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Fan-aiming flashlight

  [vote for,

If you want to use a fan appliance (not to be confused with an appliance fan, or any other kind of fan) to move air in a specific direction for ventilation purposes (as opposed to simply using it to blow air over your body), you will sometimes need to aim it quite precisely. My usual techniques are: 1) standing with my head where I want the air to go and looking at the fan—am I looking at it straight on? and 2) feeling the air coming out of it with my hands, and following that as far as I can feel it. Both of these are a bit cumbersome and require walking back and forth, especially if the place where you want the air to go is a place not easily or conveniently accessible to your body, such as a high window or the top of a staircase.

A solution is to integrate a flashlight into the fan, aimed parallel to and ideally located coaxially with the airflow. The flashlight is powered by mains (if the fan is) rather than by batteries. Hold down the flashlight button while you aim the fan, and it will shine where the air will go. A flashlight is superior to a laser pointer for this for these reasons:
- Won't blind pilots, if you're aiming the fan out a high window or otherwise skyward
- Has a wider beam, so you can see the edges of the beam even if there's nothing solid right on the axis or if that point is hidden from view
- Has a beam that noticeably spreads out and diminishes in brightness with distance, showing visually how the airflow will also diffuse over a similar distance (and the flashlight's beam can be tuned by the fan companies to best represent this for each fan model)
- Can illuminate the target area in white light, so you can see what objects are there and where you're aiming the fan in relation to them even in the dark

However, a flashlight has the disadvantage that it doesn't work well for showing the aiming direction in bright ambient light, so maybe fancy fans would have a laser pointer as well as a flashlight, with a separate button. Especially fancy models might project a pair of perpendicular laser lines, which should be easier to find than a tiny dot.

N/A [2019-08-26]

notexactly, Aug 26 2019

Remotely aimable fan A previous idea of mine. These could be substitutes for each other to some extent, but I think this one is more suited for set-and-forget ventilation, while the other is more suited for personal cooling. [notexactly, Aug 26 2019]

Camera view laser cone Camera_20view_20laser_20cone
Similar idea. [8th of 7, Aug 27 2019]

Personal tethered drone bed fan Personal_20tethered_20drone_20bed_20fan
Prior Art [8th of 7, Aug 30 2019]



       See also <link>
8th of 7, Aug 27 2019

       //so maybe fancy fans would have a laser pointer as well//

That would work - if you suddenly discover that you've gone blind, that means the fan is pointing at you.
hippo, Aug 27 2019

       Even fancier fans could have, instead of a laser, either a periscope assembly or a camera and screen, either way showing the fan's-eye view of where it's going to blow.
notexactly, Aug 28 2019

       The problem is that the output from a simple fan isn't a nice laminar jet. It's helical, and rapidly degenerates into a chaotic generalised movement of fluid, which doesn't move cleanly along the primary axis of the fan.
8th of 7, Aug 28 2019

       maybe a Red Arrows style smoke canister would give a more complete idea of the airflow at minimal inconvenience?
bs0u0155, Aug 28 2019

       Another reason to find the pipe and tobacco again...
tumblewit, Aug 28 2019

       // The problem is that the output from a simple fan isn't a nice laminar jet. It's helical, and rapidly degenerates into a chaotic generalised movement of fluid, which doesn't move cleanly along the primary axis of the fan. //   

       …you say, a day after voting in favor…
notexactly, Aug 29 2019

       This makes me think of a fan with another fan at the center of it, and the center fan is kind of like a can, and if it works, a laminar flow making baffle, so you have a fan with a custom airblow shape, it goes from a gaussian to a beamlike stream, adjustably, and further, the user can just aim a laser pointer, or even just make a hand gesture next to something and the fan blows specifically on it, and at the intensity the user prefers.   

       Could be an upgrade to those dyson things.
beanangel, Aug 29 2019

       // after voting in favor //   

       That's not inconsistant; we don't say that it's a bad idea, just that the problem is non-trivial.
8th of 7, Aug 29 2019

       What is required, shirley, is a fan that emits a rapid series of vortex rings - stable, highly directional, and relatively resistant to dispersalization over long distances. A speaker- like generator operating at around 10Hz would provide an invigorating massage-breeze and yet remain pleasantly inaudible.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 29 2019

       For home use, a tethered drone would seem suitable. Same noise as a fan but it could fly around your noggin using thermal imaging to find the hot-spots.
bigsleep, Aug 29 2019


8th of 7, Aug 30 2019

       // a fan with […] a beamlike stream //   

       // a fan that emits a rapid series of vortex rings //   

       You are getting close to describing an idea on my list.   

       Anyway, vortex air circulator fans already exist and are widely available.
notexactly, Aug 30 2019

       I think what's needed is a fan that works as a normal fan, but every ten seconds emits a powerful vortex ring filled with coloured smoke (the colour being chosen from an RGB colour-picker in the associated app).
hippo, Aug 30 2019

       That would be good too.   

       Another thing I realized the other day but forgot to say is that the Vornado 5303 fan model, which I didn't mention in the "Remotely aimable fan" idea [link], has a conical cavity in the middle of its front, covered by a clear plastic piece bearing the Vornado logo. (This can be seen in the [[linked]] picture.) That could be a good place to add a flashlight reflector/lens assembly to that model. Other models of fan do generally have an otherwise unused area there, usually bearing the manufacturer's logo, but the only one I've seen where it's already transparent and seemingly asking to have a light installed is the 5303.
notexactly, Aug 30 2019

       So,...a Light Breeze?
AusCan531, Aug 31 2019




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