Repairing a broken RC ceiling fan

The ceiling fan in [Steve Vigneau's] bedroom started giving him trouble. It is normally operated using a remote control but that functionality had become pretty spotty. He cleaned the contacts on the remote but still had troubles that could only be fixed by power-cycling the fan itself. When it finally died he set out to repair the unit himself. Above you can see the controller board from the fan. It was a bit too complicated for [Steve] to troubleshoot so he figured why not just stop using the remote control and make it work with a couple of switches? A bit of research led him to some basic fan schematics that he used for a reference. He need to remove a couple of capacitors and wire them up with one switch for the fan and another for the light. Sure, there’s no settings for speed or direction, but [Steve] thinks he doesn’t need to change them and always has the option to add them in the future.

Comments

  1. Urza says:

    I actually had a similar problem a week or two ago – remote controlled ceiling fan stopped responding to the remote. Cleaned the contacts on the remote and it was still pretty spotty, so I threw a small strip of aluminum foil on the back of the button. Works perfectly now. Much easier fix than this :)

    You can also usually buy replacement controllers, though they can get a bit expensive.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now I kind of want to design a PCB where every component has a different angle…

  3. Adam Outler says:

    ^^haha… yeah. that’s one heck of a custom looking PCB.

    Urza thank you for the tip. I would have never thought of that. I will file that in the front folder of my remote control repair section of my brain.

    Good repair none-the-less.

  4. Piku says:

    Needs an arduino and some XBees in it, and possibly a 555 ;-)

  5. vonskippy says:

    At least it wasn’t some clock hack.

  6. Nitori says:

    Before giving up on the remote I would have checked the filter caps,diodes,DC power supply, and solder connections.

    It’s usually something simple that dies in devices like these.
    90% of the time it’s usually a filter caps on the DC side or a bad solder joint.

  7. I would just have made a new controller board and added my own radio modules … That would also give me the bonus of controlling it from the computer….

    Reminds me of making a wireless mailbox alert…

  8. Urza: Unfortunately it wasn’t the remote that was the problem. After cleaning the contacts a month or so ago it was sending pulses just fine. The problem was somewhere on the fan control PCB itself, and I opted to just step around the problem. I only use the fan at one speed and direction anyway, and I felt that the extra remote (and battery) was just a waste. I rather prefer the current setup with two simple mains switches; one toggling the light and the other toggling the fan.

    If in the future I want to change direction that’ll be trivial to implement with a DPDT switch (reversing the yellow and pink wires). I don’t like any speed other than low because then the fan is audible and bothersome when sleeping.

  9. knox says:

    I control mine with X-10. Lamp, and appliance modules converted to inline. They just fit between the motor and the ceiling. No speed control but not needed in my case.

  10. Mutton says:

    Remote controlled ceiling fan? Talk about lazy.

  11. strider_mt2k says:

    Hmmm. That thing does seem repairable.

    Swap all the capacitors out for new ones as was mentioned, maybe meter that regulator out.

    Make it work all shiny-like again.

  12. Larry says:

    hmmm I wonder if it would work to add a remote control dimmer inbetween for fan speed. and to get your remote control back. I have one of those in my room, they work excellent on lights.

  13. Pete says:

    I had a remote control ceiling fan. 3 fan speeds and a light dimmer. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  14. Mutton: You might be surprised at how difficult it is to find a nice looking, good size, but non-remote control ceiling fan these days. It’s nearly impossible.

  15. Bob says:

    Why would a hard wired ceiling fan need a remote? It’s not going anywhere. Most likely, you won’t have the remote on hand when you want to turn it on. How hard is it to walk over to the wall and flip a switch? I swear, sometime we try to make our lives more difficult. Would it be that hard to send the direction and speed signal through the mains?

  16. andar_b says:

    We used to have one at our old house, but it looked like the remote had been mounted in a wall-plate! There was a switch to simply turn the whole thing off, a button which, with a short press, would toggle the light on or off. If you held that button, it would cycle the lamp through bright to dim until you released the button. Finally, there were four speed setting buttons. Unfortunately, the lamp dimmer made an audible buzz when not either on or off, but somewhat dimmed. Otherwise, it was great.

    It really did look like someone mounted the remote in a switch plate cover like a standard large rocker switch.

  17. Mutton says:

    “Do you not use the remote for your tv? Or air conditioner? For the record, rc fans are awesome.”

    The remote for the TV has been missing for years since a move. I do the incomprehensible thing; I get up and push the buttons that are on there. A/C is another one of those things that doesn’t need a remote. If a device has button on it, then what’s the point of a remote?

    Watch WALL-E some time. All those fat bums in stretchy suits? Grim prediction of things to come.

  18. Merser says:

    All you knockers there. It is quite handy if in the middle of the night the temp drops and you want to turn it off or down to reach to your side and use the remote than to get up and use a switch.
    As for problems with them I’ve found a faulty triac on the fan pcb stopped one working. Replaced it and it was good as new.

  19. snake says:

    No offense to the guy, but he removed a remote control module and wired up a couple of hard-wired switches. This belongs in electronics 101, not HAD.

  20. Snake: Actually, hard-wired a couple switches after figuring out how the two three run caps for the fan are switched by the digital half of the board, then reimplemented a subset of them in a static config.

    Anyway, most of HAD is just reusing an Arduino to do something for which it’s vastly overkill without a basic understanding of the electronics in it. HAD could use more Electronics 101-type info.

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