using an automotive (12v) actuator to move a set of baffles infront of a fan?

Hey guys, I’m new to the forums. I’m simply looking for expert opinions of if what I’m hoping to do is feasible with my chosen parts(mainly the 12v door lock actuator, it’s what I have on hand], or if there’s a better way to go about it.

So I have this huge, and very powerful floor standing fan I use in the garage in the summer.
[note this isnt mine, just a similar image I grabbed off google]

It moves a huge amount of air and most importantly it was free (had to put new bearings in it)! However it can be a bit much blowing on a single thing, and if you do happen to want that much air on you while you’re working you have to move it around to keep it pointing at you. I thought about ways to do this for awhile now and I found this 7gal bucket that I cut the bottom out of (for something else) but I HATE to throw anything away so it’s sitting next to the fan when I notice it’s pretty much made for directing the air around (it’s pretty much a huge EDF like in my RC hobby).

So what I’m wondering is, if I build a wishbone frame for this thing with something like a piece of rod to hold it in place (it pivoting side to side on the X axis to direct air around) will I be able to direct it back and forth (slowly) with a random door lock actuator I have laying around (and an H bridge and then obviously a power supply) and run it either from an arduino or even a ATTiny13A or tiny85? Depending on if the door lock linear actuator will work[or if I have to actually spend money on this on some other type of motor / actuator] I’m thinking either just make it sweep back and forth at a predefined speed (using one of the ATTiny’s), or if it will work with the DLA then I could possibley go more advanced and give it the ability to either track movement (probably ultrasonicly) or even be remote controlled (either of those would be arduino based). I understand the programming side of it, what I’m unsure of, and am asking here is whether the linear 12v automotive DLA will be able to move it, and provide the slow sweeping movement I’m after or if not what sort of (as cheap as possible) motor / actuator / servo I would need to do that? Maybe some sort of rotary servo would be better (the linkage would be a bit more advanced, also not an issue)?

Thanks in advance guy’s. I hope I have provided enough info to get a basic answer, I understand stuff like the code and figuring the power requirements at stall and building the physical mechanism, I just dont know if the DLA can be controlled in a slow and continuous manner like I need.

That is too small for a fan duct. When you want to know what air flow does, see the air as syrup. Moving air pulls/drags surrounding air with it.

The easiest board to start with is the Arduino Uno. Don't be tempted to use an ATtiny ::)

Can you make a drawing of the wishbone construction ? What kind of DLA do mean ? What is a DLA anyway :confused:

My first idea is to set the fan on a pole. The pole on a bearing. And a servo motor with a lever to rotate it.

Difficult to see from the pics you provided but many of those fans already have an oscillating mechanism built in.

Hello, thank you both for your response. The fan I have is old (like I mention I got it free non-working and rebuilt the motor to get it running again) and doesn't have any sort of built in pan/tilt (not broken, as in not present at all) so the easy solution is out the window.

Right I realize the bucket isnt ideal but I've been testing with it and it's the best I've found, I tried one (even several) straight baffles, that worked no better and would require much more advanced linkage than the bucket. I'm not looking to use this as a motor to power anything, just blow air around in a little wider area that when it's stationary. Again not that I'm disagreeing this isnt the ideal way, it surely isnt, but it's what I want to do. I did consider moving the entire fan but it's large, heavy and very wobbly (before being delegated to my garage it was a barn fan for years and it shows it's age). Also the large blades are quite heavy and rotate VERY fast providing for quite the gyro effect requiring even more force to yaw it [as a whole] around. (Yaw for lack of a better term).

DLA = linear Door Lock Actuator

I've not been able to find any examples of people using them in such a manner (a slow, controlled movement), only quickly moving from full extension to full retraction. Looking at it more now I dont believe it will be possible as the simple 2-wire DLA doesn't provide any sort of feedback. I dont think this will be possible to do with one. I think I'll look into the smallest (cheapest) rotary servo I'll be able to use...

I will keep this thread updated, I'm excited to get this working before it's hot out. I'm busy tonight but I'll also sketch up the type of wishbone fixture I'm picturing to support the "duct" and post it here ASAP.

A linear actuator uses a large current. I would use a DC motor with a gear, or a servo motor (that's also a DC motor with a gear).