In my ongoing, multi-year effort to clean my office and upgrade it to the ultimate make-station, I decided that I needed a fume extractor since inhaling solder fumes probably isn’t too good for my health. Of course, being me, I decided a basic fume extractor was too simple and set about building one into the cheap Ikea tables I use as desks.
Right off the bat I knew I needed at least four components: a fan to move the air, a filter to absorb smoke and particulates, a porous tabletop, and a power switch to turn the system on and off. For the fans I bought a few cheap pc fans. They’re about 5 inches in diameter, run off 12V, and move a decent amount of air quietly. The filters are just a few solder fume extractor filter replacements. The porous tabletop surface was a bit harder to find. I wanted something with large enough holes to let plenty of air through, but small enough that I wouldn’t constantly be losing pieces into them. I settled on a one foot by two foot piece of sheet metal with 3/16 inch holes. The on/off switch was just something I picked up from Radioshack.
For the placement of the fume extractor, the two desks, when placed next to each other on the long axis, take up almost the entire width of the office with nine inches to spare. I decided to place the fume extractor into that space to save myself the trouble of cutting into the desk.
The first step in the process of building the fume extractor was to create the structure to hold the fans and filters. Originally I was going to 3D print elaborate fan and filter holds but decided that cutting into some foam core board I had laying around would be much easier. Since I had no idea about what kind of airflow is necessary to draw in solder smoke I decided to try and fit as many fans as I could into the fume hood and cut out holes for four of the PC fans I bought.
Once that I was done, I designed and printed out some simple brackets to hold the carbon filters.
I hot glued them all together to make mounting easier.
And taped them onto the foam core board. (Huzzah for Duct Tape!)
The filters fit in snugly and are easy to pop out and replace.
Next was mounting the fans.
The fans had holes in the corners so mounting them was a simply a matter of poking holes in the foam core board and mounting them with M3 screws and nuts.
The fans came with PC fan electrical connectors so I had to cut that off, strip the wires, and solder them together in parallel.
I printed out 1″ brackets to mount onto the desks. The foam core board assembly will lay on top of these.
I taped these brackets onto the desk as a proof of concept and because I like to avoid drilling/cutting/sawing if at all possible. If I’m feeling ambitious at some point in the future, I will probably screw these in to make the assembly more permanent.
After some fidgeting with the placement of the desks, the foam core assembly sits in the gap pretty nicely. My original intention was to attach the assembly directly onto both of the desks via the brackets, but decided against it for two reasons. First, with the board sitting gently on top of the brackets, it’s much easier to pull it out. This will make pulling the assembly out and replacing the filters much easier. Second, the 3D printer can produce a lot of vibration and usually shakes the entire table. If the foam core assembly was rigidly attached to both desks the vibrations would shake both tables and the computer monitors on the left desk would vibrate whenever the 3D printer was in use. With the foam core laying in the gap it will probably get a little more beat up being hit by right desk, but foam core is cheap and it would be easy to replace.
This is the basic wiring diagram for the electrical side of things
For the power I just wired up an old Power Wheels charger I had lying around. Originally I intended to add another switch and some 10W resistors to be able to select two speeds for the fume hood. I thought that the four fans would be excessively loud and I’d want to run the fume extractor at half speed most of the time. Fortunately, running the four fans together turned out to be surprisingly quiet, so I simplified and decided to only wire up an On/Off switch.
I mounted the button on the front of the foam core assembly in a 3D printed panel. Cutting precision circles in foam core board turned out to be pretty difficult, so using a 3D printed front was simpler.
I was a little unhappy with the metal surface I purchased. The surface was pretty scratched and stained. It also had a curvature to it from being rolled up, something which I didn’t anticipate. I laid it flat and put my two heaviest books on top to flatten it out.
However, after several days of flattening there was still a slight curvature to the metal so I had to screw it into the desk to keep it flat.
The edges of the metal surface were also pretty sharp so after fastening the metal into position I taped down the edges with the black Duct Tape i used earlier. This provided both a nice finish and a way to not cut myself.
Overall I’m happy with how this turned out. It looks pretty nice, and while it could do with some polish it’s simple and sturdy. And best of all it works!