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Old 09-12-2016, 11:34 AM   #1
dbarton
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Default Variable Speed (4 speed) Cooling Fan Controller Project

I thought I would share a project I'm working on and open it to comments or speculation. This is a 4-speed fan controller for my 242t, which uses a big Lincoln Mark VIII cooling fan. The controller uses relays and other easily obtained items. I'll eventually be publishing all of the info and diagrams in my page also. I have no intention of making and selling these. It's something anyone can build themselves as long as you know what works. Nailing down what works is part of the reason for this thread.

The reason I have for doing this is pretty simple. I've been using a variety of the off-the-shelf, high-dollar variable speed fan controllers over the years and all have failed after a couple years, always at really bad times.

The Mark VIII fan is a big fan and comes with blades that are nearly 18 inches in diameter. Compare that to a 940 fan (15 inches), which cannot come close. I live in a hot climate and have a big intercooler and big aftermarket AC condenser (it's has DUAL fans). I have learned the hard way over the years that you can't have too big a fan (or too big a radiator).

Like some other fans, some Mark VIII fans are two-speed fans. Later ones are one-speed. Mine is a one-speed. Makes no difference. What I'm doing will work on any fan.

The below diagram will help some of you understand how this works. There are four relays (one for each speed), three temp sensors (for low, medium and high) and a manual override switch for full power (which is even higher speed). The Mark VIII fan on full power is really an amazing thing to see and hear. Very few cars will need that kind of air flow for normal use, but it's there if needed.

Dorman 973-018
By now some of you are wondering how the different speeds are regulated. That's done with an AC/heater fan resistor pack. The one I chose is Dorman 973-018 (shown below). Cost is under $10.00. It's a 4-speed resistor, but I am only using three of the speeds. More on that later.

4-Speed Controller Function Theory
The fan will remain off until your low temp set point is reached and the sensor activates power to the low speed relay (Relay 4). When your temperature climbs higher, the second sensor will activate the next relay (Relay 3), automatically cutting power to the lower relay. This way only one circuit will be on at a time. This action works for each relay in succession as temps rise and fan speed increases.

Why Four Speeds?
Why not? I know two speeds is definitely not enough for a Mark VIII fan. Three speeds might be ok. Four seems about right to me. The diagram here can easily be converted to a 3-speed harness by eliminating relay #4. Heck, you can even build a 5-speed harness using these components by adding just one more relay. But I just chose to do four speeds.

EDIT 09-16-2016: After creating this thread I created the following project page in my site: http://www.davebarton.com/fanharness.html

Comments or questions welcome.
Dave B.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Dorman973-018-2.jpg (25.9 KB, 268 views)
File Type: jpg 4speeddiagram1med.jpg (77.0 KB, 263 views)
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Non-Volvo: 2013 Subaru WRX
Dave's Volvo Page

Last edited by dbarton; 09-16-2016 at 07:10 PM..
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:34 AM   #2
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Continued . . . . .

Below photo is the variable temp sensor I decided to try. I used three of them. It's Hayden PN 3653. Cost was about $19 each shipped on Amazon. It will work to trigger a positive circuit or ground circuit, either one. I chose to do ground circuits as you can see in the diagram.



And more on that Dorman resistor pack. I tested the resistance through the four circuits and got the following results:
Dorman 973-018 Pinouts
1. Input: High Speed . . . . 0.3 Ohms
2. Input: Medium 2 . . . . . 0.8 Ohms
3. Input: Medium 1 . . . . . 1.4 Ohms
4. Input: Low . . . . . . . . . 3.1 Ohms
5: Output to fan



After getting my wiring diagram to what I thought would work, I built the below bench test model so I could see how it goes with the fan in the car. There are five relays because I added one (Relay #5) for the AC to activate a speed I liked. Relay #1 is the full speed relay to be activated by the override switch.

Relay #1 is 80 Amp capacity. I recommend no less for such a fan. The other relays are all 40 Amp.


More shortly . . .

Last edited by dbarton; 09-12-2016 at 04:31 PM..
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Old 09-12-2016, 12:12 PM   #3
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How about 0-100% variable? M.H. Yount runs the DCC controller and loves it. Hopefully there are other alternatives to continuous variable control....... in the future.
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Old 09-12-2016, 12:31 PM   #4
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DCControl huh?
Long story why not. Short story is I have bought several and all have failed miserably. Last time I tried to order another my order went unanswered for 6 weeks while my car was down. He never, ever responded to emails and I never got my order. I had to file a Paypal dispute to get my refund. There are a lot of other people who have had the same problems with DCC. I can't imagine paying close to $200 for that.
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Old 09-12-2016, 12:49 PM   #5
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Google finds similar stories.... and an equal amount of FORD guys that absolutely love his products. I don't own one.... but Yount has been thrilled with his. I'll delete the link since you've already "experienced" DCC.

Carry on!
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Old 09-12-2016, 01:03 PM   #6
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I loved the DCC controller too until things went bad. It may be ok for small fans, but I think the big ones like the Taurus, T-Bird or Mark VIII fans are just too much for them. I got an average of 1.5 to 2 years out of each DCC before it fried. That was using a T-Bird fan. If he's improved them since, that's ok, but there's NO excuse for refusing to communicate with customers.

This project was born out of frustration over high-tech failures. I think my low-tech version will be much more sound. We'll see.
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Old 09-12-2016, 01:10 PM   #7
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Continued . . .
Test results using my bench test model:
It's important to keep in mind that the fan was tested fully installed with a radiator, intercooler and AC condenser in front of it. It would likely pull less amperage with higher RPMs if it was tested out of the car and that would not be realistic. Tested with battery only (12.6v), engine off.

Resistor Pinout . . . . RPM (Percent) . . . . Amps Peak Spike/Constant Current
Fan full power . . . . . . 1800 (100%) . . . . . **35.2/33.6
1. High . . . . . . . . . . . 1400 (77%) . . . . . . 31.9/25.0
2. Medium 2 . . . . . . . 1000 (55%) . . . . . . 14.3/13.6
3. Medium 1 . . . . . . . . 650 (36%) . . . . . . . 8.5/7.4
4. Low . . . . . . . . . . . . 470 (26%) . . . . . . . 4.0/3.6
**Peak spike amps when ramping from 77% to 100%.

I considered using the 26% speed as my Low speed, but after feeling the air, I thought it was a bit too low. So I decided I would use the 36% speed as Low, 55% as Medium and 77% as High. Additionally I felt that the 77% speed would be a good speed for the AC.

The fan is whisper quiet at 36%. Can't even hear it over the engine.

More soon . . . Let me see some comments.
Dave B.

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Old 09-12-2016, 01:39 PM   #8
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Flexalite 31165 variable controller works well- has a "soft" current ramp that decreases voltage spikes.
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Old 09-12-2016, 01:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSr. View Post
Flexalite 31165 variable controller works well- has a "soft" current ramp that decreases voltage spikes.
Ahhhh the Flexalite. That one lasted a bit longer than a DCC, but also fried (this was the most recent failure I had). While it does seem to have a soft start, the Flexalite is really only a 2-speed controller. 60% and 100% only. And as I mentioned earlier I don't want the 100% speed used for this big fan for normal driving (just there in case it's needed). And 60% is way too much fan for idling or cruising. And why run a fan at 100%/34 Amps if it's not needed?

I appreciate the comments. More are welcome.

If you think this is stupid, tell me.

Thanks, Dave B.

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Old 09-12-2016, 02:24 PM   #10
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Continued . . .

Here's the three temp sensors going into a compact box so things will look tidy. I'll paint the box black.



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Old 09-13-2016, 03:09 AM   #11
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Dave, have you pulled any of these dead boxes apart to see what drivers they use, or how they're configured?

Ford fuel pump drivers are pretty cool, but also can't handle heavy loads and require PWM input. They have a big inductor in them to smooth things out and regulate noise.

To me simple would be a box with a conditioned input, a monstrously strong driver network, and a single wire from the ECU controlling it. (PWM or CAN)

Have you measured the max steady state current at 14.4V? Or the peak start up current when switched on with 14.4 supply? I'm curious as to how much your big fan draws :-)

PS, I love that my odo works! Thanks again!
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeEMSFred View Post
Dave, have you pulled any of these dead boxes apart to see what drivers they use, or how they're configured?

Ford fuel pump drivers are pretty cool, but also can't handle heavy loads and require PWM input. They have a big inductor in them to smooth things out and regulate noise.

To me simple would be a box with a conditioned input, a monstrously strong driver network, and a single wire from the ECU controlling it. (PWM or CAN)

Have you measured the max steady state current at 14.4V? Or the peak start up current when switched on with 14.4 supply? I'm curious as to how much your big fan draws :-)

PS, I love that my odo works! Thanks again!
I have not pulled any dead controllers apart. The DCC ones are all epoxy potted. Not sure about others. I wouldn't know what I'm looking at anyway.

I have only measured the fan current at 12.6v so far (engine off). Those results are already shown above (33.6 amps max). And I would not be able to get 14.4v out of my alternator anyway if that fan was on full. It's in the high 13's. I'll try measuring with the engine running once it's ready.
Thanks, Dave B.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:52 AM   #13
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Here are revised fan amperage figures at higher voltages (with engine idling). The fan pulls a lot out of the alternator, so testing at 14.4v will not be possible. And it sounds like a jet engine at 40A . I don't have the Low speed (26%) hooked up, so all others are shown. My amp meter also shows watts if anyone finds it useful.

Resistor Pinout . . . .Fan Percent . . . . Amps Constant/@Voltage/Watts
Fan full power . . . . . . 100% . . . . . . . . 40/13.3v/530
1. High . . . . . . . . . . . 77% . . . . . . . . 29/13.6v/395
2. Medium 2 . . . . . . . . 55% . . . . . . . . 15.7/13.9v/217
3. Medium 1 . . . . . . . . 36% . . . . . . . . 8.6/14v/121

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Old 09-13-2016, 12:12 PM   #14
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Here is a question from someone who employs caveman-level circuit design:
Would a ballast resistor made for stock auxiliary e-fans be more suitable for this application, albeit maybe only as a 2-speed or maybe by a pair of them and some fancy wiring achieving more speeds?
Who among us has not had to change a blower motor fan resistor group?
Sure, the failures are more obvious that an epoxied black box which might give different performance under operating loads than when continuity/resistance tested at the terminals...but still when I hear Dorman fan resistor pack in reference to improving reliability, I cringe a little.
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Old 09-13-2016, 02:24 PM   #15
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I've never had to change a blower resistor pack.
Do you expect it to melt or something?
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbarton View Post
I've never had to change a blower resistor pack.
Do you expect it to melt or something?
Dave B.
I kinda expect it to melt.. how long have you had it in use?
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Old 09-13-2016, 04:37 PM   #17
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I kinda expect it to melt.. how long have you had it in use?
I began this thread yesterday. Still testing. Will be on the road soon. I guess all the true turbobrickers have left. All we have left are naysayers.

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Old 09-13-2016, 06:05 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian smith View Post
Would a ballast resistor made for stock auxiliary e-fans be more suitable for this application, albeit maybe only as a 2-speed or maybe by a pair of them and some fancy wiring achieving more speeds?
A ceramic ballast resistor? I briefly thought about those. Don't know. Never played with one before to regulate a fan. Seems like it would take a lot of space for the same multi speed effect.
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Old 09-13-2016, 07:12 PM   #19
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Neat project, hope it works (I see no reason not) How much $ do you have invested so far?

Once my car is back on the road I'll be using a $35 SPAL digital unit I bought on eBay, new they are in the $200 range and work well when working.

The failure is a bad design in which a fairly large capacitor is soldered too far from the board with nothing to prevent it from vibrating back and forth breaking a lead. <$5 later and a new cap is installed correctly.
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Old 09-13-2016, 07:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Neat project, hope it works (I see no reason not) How much $ do you have invested so far?

Once my car is back on the road I'll be using a $35 SPAL digital unit I bought on eBay, new they are in the $200 range and work well when working.

The failure is a bad design in which a fairly large capacitor is soldered too far from the board with nothing to prevent it from vibrating back and forth breaking a lead. <$5 later and a new cap is installed correctly.
I hada sal controller. Thought it was a piece of ****. every time I would get into boost and have a slight change in coolant temps the controller would freak out and go into limp mode and wouldn't turn on. Nathan had issues with his and he got rid of his. I talked to Spal tech support and they told me that they had no fix for this and I should remove my turbo.

Ive talked to Dave about while in the process of coming up with a solution for over coming shaddy pwm controllers and the one that almost left him stranded at Cars and Coffee when we were waiting in line to get in. This controller used basic off the shelf items that are known to work but I'm not surprised to see negative over positive in threads.

Whatever. I expect to see this in use in Daves car for years to come.
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Old 09-13-2016, 10:23 PM   #21
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Is the resistor going to be mounted in the fan shroud/airstream? I don't know if there are wattage ratings for these kind of resistors, but you're going to be putting a lot more heat into it than the original application did.

I have a DCC running an aftermarket 16" fan on mine, but it doesn't draw nearly that much current. It took the guy about 6 weeks to send it out, with zero communication.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:33 AM   #22
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Dave, another option for those not wanting to "roll their own". I've run a simple Painless E-fan controller in my Chevelle for about 10 years now without issue. Here are their higher tech current offerings:

http://www.painlessperformance.com/webcatalog/fan5

Looks like some of these will handle extremely high amperage fans.
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:17 AM   #23
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Interested in this project to see where it goes.
Dave, are you manually switching these?
I haved used 850 fan relays with a 940 turbo fan/radiator and controlled low speed with a 240 turbo sensor in the lower radiator hose and the high speed in the radiator tank. I ran this for 5 years without problems. The car had a 160* thermostat and stayed cool, even with 100*+ Georgia summers. I upgraded to 120 amp alternator, so I never had any noticeable problems with fans. I was running the stock a/c fan which ran continuosly without problems. This was in 740 16V.
I grabbed some extra relays and sensors just in case of failure, but never had a problem.
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Old 09-14-2016, 09:41 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DET17 View Post
Dave, another option for those not wanting to "roll their own". I've run a simple Painless E-fan controller in my Chevelle for about 10 years now without issue. Here are their higher tech current offerings:

http://www.painlessperformance.com/webcatalog/fan5

Looks like some of these will handle extremely high amperage fans.
Looks decent. Too bad they don't offer a radiator fin probe. I prefer to not have to have a new sensor port welded into my nice big aluminum radiator every time I change brands of fan controllers. And I really don't want 100% as the only AC option. I think not needed for a Mark VIII fan. I have it set to run at 77% for AC now. I think that will work. I appreciate the suggestion though.

Anyone used the Derale? Haven't heard about that yet. I know they have a high amp version with radiator probe.
Dave B.

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Old 09-14-2016, 09:51 AM   #25
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Quote:
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Is the resistor going to be mounted in the fan shroud/airstream? I don't know if there are wattage ratings for these kind of resistors, but you're going to be putting a lot more heat into it than the original application did.
Yes, in the lower left corner of the shroud.
I tested the car for about 45 minutes this morning at idle, fan was running at low speed during the test. I registered temps up to 140 degF on the low speed terminal. Keep in mind that was probably about the ambient temp of the shroud.
Dave B.


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