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Woohoo, And It's Still Great!

Ringo Kid

New member
My old Intel MB was giving up the ghost; one of the things it did well throughout its life though was control the case fans. My new Gigabyte MB on the other hand would run all but one of the case fans at max speed. Having four 80 mm fans going full blast 18 inches from your head is enough to drive anyone batty. The new MB did however run the CPU fan (PWM) very well. Note: Intel pretty much forced this, I think all their stock coolers are PWM now.

My original goal was to find a fan controller that would monitor the temperature inside my case and ramp up the fans as the temperature rises. My CPU fan is effectively controlled by the MB and I felt it wasn't necessary to include it in the overall control picture. My thinking was that the CPU cooler along with the all the components of the system contributed to the overall thermal load of the system. So in the matter of the case fans; as components generated more heat under load; the interior case temperature would go up; the thermal sensor would detect it and the controller would ramp up the fans.

In researching this, there were other important considerations:
1. I needed to know how much load a fan circuit could handle. It's amazing how hard it is to find that figure for a number of controllers on the market.
2. That the controller has a fail safe. In other words, if the system hangs, run the fans at maximum. In the microcontroller world, they refer to this as a watch dog (timer). Intel P4 processors will slow down when overheated, but other components aren't so lucky.
3. That the controller work over a reasonable temperature range. One unit I looked at didn't really start increasing fan speed until about 45-50°C. I want the fans to speed up as soon as the temperature starts rising because at some point the air exchanges will equalize with the heat generated.
4. That the price be reasonable. There's some stuff out there that could easily cost $400 after you purchased all the pieces you needed.
5. Documentation. One of the most expensive units available does not have any documentation on-line at all.

Before I bumped into Crystalfontz, I was actually considering making my own controller using a BasicStamp and writing my own software. Lucky for me, I did happen on Crystalfonz.

I cannot begin to describe how much quieter my system has been since I've installed the 635 with the SCAB. The LCD display is a definite plus, since I can easily check if my CPU fan and all my case fans are running. And all this including sensors and cables for $125, a very good buy!

CrystalControl2 software is great. The latest version makes it very easy to add new screens to the LCD display. I also have a license to EVEREST Ultimate Edition which allows sending sensor values to the LCD display though Windows WMI.

My system:
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
Intel E8400 3 GHz Dual Core Wolfdale
Enzotech Heatpipe CPU Cooler w/120 mm PWM Fan
4 GB mushkin memory 800 MHz 4-4-4-12 2.1V
ICY DOCK 3 in 2 Multi-bay Backplane Module w/3 SATA Hard Drives
GeForce 8600 GT w/Dual Monitors
Crystalfontz Blue 635 w/SCAB
Inside a black Lian Li PC-61 case with a nice skull and crossbones case badge for that personal touch.
This system has 8 fans, 5 which are controlled. I'll not cut wires, so the power supply, video card and ICY DOCK fans are off limits.

Right now my system is running Prime95 at full tilt with both cores at 100% ...
Ambient temperature 27.3°C
CPU 43.0°C Fan at 1860 RPM (idles at 1000)
Cores at 58.0°C
Interior case temperature 32.4°C
Case fans at about 2000 RPM
The cooling system is doing its job well. Originally, I was going to water cool, but this works so well and is much easier to deal with. And it's certainly harder to make a mess with air.

Working with the hardware along with the help I found on the forum has been great. This company really deserves a 10.
Looking for additional LCD resources? Check out our LCD blog for the latest developments in LCD technology.
 

CF Tech

Administrator
Thank you for the kind words. I am glad that you are pleased with the system.

Please note that with CC2 you can also use differences in temperature to drive a fan. We thought this would be useful for case fans. If the air outside the case is the same temperature as the air inside, there is not much sense in moving it, right?

At some point, be sure to test that the fail-safe stuff is working. One test is to kill the CC2 process. The other is to physically unplug the USB cable. Either failure should make the fans go to 100% after a short timeout if the fail-safe is correctly configured. I think CC2 does this by default now, but it would not hurt to check in any case.
 

Ringo Kid

New member
I tested the watch dog even before I installed the panel into my case. The old saying about an "ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!" is very true.

A couple of other things I did before I installed the panel into my case:
1. I connected all the cables (just 1 sensor though) and wrote the fan channel number on each fan connector with a sharpie.
2. I bundled all the cables together with a couple of cable ties. This essentially acts like a strain relief and protects the delicate USB connection from being pulled away for the circuit board. I did make sure there was a little slack in the USB cable.

That reminds me. I noticed a couple of postings about difficulties with USB ports. I've had my problems with USB ports on my old motherboard as well. I've had instances where plugging in an USB device caused an immediate reboot just like pressing the reset button. And my old motherboard hated my Bluetooth (USB) keyboard/mouse. I solved my USB problems by installing an aftermarket USB PCI card. This worked especially well with my Bluetooth keyboard because the system had to load the USB drivers for the PCI card before it could load the Bluetooth transceiver drivers. I also think the PCI card can supply a little more current to the USB port than the motherboard can. Sometimes I think voodoo is the only answer.
 
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