Project: iMac G4 Touchscreen Jukebox/Photo Frame

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by oneoftheelect, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. oneoftheelect macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2010
    (I first posted this in the iMac G4 upgrades thread, but have decided to give this its own thread, after a kind suggestion by OrangeSTVguy)

    This is going to be a bit long....

    I have been thinking for sometime about adding a touchscreen to an iMac G4. It's a beautifully built machine, and the floating display and slick design seems like a perfect candidate for a living room digital picture frame.

    There needed to be a way to display the family's now large photo library. Looking at current prices for digital frames, I was rather disgusted, and I thought with an entire computer, there'd be so much more room to tinker and play with.

    So I got an old iMac G4 (15inch, 700mhz). Popped in an airport card. Set up a few sync-able folders across the computers in the house (first through Windows Live Mesh, but now through Sugarsync), for easy updating of which pics are displayed.

    It was nice. It sat in the corner. It showed photos beautifully (and time and date with some geektool scripts and tweaking). But I wanted more. So i decided to also make it a jukebox, and some sort've 'internet appliance' if you will. A touchscreen was just demanding to be added. And thats where my real project has started:


    I had considered just putting the touch screen over the entire lcd+bezel and then getting a matte shaped like the white bezel to go on top. I decided against this- i wanted to preserve/showcase the imac as much as possible.

    I followed the iMac g4 service manual guide to take apart the screen's unit.
    It's not too difficult to get the lcd by itself, though i'd recommend going slowly.

    Theres especially one part, where the manual warns about breaking a ferrite bead that is on the video connector. It really is pretty fragile - I broke it.

    After securing the lcd unit by itself, I thought the front bezel (the white rim which has the "iMac" written on it) would simply be able to be unscrewed from it. Unfortunately, thats not how the bezel is joined: instead, its glue and more importantly, plastic tabs that are hardened/connected onto the lcd's unit.

    You have to break the tabs to get the bezel free from the lcd. I used a small credit card to slip inbetween the bezel and the lcd unit, sliding it along, and using it as leverage to 'pop' the tabs off.

    From there i referenced this site's guide to the touchscreen installation:
    (it was the exact same kit components the most part too...must be manufactured from the same place)

    After cleaning the lcd, i placed the touchscreen on top. I didn't bother using double-sided tape here, as the glue left behind (to attach to the bezel) was still strong enough to hold it well (also, less bulk).

    The wire for the touch screen comes out the left side of the screen....I suppose I could pass it through the neck of the mac, but to be honest, that is far more work than I bargained for- and the neck is not easy to work with at all.

    I sanded down the tabs on the bezel, put double-sided tape on the back of it, and stuck it to the touchscreen after testing it out.

    Of course, with the added bulk of the touch screen, there are a few sacrifices.
    1) Something I wasn't aware would happen/didn't even think of: the weight of the lcd is so precisely tuned for the neck... This means I can only keep the lcd in the top most position, or it must stay at the bottom- it cannot be held inbetween, it will slide down (and if placed high enough will crash down).
    2) There is a space between the front bezel and the clear siding/lcd....I plan to place a matte around the edges of the bezel to keep dust out and for a cleaner look.

    Notes: I had to go searching for the correct driver, the one provided kept crashing on the calibration: i found the right one here: (I used the Mac osx driver version


    I had Leopard installed first...I wanted the touchscreen to work with frontrow ...but there is absolutely no support whatsoever, so my second choice is xbmc, which runs alot smoother on tiger (for me), so I reinstalled tiger (which is a bit zippier anyway).

    Theres only really one skin that works well with xbmc for touchscreen at the moment (that I've found), and its the new default, 'Confluence', since it has the back buttons for easy navigation use. However, the skin does not look the greatest on a 4:3 display.
    So, I'm still looking for solutions here (suggestions please!). In the meantime i'm using itunes, and I love that when I come home it can see/share my macbook's library. iTunes would be a great solution byitself, if only coverflow worked over shared libraries. (having to use the list view isn't a pleasant touch experience)

    I've just discovered DragThing, and am planning on putting a 'drawer' at the bottom of the screen, for a slick way to access the dashboard, itunes, xbmc, safari, and address book.

    Sorry! I don't have pictures of the finished unit besides this crappy pic taken with my phone in low light.

    I'll get back to the project in another few weeks (and hopefully add a few videos). Please, feel free to give some advice/suggestions, or ask questions!
  2. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    That's an amazing project.

    I agree... the G4 iMac Table Lamp design is just begging for a touchscreen and it's hard to imagine a better advanced digital picture frame.
    I'm sure you'll find a way to adjust the neck pivot thing.

    Have fun,

    PS. I did something a lot simpler to an old G5 iMac.
    Just loaded up old pictures and some Garageband loops, set iPhoto '08 to screensaver-like mode, pulled the keyboard and mouse, then showed my 81-YO mother how to press the "Power" button.... (set for "Sleep").
    Instant, easy digital picture frame with music and a stunningly bright, clear display for old eyes.
  3. oneoftheelect thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2010
  4. zjrhens macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2004

    I am looking at doing the same thing with a 15" iMac G4. Do you have any suggestions before I get started. If you were to do it over again what would you have watched out for or done differently?

    P.S. where did you purchase your touchscreen at?

  5. oneoftheelect thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2010

    Firstly, I would've been even more careful with that ferrite bead...since I broke it. But, it hasn't changed performance, so I guess it doesn't matter too much.

    Also, I would have made a matte to frame/cover the gap between the bezel and lcd unit (caused by the touchscreen panel's added thickness).

    If I really had the ability, I would pass the touchscreen wires through the neck.

    I bought the touchscreen kit from an ebay seller - "Race-buy". I got the 15inch 4:3 ratio kit.
  6. jberg44 macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Fix your two small problems

    I have done a very similar mod with both the 20" and 17" iMacs. You are correct that the neck is intended to carry only the weight of the imac screen itself. This is exacerbated by the fact that the weight of the touch screen is entirely front loaded causing what I call "monitor drift". If you are comfortable I would recommend getting a 17" neck opening it and putting all the wires for the 15" through the neck and at the same time wiring the touch screen through. (I'm sure you can find some place in the base that could accommodate the small resistive controller)..
    I have converted the 17" iMac to an external monitor (with the monitor components in the base) and the same exact resistive touch screen and wires going through the neck. I have detailed how to open the neck and get the wires through on my blog.
    Again, I think your mod is excellent the way it is, but I'm confident that the 17" neck can accommodate the added weight of the touchscreen and at the same time you can wire the touchscreen through the neck. I've detailed the process at:

    Again, excellent work!!

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