iMac died from electrical shock. Can I salvage it as an external monitor?

ryanoddi

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Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
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A friend of mines 2009 27" iMac died from an electrical shock (he didn't have any kind of surge protection,) is it possible to convert it to an external monitor? He had taken it in and they said it was pretty far gone, but I'm wondering if there is a way to basically gut the thing and repurpose it. He gave it to me for free, so I wouldn't mind spending a little bit of money on some new parts to make it work.

Is there anyway this could work? Or am I delusional?

Thanks!
 

Malus120

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2002
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I'm not a specialist in iMac repair but my guess would be that the first thing you're going to need to do if you want to salvage any of it is to find out exactly what "died" from electrical shock. If you're friend took it to an Apple store, ask if they gave him a repair estimate. If so that should give you some idea of what's broken and what (possibly) isn't. Depending on what's broken you may (or may not) be able to get the mac to work as an external display (for another mac) via target display mode, but my guess is it would be a long shot.
 

flyinmac

macrumors 68040
Sep 2, 2006
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United States
To use it in Target Display Mode would require the iMac to be completely functional.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204592

As for doing it only with hardware by gutting the machine, you'd be required to make a bit of custom electrical interfaces. You'd need someone to design and build what you need.

You'd spend less money just buying a cheap LCD monitor.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,170
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There weren't any 27" iMacs in 2009. 24", yes.

Having said that, and considering that the iMac is now going on 8 years old, it's probably not worth putting much (any?) money into it.

Time to shop for something new, or at least, "newER" ...
 
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ryanoddi

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
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Thanks everyone for the reply's so far!

I'm not really banking on being able to get it to work via target display mode, my understanding is that it would need to be a functional computer in order for that to work.

What I'm leaning towards is figuring out if I can use only the screen so it would essentially be just a monitor. I'm not super savvy when it comes to the internal workings of computers, but wouldn't there be a way to take just the screen and connect it's output signal wires to a female display port?
 

teidon

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2009
413
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The display should be internally connected with a DisplayPort cable. So I guess you could get rid of everything else and connect the display using that. iFixit might be able to save some effort if you don't want to open it yourself to see the internals.
 

ryanoddi

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
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The display should be internally connected with a DisplayPort cable. So I guess you could get rid of everything else and connect the display using that. iFixit might be able to save some effort if you don't want to open it yourself to see the internals.
I'm not too worried about diving in myself, I've actually got the LCD screen removed already but not sure where to go from here. The screen did not have a display type port coming directly off of it, rather a couple of ribbon type connections.

Going to chat with my I.T. guy at work tomorrow, he's pretty savvy with Mac's so I'll see if he's got any suggestions.

Good news (maybe?) was that I finally got the power cord from my buddy today and when I plugged it in and hit power, I got the starting chime sound. He already had the hard drive removed, so no screen activity. But I supposed that it trying to start may be a good sign.

Will keep you all posted if I get anywhere with this!
 

teidon

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2009
413
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I plugged it in and hit power, I got the starting chime sound.
If it makes the startup chime, the CPU and motherboard should be fine or mostly fine.

He already had the hard drive removed, so no screen activity.
Harddrive has nothing to do with screen activity. If the screen stays black, it either means that the display adapter or the display is fried.
 

ryanoddi

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
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If it makes the startup chime, the CPU and motherboard should be fine or mostly fine.
Good to know!

Harddrive has nothing to do with screen activity. If the screen stays black, it either means that the display adapter or the display is fried.
That is a little disconcerting. It did just stay black.

Is there a way to confirm whether it is the display adapter or in fact the display itself?
 

teidon

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2009
413
181
That is a little disconcerting. It did just stay black.

Is there a way to confirm whether it is the display adapter or in fact the display itself?
If it has ports for external displays (I think all 27" models do), you could plug in another display. If that too stays black, the display adapter is dead. You still wouldn't know if the internal display is fine, though.
 

ryanoddi

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
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If it has ports for external displays (I think all 27" models do), you could plug in another display. If that too stays black, the display adapter is dead. You still wouldn't know if the internal display is fine, though.
Just remembered something... While I was removing the LCD, I saw a connection was previously removed. I just replaced the screen and plugged everything in and powered it up. The screen works! It's only a white screen but there is an image of a folder with a question mark inside the folder, flashing. Any thoughts?
 

teidon

macrumors 6502
Dec 22, 2009
413
181
The screen works! It's only a white screen but there is an image of a folder with a question mark inside the folder, flashing. Any thoughts?
My guess is that it means that it can't find bootable drive. Which isn't surprising at all as the hard drive has been removed. If you have any bootable USB drives (OS installation media, live Linux...) you could try plugging it in to the machine. Or just add a hard drive in to it.
 

ryanoddi

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 1, 2017
6
0
My guess is that it means that it can't find bootable drive. Which isn't surprising at all as the hard drive has been removed. If you have any bootable USB drives (OS installation media, live Linux...) you could try plugging it in to the machine. Or just add a hard drive in to it.
Thanks, I should have tried that before asking. I'll try and do a bit more research before asking questions, but I really do appreciate your help so far!!

So I plugged in my bootable usb and it's booting! It asked to pair to a BT mouse and keyboard, all that I have is a BT mouse (typing on MBP). But, I did download an app called Typeeto which allows you to utilize your MBP's keyboard and trackpad as a remote BT keyboard/trackpad for other devices. This allowed me to get to the Utilities screen on the iMac which is presenting me with options to Restore from Time Machine Backup, Install macOS, Disk Utilities etc. This is looking promising as I might have received a functioning iMac for free! Now I just need to install a hard drive and see if I can install the OS.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,498
3,095
A friend of mines 2009 27" iMac died from an electrical shock (he didn't have any kind of surge protection,) is it possible to convert it to an external monitor? He had taken it in and they said it was pretty far gone, but I'm wondering if there is a way to basically gut the thing and repurpose it. He gave it to me for free, so I wouldn't mind spending a little bit of money on some new parts to make it work.
If this happened during a thunderstorm, your friend should have checked his home insurance. Mine paid the full purchase price when my iMac died during a thunderstorm (together with about 200 PCs insured by the same insurance company, I was told). They paid the cost for an equivalent new computer, which would probably have been the cheapest available iMac.