Lamp iMac modifications....

miles01110

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jul 24, 2006
19,269
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
Hi-

I just bought a 17'' lamp-style G4 iMac with a dead logic board for the screen, with the intent of doing some fun modifications, just because I have some spare time. There are 2 things I would like to ask you all about. If you reply (and all constructive or humorous replies are much appreciated!), keep in mind that I am fairly knowledgeable about electronics and am good at soldering/wiring. Anything I don't know how to do, I have friends that are professional electrical engineers (my day job is working on the ATLAS experiment for the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva). So-

1) I have a perfect, working iMac G4 that has served me well for many years in the same lamp style with a 15'' monitor. Is it possible to gut the 15'' and put it in the 17''? The fit of the components doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to work and be more or less as functional as the current machine. I might be able to build some spacers or something if the fit is not perfect.

2) What do you think the chances are of me stuffing the innards of a Mac Mini inside the 15'' or 17'' chassis? My main concern is the screen connection. I might be able to jury-rig something so that the wires coming from the neck go to a DVI or whatever port is on the Mac Mini to do it that way, I wonder if there isn't a better solution?

Have at it. If I go through with this, I plan to post pictures and a step-by-step account of the process. Thanks!

Oh, and to the people who will undoubtedly bring up copyright/legal infringements....this will not be for sale. Save your breath.
 

plinkoman

macrumors 65816
Jul 2, 2003
1,144
0
New York
wow, putting a mini in a lampshade chassis. cool idea. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to do it, you would just have to see how the screen is hooked up.

good luck.
 

timswim78

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2006
695
0
Baltimore, MD
I like this idea. The iMac G4 is tied with the Quicksilver G4 as my favorite Mac.

Best of luck to you. I wish that I could help, but I don't have any experience with this and was not successful with google searches on the matter.

Please keep us updated.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
Don't forget, they even made 20" sunflower Macs.

The latest Core Duo Mini with a 20" lamp-style screen would be pretty cool!
 

Superdrive

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2003
762
26
Dallas, Tx
If you come across a working 800mhz or greater logic board that would otherwise collect dust, I would like to replace my current one as the video card is on its last legs. Of course, if your Mini mod works out, I may simply be interested in a copy of your design. Best of luck :)
 

freddyflinty

macrumors newbie
Sep 10, 2006
7
0
Hi miles01110,

Have you thought about swapping out the LCD panel as well? There are 17" 1920x1200 WUXGA panels available on Ebay for $300+

I'm very eager to hear the results of your Franken-iMac :)
 

speakerwizard

macrumors 68000
Aug 8, 2006
1,655
0
London
nice idea, only thing that springs to mind is the I/0 port arrangement on the boards minis straight line, imacs - curved along like case, but im sure yourll find a way around that. ive always wanted to put a mini in a cube case mmmmmm, could even fit in a bigger hard drive there!
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jul 24, 2006
19,269
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
freddyflinty said:
Hi miles01110,

Have you thought about swapping out the LCD panel as well? There are 17" 1920x1200 WUXGA panels available on Ebay for $300+

I'm very eager to hear the results of your Franken-iMac :)
I did think about that, but I don't really need it. I'd be lying if I said I was trying not to waste money (I'm still trying to decide if this is a waste or not- so far I think it isn't), but no need to spend extra $ for something extra extra. Perhaps if this one works out I'll try that :)

Garry said:
Mac mini innards in G4 iMac?

Square peg in a round hole?
Yeah, there is that issue. I took some measurements, though, and the Mac Mini is just a tiny bit bigger than the base of the iMac in question. I wonder how much of that space is due to the casing. The real issue is going to be the height I think. After all, the Mac Mini doesn't appear to lend itself well to being fit inside a dome. Then again, a huge part of the iMac was the CD drive alone. I'm hoping the slot-loading drive will cut down on that wasted space by a factor of 3 at least.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
miles01110 said:
Yeah, there is that issue. I took some measurements, though, and the Mac Mini is just a tiny bit bigger than the base of the iMac in question. I wonder how much of that space is due to the casing. The real issue is going to be the height I think. After all, the Mac Mini doesn't appear to lend itself well to being fit inside a dome. Then again, a huge part of the iMac was the CD drive alone. I'm hoping the slot-loading drive will cut down on that wasted space by a factor of 3 at least.
Also, the iMac's internal power supply takes up space, and is probably still needed for the display--but I THINK it sits top-most and so that might be OK.

One option you have: let the Mac Mini stick out the back a little where you can't see it. It would be REALLY cool to have it all inside, and even connect extender cables to the G4's port-holes, but from the front it looks the same either way.

(And if you take the case off of the Mini, it becomes that much smaller of course.
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,511
8
Behind the lens
howzabout making the lampstand (the foot) into a Mac Mini dock of sorts?

sorta like a blade server's HDDs?

in other words, make it so you could just slide the mini into the front of the lampstand an it would connect to all the ports n whatnot on the iMac, and the screen....

i dunno, but i think its a good idea!
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
Another thought: let the iMac be a hub/dock and display... but with a hydracable going to a Mac of ANY kind located nearby. You'd plug stuff into the iMac ports, but they'd be routed to the "real" Mac.

The iMac then becomes a really fancy display, with the flexibility to use it with any future computer.
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Original poster
Jul 24, 2006
19,269
30
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
nagromme said:
Also, the iMac's internal power supply takes up space, and is probably still needed for the display--but I THINK it sits top-most and so that might be OK.
I'd use the Mac Mini power supply.



One option you have: let the Mac Mini stick out the back a little where you can't see it. It would be REALLY cool to have it all inside, and even connect extender cables to the G4's port-holes, but from the front it looks the same either way.

(And if you take the case off of the Mini, it becomes that much smaller of course.
I plan on taking apart the Mac Mini to make it fit, case and everything.

Good ideas from Sdashiki and nagromme, but my desk would be much cooler looking with no visible signs of a Mac mini either in front or behind the iMac :) I am 75% sure I can find a way to fit a fully functional mini into the iMac....no need to turn it into a dock or hub.
 

mrichmon

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2003
873
2
miles01110 said:
1) I have a perfect, working iMac G4 that has served me well for many years in the same lamp style with a 15'' monitor. Is it possible to gut the 15'' and put it in the 17''? The fit of the components doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to work and be more or less as functional as the current machine. I might be able to build some spacers or something if the fit is not perfect.
This is probably fairly easy and you may find that the 17" board is actually a 15" board with the appropriate spacers already. You will want to find a copy of the Apple service manual for these machines to get some idea of the innards before you open the iMacs. Reassembling an iMac correctly is essential... assembling the iMac mates some heat transfer pipes. If these are not assembled correctly your iMac will function for about 10 minutes before cooking itself to death.

miles01110 said:
2) What do you think the chances are of me stuffing the innards of a Mac Mini inside the 15'' or 17'' chassis? My main concern is the screen connection. I might be able to jury-rig something so that the wires coming from the neck go to a DVI or whatever port is on the Mac Mini to do it that way, I wonder if there isn't a better solution?
The problem will be the DVI connection. Integrated LCD panels typically do not use DVI signalling between the motherboard and the display. You would need to get the LCD panel specifications and then obtain an interface chip/board to connect to the panel. This interface chip/board then converts from DVI to the appropriate signalling to drive the display directly. A number of companies produce these interface boards and sell them on the web. Primarily the market is for people who buy random LCD panels to make into screens or who buy random LCD panels to build into an in-car PC.

Powering the iMac LCD panel might be difficult since I suspect you'd need to remove the iMac power supply in order to properly align the Mac Mini with the CD slot. You might also be better off ditching the Mac Mini hard drive and optical drive and instead using a 3.5" hard drive and full size optical drive in the iMac case.

Given the LCD power and interface issues it might be worth considering upgrading the LCD panel. Buying a new LCD panel from a vendor who will also sell you the interface circuit may end up being a trade off against trying to find an interface that will work with the original iMac panel. You will also need to worry about heat issues for the Mac Mini.

An alternative approach is to gut the iMac, fashion some cabling and and appropriate interface/adapters so that the iMac screen is connected to the DVI port on the back of the iMac and a stack of internal drives (3.5" hard drives, full size optical drive, etc) are housed in the iMac body and are connected to the firewire port on the rear of the iMac. Integrate a usb hub in the iMac and you have an iMac shaped external drive enclosure/screen/usb hub device. If you hide a Mac Mini, or any other Mac under the desk the illusion will be that the iMac is running Intel OS X.

miles01110 said:
Oh, and to the people who will undoubtedly bring up copyright/legal infringements....this will not be for sale. Save your breath.
There are no concerns for infringements either way. A company does not have any mechanism other than patent protection to prevent someone from dismantling or modifying a product after the product has been sold. The only time that patent protection would be a concern would be if you were duplicating the product. (I'm not a lawyer and others may disagree with this interpretation.)

The only concern is that this process would be much aided by getting your hands on the apple service manuals. These manuals are distributed fairly widely to service techs and some levels of ADC membership but are not public. However copies of these manuals can be found on the web.
 

Killyp

macrumors 68040
Jun 14, 2006
3,859
3
I like the monitor idea. You could also mount a Firewire DVD burner in it...

Or turn it into a fan, either way, remember to post pictures...
 

Poff

macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2003
1,258
1
Stavanger, Norway
Hi miles,

did you ever get this project working? Would be nice hearing from you on the progress. I have a 15" imac G4 700 that is getting terribly slow.. but it's still as cool. :D

Would be nice to give it new life..

(btw. does the iMac use 3,5" hdd's? I saw someone writing that in here..)
 

Stadsport

macrumors regular
Nov 9, 2006
162
0
I had this idea a while ago, and after doing some research I found that not only does the iMac G4 use a wonky connector for the screen, but I'm pretty sure the LCD has no onboard image processor. The iMac's logic board handles the picture. :(

Still, I'd love to hear your results if you decide to move forward. The iMac G4 is easily my favorite design for a desktop.