Lab plate vortex/shaker from a 140 mm fan

by WaveSupportApparatus, published

Lab plate vortex/shaker from a 140 mm fan by WaveSupportApparatus Jul 6, 2016
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3796Views 281Downloads Found in Biology


I wanted an agitator that could do a bunch of different jobs in the lab, from mixing samples overnight to cleaning grinding beads in bleach. I also wanted to achieve this with a minimum of effort (and wanted others with only basic electronics experience to be able to do the same), so I put this together from a 140 mm computer fan and a multi-voltage power adaptor.

This tool performs two major lab functions: vortexing samples and vibrating the heck out of samples. The platform comfortably fits a 96-well plate, or one of those large square tube racks. You can just as easily use this agitator to mix up hobby paints or food colours.

Video demonstration of this Thing here.

This design is a fancier version of the DIY paint shaker described by Angry Dwarf! Miniatures.

How to use it

You have two ways of adjusting the machine to get it to do what you want: changing the input voltage via the power adaptor, and changing where the weight is located on the fan blade.

Having the weight closer to the center of the fan creates vibration. This is how your phone generates its vibrations, for example.

Moving the weight away from the center of the fan creates slow, circular oscillations, and this is what you want for mixing and vortexing.

I find that the best way to use the machine is to start it at the highest voltage/fastest speed, and then turn it down until you have the result that you want. Especially when your goal is to vortex samples, there's something about working backwards like this that helps the vortex motion establish itself.

Print Settings




0.2 mm


At least 25%


Print all items in the orientation I've provided them. The spring mounts, in particular, must be printed horizontally so that they don't snap when you're fitting them into the springs.


Bill of Materials


  • A long-stemmed screwdriver that can fit through the fan's mounting holes
  • Hot glue gun

Printed components

  • 1 × agitator base.stl
  • 1 × agitator platform.stl
  • 8 × agitator spring mount.stl

For the frame assembly

For the moving parts

  • 1 × 140 mm computer fan
  • 8 × standard PC fan screw
  • 2 × neodymium magnets (or any other weight of 2–4 grams)
  • 1 × 3.5 mm female jack (AliExpress Example 1 or Example 2)
  • 1 × multi-voltage power adapter (mine delivers 3–12 V with a maximum of 800 mA).

For the platform

  • 4 × each of nylon nuts, standoffs, washers, and screws (AliExpress)
  • Grippy surface, e.g. rubber kitchen mat.


  1. Screw 4 spring mounts onto one side of the fan, and the remaining 4 onto the printed base.
    • The fan's orientation isn't important.
    • The flat faces of the spring mounts should be pointing out to the corners of the base and fan.
  2. Attach the counterweight to one of the fan's blades. I used magnets (total weight 4 g) so that I can adjust their position at any time.
    • Heavier weights need to be closer to the center, or else the agitator will be thrown around during use.
    • You may need to hot-glue the weights in place.
  3. Mount nylon stand-offs to the screw holes on the opposite face of the computer fan.
    • These stand-offs keep the printed platform away from the fan blades in case your weights protrude.
  4. Place the printed platform on top of the standoffs, and secure with a washer and screw. The platform will be pulled taut.
  5. Push the springs onto the protruding spring mounts to mate the fan and base together.
  6. Attach the self-adhesive rubber feet to the printed base.


Your fan has 2 or 3 wires; red, black, and maybe yellow. Yellow can be ignored; it controls fan speed when connected to a computer, but we are using the multi-voltage power supply for that.

I wired my fan directly to a 3.5 mm female jack so that I could put a 3.5 mm male on my multi-voltage adapter and plug it straight in. The female jack fits into a mounting hole in the printed base.

Optional improvements

You can place a rubber mat on your platform like I did, which serves to hold the items being mixed and also silence their tapping against the platform.

However, I recommend reusable double-sided mounting strips to really hold stuff down. I use this on my magnetic stirrer and it's fantastic, and if it loses its stickiness you can just wash it to bring it back.

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wow! that's actually pretty brilliant!

Haha I thought exactly the same thing when I found the original video on YouTube. So expedient, but so effective.