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gagigu

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 30, 2021
62
231
Switzerland
Hi everyone!

I'm from Switzerland and I'm 27 years old. My main workstation is a good working MacBook Pro late 2013 with 2 30'' Cinema Displays. Back in the days I used to collect old iPods so now my collection is over 30 iPods from several generations (iPod classic, mini, nano, shuffle). My favorites which are still in use are the first classic with 5GB, the 5th generation with 30GB and the last with 160GB. Overall I own several storage options of the iPod classics from 1G-5G.

Why I'm here?
I purchased this iMac G4 20'' 7 years ago as for me it was the most beautiful computer design ever made. My plan was to bring this old machine back to life as it didn't work properly. So 7 years ago I started this project, dismantled everything and then... lost interest and time.

This winter I went back to my parents home and rediscovered this old piece of art. So I told myself over winter holidays I will finish what I began 7 years ago. Luckily I ordered all parts I needed back then.


List of parts needed:
  • iMac G4
  • Motec plugs (or similars as I didn't had any)
  • Resistors (1k Ohm)
  • Female DVI-Plug
  • Different colored thin wires
  • Heat shrink tubes
  • Thin zip-ties

My plan:
Convert this machine to an old jukebox for my living room with side effect of an eyecatcher. I wanted old design with new hardware, so my plan was to convert the TMDS to DVI so it acts as external screen. Later I'm going to put the motherboard of a modern Mac Mini inside the dome of the iMac. In 2015 I bought a Mac Mini late 2012 quad i7 and upgraded to 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD. I know this piece of hardware isn't up to date anymore and doesn't support Mac OS higher than 10.15 but it's still pretty modern and useable nowadays.

My process:
I did the whole connecting together with my father and we oriented ourself to the guide of Dremeljunkie and found also a very useful from Pendleton115 who posted a video on Youtube (How To Turn a 20'' iMac Into An External Monitor). In the end we wanted to use as much from the original iMac hardware as possible, so luckily both guides also used the factory power supply. Big help was the schematics from that Youtube guy as sometimes it wasn't very clear what happened in his video next.

Power Delivery.png


Here are a few pictures of the process. It's not the best quality, but still shows little bit inside the process as we sat there for almost 7 hours until it was assembled back and run proper pictures.

2021-12-27 12.16.04.jpeg


All wires and resistors on that female DVI plug and professionally isolated with hot glue.

2021-12-27 16.51.32.jpg


All wires now connected and ready for the first check if everything works now fine!

2021-12-27 18.42.16.jpg


It works! Big progress and success after 6hrs work (excuse my messy desktop, on my 30'' cinemas it doesn't look that messy lol).

2021-12-27 18.42.20.jpg


Mac OS also recognize it as Apple iMac Display:
565353.png




Final picture in it's now natural habitat as living room jukebox, also with the only matching wallpaper from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger:

2022-01-01 16.32.46.jpg


The iMac is now running connected to the Mac Mini late 2012, which I connected those iMac speakers with an old Griffin iFire I found back then. Beautiful eye catcher even if it's not finished yet.


My To-do:
  • Fixing those signal interference: I changed the 20cm HDMI cable to a longer, now I have a buggy picture (you see it in the darker areas of the screen and also only appears on dark places on the screen like boot screen, screensaver, video etc.).
  • Figure how to adjust background lights to lighter and darker. There are a few wires left of the 4 big wire bundles. Would be nice if I could run it from my keyboard, but a simple potentiometer at the back would do it too. Saw from MacTester57 also this nice solution with that touch panels under the dome. Probably you can help me figure out how to add this.
  • I want to reuse the sleep LED, if somehow I can connect this to the one of the Mac Mini that would be great!
  • Maybe exchange the display panel with one form a iMac G5 20'' as I read in ersterhernd's thread "Esterhernds iMac G5 (iSight 20 A1145) Project" that those panels are quite the same. Luckily I have an old G5 here to use.
  • Put in the mainboard of the Mac Mini inside the iMac G4. I also want to reuse the original audio ports (also the 2.5mm for the iMac speakers) and the I/O power button. On Macrumors I found a thread where someone put a Mac Mini M1 inside his iMac G4 and there commented few people. The guy "PML7554" showed a picture where he used parts of the old mainboard of the G4 and soldered cables for ethernet, sound ports and I/O power button so he can connect it to the mainboard of his Mac Mini late 2014. If someone is able to solder small wires to those ports etc. so I can use it for my project that would be great!
  • (picture attached as sample):
    D743E7BB-5D52-4C96-B7F5-0E1FF00EE634.jpeg
    A613DFBF-6F8D-4731-877B-917D6240209B.jpeg


Many thanks for reading and I'm looking to finish this project as soon as possible with your help! :)

Cheers!

gagigu
 
Last edited:

CooperBox

macrumors 68000
Marvelous job you're doing here! An excellent post! ?
I wish I had a fraction of your knowledge to perform the same, but unfortunately that will never happen.
There's probably no greater fan-boy of G4 iMacs than myself (which you may have read if you're a frequent visitor to the PPC forum of this site).
I have several models including 15", 3x 17" 1.25GHz and 2x 20" 1.25GHz all completely refurbished by myself. I recently installed Sorbet Leopard on one and very impressed with the performance - it has an SSD installed too.:)

My dream would be one day to have one of my 17" or 20" iMacs converted into an M1 Silicon powered rig. I know it's recently been performed by colbyjohn94 who proves it's possible, but technically way beyond the capabilities of the average 'refurbisher' like myself.
I also have the latest 2020 27" Intel iMac which is a fine machine, but in my eyes, aesthetically no match for the early 2000 'Sunflower' G4.
Keep up your fascinating work, and I encourage you to post future G4 related posts over in the PPC forum where you will receive a host of replies and further encouragement from similar users.
 

gagigu

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 30, 2021
62
231
Switzerland
Thank you @CooperBox for your kind words! I'm not that long here so I didn't noticed yet but for sure I will read your threads and your shared experiences.

I don't have much knowledge, I'm only that good as the guide I have :) I decided to go this way as my iMac G4 didn't worked properly and I wanted to bring it back to life even with better hardware. In future there's a Mac Mini swap planned as @colbyjohn94 did it with his M1 Mac. As you maybe saw I'm still using old gear as the 30" Cinema Displays as they're looking timeless.
My future plan is to finish this iMac and maybe to transform it to a media server at home.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
8,321
9,724
Mac OS also recognize it as Apple iMac Display:
No surprise there — there’s an EDID override for the display’s vendor and product ID that does this :)
If you deleted this it would say “Color LCD” (“Farb-LCD”) instead.

Great job you’ve done :)
 
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MBAir2010

macrumors 603
May 30, 2018
5,228
5,057
sunny florida
i had one of these in 2003 and loved the computer, the swivel monitor and the bottom plate won awards for ingenuity that year, then the iMac g5 came out which i thought was ugly and bland.
The G4 igloo i owned on day failed, pinkish lines on the screen after start up indicated a bad Graphic card, so I sold that for $5 to a friend who fixit, (new lithium battery) and took that to costa Rica were that is being used in a medical facility there. so in a way this was a win-win for everyone.

oh
Nice mac mini there, and very sharp set up!
 

gagigu

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 30, 2021
62
231
Switzerland
Many thanks for your kind words!

No surprise there — there’s an EDID override for the display’s vendor and product ID that does this :)
If you deleted this it would say “Color LCD” (“Farb-LCD”) instead.

Great job you’ve done :)
This I didn't know. Would be nice to know where I can edit this text file.


Maybe in future there will be a replacement for the Mini, when M1 will lower their value. As long as via OpenCore Patcher my Mini is still supported it'll work.
 
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Certificate of Excellence

macrumors 6502
Feb 9, 2021
467
792
Wow, that's so cool looking. Great job and I love the asthetic of the imacg4 with the surrounding room :)

I always thought that a neat version of this idea is to turn the imacg4 into a terminal of sorts ... maybe that is the wrong technical terminology, but essentially a monitor+usb & fw i/o+DVD hub plugged into a newer mac to interface with it. Im sure there are some dead imacg4s around that would be a great candidate for such a project.

Again, fantastic work. Really neat.
 

Spock

macrumors 68040
Jan 6, 2002
3,136
6,236
Vulcan
Glad to see these beautiful iMacs getting used again. If my 15 inch ever goes out, I plan on doing this. I just can't make myself kill a functional machine.
 

theMarble

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2020
531
560
Earth, Sol System, Alpha Quadrant
Awesome! It works really well with a Mac Mini it seems :D

I would do this to my 20" 1.25GHz G4 but it works and I don't want to gut it.

Has anyone done with an original revision 15" or 17". Maybe I could get a dead one for cheap and mod it.

How hard was the wiring job?
 

Needleroozer

macrumors regular
Mar 29, 2013
100
110
Awesome! It works really well with a Mac Mini it seems :D

I would do this to my 20" 1.25GHz G4 but it works and I don't want to gut it.

Has anyone done with an original revision 15" or 17". Maybe I could get a dead one for cheap and mod it.

How hard was the wiring job?

Dremeljunkie (@jberg44) has a blog post on this, which lays out all the steps in pretty good detail. I would say it’s not too difficult in the grand scheme of things, but it is also not risk-free.
 
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theMarble

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2020
531
560
Earth, Sol System, Alpha Quadrant
Dremeljunkie (@jberg44) has a blog post on this, which lays out all the steps in pretty good detail. I would say it’s not too difficult in the grand scheme of things, but it is also not risk-free.
Doesn't seem too hard, it will be harder to find another iMac!
 

lepidotós

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2021
558
597
San Diego, California
The iMac G4 is such a classic design, it deserves to get an extended life.
I'm willing to say that the original hardware still has plenty of life left if it's operational still. I know for sure I'm able to do a not inconsiderable amount of work on a G4 tower a third the speed and without the cache.​
 

theMarble

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2020
531
560
Earth, Sol System, Alpha Quadrant
I'm willing to say that the original hardware still has plenty of life left if it's operational still. I know for sure I'm able to do a not inconsiderable amount of work on a G4 tower a third the speed and without the cache.​
G4's are still good machines. I thought they were "super-fast" until I got my G5 DP. Then my definition of PPC fast changed forever ;D
 

Bodhitree

macrumors 65816
Apr 5, 2021
1,176
1,184
G4's are still good machines. I thought they were "super-fast" until I got my G5 DP. Then my definition of PPC fast changed forever ;D

Yeah it’s funny how the definition of fast has changed. I always thought the goal was for computers to be ‘functional with a minimum of waiting’ but in the era of powerpc’s and working with photoshop back then there was still quite a bit of waiting, on opening applications, on opening large files, on running filters, and so on. Then the SSD came along, and the definition of fast changed to ‘smoothly responsive always, with no waiting’ and suddenly it seems like my M1 iMac has an excess of power, a reservoir just sloshing around.
 
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Bodhitree

macrumors 65816
Apr 5, 2021
1,176
1,184
Isn’t it always a matter of what you (are able to) compare it to?

To a certain extent. I think people’s expectations have changed, devices like the iPhone and iPad have raised the bar by being fluent, responsive and smoothly animated. You can see it in gaming as well, people used to be fine with games displaying at 30 fps with a few hitches and dropped frames, while nowadays pro gamers look for 100 fps with screens with great response times.

The whole decade of the noughts was this funny in-between time where people were struggling just with the beginnings of good ux and good fundamentals, you can see it in the evolution of Windows from Win2000 to Win7 over that time, and a lot of apps were going through similar transitions.
 

connor55

macrumors member
Nov 14, 2017
55
129
Edmonton canada
nice work! I just got my 17" G4 iMac running with an m1 Mac mini inside it. I would love to find a 20" chassis someday and update the monitor for this.
 

gagigu

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 30, 2021
62
231
Switzerland
Wow, that's so cool looking. Great job and I love the asthetic of the imacg4 with the surrounding room :)

I always thought that a neat version of this idea is to turn the imacg4 into a terminal of sorts ... maybe that is the wrong technical terminology, but essentially a monitor+usb & fw i/o+DVD hub plugged into a newer mac to interface with it. Im sure there are some dead imacg4s around that would be a great candidate for such a project.

Again, fantastic work. Really neat.
This would be possible. If you don't fit an HDD inside it should've enough space to fit in an external dock so you can only come with Power, HDMI and USB into this "hub" and you'll get enough ports and DVD drive. Maybe in future I can try this with a dead 15" one.
 

gagigu

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 30, 2021
62
231
Switzerland
nice work! I just got my 17" G4 iMac running with an m1 Mac mini inside it. I would love to find a 20" chassis someday and update the monitor for this.
Thank you! I just found your thread and this will be my goal to reach. How did you managed to fit the DVD Drive into the dome and how did you powered it? There isn't much space left once you fit the SuperDrive. I like the solution with the dock! I'm now working with another solution but this will work too!
 
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connor55

macrumors member
Nov 14, 2017
55
129
Edmonton canada
Thank you! I just found your thread and this will be my goal to reach. How did you managed to fit the DVD Drive into the dome and how did you powered it? There isn't much space left once you fit the SuperDrive. I like the solution with the dock! I'm now working with another solution but this will work too!
keeping the drive in the dome was the hardest part of this project by far. But I basically kept the stock layout with the original power supply powering the display and dvd drive, and I put the Mac mini logic board right where the old HDD used to sit. I used the Mac mini power supply on the bottom of the dome under the disk drive along with the usb dongle and other cables crammed under it. The drive is connected to a usb to SATA adaptor and plugged directly into the logic board of the Mac mini And the g4 PSU for 12v. I had to cut away some of the drive chassis as well to make room for cables to pass around the sides of it too lol. even usb plugs and ports had to have the other plastic casings cut off to make enough room.
 
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CooperBox

macrumors 68000
I'm reading this with great interest, and if I ever see a hardware crippled, non-functioning 20" iMac G4 in my part of the world, I'll keep you informed. Imho it would be a great shame to 'trash' a nice, fully-functioning example, but I foresee this happening. As I mentioned in post #2 above, I have a most favourite 20" with SSD running Sorbet Leopard which together with Webkit 604.5.6 integration makes web browsing a real pleasure. Another plus, I also love playing downloaded HD videos on it with Core Player.
 
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dabirdwell

macrumors 6502
Sep 26, 2002
450
17
Oklahoma
Pssst….

Just picked this up in Oklahoma today. Fully functional. And after some evaluation, I have every intention of doing a feasibility study of what it would take to use M series components, and even eventually find a retina resolution display for it if possible. Haven’t decided if I would execute on that, but I really would like to know what’s possible.

I even still have a set of Harman Kardon sound sticks that go with the design.
 

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