Flex 6xxx Fan Replacement

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  • Question
  • Updated 1 year ago
  • Answered
There has been great concern about fan failure and replacement in the fgpa fan speed thread.  That thread has gotten almost impossibly long and difficult to follow.  

The concern of late has been about acquiring fans and DIY replacement.  K2CB has been kind enough acquire fans at a favorable price so acquisition is not a problem.  Replacement is the next hurdle.

 The concern expressed by Flex re DIY fan replacement is the concern about damaging the chip due to the fact that the adhesive is so STRONG.
The other concern expressed by Steve is difficulty replacing the shroud.  It doesn't look too difficult so long as you are extremely careful getting all the tabs aligned properly.

I hope someone (Flex?) will post detailed instructions.  Meanwhile my  4 year old 6500 has been been cruising along with no problems but, in an abundance of caution I have ordered 2 spares.

Hopefully,  Steve will post a failure rate of these fans so we will have an idea how real the concern about fan failure really is.
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Gene - K3GC

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Posted 2 years ago

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Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have a handful of fans left at this time.  If you think you would like to have a spare set on hand, you may want to act soon.  I don't foresee enough demand any time soon for another bulk order, so once these are gone, that's it!  


Eric

K2CB

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N5LB - Lionel

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Eric, I want a set, how much, how to pay , please e-mail me N5LB at outlook.com
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Sergey, R5AU

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Just wanna say Eric thank you !
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Hi Lionel, email sent.


Glad to hear they arrived ok, Sergey. Thank you!


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Pete - W6OP

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Eric, I would like a set if they are still available. You can email me at 
pbourget at mycall.com

Thanks!

Peter,
W6OP
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Email sent.
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Mike - VE3CKO, Elmer

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Can you email me as well. mycall at interpc.ca  I have a us address in NY to send to.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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My email address is in the fan pictures above.
k2cb@comcast.net
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Winston VK7WH

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Eric, I would also like a set for my 6700 if you have any left. Can you please email me details including postage to Hawaii, as I will be spending Christmas with my Daughter. Please email to winston dot henry at bigpond dot com.

Many tnx

Winston
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Email sent.
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Winston VK7WH

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Thanks Eric. Payment sent. PayPal would not allow me to use a non Australian address, so I attached a note containing the HI address

Winston
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Received, email sent. Thank you.


Eric

K2CB

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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have 10 fans remaining at this point.......

Last call for anyone needing fans.


Eric

K2CB

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K6HN

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Received my fans today. Thanks Eric!
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Jerry Gardner

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Eric,

Have any fans left? I'd like two if you still have any. Let me know if you do and what the payment arrangements are.

Thanks
Jerry 
jerryw6uv@gmail.com
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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Email sent.
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have six fans left at this point in time.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Official Response
As you may be aware, the original fans used on the CPU and FPGA parts inside of the shield in the FLEX-63/65/6700 radios have been failing prematurely.  After investigation, we believe that these fans will continue to fail over time in the field (it is not a lot problem).  So while they could be replaced with the same model fans, they will all have a similar MTTF to the existing fan, which includes premature failure.  If you have already or plan to replace your existing fans with the same manufacturer fans, you are likely to experience the same failure rate as the original fans in approximately the same time-frame since it is the same fan from the same manufacturer.
We have a ordered a custom fan from another manufacturer to replace the originally selected fans.  The fans are currently in production and we will let everyone know when they are available.  At that time, we will transition to only replacing fans with the new ones.  These are a higher cost, single-piece fan/heatsink assemblies and so the old heatsink/fan must be removed from the IC before the new one can be applied.  Improperly removing the old heatsink can result in a damaged IC and/or a damaged PCB, both of which require substantial cost to remedy.  While we would prefer to have a field-installable option, we were unfortunately unable to find one.  Your radio will need to be returned to FlexRadio for this service, if required.

We will post here again when the new fans are available.  For most of you, I would not recommend prophylactically replacing the existing fan if it has not failed.  If you plan to be in an area that is remote and replacing the fan would cause an unusual inconvenience, however, you may want to replace the fan before it fails.  This is an individual decision based on your tolerance for being without your radio when it needs to be serviced.

To simplify the service, if you have just a fan issue or need just the fan replaced, we will replace both CPU and FPGA fans, check out your radio and return for a fixed cost of an hour of bench time (currently 99USD).  We always perform a test on customer radios when they arrive in the shop and if other issues are found, we will contact you with any other issues that are found and the cost to repair, if applicable.  This fee is for an out-of-warranty radio.  If your radio is in-warranty and has a fan error message, the repair and return shipping fall under our warranty policy.  

For completeness, please note that we are not aware of any issues in the side fans of any of the FLEX-6000 radios and these fans do not need to be replaced.  The new FLEX-6400 and FLEX-6600 radios no longer use individual IC fans, instead using a single larger, slower moving fan along with mechanisms to ensure all parts receive air.
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Bill W2PKY

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Terrific value, will probably send in my radio just before the warranty expires for the new fans and and checkup. 
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L.Kubis

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Steve, I'm running my 6500 remote and I mean remote. The radio is situated in an unheated Marina building and up to now has weathered the winters well, except for this one, which has been exceptionally cold. To keep the radio operational, I was advised to keep it powered up 24/7 which I normally didn't do for fear of the dreaded fan failure.
So far the radio has kept itself warm and is functioning well. My radio is from the original block of radios shipped.

Since there is no one around the radio and probably won't be for a couple of months and since I can't get to it, how can I tell remotely whether my fans are going or gone? I don't want my radio to be damaged due to excess heat; which might be a little difficult perhaps under these conditions.

I'm operating the radio with my Maestro or computers . I'm connected to the radio by extending my home LAN with Ubiquity wireless units, which are working well in this weather.

Lloyd
VE3ERQ
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Since there is no one around the radio and probably won't be for a couple of months and since I can't get to it, how can I tell remotely whether my fans are going or gone? I don't want my radio to be damaged due to excess heat; which might be a little difficult perhaps under these conditions.

The firmware will shut down if the FPGA and/or CPU are not being cooled sufficiently and before any damage can occur.
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L.Kubis

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Thanks Tim -- will I know at the control point (computer or Maestro) why the radio shut down?

Lloyd
VE3ERQ
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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The client will receive an error message along with a disconnect message.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Lloyd, we monitor three things in the 6500: both fan speeds (CPU, FPGA) and the FPGA temperature.  If either fan fails or if the FPGA gets too hot, the supervisor in the radio will remove power from the radio and allow it to cool (protecting the radio).
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L.Kubis

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Thanks Steve and Tim, at least I know the rig will survive safely. I just hope I don't have this happen, at least for several months.

Lloyd
VE3ERQ
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Philip KA4KOE

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My flex 6300 makes a buzzing noise internally on occasion. I assume it's the fan. It only lasts a second or two. So I assume my fan will fail in the near future.

Philip KA4KOE
(Edited)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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An occasional buzzing sound is not a true indicator of imminent failure.  They could also be dirty and need cleaning (https://helpdesk.flexradio.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001282823-How-to-properly-clean-the-FLEX-6000-Co...)
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K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have six (6) fans remaining at this point in time.


Eric

K2CB

Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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I have ONE fan remaining at this time.


Eric

K2CB

Photo of K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

K2CB Eric Dobrowansky

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All fans have been sold.  Thank you to everyone who participated.

Eric

K2CB

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k3Tim

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Thanks to Eric for finding the replacement fans and making them available!    After ~3 years and FPGA finally augued in.  I replaced both as the other is probably not far behind. It seemed removal and replacement of the cage is easier if the side panel is pulled. The panel is easily removed. In reseating the side one should get all the associated mounting screws in place before tightening them. The fans unbolt and re-bolt easily just be careful to route the wires properly. The RF cage isn't that difficult to replace, once properly lined up the tabs find home properly.. Excess force indicates one of the tabs is slightly out of position and a straight screwdriver blade will help.
With the side panel removed it gives one access to a large heatsink sandwiched between the two PCBs to blow out dust. 

The 6500 radio server is back online and didn't require a trip to the mothership. 

Many thanks Eric!

k3Tim / 7
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W2PP

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I just got my 6700 a month ago.  It was a used unit from Flex.  Was the fan changed there before it was sold to me????

Peter
W2PP
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mikeatthebeach .

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I have 4 extra new Fans from Eric if needed by anyone
Mike
WB6DJI
qrz e-mail me

 I will have a limited stock on hand for $20 each, plus $10 flat rate shipping in the US. Inquire for shipment rates outside the US. If you think you want to purchase a fan

my qrz e-mail is good 

If you want more than 1 fan, shipping only $10

A Flex6700 needs 2 fans
(Edited)
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mikeatthebeach .

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all my fans are gone also
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Manuel Maseda

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Hopefully we will find out the part # of the new fans that Flex is now using that replaces these.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Manuel,
It is my understanding that the new fan FRS is using has an integral heat sink. The fans we got from Eric are replacements that can be bolted to the existing heat sink. Removing the heat sink from the chip is more involved and may not be something we want to do in the field.

So if I’m correct and understand the differences then it sounds like using the fans Eric supplied is a better choice for the DIY repairs. Maybe someone with a different understanding will comment.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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Manuel Maseda

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Agree but It would be nice to see specs on the new fan to see how much more reliable they might be.
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k3Tim

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Sorry if my post causes any undue concern. I believe the fans would have gone for many more years. The rig was outdoors in an area with nothing but fine sand around. An unexpected gust came up and I saw a whole bunch of sand went flying and I figured that can't be good.  Sure enough the next day the fan wouldn't start. Totally expected and not an issue with the fan being faulty.  Be that as it may the replacement was trivial. 

As Al states, the old fan is removed from the heat sink via 4 screws whereas the newer model requires the heatsink be swapped. I wouldn't attempt the later.

_..--
 Tim
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W9SN

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I came late to the party.  If anyone has any of these fans, I'd like to buy some.  I've got 3 of the 6500's.  Thanks!
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Kevin - KS0CW

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I have a pair that I no longer need since trading up to a 6600, email addy is good in QRZ.
Kevin/KS0CW
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SteveM

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Bill -VA3WTB

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If they are the same specs?
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SteveM

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It's difficult to be certain. The datasheet is laconic. I'm not sure whether it has the tach-wire - it does have a 4-pin connector.
(Edited)
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Rick W7YP

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I think ADDA's MTBF numbers are B.S.  I am now experiencing my second fan failure after only 19 months of ownership of my 6700.  It sits in a temperature-controlled, filtered air office 24/7.
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Bill W2PKY

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One original fan failed after just 2 years of use and the replacement fan failed in 3 months. Will have to send radio in for factory repair when the next one fails as I am out of spares. The MTBF IS 8 years.