How to Convert a Case Fan to USB

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Introduction: How to Convert a Case Fan to USB

In this Instructable I will show you how you can convert an old case fan for a pc to usb power.

Step 1: Materials Needed

For this project, you will need:
A pc case fan
scissors
a usb cable (doesn't matter what the end of the cable is as long as one end is a full size male usb jack)
a wire stripper and electrical tape

Step 2: Cut Fan Connector

The start of our journey is to use your scissors to cut the connector off of the case fan.

Step 3: Strip Fan Wires

Now we need to strip the ends of the black and red wires with your wire stripper. If you want, you can cut the other wires short so they stay out of your way. We will not be needing them.

Step 4: Cut Usb Cable

Now cut the end of your usb cable that is not male off.

Step 5: Strip Usb Cable

Now you need to strip the usb cable to reveal the shielding. peel back this shielding to reveal the red and black wires. You can cut the other ones, as we don’t need them.

Step 6: Strip Usb Wires

Next, you need to strip the red and black wires.

Step 7: Twist Wires

Now we need to twist the red wires together and the black wires together. Make sure to tightly twist them so you get a stable connection. If you want to take this a step further, you can solder the wires instead of twisting them, but twisting the wires should be enough.

Step 8: Tape It Up

Now you should individually tape up the black connections and the red connections. Then you should cover those in a layer of electrical tape as shown. If you want a cleaner look, you can use shrink wrap over the individually wrapped wires instead of tape.

Step 9: Test It

Step 8 is to simply plug it in to either your computer or a usb charger to test it. (The fan is actually spinning in the picture)

Step 10: Enjoy

Have fun staying cool with your new USB fan!

7 People Made This Project!

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26 Comments

0
CerrylinoB
CerrylinoB

2 years ago

Nice Idea... how about converting the car socket (cigarette outlet) to USB? Os it possible...

0
sam-cross
sam-cross

Reply 3 months ago

Just buy an adapter - they're inexpensive, and FAR safer than doing it yourself. It'd probably cost just as much as well, as you'd need a step-down transformer to reduce the voltage.

0
sciguy911
sciguy911

2 years ago on Introduction

I have a question. A typical 120mm case fan runs about 1500-1700 RPM, the larger 140mm typical case fan runs 1300-1500 RPM. Those numbers full power numbers. In this case, typical fan headers on a motherboard provide 12v these fans need. A USB connection provides only 5v. My question is: have you tested the RPM of the fans running on the 5v versus the standard full power 12v RPM? That 140mm fans also run at 12v but typically have an RPM of 1300-1500. I have a few older USB hubs and one has two USB to power the whole strip, perhaps if you used two USB pigtailed together with the fan, you’d get close to full power and more RPM. Basically one USB is “low speed” and both USB is “high speed”. I’ll give it a try this week. Good stuff.

0
sam-cross
sam-cross

Reply 3 months ago

They'd still provide only 5V of power - just with more amperage. You would need a DC step-up transformer to do this.

0
kentdjrk
kentdjrk

1 year ago on Step 9

Hi I have 2 fans here each of them has a 5v can micro USB power them together? Or there's anything else that it can power together?

IMG20200525223943.jpg
0
sam-cross
sam-cross

Reply 3 months ago

You could, as long as the USB charger you're using can provide enough current (A = amperage) to power both fans. For these, you would need a charger which provides at least 2A.

0
Sofferton
Sofferton

Question 5 months ago on Step 3

Hi I was stripping my wires on the fan and I pulled the black one out completely is there anything I could do to fix it? Also I don’t have a red wire I only have, white p, yellow, blue, and black

0
sam-cross
sam-cross

Answer 3 months ago

How can you pull the entire wire out from the fan? You'd need to go in and re-solder the wire. More effort than it's worth - just buy a new fan and try again.

0
SteveM419
SteveM419

3 years ago

I made it, but I don't feel like posting images. I'd say not to use just any USB cable because the lower quality ones may not send enough electricity to the fan to have it run at full speed. The one I used was a really old one and the fan is running slowly.

0
sam-cross
sam-cross

Reply 1 year ago

That's not because of cable quality. PC case fans usually run off 12V power. USB can only supply 5V. Hence the slow speed. Some fans may not even run at all on 5V.

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Wraller117
Wraller117

Reply 1 year ago

Have you got any solution for it then?
I am facing the same issue.

0
matthijs186
matthijs186

Reply 8 months ago

The USB spec does not go beyond 5V. So unfortunately, not really. I'm looking at grabbing a 5V fan myself.

0
metalshiflet
metalshiflet

7 years ago on Introduction

I think this would be great to apply to a fan with lights. You could put it in an actual case and it would look great.

0
charlessenf-gm
charlessenf-gm

Reply 1 year ago

"You could put it in an actual case"

As opposed to what? A virtual case? Where'd you get one of those?

0
gillispiederick
gillispiederick

1 year ago

Hi please help asap! What do I do if all wires on my 4 pin fan are black ? I tried connecting each one to see what one is power with no luck.

15846350946687206800920528709993.jpg
0
duven66
duven66

Reply 1 year ago

Any luck, have the same problem

15861750454614330940245296017424.jpg
0
BasilisF
BasilisF

Reply 1 year ago

take any battery and try all combinations of the cables, one of the will get the fun spin

0
Wraller117
Wraller117

Reply 1 year ago

DUDE!!
If you connect one wire(Fan) to one USB wire and then try
connecting one 3 USB wire, to all 3 remaining USB wires, there will be so many possibilities!!
If you see all possible combinations there
would be exactly 27 combinations for you to try. It would be tedious to
keep the records of all connections and then to try and reconnect every
single one of them...
IF you really did it then You're a really hard working man but otherwise I'd say that you find some other way

0
kevincoxphoto
kevincoxphoto

Reply 1 year ago

You needed to work that out using the connector as a guide and label each wire before you cut the connector off. If you can find an image of your fan with the connector attached it could help.

4pin.jpg