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My fellow programmers,

I'm planning on creating a fan controller for my PC using an Arduino Duemilanove and a generic motor sheild. (Fan controllers are not exactly cheap here and i'd rather spend my money on an SSD than on a fan controller =)

On a normal scenario, I want my fans to spin slowly, just to keep some air flowing but not enough to make too much noise. Obviously, they should turn on at full speed (or so) during a demanding scenario, like playing a game.

My idea is to use a usb port to communicate with Windows, so that my arduino knows when a demanding application was started. Is there an easy way to do this or should I buy myself some cheap temperature sensors, place them on the more important parts and control my fans with these temperature readings?

I'd also like to have an option to turn of the communication between the arduino and whatever informs it about the computer usage, so that I can program it in order to test a different algorithm.

Thanks for any help!

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Yes you can. One of the options is using Visual Studio if you are Windows user (using built in library is enough to meet your 'option to turn off' needs). There so many examples of serial communication using either C# or C++ with Arduino, so you can do communication between Laptop - Arduino via serial cable or even built in bluetooth in laptop (with extra bluetooth module for Arduino).

The most simple setup is your laptop act as master and arduino as slave. Arduino does not need any information about what program is running, instead just waiting command from Laptop wether to turn off or turn down the fan

You can read information from your PC (for Windows), such as temperature or battery level

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Any Arduino with a USB interface can communicate with a PC via pseudo-serial ports (that is, serial-over-USB links). If you have a PC program that somehow monitors what processes are running, your plan of telling the Arduino to speed up the fan when certain programs are running is practical to do.

On Linux systems, fan speed can be controlled by user programs like fancontrol-gui and tpfanco. Probably similar programs are available on Windows and Mac systems. Your Arduino could measure temperatures and send them to the host OS for fan speed control. Or vice versa, your PC could use DBus or ACPI calls to measure its chip temperature and send it to the Arduino to control a fan.

Note, there's a thermometer built in to several ATmega devices. Its resolution isn't great and due to chip thermal mass it might not respond quickly, but you might find it worthwhile to experiment with. For example, see §24.8, Temperature Measurement, on page 247 of the document Atmel-8271J-AVR-ATmega-Datasheet_11/2015, which says to select the internal 1.1 V ADC voltage reference, read ADC channel 8, and scale the result per Table 24-2 to get °C.

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