the outline cut so that the laser cutter CAM software can order these cuts correctly (the smaller holes must be cut first before the outline is cut).

Step 3: Fan Power Supply

Picture of Fan Power Supply

The fan I used is a ~1.5 inch fan (~38 mm) from a broken power supply. It is a 12V fan, but I decided to run it at a lower voltage because I wanted it to be quiet and the lower air flow (at the lower voltage) still delivers adequate cooling. I used an old Nokia 5.7V phone charger to power the fan (although it would also have been possible to use the Pi's internal 5V supply).

Comments

Gelfling6 (author)2015-04-08

The main stickler, is finding a fan that doesn't require 12V.. I've scavenged a few old laptops, that had small 5V box fans, which can be wired off the 5V supply. When I got my Model B (512M version), I wired together a small power switch box that allowed powering off the USB Hub, the Mini-B USB cable to the Pi, and a pair of Banana tie-down jacks on the box, and powered it off a 4-Amp 5V supply. so, adding two more wires into the case, I was able to power a little 1-Inch boxer fan I pulled from a dead Dell 286 laptop. I simply scored a 1-inch circle above the CPU, and mounted the fan, and stuck two thick Silicone pads, and a cooling block from the graphics processor of a dead 486 laptop.. (looks very similar to the one you have.) Just snug enough to fit. The case has plenty of room to get the camera cable and LCD cable if needed.

Ghloo (author)Gelfling62017-09-21

For starters, I have a scavenged GPU fan. A small one, deffinitely no mor than 5V and should be grand too.

dviius (author)2017-08-02

It's 2017, and I want to ramp up my Pi, to the max!

I bought a 5 volt fan on ebay - apparently, it is for an Acer laptop. It cost me 16 pence, with free delivery!

I won't be use librecad, or anything else as clever. I'll just drill my acrylic case and wedge the fan in.

No additional power unit is required, as it's a 5v fan. I still don't know which GPIO pins to use, plus I have an expansion board fitted, that has three full sets of GPIO pins on it!

I'm also going to apply three heatsinks, that cost me about 24 pence with, again, free delivery. I have some thermal paste knocking about so, I'll use that as cement.

Then, I will find some crazy overclocking procedure and apply it, if I can monitor the temperature adequately, and keep it below 85 degrees.

Wish me luck!

T0BY (author)2016-05-21

Nicely done!

diy_bloke (author)2015-04-07

nice work.
Just a question.. why design a new case lid? why not just cut a hole in the existing lid?
Ofcourse it is a good excuse to play with a lasercutter :-)

scd (author)diy_bloke2015-04-07

My first solution was a new lid made from a piece of cardboard cut out with scissors and the fan was attached with bread bag wire ties .. but 2D CAD programs and laser cutters are more fun ;)

(I probably should have included a picture of that first prototype lid but it has long since been recycled).

diy_bloke (author)scd2015-04-07

oh i agree with more fun and I am one of those people that probably also would have made a new one, just because i wd find it 'a waste' to cut the existing one. (odd, I know).
Anyway, I also have one of those 'click together' boxes with a hinging top lid.... and that has a 1 inch hole in it. I think I have a small fan that might just fit there.

Anyway... good article

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