Feedback active noise control (ANC) has been applied as a means of attenuating broadband noise from a small axial cooling fan. Such fans are used to maintain thermal stability inside of computers, projectors, and other office equipment and home appliances. The type of low-level noise radiated from axial cooling fans has been classified as harmful to productivity and human well being. Previous research has successfully implemented feed-forward ANC, targeting specific narrow-band fan noise content related to the blade passage frequency (BPF) of the fan. The reference signal required for a feed-forward algorithm limits its ability to attenuate much of the noise content; however, it is also desirable to reduce broadband fan noise. Feedback control is a logical alternative in the absence of a valid reference signal. The fan used for this research was mounted in one of the six aluminum panels that constituted a mock computer case. The fan was surrounded by four miniature loudspeakers as control sources and four small electret microphones as error sensors. A feasibility study was conducted with a single channel of analog feedback control. However, for the majority of this research, the ANC algorithm was executed on a digital signal processor. Several electronic modules provided the necessary signal conditioning and conversion for the process. A method is proposed and validated for predicting the overall attenuation that can be obtained for a specific fan, based on its autocorrelation measurement. Studies were performed in order to determine the difference in performance between static and adaptive controllers. Comparisons are made between decentralized and centralized controllers, the results of which are presented in this thesis. Feedback ANC is demonstrated as a good alternative to feed-forward ANC for the reduction of BPF related tonal fan noise content. Some low-frequency broadband attenuation is achieved. The delay time associated with current DSP technology is shown to be too long to effectively attenuate flow noise (the main component of broadband fan noise). Adaptive control proved to be necessary for stability and performance in the feedback controller. Decentralized control is shown to outperform centralized control for this specific application.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Physics and Astronomy



Date Submitted


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active noise control, feedback, cooling fan, noise