Thursday, March 12, 2020

Modifying Blackmagic 6G routers for quiet(er) operation!

You can't deny the value in BMD SmartVideo Hubs - they are a fraction of the price of traditional broadcast video matrices. They have appalling return-loss on the BNC inputs and their control system is very simple (although in lots of cases that's a benefit). The temptation is to stick them in desks in edit, grading and audio suites, but they are noisy! The reasons are;

  1. Cheap, low air volume fans
  2. Tiny holes in the chassis through which to try and pull enough air
  3. No control of the fans even though the ones they supply have a tach output

'scope is showing the tach o/p of one of the fans, yes, I was routing video!

Even though the cheap/noisy fans BMD fit have a tach output it clearly isn't read by the hardware as the fans run at full tilt from power-on. This one had been on and routing video for a couple of hours (with the lid on) and it's like sitting next to a vacuum cleaner.
So, quick look at RS and filtering by size, volts and then listing by highest air volume & lowest noise I got these Papst fans - they also have a tach output (I had no plan to use that) and more importantly are induction-start motors (so they will run on much lower voltages; I had a feeling I could simply control them with a potentiometer with a similar impedance to the coils).

getting them ready to fit in the same JST 1.5mm pitch headers as the stock fans, 10K pots

fitted to replace the stock fans - I had to ream-out the screw holes in the fans for the screws to fit, double-sided tape for the pots.

The other issue is the tiny holes they have in those cases for airflow. With a bit of extruded aluminium and grill material you can get a good look.

Make sure you don't put another piece of equipment directly above it!

So, proof of the pudding and all that; I ran the stock unit for a couple of hours, pulled the lid off and took a photo with my thermal camera and then did exactly the same after the modifications. The results speak for themselves; the client has these in their audio suite and game me four more to modify.

before & after - running cooler and maybe 20dBs quieter

As an aside I found driving these fans at a constant 8v produced the best results.

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