Using cheap and powerful server expansion cards in your desktop builds is a tempting option for many hackers. Of course, they don’t always fit mechanically or work perfectly; for instance, some server-purpose cards are designed for intense amounts of cooling that servers come with, and will overheat inside a relatively calm desktop case. Having encountered such a network card, [Chris] has developed and brought us the PCIce – a PCIe card that’s a holder and a controller for a 80mm fan.
The card gets fan 12V from the PCIe slot, and there’s an ATTiny to control the fan’s speed, letting you cycle through speeds with a single button press and displaying the current speed through LEDs. There’s a great amount of polish put into this card – from making it mechanically feature-complete with all the fancy fasteners, to longevity-oriented firmware that even makes sure to notice if the EEPROM-stored settings ever get corrupted. At the moment, the schematics and the ATTiny firmware are open-source, [Chris] has promised to publish hardware files after polishing them, and has also manufactured a batch of PCIce cards for sale.
When it comes to making use of cheap server-purpose cards, a cooling solution is good to see – we’ve generally seen adapters from proprietary form-factors, like this FlexLOM adapter from [TobleMiner] to make use of cheap high-throughput network cards with slightly differing mechanical dimensions and pinouts. Every batch of decommissioned server cards has some potential with only a slight hitch or two, and it’s reassuring to see hackers make their eBay finds really work for them.