DIY Portable & Simple USB Air Conditioner




Introduction: DIY Portable & Simple USB Air Conditioner

There are often days when the weather is hot and the power is out. Thankfully, with a few pieces of wire and a couple of components you might already have lying around, you can create a neat little air conditioner that can keep you much cooler.

Materials needed:
> 4 plastic boxes
> Some wire
> Some tape
> A computer fan (it has both a fan and a motor in it) OR electric motor + a fan/turbine connected (make sure the motor goes not above 6 volts). For this project, I didn't have a computer fan, although that would have made things much simpler. I had an RF 310T 11400 motor available here and a small turbine sort of thing
> An old USB cable (any sort of USB cable; you'll be stripping the wire and will only keep the male end)
> An icepack/small container which you will freeze water in
> A laptop/USB compatible power brick

Tools needed:
> Some scissors/ a Swiss Army Knife

Step 1: Make Holes in the First Box

Take your first plastic box and make a number of holes on all four sides. This will cause warm air to enter the box (and because of the fan which we will place on top later, it will be pulled up). After you're done with the holes, cut a rectangle on its bottom side as shown in the pictures. 

Step 2: Prepare the Second Box

Take the second box (this should preferably be bigger than the rest since this is the box that needs to hold our icepack/frozen water containers) and cut out its bottom like you did the first, but for it's top (the bigger part), cut out only a small square. This is to make sure the container or ice pack doesn't fall down into the first box. Then, stack the second box on the first, the large sides down. 

Step 3: Prepare the Third Box

Cut out a rectangle as you did for the other boxes on the large side. The shape of my fan and the way I had to place it required me to cut out a rather small square for the upper side for support, although you can cut out a larger piece if you're using a computer fan. (If you're confused, view the final placement of all the boxes to get an idea of what I'm talking about.) Now, stack the third box on the second. 

Oh, and you can always glue all these boxes together to keep the structure stable, but I didn't really find it necessary. 

Step 4: Prepare the Fourth and Final Box

This box is a little bit tricky, and depends on the kind of fan you're using. As you can see in the pictures, my setup is a bit complicated. If you're using a computer fan, though, all you have to do is cut out a small enough hole on the lower side of the box so that the fan doesn't fall through. And as for the upper side, my setup required me to cut out a small square like in the third box because it is on that side that my fan is located. However, depending on the shape and size of your fan, you can cut out however much is necessary.

Stack this final box on the third box. 

Step 5: The Wiring

All you have to do now is to connect the fan to a power source. Once connected, it will draw up air, all the way from the first box in which warm air is coming in, past the second box where the air cools down due to the frozen container/icepack, past the third and up to itself and then pass it out towards you for your satisfaction.

So what you have to do is take a USB cable and cut it open, taking care the end you cut is not the male end. Once cut open, you'll see that there will be 4 kinds of wires inside; red, black, green and white. The green and white you do not need, but you need to strip the red and black ones, and connect them to your motor or computer fan wire ends. 

Step 6: Turn Everything On

Now simply connect the USB cable to your computer's USB port or a power brick that is USB compatible. Hopefully, everything will work and you'll now be able to sway like a sapling in the breeze. Here's a short video of mine working:

Please make sure to comment and rate this instructable. 
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    5 Discussions


    7 years ago

    Using a motor or anything higher that 5v won't bother the usb drive. It just won't get the power it wants so it won't perform to its fullest. It will have absolutely no adverse or dangerous affects.


    7 years ago

    Very helpful. Thank you.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    any ice packs or frozen water bottles go in the second box. If you examine the pictures, you'll notice there is a circular label on the very bottom(Upside down lid) of the first box. Also, the warm air might pass to far to the side of any ice packs in the bottom box, while the fan pulls it from the side holes. Hence the need to place them directly over the air flow passage. :D Hope that helps


    7 years ago

    I'm confused by a couple of the pictures. Can you please explain what is in the bottom box, and the middle box? Is the ice pack in the bottom box and a small bottle of water in the middle box?

    Nice work. Although it should probably be mentioned that a USB port will only supply 100mA at 5V DC to a device without communication - a process a called enumeration is required to source more current from a USB host. That should be taken into consideration when picking out a motor or fan for this project. USB hubs were never designed to be DC power outlets, so using them as such requires a bit of finesse.