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Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller preview

Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview

Manufacturer: Lamptron
UK Price (as reviewed): Approx £100
US Price(as reviewed): Approx $70

When Lamptron first sent us some early images of its new premium fan controller, we couldn't help but stare in awe. When our Steampunk glands had stopped swelling with delight, and they told us the approximate price - around $70 (with the usual markup for UK shores probably bringing it closer to the £100 mark) it took a few seconds to sink in. However, not for the fact that this is one pricey fan controller.

The important thing to consider with something so niche, is that it's exactly that - a product that will only appeal to a select few people. As such, it will more than likely demand a premium, but if the design is your thing, or if you're case mod or scratchbuild theme demands it, there is very little, if anything, out there that looks anything like FC10.

*Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview *Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview
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All this pizzazz comes from the use of real Nixie tubes - small glass containers filled with gas that, combined with a wire mesh and some power, make the gas immediately next to the mesh glow with an orange discharge. They're not new technology, and have been used for a variety of display tasks for years, most notably in scientific equipment. They're a simple and effective method of displaying illuminated characters.

*Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview *Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview
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With the display sorted, the rest of the FC10 is a fairly standard fan controller. It has no buttons - instead it's controlled using a remote. Included are four 40cm 3-pin fan extension cables - one for each of its 30W channels, and four temperature sensors. Sadly there's no automatic fan control but there are pre-set alarms that sound when the temperature detected rises above 70°C.

*Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview
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As far as actually controlling your fans goes, this is done purely via the remote. You're able to switch between the four fan and temperature channels, with the Nixie tubes showing the temperature of each sensor and the voltage of each fan in turn as you cycle through. In addition to fan voltage, you're also able to view the RPM of the selected fan.

*Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview
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In the top right corner of the fascia is a group of three LEDs that indicate whether the display is showing the temperature (C), voltage (V) or the RPM of the fans (R). Below each Nixie tube are more LEDs that highlight which of the four temperature sensors or fan channels is selected. You're able to tune each fan from 0V-12V in 1V intervals - not quite as granular a range as a dial but we doubt you'd need any more than this.

*Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview *Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview Lamptron FC10 Fan Controller Preview
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The Nixie tubes, as you can see, work brilliantly, and unlike so many things that look good in the dark, they're very visible in daylight too. Our only qualm with the whole affair is the remote. It works well but is very cheap-feeling and flexes easily when pressed - not what you'd expect from a product costing this much. However, if you're after the ability to tune your fans quickly and regularly then something simpler is probably the way to go anyway.

What we have with the FC10 is a product that's quite limited in its appeal, but no less awesome for it. We can't wait to see it strapped to a steampunk project for example, and for specific projects like this, it's probably the best thing since sliced bread, or at least a hunt round the dusty antique shop looking for the usual brass gubbins that normally frequent the outside of such projects. Maybe you like that kind of thing. We'll keep you updated with pricing details and availability and meanwhile, let us know what you think in the comments.

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