(Topic ID: 348032)

Stern PSU fan noise

By tha_freeman

7 months ago


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  • 34 posts
  • 16 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 18 days ago by PinMonk
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    #1 7 months ago

    Having been an owner of multiple Bally/Williams pinball machines for 25 years, I recently expanded my collection with three Stern pinball machines. One of the first things I noticed was the jarringly irregular fan noise that occurred every few minutes. This seems to be due to the PSU's thermistor, which activates the 12V fan whenever a certain temperature threshold is reached, running it at full speed until the temperature drops below a second threshold. It's puzzling why the fan isn't set to run continuously at a lower speed to maintain a consistent temperature and fan noise, only increasing when absolutely necessary.

    I've come across several sites offering replacement fans that are less noisy, yet I'm inclined to believe a different approach to cooling might be more effective.

    Before I dismantle my PSU and start experimenting with my multimeter, I'm curious if anyone else has explored and found a better solution. Perhaps establishing a constant 5V line with a diode/resistor to the fan could maintain a silent operation and keep the temperature below the trigger point for full-speed operation. I'd much prefer a consistent, low-level noise from my pinball machine rather than an intermittent, high-pitched fan sound every few minutes.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions on this matter.

    #2 7 months ago

    Lots of threads and a couple replacement products in the marketplace.

    Here's one:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/market/shops/1170-pin-monk/02140-quiet-fan-plug-n-play-kit-for-rsp-500-48

    Welcome to Pinside! Learn how to use the Pinside search function. Almost all the questions you'll ever ask have already been answered somewhere.

    #3 7 months ago

    Thank you for your response. I understand that the solutions available on the forum involve either replacing the original fan or adding a new fan on top of the existing one for continuous airflow. However, the approach I'm considering involves modifying the existing fan (or a replacement fan) to run continuously at a lower speed, only increasing airflow when necessary. This would potentially offer a more consistent and quieter cooling solution for the pinball machine.

    -6
    #4 7 months ago

    Why do you need a more effective fan than the pinmonk replacement? It delivers the same volume of air as the originals but are quiet.

    But knock yourself out. Everybody wastes time in their own way in this hobby. And I’m sure you’re smarter than all the others who have looked at this issue over the last 8 years or so.

    #5 7 months ago

    The quieter fan option from PinMonk, while reducing noise, would not alter the fan's irregular operation to a constant one. Your responses haven't provided any constructive feedback. Engaging in a hobby is never waste of time, and my intention isn't to come across as knowing more, but rather to express curiosity. I'm interested to know if others have experimented with a similar approach to fan modification, which could potentially offer time-saving insights.

    -10
    #6 7 months ago
    Quoted from tha_freeman:

    I'm curious if anyone else has explored and found a better solution.

    I answered that in the first post. There are also dozens of threads on this, which you can find with the search function.

    This entire hobby is a waste of time, so lighten up Francis.

    13
    #7 7 months ago
    Quoted from Black_Knight:

    Why do you need a more effective fan than the pinmonk replacement? It delivers the same volume of air as the originals but are quiet.
    But knock yourself out. Everybody wastes time in their own way in this hobby. And I’m sure you’re smarter than all the others who have looked at this issue over the last 8 years or so.

    God forbid the guy looks for a slightly different solution. Just cause he wants to attack the problem differently doesn’t mean he thinks he is smarter. Jesus. And the search function around here isn’t great, and the search function won’t yield his solution, because it hasn’t been done.

    #8 7 months ago

    Yeah, it's pretty lazy on Sterns part to have this noisy and cheap of a fan in a $7,000+ machine. Sad they couldn't simply program the fan to operate at 30 or 40% power and quietly. I'm guessing that would take more R&D and cut into their margins so they said no. If we have learn anything about Stern, they will take shortcuts whenever possible to save money.

    I have my Stern next to a Data East with the really loud hum, so for me it's not as jarring of a sound. The first day i owned it, it did freak me out that something was wrong as the fan was so loud. Never hear the fans on location due to all the ambient noise, so in a home environment, it's a terrible part choice.

    I'd be interested if someone found a way to do what you suggested, but without much board alteration, maybe just messing with code if that's possible. Or maybe it's encrypted code and can't be touched, no idea.

    #9 7 months ago
    Quoted from Steveboos:

    I'd be interested if someone found a way to do what you suggested, but without much board alteration, maybe just messing with code if that's possible. Or maybe it's encrypted code and can't be touched, no idea.

    Unfortunately, since the PSU is simply a basic transformer and rectifier, converting 115/230V AC to 48V DC, it's not feasible to control the fan speed through software. An alternative strategy, such as supplying the fan with a consistent lower voltage, might not initiate fan movement, but it's an aspect I plan to explore over the next few days. My preferred approach would involve fabricating a cable that can be inserted between the fan and the PCB, along with an additional wire connected to a different part of the PCB or the USB ports within the pinball machine. This setup could potentially offer a viable solution to regulate the fan noise.

    #10 7 months ago

    So it seems that you just don’t want to hear the fan whether it’s on all the time, or on intermittently. Have you tried a different fan? You cannot hear them. Or at least I can’t.

    #11 7 months ago

    Does this approach also apply in a living room setting when the pinball machine is not actively being played? If the new fans are indeed as quiet as you claim, then seeking an alternative solution becomes unnecessary.

    #12 7 months ago
    Quoted from tha_freeman:

    Does this approach also apply in a living room setting when the pinball machine is not actively being played? If the new fans are indeed as quiet as you claim, then seeking an alternative solution becomes unnecessary.

    Everyone hears differently, but I would check one of the fan modding threads to see just how quiet they are. But I seem to remember they are quiet enough that you wouldn’t hear it even in a silent room.

    #13 7 months ago

    I have flipper fans on my games and even in a silent room I cannot hear them unless I put my head right next to the game. Not sure how these compare to the update power supply fans.

    #14 7 months ago
    Quoted from Black_Knight:

    I answered that in the first post. There are also dozens of threads on this, which you can find with the search function.
    This entire hobby is a waste of time, so lighten up Francis.

    I guess you're not a FAN of this idea

    #15 7 months ago

    Not sure what you call a better solution. Buying a quieter fan is fairly cheap, super easy to do and solves the noise problem very well.

    #16 7 months ago

    I plan to implement the fan upgrade tonight to personally assess the difference. Thank you for your feedback.

    #17 7 months ago

    I hope its successful.
    Looking forwards to hearing (or not) the outcome.

    #18 7 months ago

    Having replaced the fans in all three pinball machines, I've noticed a significant reduction in noise. While the fan is still audible in the same room, it's much less intrusive. Importantly, with an open door, the fan noise is imperceptible from the next room. This level of noise is perfectly acceptable to me, so I won't pursue any alternative solutions at this time. Thank you for your suggestions and feedback.

    #19 7 months ago

    FWIW - I used a Noctua fan placed on top of the old exhaust using a printed shroud and it is silent and the internal fan never kicks on now. The Noctua runs constantly and is able to keep the temp below the point where the internal fan needs to run.

    #20 7 months ago

    I have Deadpool and James Bond in the same cool room, temp is around 68. James Bond fan comes on every 5 min and Deadpool fan never comes on, did stern change the specs? I see no reason why the James Bond fan would come on at all in such a cool room. Do others have some spike 2 games that behave this way?

    #21 7 months ago
    Quoted from luvthatapex2:

    I have Deadpool and James Bond in the same cool room, temp is around 68. James Bond fan comes on every 5 min and Deadpool fan never comes on, did stern change the specs? I see no reason why the James Bond fan would come on at all in such a cool room. Do others have some spike 2 games that behave this way?

    My game room is usually 60-68 degrees and the fans in my spike 2’s always come on every few minutes.

    #22 7 months ago
    Quoted from jackd104:

    My game room is usually 60-68 degrees and the fans in my spike 2’s always come on every few minutes.

    Yours in your cellar too Jack? Same here temp-wise and my JP turns on fans at least once every 15 min. Even in winter.

    #23 7 months ago
    Quoted from jedimastermatt:

    FWIW - I used a Noctua fan placed on top of the old exhaust using a printed shroud and it is silent and the internal fan never kicks on now. The Noctua runs constantly and is able to keep the temp below the point where the internal fan needs to run.

    Got a link to it?

    #24 7 months ago
    Quoted from Jwf_pinball:

    Yours in your cellar too Jack? Same here temp-wise and my JP turns on fans at least once every 15 min. Even in winter.

    Yes it’s in the basement level. It has heat but I usually keep it turned down since I’m not in there all the time. Stays nice and cool in summer at least.

    #25 7 months ago
    Quoted from BOBCADE:

    Got a link to it?

    https://www.amazon.com/Noctua-NF-A6x25-3-Pin-Premium-Cooling/dp/B009NQMESS

    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4844962

    Here you go. You just need to connect it to power. I ended up connecting it up in the head to a harness I made that routes power to it and fans for GZ’s flipper and magnet coils. The little coil fans are louder than the Noctua. It runs all the time and keeps the stock fan from ever turning on, so it’s definitely keeping it cooler overall.

    1 week later
    #26 7 months ago
    Quoted from Steveboos:

    Yeah, it's pretty lazy on Sterns part to have this noisy and cheap of a fan in a $7,000+ machine. Sad they couldn't simply program the fan to operate at 30 or 40% power and quietly. I'm guessing that would take more R&D and cut into their margins so they said no. If we have learn anything about Stern, they will take shortcuts whenever possible to save money.

    The irony is that in a video explaining Stern hardware, Gomez seemed to be under the impression that the meanwell fan they use has a speed control lead to vary the rotation as needed (as you suggest would be nice) when it absolutely does not. The RSP-500-48 power supply fan is thermally controlled to turn on when the power supply hits 122F and then turn off when the temp drops below 104F. The temperature sensor in the power supply determines whether the fan is all on or all off, there's no speed control, despite Gomez's belief. He's THE GUY at Stern that should know, and he obviously didn't. I refuse to believe he knew and was intentionally misleading people, which is the only other scenario.

    He makes the erroneous claim about fan speed sensors (it doesn't have) at the end of this clip:

    Quoted from jedimastermatt:

    Here you go. You just need to connect it to power. I ended up connecting it up in the head to a harness I made that routes power to it and fans for GZ’s flipper and magnet coils. The little coil fans are louder than the Noctua.

    Not true. Airflow is greater, but at 19.3dB full speed (since there's no fan control lead, there's no way to take advantage of the Noctua's multi-speed properties), that Noctua model is noisier than a number of small fans that could replace the one inside the power supply, including the one in my DIY thread (here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/replacing-stern-spike-noisy-ps-fans) that I also I sell a plug and play version of at less than 13dB.

    #27 7 months ago
    Quoted from PinMonk:

    The irony is that in a video explaining Stern hardware, Gomez seemed to be under the impression that the meanwell fan they use has a speed control lead to vary the rotation as needed (as you suggest would be nice) when it absolutely does not. The RSP-500-48 power supply fan is thermally controlled to turn on when the power supply hits 122F and then turn off when the temp drops below 104F. The temperature sensor in the power supply determines whether the fan is all on or all off, there's no speed control, despite Gomez's belief. He's THE GUY at Stern that should know, and he obviously didn't. I refuse to believe he knew and was intentionally misleading people, which is the only other scenario.
    He makes the erroneous claim about fan speed sensors (it doesn't have) at the end of this clip:

    Not true. Airflow is greater, but at 19.3dB full speed (since there's no fan control lead, there's no way to take advantage of the Noctua's multi-speed properties), that Noctua model is noisier than a number of small fans that could replace the one inside the power supply, including the one in my DIY thread (here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/replacing-stern-spike-noisy-ps-fans) that I also I sell a plug and play version of at less than 13dB.

    Nobody ever said it's more or less quiet than anything other than stock. This type of mod allows of a quick non-invasive approach that doesn't require modifying the powersupply or even opening it up. The fan in question comes with the cables that have the resistors in them to slow the speed down. I'm using the max speed one and it is whisper silent and never causes the internal fan to kick on. Even with the minisplit off, you can't hear it and the fans in the cabinet make more noise; but, are still quiet.

    #28 7 months ago
    Quoted from jedimastermatt:

    The fan in question comes with the cables that have the resistors in them to slow the speed down.

    Ah, thanks for the clarification. I just casually looked at the specs and didnt realize the cables had various resistors to slow the fan without a speed control line. Still i doubt it's much below 13db at the slower speeds. Also, always on will chew up your mtbf way faster, so the fan life in years is much less with the way you're recommending, but that said, it really boils down to do you want a factory look or not.

    2 months later
    #29 4 months ago
    Quoted from herbertbsharp:

    God forbid the guy looks for a slightly different solution. Just cause he wants to attack the problem differently doesn’t mean he thinks he is smarter. Jesus. And the search function around here isn’t great, and the search function won’t yield his solution, because it hasn’t been done.

    It's annoying when people give you balls about asking a question that's already been answered. Like sorry I'm wasting your time because you must be so busy being online and buying toys that cost thousands. Get a grip answer the guys question or stfu

    4 months later
    #30 21 days ago

    I added a NF-A6x25 (60x25mm) Noctua fan on top of the Stern power supply that runs constantly (when the game is turned on) and you can barely hear it running. I added a separate 12v power supply from Meanwell and attached it to the inside of the back box. I bought 1/32" aluminum sheet metal and bent the sheet into a "Z" shape and placed it behind the power supply (just loosen the 2 upper bolts slightly). This creates a small shelf for the new fan. Use a 1.5" hole saw and drill directly over the fan location. You can use the backbox 12v power if you want but I decided to spend the extra $25 and get an external power supply. In any event, to date I have never heard the Stern noisy fan ever come on. Problem solved for $60 total and it is has zero effect on the games low voltage system.

    #31 21 days ago
    IMG_4765 (resized).jpegIMG_4765 (resized).jpeg
    #32 21 days ago
    Quoted from CC-Rider:

    I added a NF-A6x25 (60x25mm) Noctua fan on top of the Stern power supply that runs constantly (when the game is turned on) and you can barely hear it running. I added a separate 12v power supply from Meanwell and attached it to the inside of the back box.

    For people reading this later that want to go the external fan route, the LRS-150-12 is way overkill to supply 12v for just an external power supply fan. The RS35 is like $13, shorter than the LRS-150 (3.9in vs 6.26in), and has plenty of power for a fan with enough left for even a few mods on top. Efficiency of the RS35 is ~6% less, but it seems better suited if you're just trying to get a clean 12v to power an external fan.

    Quoted from CC-Rider:

    Problem solved for $60 total and it is has zero effect on the games low voltage system.

    Replacing the internal power supply fan also has zero effect on the game low voltage system for $40 less.

    #33 19 days ago

    I wanted to have the additional external fan to see if it works by never hearing the original fan come on. If I replaced the original fan I would never hear it running. So if the added fan fails I will hear the original Stern loud fan. These fans are very quiet. But yes I did some over kill on the power supply because who knows what I’ll do next with needing extra power and it really wasn’t that much more in the grand scheme of things.

    #34 18 days ago
    Quoted from CC-Rider:

    I wanted to have the additional external fan to see if it works by never hearing the original fan come on. If I replaced the original fan I would never hear it running. So if the added fan fails I will hear the original Stern loud fan. These fans are very quiet. But yes I did some over kill on the power supply because who knows what I’ll do next with needing extra power and it really wasn’t that much more in the grand scheme of things.

    You don't need to hear anything to know a replaced quiet fan has failed. The RSP-500-48 Meanwell power supplies Stern uses have a built in failsafe. So if a fan fails and the power supply temperature exceeds 157F internally, power supply turns off. This condition has never happened to anyone that has changed the fan out to my knowledge, but IF it happened, its not burning up or taking out the machine. Power supply simply turns off due to getting too hot from a dead fan. Then you turn off the machine power switch, change out the fan, back in business again.

    The 24/7 MTBF for the fans is like 7 YEARS, so with normal home use a few hours a day, they'll likely work as long as you own the pin - and probably the next few owners, too.

    RSP 500-48_temp_graph (resized).jpgRSP 500-48_temp_graph (resized).jpg

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