Sunday, October 25, 2009

20" iMac G4 Mod - BACK SHELF METHOD

NOTE (11/5/11): This was one of my first (somewhat) successful iMac Mods.  While the Surface Acoustic Wave Touchscreen is one of the best I have used, overall this method is neither elegant nor stable and is not recommended anymore.  The wires coming out the "shelf" on the back are not just ugly, but they make this mod very fragile.  This lasted only 2 months when I started noticing flickering video.  The video cable occasionally got caught and when you moved the monitor, it would pull on the controller board.  Eventually it went altogether.  See my "Summary" post for better alternatives.



Like many people I have always thought that the iMac G4 was one of the most attractive computers out there. The computers aging processors based on PowerPC architecture make them difficult to upgrade without re[placing. Because the monitor connects to its controller through a proprietary connector its difficult to use with upgraded equipment. My solution was to put a shelf on the back for the connectors. I then upgraded it with a surface acoustic wave touch screen, its high resolution does not distort the image at all.

For the base, I initially wanted to make it a Core 2 Duo all in one. Unfortunately, there is a lot less space in there than you think. Its very impressive how Apple constructed it. because it was convection cooled, the parts literally stacked on top of each other. They fit together like a puzzle. The disk drive alone probably takes up 70% of the volume in the base. Many people have thought about putting a mac mini in the base, even that won't fit without heavy modification. A mini itx board won't fit either. A nano or a pico board with an atom processor may work, but that is not really an upgrade from the G4 processor. So, I decided to keep the computer separate. I instead put a blu-ray drive in its base to make it an external blu-ray drive.

I added the original speakers connected to a Griffin Power Wave Adapter and now I finally have an updated iMac G4 on my desk. It's connected to a dual booting Windows 7 / Mac OSX Dual Core machine.

You Tube Video

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13 comments:

  1. Amazing! Bravo... it is the holy grail of Mac Mods.

    BTW, the dual-core Atom, is actually pretty slick. I put one in a Cube shell... and I have no major compaints... slight gains, in fact, over the 800 MHz G4 in my iMac...

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  2. Thanks Paul...I'll definitely have to think about putting an atom board in the base especially as they continue to get smaller.

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  3. I 'm very interested in this mod. Do you have a more elaborated journal about how the screen (setup).. also about the soft used ?
    thx

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  4. I'm putting together a guide including a full parts list....I'll be posting it soon. Thanks

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  5. I've posted the guide to getting the wires through the neck. If you are still interested in this mod instead, please let me know and ill post a party list and guide.

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  6. hey
    what do you think about my mod ?
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pgee70utube&aq=f

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  7. Great work.

    Could I beg a favor that is related? I have a g4 that I beheaded to use for a server, but I have inadvertantly briked the OS on it due to a bad update. I'm trying to put the monitor back on, but I took the fan header out of the wiring harness for the neck connector harness. Could I get a photo of the original harness up close, if you still have it? I just need the pinout for what is J13 on the mainboard. It's a 26 pin header. The speaker, inverter cable, fan, and a unmarked 5 wire cable attach to the connector.

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  8. Hey JBerg,

    I like the idea of putting a shelf on the back, to contain all the new monitor cabling. Could you post a few pictures of the shelf to see how you mounted it etc?

    Overall im thinking of trying this mod on a 17" and then possibly placing a small mitx atom board in the base, im thinking by using the shelf idea, i would save some precious real estate in the base.

    Many thanks

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