MetkuMods
Author: Jani 'Japala' Pönkkö
Published: 01.07.2003
Manufacturer: Bitspower/Bitsmodding
Product group: Modding

Bitsmodding's XPI Fan- and XPII CCFL controllers + Clear Fan Grills

What, three products in one review? What kind of roundup is this? No, not a roundup. While the function of the products differ from each other it felt that they need to be presented at the same time. Both controllers follow the same layout and concept while the Clear Fan Grills add some glamour and bring these two controllers together.

For a long time now the fans are the only part of the computer that have had a control panels for them. In this review you will get to know the first Cold Cathode Lamp controller, XP II. This dedicated device will combine all the separate on/off switches, rheos and sound activated units to one centralized control panel. Before this I will introduce Bitpower's new XP I - Four channel fan contoller that can drive all those power hungry fans with ease. Lets see how they look and perform.

 

XP I - Four channel fan controller

 


Box shot

I really like the way Bitspower have packaked these products. Small and stylish plastic box with dark colouring doesn't stand out too much and gives a feeling of high quality product. On the backside of the packages are the specifications and instruction for hooking up the device. No need to open up the package in store to see how it is going to get connected to the rest of the computer so congrats for Bitsmodding for this.

 


Inside the box

It is nice to see that Bitspower have included extension cables with the product. This way you don't need to spend any extra to reach that far edge of the case. Power for the controller is feeded via a Molex splitter. I'm not sure if there are such devices than floppy power connector splitters put because these devices are 3.5" wide and most likely they will end up next to the floppy drive one could like to use floppy power for these devices. Just a thought. :) Four mounting screws are also included so the package doesn't seem to be missing anything needed for the installation.

 


Inside the controller

Two controller chips are taking care of everything from PWM control to sound effects. Leds used in this model are bicoloured with blue and red. Blue indicates that the fan connector is getting power and red is reserved for malfunctions. User can switch the fan monitoring on/off with a jumper switch and it can be done for each channel separately. When the jumper is removed the contoller will flash red light on that channel where the trouble is. Also there will be an audio warning and trust me, it is LOUD! This to ensure that you will notice the problem with the fan as fast as possible.

Each channel can handle 24 Watts of power (2 A current). Fans usually take around 1.2 - 1.8 W of power so you can see that this controller can handle a lot of load with ease. Potentiometers on front of the controller have dual functions. When positioned to far left the channel will get no power. By turning the potentiometer clockwise the fan will first get 7 volts and on the far right 12 volts. Controlling of the fan is stepless so you can adjust the voltage to anything between 7 and 12 volts.

 


Color choices. Image Copyright Bitspower

XP I is available in silver (plain alloy) and in black color. Because more and more cases sold today are aluminum these color choices make sense and don't think that there would be need to include any other colors.

 

XP II - CCFL Control panel

 


Box shot

Now its time for something different. Yes, it looks like a regular fan controller but it is ment to control totally different devices, Cold Cathode inverters and lamps. Package is almost identical to what we saw on XP I. All the specs and instructions can be found on the backside of the package making it easy to see what you are buying.

 


Inside the box

From the package you'll find the controller that fits to 3.5" slot, two sets of wires for the inverters, Molex power splitter and four mounting screws. Again very complete bundle of components and enough to get you going.

 


Inside the controller

There are several modes supported by this controller:

  • OFF
  • ON
  • Sound Activated
  • Strobe
  • Flashing

By turning the mode selector dial user can select the function he/she wants. Controller will then light up the pots that can be used to control that effect. These controls include speed, sensitivity and brightness depending on the selected mode.

On the upper left corner one can see the microphone that is handling audio input. When audio activated function is selected with mode dial the controller will flash all the connected cathodes according the music or other sounds that are picked up by the microphone. Sensitivity can be then altered with one of the pots.

Lower left corner houses the connectors that are hooked up with the inverters. The package states that it can be used with max. two inverters and four lamps but with separately available Y-cable the amount of inverters can be doubled to four and that totals to eight cold cathode lamps. Should be plenty for most users. :)

 


Color choices. Image Copyright Bitspower

This controller is available in two colors like XP I giving you the possibility to match the color of your computer's case.

 

Clear Fan Grills

 


Box shot


Inside the package

Because the grill kit is based on a round CCFL it contains all the needed components to run one. Molex splitter for power, on/off switch, template for the switch mounting hole, dual output inverter, velcro for fixing the inverter to the case and four mounting screws for the CCFL itself so it can be fixed on top of the fan. On lower left corner you can see (hopefully) the two included fan grills with different designs. What is missing from the image is the CCFL but you can see it on following images. Something missing from the kit completely? Well nothing really. You would think that it could be nice to receive a fan inside this kit too but in the end it is better to leave that from the kit because different users have different needs when it comes to fan noise, amount of air that it moves etc.

 


On top of the rounded CCFL

Rounded CCFL isn't that special because we have seen these in the past. It have mounting holes for 80x80 mm fan but that doesn't mean that it can't be used elsewhere. You can place it on top of your display adapter or on the cealing of the case, you decide. What makes this Cold Cathode so different is that you can attach a clear fan grill to it. Just press the grill against the CCFL and give it a little twist and it is installed. Remove the grill by reversing the procedure. Really easy, fast and no tools needed. Because the package includes two different grills this kind of fast lock/unlock method is needed and in this case works nicely.

 


Different designs

Both designs lighted. Just to remind you, the kit comes with one CCFL and two fan grills. There are many different colours for CCFLs to choose from and they include: Blue, Red, Green, UV, B+G, B+R and B+G+R.

 

Installed

 


Both controllers installed

Both controllers installed and running. Color of the panels are close to perfect for Coolermaster's 210b aluminum case. Knobs on the panels didn't allow the door to close though and the panels needed to be installed a bit further inside the case which actually improved the visual appearance. All the fan channels on XP I have been activated and CCFL controller is running on strobe mode. Strobe? What is that?

 


Video of strobing

From this video one can see two cycles of strobing with brighter setting and one cycle with lower setting. With the lower setting the cathodes light up like they are filling with water. Something that you really need to see for yourself.

Video is offered with two codecs. Select the smaller file if you have DIVX codec installed to save the bandwidth.

 


Painted grill

Something that I had to try. You may remember this fluor color from some of my previous mods and I just had to try to see how well the paint works with these grills. Effect is quite nice with blue color too but when lit with UV light ... wow! I'm not sure if there are any UV reactive fan grills available yet but there really should be and after these images there will be, mark my words. :)

 


Powerfull glow


Everything on

 

Conclusion

XP I - Fan Controller

 
+ Alarm function
+ 24 W per channel
+ Based on PWM (pulse width modulation)
+ Compact 3.5" size
+ Extension cables included
+ Everyone loves blue leds ;)

-

MetkuMods Editor's Choice

It is nice to see that manufacturers still find some areas in these ordinary fan controllers that can be improved. Personally I don't use fanbus, rheobus etc. products that much and let the fans run with the default 12 volts all the time but for some people the noise coming from aircooling is too much. Not all are willing to start using watercooling and for them these products give an opportunity to take control over the noisy fans.

With PWM and 24 Watts per channel the Bitspower have made some right choices. I really can't find anything wrong with this product beside the increased wire count but that is something defacto with all of these controllers.

XP II - CCFL Controller

 
+ Innovative product
+ Several effect modes
+ Compact 3.5" size
+ Everyone loves blue leds ;)

- Default brightness not adjustable

MetkuMods Editor's Choice

This controller offers something that we in modding scene have waited for a long time. All-In-One device that can control all these inverters and cold cathodes. Only thing missing that I would have liked to see is the adjustment for the lamp brightnes with a regular ON setting.

Voice activation doesn't need a separate module like it used to need and the Pat. pending strobe effect looks really great. I can only hope that this innovative product brews more similar kinds of controllers with more effects and possibilities but for now XP II is the latest and greatest offering in this field.

Clear Fan Grills

 
+ Bright CCFL
+ Several colors available
+ Complete kit

- Grills not that bright

This product give some mixed feelings. On the other hand it is a good round CCFL kit with a bright lamp and everything needed comes with the package but the idea behind the product should be around the clear acrylic fan grill. Grills supplied with the package are made out of fairly thin acrylic and I'm not so sure that they will protect your fingers if you press your finger against it and the lighting effect of the grills isn't that great either. Perhaps with some other colors etc. it might be better but in this state it works more like a regular CCFL kit. But like I demonstrated, some sandpaper and paint can really make a difference and I hope that Bitsmodding and other manufacturers try to experince with this technique or UV reactive materials a bit.

 

Additional information

Bitspower/Bitsmodding

 
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