Mod G4 iMac with Intel Mac mini innards?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by casesensitive, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. casesensitive macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Hi all,

    first post, and it's a biggie..
    I have a 20" Luxo/iLamp G4 iMac that I love to pieces, far and away the most beautiful thing I've ever owned, and I've given her everything she's ever wanted, 1.5Gb of RAM, 2x300 Gb HDDs, 16XDL DVD+-RW, the works. However, compressing video is a horrible chore, Civ IV is a no-go, and my little Sony S1 Windoze laptop humiliates Luxo in every operation.

    The Daystar 1.92Ghz G4 looks like the only option for me, but for what will end up costing over $600 I'll get about 20-40% more CPU grunt, not much of a return.

    I've been inside her many times, and it strikes me that the Mac Mini motherboard would fit comfortably in the case, and I've been looking lustily at Meromini Macs that a few folks have put together.
    The trouble is, despite getting the service manuals etc, I'm at a loss as to how I can get my iMac's gorgeous screen to take a VGA/DVI input. The power issue I could get around.

    Any ideas? Anyone know of anyone who's tried anything similar?
  2. cbetta macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2006
    I recently bought a iMac G4 (as an art piece for nexto my macbook) and I love it. I have taken it apart and upgraded some parts (harddisk, memory, airport), but it still lacks some speed for some things I do on my macbook. I would really like to know if anyone is able to fit a mac mini in it's casing. It should fit because a mac mini has laptop hardware while a iMac G4 does NOT.

    Can I ask what DVD-RW you bought to fit in the iMac G4 as superdrive?
  3. casesensitive thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Like any proud Dad would..

    Internal spec:

    Airport and Bluetooth
    Dimm 0 (J22) 512Mb PC2700 RAM
    Dimm 1 (J20) 1024Mb PC2700 RAM (both from
    300Gb Maxtor ATA133 6L300R0
    300Gb Maxtor OneTouch II FW (incidentally, the exact same disk!)
    Pioneer DVR-109, pre-flashed I think (from shop)

    On all occassions, I had no trouble selling on the removed Apple-shipped parts to either PC or Mac owners.
    Yeah, I'm pysched by the idea, I've gone in on 4 seperate occassions (2xHDD replacement, 1xinternal DIMM, 1xSuperdrive).

    I bought a Pioneer DVR-109, which in Panther needed Patchburn3 to work with iApps, but since I moved to Tiger, I haven't bothered, and I burn in Toast all the time. That said, I haven't installed iLife again yet.
  4. wPod macrumors 68000


    Aug 19, 2003
    Denver, CO
    cool idea! i have fallen in love with my mac mini and modding mac minis :) i think it would be awsome to see a mini in an iMac G4 shell!

    check out this thread to see what ive done to my mini. maybe one day if we get enough interest we could have a mod catagory!

    . . . if anyone wants to send me an iMac G4 shell, then id be interested in giving it a go!!
  5. cbetta macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2006
    is it me or dont i see any shop at that site? im from europe so that could be a problem
  6. casesensitive thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Yeah, I'm going to try and pick up a broken/sick 15" Luxo to play with first, at least until I figure out the display connector and psu issues. Then into my 20"er.. are US-based, and ship to Europe, but their shop partner is called Other World Computing on, and they sell guaranteed-to-work drives for any given computer. That said, there's no reason why you shouldn't just buy a Pioneer DVR-109 from newegg or similar, as I've taken the risk out of it by using one successfully. The only tricky part is the removal of the bezel, otherwise the xlr8yourmac G4 take-apart is pretty accurate.

    Beware though, after multiple openings of the case, I ran the thread on one of the sprung-screws holding the aluminium base shielding on, and I had to drill it out!

    Google will have to get me through this one I think..

    I'm going to try and pick up an iMac G4 with a working screen and fried board, hopefully the 21-pin connector will prove to be a re-worked VGA lead (it's reasonable to assume, it uses standard Nvidia gfx chipsets and the external connector is VGA). Even a funky ADC lead would not be an insurmountable problem.

    Is anyone out there half-way qualified to help with this? I did most of an electronic engineering degree before switching to computer science, but it's been 7 years since I soldered at work.

    Anyone want to donate/sell very cheaply a fried iMac? Or even just the display?

    If I do figure it all out, I'll take loads of pictures and write up a full how-to. Any help much appreciated!

    The TDMS cable referred to in the Apple docs defintitely a digital signal cable, which means it's some sort of DVI connector (or ADC, which is essentially DVI).
    ADC pinout:
    Display connectors:
  7. cbetta macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2006
    Nice work on the researc. Your entire story got me thinking about something else: mounting a 20" screen on a 15" base. I have the option of buying a cheap 20" screen, but I wonder if it is possible to be fitted on a 15" base, do you have any idea on this?
  8. casesensitive thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Interesting idea alright.. I know the arm in the 20" one is way stronger, and the base is heavier to account for the extra weight of the 20" screen, so if you did get the 20" screen attached, you'd have to add 'balast' to your base to stop it falling over!
    Also, the Geforce 2MXs in the first and second revisions (700/800Mhz) are only capable of outputting 1024x768 even to external monitors.
    Which would look yuck on a 20" widescreen monitor..

    Sounds like a bit of a downer on that one really.
    I've been reading a fair bit about the ICs that drive the 20", which are on the logic board and not in the monitor and it looks like if I do get it working, it'll only be at the native resolution, which probably means no games :-(
  9. pmackin macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2004
    Chennai , India
    the sony dru-810a and 820 work fine on the flat panel imac.. just plug them in an you are ready to go.
  10. pmackin macrumors member


    Oct 25, 2004
    Chennai , India
  11. casesensitive thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Yeah, I actually bought a CD from EBay with all of those service manuals for every Mac 'puter ever made (with free updates, but naturally, I lost the ftp details), including my 20".

    Unfortunately, the only teach a repair monkey how to *replace* parts, not fix/mod them, so beyond describing them as a TDMS connector and power inverter respectively, it's not very educational..

    I think 'black-box'ing another corpse is the only way I'm going to get the info I need :-(
  12. Jovian9 macrumors 68000


    Feb 19, 2003
    Planet Zebes
    This is something that would be great to see done as my favorite Mac of all time is the iMac G4 (I've owned 2 but no longer have them). Though I'd really love it if someone figured out how to completely gut it and put the innards of a MacMini Intel in it. Then I would probably buy one and have that done or do it myself :)
  13. sunfast macrumors 68020


    Oct 14, 2005
    I have an iMac G4 and would love to make it gorgeous on the inside too. Sadly it doesn't get a look in these days as my MB just embarasses it.
  14. furious macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2006
    the only problem i would foresee is the monitor and its connection to the mini logic board

    everything else should be a sure thing :confused: maybe USB issues but you could make a walk-around in the form of a USB Hub
  15. ericarthur macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2006
    I've been thinking of doing the same thing for some time with my 15" 800Mhz G4. Have you had any luck on the video front? I've had a look around inside and can't see any other problems with the upgrade - has anyone else spotted any?
  16. casesensitive thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 14, 2006
    Not really, the building of an interface between a DVI output and the quirky internal arrangement of my iMac has defeated me thus far. That, and the arrival of C2D 24" iMacs didn't help, I'm close to buying one..
    If I could pick up a cheap Mini solo, and a dead iMac (even 15"), I'd get going, but for now, my iLamp is frustrating me with it's lack of oomph (4.5 hours to rip a DVD to FFMpeg in Handbrake). I may just make it a secondary PC when the new baby arrives :-(
  17. kgarchar macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    I'm kindof looking for the exact opposite. I want an iMac G4 with a broken screen so i can use the VGA out and get maybe a 19 in widescreen monitor and possibly mount that on the display thing. Let me know if anyone has a 1GHz or more G4 with a messed up screen. I'd be willing to buy it.
  18. nickelbackmac macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2006
    Jonesboro, Arkansas USA
    So, you're putting the Mini in an iMac G4 case?

    Maybe when I get my next Mini I'll do that.

    But 1 question: How will the Combo/Superdrive work? If you're putting the Mini inside the shell, are you going to cut a hole for the optical drive, or somehow use the tray-load on the iMac?
  19. cbetta macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2006
    hmm, that is a good question. can't the iMac superdrive just work instead of the mac mini drive?
  20. acmeaudioeng macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2006
    mac mini's with the Intel CPU are serial ATA, the older imacs (g4) are ide/ata, I'm thinking there might be a small issue, but not possitive... I havn't tried anything like that (cross breeding my PPC's and Macintels)... some one shoot me the details if they get the bugs sorted out... dying to do the same with my G4 imac and a mew mini.
  21. Modjo macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2005
    Now this is a thread i hope will stay alive.
    I own a 15" G4 iMac 800 and i'll never ever get rid of it. It's just too beautifull and nifty.
    I've upgraded it to the max RAM etc, ... but is starting to become obsolete.

    I'm no electrician or engineer, but i'm quite handy with things like this. So if anyone succeeds in pulling this off, please explain how it's done!

    I don't have the skills to figure it out myself, and it's still my main computer so i can't mess around with it.

    How sweet would it be to put a (soon te arrive) C2D with some 3gs RAM etc. in a design like that!

    btw: those ide to sata adapters allready exist. They aren't too big, but size isn't something there's plenty of in an iMac.
    The combo/superdive shouldn't be a problem, if i have to i'll remove the mechanism so the "door" will just fall open if something pushes against it at the back, i'm willing to do so.
  22. MatthewCobb macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Me too. Still have and love my G4 anglepoise (see sig), but, as with many other posters, would like for-the-rest-of-us outline for how to mod it. The most I've done on any Mac is replacing RAM, superdrive and keyboard (easy-peasy). I think this sounds complicated!
  23. cbetta macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2006
    I think the real bottleneck here is finding a proper way of connecting the iMac screen to the mini mainboard. If someone can figure this out, I can make a noobs-tutorial for the rest :D
  24. Poff macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2003
    Stavanger, Norway
    There was a thread on this a little while ago. Should be on page 1-2-3, I guess. I believe you'll have to get a new screen, since you'll probably have a problem communicating with the screen allready in the G4.

    I have a 15" imac, and a 1600x1200 screen in there, together with a mac mini, would be great! :cool: :D

    Edit: see this thread.
  25. reinchic macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2006
    17'' panel on a 15'' imac

    I too love my 15'' 1Ghz imac and was wondering about the possibility of putting a 17'' screen on it in the future. I was going to sell it to help pay for a MBP, but alas, it is too beautiful and everything is so square and boring now. I'm not an engineer by any means, but my family members are, so if anyone out there thinks it would be feasible, I'll start hunting for screens and instructions!!

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