I purchased a cheap PIX 506E that had a noisy processor fan and no power block. I had seen a spare power block lying around at work and I knew a noisy fan would be cheap and easy to fix.
When it arrived I quickly got it powered up and I was suprised at how noisy the fan actually was. My intention was to use the PIX as my home cable internet gateway and replace my Belkin wireless router. It was obvious that if I left the fan alone I wouldn’t be able to stay in the same room as this thing for more than five minutes.
A search through all my old PC bits revealed an old 5mm fan which matched the size of the current fan, although slightly thicker than the stock PIX fan, it looked like it would fit. A quick check to make sure and the outer case slid over the heatsink and fan without any problems revealed we were in business.
When I powered it up the noise was slightly better but not ideal. If the PIX was to be used permanently this thing would need to be as near to silent as possible. For the time being though it was enough to make sure it didn’t have any other faults.
After reseting the passwords on the PIX, configuring basic IP, NAT/Global and testing connectivity with a ping I was happy. A power off and back on revealed my config was still working and so it was time to start work on silencing the noise.
One thing I noticed about the 506E was the complete lack of ventilation inside the case. Apart from a few tiny holes on the rear, there is absolutely nowhere for the air and more importantly heat to escape. The first thing I was going to do was drill a ventilation hole above the processor fan. I marked out as best I could where the centre of the fan sat underneath the outer case. The closest hole saw I had that was slightly larger than the fan was a 7.5mm. I reasoned this was ok as it would give me a little more room above the heatsink and still allow me to fit an 8mm fan cover. I was slightly off with my calculations as to the centre of the fan but I wasn’t too worried about this. It was only noticeable when the PIX was off as the sticker wasn’t central on the fan.
I took a temperature reading from the centre of the heatsink after running the PIX under moderate load for an hour. The temperature was <insert fig>. The temperature after drilling the fan hole and running the PIX under the same load for an hour was <insert fig>. A difference of <insert fig>.
I was making progress. Now it was time to reduce the noise. I had an old Fan Mate 2 controller from a Zalman processor cooler that was no longer used. Only a slight midification with a Stanley knife was all it needed to make the connector fit the new PIX fan and I had it up and running in no time. I fed the controller wiring through the new fan grill and stuck the Fan Mate 2 to the top of the case. I was now able to control the speed of the fan. A little tweaking with the fan speed and I now have a near silent PIX.
Why was I doing this you might ask. Well apart from the overwhelming urge to hack and break everything I own I was also studying for the CCSP. I needed hardware to practice on and the 506E was the perfect piece of kit compared to it’s bigger brother the 515 or it’s little brother the 501. Now that it’s up and running I will eventually get a lower profile fan cover and I plan to mount the Fan Mate 2 inside the front cover so that’s it hidden.