Introduction: USB Desktop Fan

Picture of USB Desktop Fan

This instructable will show you how to make a desktop fan out of old computer components. this is a good project for a rainy day when you fell like building something useful. I make my instructables very exact so there seem to be a lot of steps.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

the pictures show it all

Step 2: Preparing Items

Picture of Preparing Items

Cut offf the USB cord as close as you can get to the end that doesnt go into your computer. If it has one of those cylinders chop that off too. Cut off the jack to the fan. Strip all wires. Find out which wires are power on the fan by using the 9 volt to test different wire combinations. Rmember that you might have the right wires but have them backwards, and then it wont spin, so try each combo both ways. If the fan spins, those two wires work(duh). Once you find the two wires, cut off any other wires.To test the usb cord plug one end into the computer and use the multimeter to test different combinations of wires. Mine was black and red, but i dont know if all cords are the same, but test those two first anyway. Once you find the two power wires, fold down the others onto the cord itself and tape around them, like the picture.

Step 3: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

Use the small wire nut to connect the two red wires. Put the switch in by attaching one black wire to one peg and the other black wire to the other peg. You can also have the reds on the switch and the blacks connected, it doesnt matter as long as the colors are the same. After you get the wires on the switch, you can solder them on( i used hot glue because i still need to work on my soldering). once you have done that, use a band of electrical tape around the fan to attack it all. make sure you attach it so the switch is pointing the same way the fan will blow.

Step 4: Testing

Picture of Testing

Once you have everything put together except the stand, you need to test it. Plug the cable into a USB port and flick the switch. The fan should blow in the dirction the switch is pointing. If something doesnt work, tinker with it until it does.

Step 5: Making Stand

Picture of Making Stand

Use pliers to unwind the wire hanger. cut off the bottom bar so it is 17.5 inches long. I dont like to type long things, so i put pictures in cronological order. just use a ruler for measureing and needle nose pliers for bending

Step 6: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Set up your fan and chill out(yes i use the same picture over and over again).


gminc (author)2007-07-25

Made from a dental floss box. Heh.

ColdSpooky (author)gminc2012-06-27

I have the same little pineapple fan!

ATG (author)gminc2009-08-07

it looks amazing bro....awesome work

aanith (author)2011-05-28

Is it possible to make it without the switch??

aanith (author)2011-05-28

will it work??? or will I blow up my pc

dretallick (author)2009-05-17

im stumped, i've been trying this for quite some time now, a 9v batter, once right combination of wires is found, only causes the fan to jump, not even enough power to make a full rotation, and yet, you seem to have gotten to work of a 5.2 volt USB in a computer, is there a step im missing here??

sharlston (author)dretallick2009-10-18

maybe its flat or your fan is too hogh voltage for a 9v and this fan might be low v

Where did I say 9V could not initiate a full rotation? I don't think i did. If that is what happened to you, you could just have a dud fan. 5V works just fine.

flamethrower1010 (author)2009-05-26

nice ible - I made one with a old game boy charger (really really old) and it plugs into the wall and converts the voltage from 120 to 6.7 it runs this type of fan nicely.

brubakan (author)2009-04-09

Great step by step. Easy to make= Awesome fan! Thanks dude!

Mr.MAC (author)2009-04-04

USE FIREWIRE instead of usb and the fan will put out MUCH more air and will be very nice actually

N1CK4ND0 (author)2009-03-13

My build didn't include a switch, I might have to add that. Thanks!

N1CK4ND0 (author)2009-03-10

I actually built one of these before looking at this instructable. They don't really put off much air or cooling, but they are still pretty cool. I leave mine sitting on top of my computer just to make me feel like its helping. :D

flashlight_nut3777 (author)2008-11-09

I would've gone with something like a Max606 to boost the voltage to 12V from 5V and maintain the current draw around 100ma or so if its going to be a single fan set up. For multiple fans I'd consider something like the LM2577 and paralleling two or more USB cables as the LM2577 can boost up to 3 amps if necessary. Most 12V fans can operate under 5V, but if the fan draws 300ma or greater it might need a little push to get it going. I love the simplicity on the stand btw, gotta try that, Thanks!

pnorder (author)2008-04-03

Could I run this off the 9v instead of USB power? The fan blows much better with the battery. If so, how would I incorporate the 9v as the power source into the above instructions? Great, great site!

ScubaSteve (author)pnorder2008-07-31

Yes, you could. I did that, and im going to post an instructable on it!

corinna.anni.roc (author)2008-07-19

Could I plug an Antec 120mm fan into a USB power charger without making things explode? I admit I still don't have a good grasp of electricity, I only know the difference between AC/DC. It's for another future project and possible Instructable.

humoogous (author)2008-06-02

Nice one. I did this some time before - only diff was that I used the usb cable from a faulty mouse. I linked that with a PC ventitation fan, and it makes me less hot when i mount it on top of my lcd screen.

Darboon (author)2008-03-15

maybe this is obsurd or w/e but i was wondering if anyone could tell me how or what is the best way to wire multi fans in series or parrallel wiff one usb. specifficaly 2 - 3 fans from one usb. im hoping to build my own fan stand for my 360. the xbox has the xtra usb port on the rear. and the pelican retail fan system is garbo. At least it seems like a good application for this DIY tut. ty ~Boon

vaiden (author)2007-08-21

Easy solution to this instructable. Reach into your bag of extra pc parts. Get out an old pc fan. Extend the wires long enough to go from inside your pc at the possible extra fan header you have, or if you are like me, you may have a fan header with a molex connector on the other end to plug it into an extra ide power connector from your power supply. Some fans come with these and even some motherboards, as I have three of them.You could run the wires out the back of your case at a pci slot opening, or through a hole you may have drilled in the case.

lacrosseislife24 (author)vaiden2008-02-18

but woudn't your extended case fan turn down really low if your computer is at a regular temperature? And it will only turn on and off with your computer. Sort've breaks down the point a little bit.

kpmwrestler (author)2008-02-17

I have a 3-cable fan just like the one in this tutorial (red, black, and white) but It won't work. I know the fan works, but when I try to even connect the red and black directly to the red and black from usb, the fan doesn't do anything. Any ideas why it isn't working?

Dave91 (author)2007-08-21

Hi lads. would a USB extender work for this?

lacrosseislife24 (author)Dave912007-09-07

if you were using it to extend the cable, yes. if you were using it for the cable, just hack off the female end(the end that doesn't go into the computer), and use it normally.

zach911 (author)2007-08-08

What is the 9v battery for?

zach911 (author)zach9112007-08-09

oooooooooooooooooooooooh i see what its for now. thanx.

lacrosseislife24 (author)zach9112007-08-09

read step 2

nicknack171 (author)2007-08-02

i made one of these but i used an old cell phone adapter instead

john45 (author)2007-08-02

Great Idea! Loved the stand idea, very simple, yet very practical. Good instructions

cmwslw (author)2007-07-20

I can tell you have a dog too...

Kyri (author)2007-07-16

awesome! i have EXACTLY the same fan, so it worked out perfectly, nice job!

glj12 (author)2007-07-03

Very notable. After reading the comments, they did appear a bit harsh. On a different topic, I was thinking about simply using a simple 12v adapter instead. Wouldn't this work just as well?

lacrosseislife24 (author)glj122007-07-10

it would infact be more powerful, because it met the fan requirements, but i didnt feel like making a fan with enough power to sub as an angle grinder, so i used the 5 volt usb instead

Jerster72 (author)2007-06-05

This is awesome. This was the first instructable that i did when i actually found every thing in my house and didnt have to go out and buy stuff. Great work!

tikker (author)2007-05-25

very cool thx for that

benebomber (author)2007-01-30

@ LasVegas and also anyone else: I've got no idea of those electronical things, but I found an old fan which has the following specs: DC12V, 0,17A. Since I don't know how to calculate it to 5V, can You tell me if it'd be under 0,5 A? That 'd be great! I wanna build a stand for my MBP and integrate a fan for extra cooling (there's gonna come a hot summer!). If it works, I'll post it I think.

LasVegas (author)benebomber2007-01-30

Any of these fans would be fine, just don't use the USB port! If you've got an unused drive power connector (even the useless floppy power!), you can drive your fan using the computer's 12V supply (yellow wire).

why not usb(besides not enough power)?

Because the USB port only supplies 5vdc. It's not sufficient to drive a 12vdc fan. A power connector for an HD or floppy has both 12v and 5v.

downgrade (author)LasVegas2007-04-21

you shouldnt talk about what you dont know. 5v is plenty to power a computer fan. It wont run it full speed but it runs it fine, as a matter of fact all the cans in my case (less the cpu fan which I run at only about half speed any way) i modified to run at 5v to reduce the case noise. 12cm fans move plenty of air at 5v, 8cm move a decent amount, enough for a fan to blow air over your hands but not enough for case air movement. So please don't tell people what not to do before actually having a true understanding.

LasVegas (author)downgrade2007-04-21

A 12v fan is not designed to run on 5v. Yes, the blades spin and as a result air is moved. The fan will not run efficiently and can likely last a shorter time. The ideal solution to quiet the fans in your PC is to us Silent fans running at their rated speed.

I KNOW 12 volts isnt enough to make it run fully, but i didnt want to make a 'usb lawnmower', i wanted a fan, so you can stop letting everyone know the pwer difference.

sorry i said that a little harshly. i just want to say that i dont want it to run on full power, so you can stop telling everyone now.

You do realize that message was from a month ago and in response to someone else, don't you?

LasVegas (author)downgrade2007-04-21

Oh gosh! Did I say "Computer Fan?" No I didn't. I said, and I quote, "Because the USB port only supplies 5vdc. It's not sufficient to drive a 12vdc fan." Read messages before sticking your foot in your mouth.

Nice work dude! I made lots of this from all the discarded computers that we have here, you can use a capacitor to increase the output voltage for the fan to lessen the load on the usb. already tried it.:)

asianwizard (author)LasVegas2007-01-30

i want to charge my mp3 which is powered through usb and i got a transmiter that says 5VDC 700 mA is it ok

LasVegas (author)asianwizard2007-01-30

I think you meant Transformer, rather than Transmitter. Yes. A 700mA 5VDC supply would be fine to charge an MP3 player through it's USB connection.

asianwizard (author)LasVegas2007-02-01

thx for tip yea i meant transformer i got mixed up with sum other instructable

Should be fine. P=IV
5V x .5A = 2.5 W

12V x .17A =2.04 W

Correct me if I'm wrong

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