Mod G4 iMac with Intel Mac mini innards?

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

  1. prumm macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2011
    Possible work around...?

    Hey guys!

    First up, I've been part of the 20" luxo/lamp/sunflower/you-name-it club since 2003... and loving it!

    Sadly the old bitty ain't kickin so well anymore. Ultimately, I plan on gutting the 20" iMac, disassembling one of the latest model Mac Mini's (unibody) out of it's shell, put in a USB based tray loading DVD drive (for authenticity), freeing up the two SATA ports for dual HDD (SSD for boot, 3.5" for storage). Will think of a way of relocating the IR sensor + sleep light later...

    As we all know, how does one get the damn screen working?!?!

    One question: this is a bit of a cheat I know, considering we are trying to modify insted of replace... but how similar are the panels in the 20" cinema display and the iMac?

    Not so much to actually swap the panels over, but perhaps the DVI/Inverter controller hardware from the Cinema display could be retrofitted to the iMac panel? The flat connector that fits directly into the panel seems familiar in my more recent work with iMac displays (2009+), perhaps it could be a direct fit? From there, running the DVI/power cable down the arm might be an easier solution than rigging up inverter control.

    Would love to see this problem finally solved. I can't believe a manufacturer hasn't actually come up with a solution for this yet, surely it would be a cult hit...

    The Holy Grail awaits...
  2. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    iMac G4 / Xbox mod

    SkippyThorson - I have never thought about the idea of making a gaming all-in-one. That idea is brilliant!! Unfortunately I do agree with you that as of its current design the Xbox would not fit without a Ben Heck level modification. The playstation 2 seems reasonable. A Game Cube would probably be easiest and there could be tremendous nostalgic value in an original NES with cartridges loading through the iMac DVD slot. Keep me updated!!

    Prumm - check out my post from Feb 9th, it should help you with your questions about the 20" Cinema Display
  3. SkippyThorson macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2007
    Utica, NY
    Excellent idea with the GameCube. Between to the word "Cube", and the measurements (4.3"x6"x6"), I thought it would be perfect and insane to stuff a GameCube into an Apple Cube and make the AppleGameCube. :p ...but that's for another thread. -- Thanks for the kind words. I usually get shot down when I discuss all-in-one consoles.

    I also wanted to tell you, I've made some speedy progress thanks to your blog. Don't ever stop. Your work is great.

    Ok. I'll stop going off on my tangents in this thread now! :eek:
  4. kerberosv2 macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2011
    I different idea??!!

    The LCD that comes in the iMac G4 uses a video cable commonly associated with laptops correct? We want Intel Mac power inside the iMac G4 without losing much of the original design, thus we don't want to HAVE to change the panel...

    Well, my IDEA, and I have NO idea if it will work, is to instead of using Mac Mini parts, perhaps use MacBook parts since it IS a laptop and could possibly USE the native interface to the original iMac G4 screen? If the MacBook board wont fit, surely a MacBook Air board would?

    I know this is an EXPENSIVE route, however, this post has been alive for like 5 years...SOMEONE out there has got to want to power the iMac G4 with Intel Mac hardware enough to spend the dough? (Perhaps eBay has a MacBook(Air) with a dead LCD thats cheap?

    Let me know if this is a do-able idea or not. I work on F-16 Avionics, not integrated circuits and such, but I think this may be possible... surprised no one has thought of using an Apple laptop logicboard yet, since all the fuss was because the signal that the LCD needed was so simlar to a laptop or something like that. (I'm not that electronically smart) LOL

    Anyways, GOOD LUCK! Is still my dream to keep the iMac G4 up to date. I HATE that they left the realm of innovative and creative designs like the iMac G3 and G4 and the PowerMac G3 and G4 cases. The new ones are "sleek" and "simple". I liked Apple keynotes when every time Steve would say "The back of our product looks better then the front of the other guys!" Now its about SIMPLICITY, and not realy artistic value. iMac G4 design = genius. It will be missed if this mod thread turns cold for good.

    **If your listening APPLE, make a "Throwback iMac" doing exactly what the people want! INTEL iMac LAMP!!!!!!!! Beside, you know the Apple community will eat it up...I would. I'll be honest, I have never been willing to shell out the cash for a brand new Mac, usually waiting about 4 years or so to afford one. But if this were made, I'd take out a loan if I had to.. :D
  5. jberg44, Apr 10, 2011
    Last edited: May 21, 2011

    jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009

    Unfortunately, the iMac G4's native panel uses TMDS signaling (of which DVI and HDMI are variations). Most laptops including MacBooks (as far as I know) use LVDS when going from motherboard to LCD panel. LVDS and TMDS are not compatible directly.

    In addition even the 11" MacBook air is 11+ inches wide - this is too wide for the 10.6" iMac g4 circumference even at its widest point.

    There are form factors such as ecx, nano, and pico,as well as companies such as stealth pc, which make mini pcs that will fit in the base. Even a previous generation Mac mini will fit (although you will have to open it to rewire the power button and the getting the drive to work may be difficult).
  6. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Finally got an 20" All-In-One Working

    OK I know its not an a mac mini but it uses the same Core 2 Duo Socket P processor thats in the current line of minis. The board is an ECX board (Keex-4030). This mod uses the native iMac inverter, LCD, and unmodified frame. The monitor works by using the LCD controller board from the apple cinema display which is housed at the bottom of the dome in place of the original motherboard.

    The ECX form factor is the same size as a 3.5" drive. The motherboard replaces the hard drive and boots from a compact flash card. As a result - you can retain the DVD drive (in this case blu-ray). The power bricks are external however.

    The chipset appears to be able to support a hackintosh, but I'm not sure if snow leopard can be used with a compact flash card, does anyone have any experience with this.

    I know this mod started in 2006 with someone wondering if a mac mini motherboard could be put into a 20" iMac G4 to give it new life. This is by far the closest I've been able to come.

    Attached Files:

  7. pubjoe macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2007
    Wow! Well done jberg44.

    Nice solution for the LCD. This may be a stupid question (as I don't know much about this stuff other than what I've read here), but do you have brightness control when using the Cinema Display controller?
  8. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Brightness control

    Thank you pubjoe - I actually discovered the "work around" with the apple cinema displays LCD controller board by accident. The controller board connects to the 3 touch buttons which are found on the side of the cinema display. These 3 buttons are power, increase brightness,and decrease brightness. When not connected to the buttons the controller seems to default to on and maximum brightness when it receives a signal. Originally I was hoping this could be a hackintosh, so I was going to rely on the keyboard/software controls for brightness. (I still hope to get that working). If you wanted to you could wire the brightness buttons (or wire your own) to the back panel of the base to add a hardware brightness control.
  9. RADCOM macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2011
    I've had a broken and a working iMac G4 17" waiting to be modded for quite a while. I haven't read the complete thread but what itx boards Iare being used and how easy is it to get the driver board for the monitor. It would make a nice bedroom TV/PC.
  10. GOOMH macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2011
    I have an old 17 inch 1.00 GHz G4 that has been useless for quite some time, it powers up but gets stuck on the start up screen but that's another issue. I was wondering if I could upgrade it and I stumbled across this thread and have read it all :eek: . it seems to be possible but it still is out of my skill set but if someone put a noob guide for me I wouldn't mind attempting it and putting snow leopard at least on it. So thanks for all your work, I might be able to revive the best looking Mac yet.

    PS I would need a part list with links to where I could buy them.
  11. philipt42 macrumors 6502


    Jun 26, 2009
    Duuuude, that'd be awesome!

    (I disagree RE the simplicity's new designs are the pinnacle of industrial design in the 21st century so far).
  12. a104375 macrumors 6502


    Oct 8, 2007
    Matamoras, PA
    Using the LCD controller from the ACD could you now put macmini guts into it?
  13. Mac OS Bobcat macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2011
    Houston TX
    THIS would be awesome!!! I'd be right behind you in the loan line lol
  14. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Mac Mini inside

    GOOMH - I am in the process ofdoing a step by step guide for the 17" version of this mod on my blog. I am trying to make it as simple as possible for those that need more than just the pinout. See link in my sig.

    a104375 - I believe the old style mini would fit. I am not sure about the new one, if it is as large as the whole aluminum enclosure - then it likely wont fit. To be honest I would never tear apart a new mini to find out. I am upgrading however with a new ECX board, the KEEX-6100, availabe from a company called sliger ( its made by Quanmax and is a sandy bridge 3.5" mobo. It supports the same processor thats in the current generation mini. I just got one and will see if I can put lion on it.
  15. jberg44, Oct 27, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011

    jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Step by Step 17" iMac G4 Native LCD to DVI Guide

    Using a type of DVI connector, I have completed a step by step guide for the conversion of the 17" version to a DVI connector in the base. This can be solder-free and does not require significant technical skill. I hope it's useful and suggestions or any recommendations for improving it are appreciated.

    I've posted it on my blog, but it can be accessed directly here:

    Attached Files:

  16. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    20" iMac G4 Sandy Bridge Mod Running Lion

    Completed the native 20" iMac G4 Mod as an All-In-One with mobile Sandy Bridge ECCX motherboard and core i5 processor. This is running retail Lion (10.7) via tonymac's Unibeast. LCD is hooked up directly to DVI and power source, this does not require any Apple Cinema Display Components or other LCD controller. I know its not a mac mini, but the board works great and stays cool at the top of the dome.

    Attached Files:

  17. tomaszjc7 macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2012
    I've been following this forum for what feels like a few years now waiting for the comments on this topic to change from "it's impossible" to "here's how to do it." We've finally reached this point. The work of Jberg44 (specifically the detailed publishing of his progress via blog) has had a monumental impact on this accomplishment. I just wanted to say thanks for all the hard work to Jberg44 and all those who have contributed to this forum. Now, it's time for me to start searching for an imac g4 to transform. :)

  18. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Thanks to everyone

    Thomaszjc7, thanks for the kind words. I hadn't checked this forum is a while and just saw your post. This thread and it's contributors we're amazing. With most of these projects, you end up getting stuck in something, get frustrated and move on. Whenever I got stuck, I relied on this forum. Thanks to everyone, particularly pgee70 and the "hot plug" trick.

    What I find amazing is that the most complex solutions, such as rewiring everything for LVDS, produced the worst, least reliable mods. The simplest method has turned out to be the best.

    For those interested, I finally understand the 20" native PSU and I have instructions and explanations on using both the 17" and 20" PSU


    Now with a fairly intact iMac G4 - working LCD, PSU etc you can convert it to DVI with well under $50 in supplies.

    Thanks again to everyone in this thread!! JB (dremel junkie blog)
  19. RedTomato, Apr 7, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014

    RedTomato macrumors 601


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Hi DremelJunkie / jberg44

    Many thanks for your amazing posts. I've just been offered a lovely imac g4 17" and I really want to update it with an old mac mini into a netflix display / FaceTime display for the family in the kitchen. (ipads are a bit small for the whole family to see FaceTime with relatives).

    I've looked at inserting a NUC or an Android board, but I think sourcing an old 1.83ghz C2D Mac Mini is the cheapest way of getting both FaceTime and ease of use / familiarity for the family / kids. (I'd prefer a 2.0ghz MacMini cos of the vastly improved graphics but they cost 2-3x more (!) on fleabay.)

    Doing the screen connections is giving me pause. I THINK i can do it, but one problem - many of the images in your guide are missing. I'm pretty much lost without the images.

    Any chance of fixing the images in your guide?

    Thanks RedTomato


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