Flapping PCB Fan Blows A Little Bit

Moving air with spinning blades is the most popular way, but it is not the only way. Using the PCB actuator technology he has been working on for the past few years, [Carl Bugeja] built a small electromagnetic flapping fan using a custom flexible PCB.

Inspired by expensive piezoelectric fans ($400 for a 30mW fan), [Carl] wanted to see if a cheaper alternative could be made. Using a similar design to his other PCB actuators, he had a custom flexible PCB made with an integrated coil, which can flex on two thin supports. These supports also contain the power traces for the coil. By sticking the base of the PCB between two neodymium magnets, it can flap back and forth when driven by an alternating current. It produces a bit of airflow, but nearly enough to be useful. The power traces in the thin supports also break after an extended period of 180° flapping.

Although this probably won’t be a viable replacement for a rotary fan, it would be interesting to see how far one can push this approach by optimizing the design and magnet arrangement.

[Carl] has been experimenting with a variety of applications for his PCB actuators, from tiny flopping robots to tiny speakers, he doesn’t seem to be running out of ideas. A flip-dot display might be interesting…

23 thoughts on “Flapping PCB Fan Blows A Little Bit

  1. Back in the 80’s, there was an upgrade for the Macintosh Plus that came with a two-blade (two separate single units in a package) that were piezoelectric. It connected to the 120V 60 Hz AC line inside the case.

    It didn’t move a lot of air, but it was quiet!

  2. i think i agree with your assessment but nonetheless i feel compelled to point out that if you really intend to starve clickbait, there’s only one way to interact with hackaday itself

    1. To be fair HackaDay occasionally lets a good article slip into the stream, no doubt accidently.

      It’s not all twine wrapped tire tables and other half assed idiots. Just 95%

  3. Well I haven’t watched the video but in the photos shown above, the guy’s mug in the background looms way larger than the actual object in the foreground the story is about.
    So I’m inclined to believe you.

  4. Kinda like the MaxChill fans for the original Macintosh Plus, circa 1987.

    Apple’s ascetic aesthetic bit them in the backside when they elected to omit the fan in that device. If you ever upgraded the memory or even ran the thing in a warm room they would overheat. The MaxChill piezo fan was bundled with $ome memory upgrade$ so to keep the quiet charm undisturbed.

    Us cheap slobs just banged a muffin fan in and called it a day. (not that that machine could ever be called ‘cheap’)

  5. I made sure to click his video 3 or 4 times in different browsers on different machines. Even watched it on my phone over cell data connection, in case having a unique IP was meaningful to Google, to make sure to increase his views as much as possible.

    Thanks for the review.

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