Sunday, April 11, 2010

17" iMac G4 LVDS Conversion - Video

Video of 17" iMac Mod

Here is a video of the mod in action.  I have connected it to a small mini itx computer running Windows 7.  As I said before, I do plan on getting a mac mini for this mod eventually.  I wanted to get a general sense with how the leopard user interface would work with a touchscreen, so I skinned the computer to look like leopard (using Rocketdock and Apple Icons).  The user interface works great.  Having the dock makes selecting programs easy.  With this networked computer I am only a few touches away from my entire home movie, picture, and music collection.  In addition, using Webtaps for firefox allows me to rapidly select videos from internet sites such as hulu.

To complete the look I am using the iMac G4's original keyboard (I like using the wired keyboard because I plan on concealing the actual computer, this gives me two easily accessible USB ports).  I have also added the magic mouse and the USB griffin powerwave adapter which allows me to use the iMac's original Orb speakers.

I hope that this blog has and will help with similar projects.  For myself, I have decided to next work on an ATOM/ION G4 Cube mod.  Similar mods to this have been done, but I think having a slot loading bluray home theater pc (capable of HD output) in the shape of an apple cube would look great in the family room.  Also, I hope to get back to a multitouch table that I had been doing some work on.  So one mod done and on to the next......

23 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do you have Windows 7 Premium or Ultimate? Both of them with Windows Media Center would give you a lot of functionality including Netflix integration (if you have a subscription) and an online video front-end. Also, the free Hulu desktop software and Boxee would give you all the access you need to online media with their 10' interfaces (which is ideal for touchscreen). Boxee is especially great with all of the "apps" for online media.

    ReplyDelete
  3. sweet mod. what kind of resistive touch screen are you using? how much did you spend on it? I'm interested in doing something similar.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mados, thank you for the tip. It's running windows 7 professional. I have never myself use boxee? I was thinking about xbmc, would you recommend boxee instead?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jon and everybody,

    Just some info: I am finding it extremely difficult to find information on the right monitor to use for this iMac modding, basically here in Italy it's impossible to find 17 inch monitors nowadays especially with A/R 16:10.
    Found one in Germany, altogether 50 euros, model Hanns G 171A with just VGA/D-Sub input, small power board; in fact same one as per Jon's used monitor, very tiny video board around 4cmx4cm, again with just D-Sub input. The issue here is that I was unlucky and the video board uses Flat Flex Cable (UL20624) paper-thin;30 pin -12cm long, for the LVDS signalling. Oh well...I do not mention how frustrated I am now!!! I've been trying to find one of these cables at every door shop I could knock on, found some sites selling it on Alibaba - as you know it's difficult to get just one or a few in case of modding mistakes from those sites.
    I wonder if anyone here is able to highlight a solution to extend this cable. I thought of cutting it in half and solder wire to the pins would be a very difficult task to accomplish; I am sure, but ready to give it a try, or having some type of connector and solder the wire to extend it. I would need a few of these cables to try the above, but where can I buy them??? Any information from you would be much appreciated.

    B4N,
    Roger

    ReplyDelete
  6. Roger, I have a friend who extended one of these for a carputer. Myself I am much more comfortable with actual wires - but if you already have the monitor and you've already opened it you might as well give it a shot. I'm pretty sure he used kynar wire to extend it, but LVDS cable or some of the existing iMac neck cables may work too. He cut it in half and then used fine grit sandpaper to expose the actual wires in the ribbon cable. Then he just used a touch of solder per wire and wrapped it up.
    The other thing that may help is to find a pin out of the monitors cable online, its unlikely that all 30 wires are actually being used, my 17" used 22 wires and the 20" used 27. 8 less wires to solder at each end is pretty significant.
    Also, I have an estimate for you, I'll send it to your email. Hope all is well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Absolutely amazing.

    My wife loves her old 15" g4 iMac (she purchased it on the first day it was available) to the point of obsession. Unfortunately I have to support it.

    I've built many a hackintosh, and I wanted to take the guts from a netbook or a mini itx mobo and throw it into the g4 but in researching this, the whole getting the monitor to be useful, ie take a dvi connector are way beyond my abilities.

    Would you consider selling your services to basically repeat what you did? I'd love to start with a shell that takes DVI and turn it back into a usable mac.

    Would be a killer anniversary or birthday present for my wife.

    Thanks.
    -Dale

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dale, thank you for the compliment. I have never experimented with the 15", but there may be a way to hook it up to DVI natively. I'm not exactly sure how the inverter works on the 15". But, this would not work on the 17" and 20". I was planning on getting a 15" and playing around with it. In the mean time check out this thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?s=1e154610c3c7f4db7de36f892c8c47d1&t=224698&page=9

    Let me see how viable this is. If it works out easily - it may be easier to do this for you. Keep in touch and I'll let you know how it goes.
    And just to be clear all you need would be the DVI connection correct? Would you want a touch screen? Would you require just preparing the neck or need the entire computer?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Actually, I'm bidding on a 20" imac on eBay. I'd like to mod that one. You could have our 15" version to play with as partial payment if you like...

    And to be clear, I just need the screen to work with DVI or VGA so that I can build my mod in the base.

    ReplyDelete
  10. which I guess is like saying "I just need the planets to all dance around for my personal enjoyment"...

    ReplyDelete
  11. JBerg!

    Just wanted to report back on my 15" imac touchscreen mod! I finally got those wires through the neck, one struggle at a time, soldered pins on, put the housing on the ends, connected them to the controller, taped the controller in beside the bios battery, wired the usb out the bottom fan exhaust, installed drivers and got everything working, all original apple hardware!

    Thank you so much for your help!!! will post a video soon! I'm also writing a touchscreen friendly front end to itunes if anyone is interested!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Really cool mod. You should make a tutorial and put it up on instructables. I have a G4 and I really wanted something to do with it, this looks great. Were you able to use the iMac LCD for anything?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I absolutely love this mod. I was looking into doing it myself, and was wondering what kind of touch screen kit it is, abs whether it is multitouch capable. Thanks, George.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Erik and George thank you very much. I haven't done anything with lcd - I believe it works, but since the computer was DOA I can't be sure.

    Unfortunately this is not multitouch capable. It uses a resistive touch screen. This was an issue of cost. Because such a thin bezel could not fit ir lights and sensors you would need a multitouch capacitive 17" overlay. A company like 3M sells them but they are several hundred dollars (unless you buy in bulk) vs. $60 for this touch screen. So there is really no reason why you couldn't use a multitouch overlay, but they are pricey. That said capacitive screens are getting cheaper and other technologies are gaining multitouch capability so in a few years upgrading should be much more reasonable.
    If you have any questions just let me know

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey JBerg. Got my 20" imac g4... any thoughts of the odds of getting that connector to talk DVI? I'd really like to hack a nice little miniITX hackintosh into the base.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Unfortunately, its not just a matter of a connector, all the wires in the neck need to be changed. Plus, it depends on which LVDS monitor you plan on using.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Amazing work, sir! I'm currently working on a G4 mod and I've got a couple of questions about the neck that I haven't been able to find answers for anywhere online - I'd really appreciate being able to bounce the q's off you if you've got a couple minutes - unclenoah@yahoo.com Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm looking to do something a tad different, though probably with many of the same elements. I want to use the 20" display on my G4 iMac as an external display for a Macbook Pro. It seems the video signaling to the iMac's display is in the TMDS format, which appears to be consistent with the DVI spec. So...if I use the iMac's power supply to power the display, and remove the iMac's video wires from the mother board and route them to an externally mounted DVI connector (matching pin locations to pick up the TMDS signals from the Macbook), and connect via DVI cable, shouldn't that work?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello Mdot270 - yes the signal is tmds which is what dvi is based on. The pin locations have already been mapped out on the 15 inch and this has been done. Now the pin layout of the 20 inch is different, there are more pins. That said I'm sure there is a way to wire some adapter. Here is the problem I ran into ---> the damn inverter. The 20 inch inverter sits behind the panel (no other inverter including the ones in the apple cinema displays have been thin enough to replace it. For whatever reason there is one wire that acts as a feedback and despite incredible effort I was never able to figure out how to turn on the inverter from a different source (I tried feeding it various voltages). So even if you feed an image directly to the LCD panel (which I believe is possible). I'm not sure how you would control the backlights without heavy modification. Once I decided rewire for a different inverter in the base - the easiest thing was to buy a whole monitor to get an inverter I knew would work with the panel. And then I just decided it was easier to convert to lvds (as a monitor controller essentially is a dvi to lvds converter). I'm not saying it's not possible, but it's difficult. Hope this helps

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sorta thinking out loud here...if I left inverter power wires connected to the motherboard, I'm wondering if that would overcome the inverter issue...the video feed itself would be coming from the Macbook, but inverter power is coming from the tap off the motherboard...

    ReplyDelete
  21. mdot I've been thinking about your problem. I even broke out the 20" inverter again for another try - again no luck. I am able to power the 15" and 17" off a standard atx power supply using only a few resistors. But the .2v yellow wire of the 20" has me stumped. I have also thought about your solution and it should work with only 1 caveat - being that you'd require both a functioning 20" LCD and motherboard - you would essentially need to sacrifice a working 20". This would just be a shame if the mod did not end up working.
    So I've come up with another solution - eliminate the inverter and ccfls. LED edge lighting should provide a reasonable brightness at a reasonable cost. As these require only 12v DC - you could use the existing inverter cables to carry the voltage from the base. Depending on how you set it up, it shouldn't be hard to have the backlights turn on when the display port is connected or worse case scenario a simple switch.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have actually decided to attempt this. I had previously disassembled my 20" mod due to concerns about the voltage running through the neck. I could use the native screen wired as is with a splice to DVI or keep my current LVDS screen. I will be posting a supply list shortly and will update you on my progress

    ReplyDelete