Pocket Altoids Tin Li-Ion Extreme Desk Fan!




This is an instructable on how to build a pocket/portable desk fan. This being dual 5 volt fans running at 7+ volts it actually puts out quite a bit of air and is kind of loud. Extremely portable and extremely functional.

Note: This fan will only work in the open position is not meant to work closed. This is a desk fan not a handheld fan.

Build, Rate, Enjoy!!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Prep Work - Materials

To do this project you will need some basic materials and tools. I try to use what I have lying around so you could substitute some of the materials with other stuff that you may have handy. You will need:
- Altoids Tin(Or similar tin)
- Two 5 volt Fans
- Two 3.7v Li-Ion cell phone batteries
- On/Off Switch
- Super Glue
- Electrical Tape
- Scissors
- Tin Snips(Wire cutters work but cuts are extremely rough)
- Pocket Knife
More specific details on materials used are in the following steps.

Step 2: Step 1 - Case Work

The first thing you want to do is cut the case to allow for the fans. I used two 50mm fans but ideally you would use 40mm fans as they will fit in the case without having to split the lid and cut the lower case. Once again I used what I had on hand. If you use 50mm fans you will have to cut the lid and only use the front and back flanges of the lid. Also the ends and back of the lower case have to be cut to allow the fans to fit down when the case is closed. Be sure to leave the tabs that hold the lid on. The last stage of case work is to make a notch for the switch or switch wires depending on what type of switch is used. I used a voltage selector switch out of an old power supply, only small switch I had on hand.

Step 3: Step 2 - Li-Ion Battery Prep

I used two 3.7v Li-Ion cell phone batteries because they are thin, powerful, and just sitting around. These particular batteries go to an LG Dare battery model number LGIP-530B, You can purchase these or similar batteries on ebay for around $3/ea including shipping! These batteries had cases that needed to be removed to have better access to the terminals. In this case the battery case is positive and the isolated terminal is ground/negative. Wire the two batteries in series for a total voltage of 7.4 volts, this is a little out of range for the fans but seems to work okay.

Step 4: Step 3 - Glue Fans and Build the Circuit

The next step is glue the two fans together and to wire everything up.  I wired ground/negative side of fan to switch then switch to battery ground/negative and the fan positive side to battery positive. I ended up going back and trimming up the wire to make everything fit into the Altoids tin.

Step 5: Step 4 - Assembly

Final step is to put it all together. Remember to check fitment on everything the case will probably need some minor adjustments, mine did. Glue the front and rear flanges of tin lid to fans making sure they are properly aligned. To attach fan lid to lower tin use the existing tabs on lower tin. When assembled use a rubber band to help keeps things all together, I also kept the Altoids cut out as a fan cover.

The Mad Science Fair

Participated in the
The Mad Science Fair

Hack It! Challenge

Participated in the
Hack It! Challenge

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest
    • Robotics Contest

      Robotics Contest

    7 Discussions

    Refreshing! It would be cool to add a temperature/humidity sensor that would turn it on when the temperature surpassed a threshold of heat.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool project. One variation would be to use a li-ion camera battery that has a standalone battery charger (as opposed to putting it inside the camera and using the camera charger). Another variation would be to use this with a 9 V NiMH battery.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comment. Camera battery is a good idea and a 9v would work with a single fan design not really enough room with two fans.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You are correct, this is why I labeled it as a desk fan and not a handheld fan. Based on the available space inside the case it was either opt for a single fan and be able to use in closed or two fans and use it open. I chose the option with more air movement so it would be more usable. However, it could be modified to one fan and work in the closed position. Thanks for the question