Sunday, February 27, 2011

17" TMDS-DVI Neck Variation

There are indeed two different types of 17" iMac G4 necks and the wire color does vary between them.

1) Part # 661-2716.  This neck comes from the 800mhz 17" iMac

2) Part # 661-2825.  This neck comes from the 1Ghz and 1.25Ghz 17" iMac

I believe that thee are the only two variations that exist, as I have not been able to find any different part numbers for iMac 17" necks, though I can not be certain.

I am fairly certain that my neck came from a 1.25Ghz machine, so those modifying a 1 or 1.25Ghz iMac should be able to use the pinout I have posted.  However, those modifying an 800mhz will have different colored wires.

As of right now, I would still recommend opening up the monitor and looking at the JAE connector and following PIN NUMBER instead of WIRE COLOR.  As the LCD panels are the same the pin number will always be correct.

I am trying to obtain a completely intact version of each of these necks to detail the differences and will post the differences when I do.  Several people have gotten this working, while others seem to be having some trouble.  I will try to go through this step by step and post detailed instructions of how t connect this.  I will also try to do it using a spliced DVI cable as most people seem to be going this route.

I am also working on the step by step for the cinema display 20" mod for those interested in doing that

Thursday, February 17, 2011

iMac G4/Cinema Display Mod - Improvements

So far this mod is as close to perfect as I have gotten, but there are a few things that I felt could be improved.  For one - with the touchscreen and iMac bezel in place there is a one area where I was getting "monitor drift" that is the neck would slip down an extra inch or two when positioned in a certain way.  Secondly I did not love that the touchscreen is located in front of the cinema displays bezel or that it was held on by mounting tape.  Thirdly, despite doing a better job hiding the touchscreen wire, I still found it somewhat unsightly.

My initial intention was to make the touchscreen easily removable, but having used this mod with the touchscreen, I would never remove it.  So I decided to integrate it into the display.  However, the 5wire resistive touchscreen although only a few mm thick will not fit under the bezel.

I looked for film to film touchscreens but could only find them in 18.5" or 21.5".  Plus chances are its not a 5wire.  I know everyone wants capacitive, but 5wire resistive is very durable and for the price, very reasonable.  For those interested the screen I use:

The company ships fast and it packages it very safely in a plexiglass lined box.  So here is how to integrate the touchscreen.  Again this is only for people that are using this particular touchscreen.

To start I wanted to decrease the weight a little bit to compensate for the touch screen.  I decided to remove the top portion of the bracket.  Although this gives less surface area for the glue to hold.  The weight is actually supported by the aluminum frame itself - so this part protects from rotation more than anything.  I used cold weld epoxy and am confident that even without the top of the bracket its not going anywhere.  But I still had to figure a way to mount the touchscreen flush against the lcd.

So to solve this I actually cut out part of the front bezel of the apple cinema display.  I positioned the touchscreen in the center, traced around the screen and dremeled that area out.  This allowed me to put the touchscreen flush against the lcd screen and the monitor is still securely held by the remaining bezel.  The touchscreen is also firmly held in place by the square cut for it.

Previous Method
New Method
To the left you can see the difference.   The new bezel is pictured on the bottom.  You can see the front is much thinner as well as having the smaller bracket.

The original method is on top.  Again, unless you are planning on using a touchscreen and it is similar to this one, I would recommend using the original method.

One complication of this is that the Cinema Displays LED indicator gets cut off.  This gave me the opportunity, however, to use the native iMac G4s LED.  As they use different 2 pin connectors of opposite sex, I had to create a hybrid using the LED wires.  I can then plug the LED wires coming from the Apple Cinema Display's Control Board into the ribbon LED from the native iMac G4.  The ribbon cable easily fits between the touchscreen and the bezel.
Hybrid LED cable

iMac G4 Bezel with LED
I then used tape for two reasons.  One, I wanted to make sure the touchscreen doesn't fall forwards (even though its wedged in there very snugly).  And secondly, I wanted to give an area where I could put an epoxy to adhere to the iMac G4s front bezel (without gluing directly to the touch screen), which becomes the new front, replacing the Apple Cinema Displays front which was largely dremeled out.

Touch Screen flush with bezel
The touchscreen ribbon cable now goes internally and thus no cables are visible.  It connects to its 5 pin adapter and goes down the neck to meet the controller in the base. Its difficult to see in this picture, but the touchscreen is now flush with the remaining part of the Apple Cinema Displays front bezel.  Using epoxy the iMacs bezel was attached, sealing off our now heavily modified hybrid case.  The case still opens and closes like the original Apple Cinema Display, but now the touchscreen and iMac bezel are fully integrated.

The best way to see the difference is from the side.  Previously you had Apple Cinema Display with a few mm of touchscreen visible in front then the iMac bezel.  Now the new bezel interacts directly with the original case.  Plus, there is now no visible wire anywhere as everything is internal.

In addition, there is no "monitor drift" - NONE!! Not in any position.  If this is the effect of some weight removal or simply moving the touchscreen inwards a few millimeters - I can't be sure.   But, either way it worked.

As an added benefit the iMac G4s native LED looks great.  Sometimes the little things really do go a long way.

The only negative is that the touch screen is no longer "easily removable".  I decided that really the only use I have for a 20.1" 16:10 touch screen is for this mod.  Plus, after a few days it became clear that this mod is even better with the touch screen (in my opinion) and that I wasn't going to opt to remove it.  I will be posting a full parts list and step by step for this mod.  I will do my best to separate it into with and without touchscreen.

As a side note, you may notice some of these pictures use the apple cinema display that I had painted white.  After looking at the white version, I decided to stick with the original silver of the apple cinema display.  For one, I am not the best painter and it had already chipped in places.  Secondly, the silver really goes and it matches well with apples keyboard/mouse and even the mac mini.  Although using the original display would be ideal, I feel this has some advantages.  The presence of USB (and firewire if you wanted to hook it up), on/off switch, brightness control, more mod friendly (room for longer cables etc.).  As always, questions, critiques etc are welcomed.
Pressing the Cinema Display's Power Button

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Summary of iMac Mods

Black iMac/VESA, 1st Generation iMac G5, and iMac G4/Cinema Display Touchscreen Mods
While reviewing this blog, it occurred to me that for a new person reading this site and interested in an iMac G4 mod, as there have been several different mods, it would be difficult to decide which one is best.  I've decided to summarize the different mods I've done with a brief review of benefits and problems.  All these mods really focus on one thing - being able to use the decade old iMac G4 chassis with modern hardware.  The hardest technical problem to solve is to be able to use the screen at the top of the neck with conventional hardware.  Other additions include touchscreens, bluray players etc.  Over the past few years myself and others have tried many different solutions to this problem.  I'll discuss my various solutions here.  As I feel they've gotten better and more stable, I will try to go chronologically.  The MODS are linked to their original blog posts.  Click for more details.

MOD#1: Replace the entire iMac G4 with a new LCD.  The Black iMac G4/VESA Plate Mod
 Summary: By drilling holes in a VESA 75/100 adapter for the iMac G4 neck, an entire new monitor can be firmly secured to the iMac G4's neck.
 Additional features: I put an internal bluray into the base with an SATA to USB 2.0 converter.  So this mod functions as an ergonomic external monitor and external usb bluray drive.
  Status: Still in use, although I replaced the 17" pictured here with a 20" monitor.

1) Easy - no soldering
2) Very stable, no monitor disasembly required
3) Leaves base empty, so can put anything that you want in it
4) As long as you choose lightweight monitors, any size or screen ratio can be used.  With new ultrathin, lightweight LED monitors, potentially >20" size screens can be used.

1) Difficult to find white lcd that matches white base - may need to paint base
2) Wires do not go through the neck and come from the lcd itself
3) Weight of LCD can be an issue.  For 20" neck (any size monitor) lcds should be around 10 pounds. But also can not have too much of a shelf in the back or the monitor is displaced to far forward and the monitor will not be able to tilt.

Current Setup with 20" LG Monitor
MOD#2: Build a Shelf on the back
Summary: Place a new 16:10 20" lcd into the native iMac enclosure.  Cut holes to allow the wires for the LCD controller and inverter to go through the back of the monitor, secure the components to the back of the lcd and construct a shelf in the back to protect the components
Additional features: Bluray as above.  A surface acoustic wave touchscreen with controller also attached to the back of the monitor.
Status: Broken - not repaired.  Monitor cable got snagged on something and pulled on and damaged the lcd board

1) Looks closer to native iMac
2) As there is no "forward displacement", the heavy SAW touchscreen can be used
3) No soldering required
4) Base is free for any components

1) Breakable - The monitor components are very sensitive and are easily damaged.
2) Wires do not go through neck

MOD#3: The TMDS to LVDS conversion. The 17" version and the 20" version
Summary: Replace the native iMac G4s LCD with a 16:10 store bought monitors LCD.  Place the components including LCD controller and inverter in the base.  Replace the iMacs TMDS wiring with more conventional LVDS wiring.  I did both 20" and 17" versions.
Additional features: 4-wire resistive touchscreen on 17" version only - wired through neck
Status: 20" disassembled secondary the safety concerns.  17" disassembled for parts to use on other mods.
20" Version

17" Version
1) Identical in appearance to iMac G4
2) Off the shelf 20" and 17" monitors are not very expensive
3) All wires go  through the neck
4) 17" can fit touch screen within its bezel and wires down neck
5) As this replaces the iMac monitor this mod works with iMacs with broken LCDs

- Once the current passes through the inverter it becomes very high voltage.  As a result high voltage cables travel through the neck.  The 20" has SIX CCFL lamps so 12 wires (6 high voltage) are carried through the metal neck.  I was not able to fit all extra shielded wires due to the tight fit in the neck.  After using this for a little while - I became too worried that one of the wires could fray and arc to the metal neck.  For the 17" I was able to fit rubberized, shielded wire for its 2 CCFL inverter wires.  I would ultimately like to not run ANY high voltage cable, but at least the 17" can be loaded with extra protection.
2) Some monitors work better than others.  Ex. monitors with ribbon cables vs. wires are more difficult.  Though you may not know what you have til you open it up

3) Components are housed in the base, taking room away from anything else intended to go within the base.
4) Difficult - have to open up the neck, replace multiple cables, and lots of soldering small wires
5) Monitor Drift - although the touch screen fits, it does cause the neck to slide down in certain positions.
6) Apple used a TMDS chip in this computer for a reason.  It is theoretically more stable than LVDS over longer distances.  Although the image seems crisp and clear to me either way.

MOD#4: The TMDS to DVI conversion - 17 inch
(Also available is the 15" pinout)
17" Native LCD to DVI
Summary: Using the native iMac G4 monitor, inverter, and TMDS wiring, but adding a power source and converting the TMDS to a standard DVI connector.  15" version demonstrated by several moders before me.  17" connections and pinout detailed on my blog.
Additional features: theoretically could add touch screen
Status: Used for 17" Guide and disassembled

1) Uses Native Monitor and inverter no need for additional components and obviously identical to original iMac G4
2) Full Step by Step guide available for 17"
3) Stable TMDS signaling
4) No need to open neck
5) Except for some form of power source - no monitor components in base taking up room

1) There is some color variation - so make sure that you are using the pinout for the right version of the neck.
2) Only 15 and 17" versions.  Update: No longer true, now available in 20" see below for details.
3) Some issues reported with screen corruption and gibberish during computer sleeping

MOD#5: The 20" iMac and Apple Cinema Display Mod
Summary: Use a 20" Apple cinema display and all its components to replace the native iMac G4's monitor housing.  Cut a hole in the back and cover the original "wire out" hole.  Using the native wires in the 20" neck plus the power cable from the Apple Cinema Display - all wires go through the neck into the base (including the rear USB ports) - to a DVI and USB cable which can be hooked up to any computer, in this case a Mac Mini.  The front bezel of the iMac is then added to the cinema display.
Additional Features: A 20" 5-wire resistive touchscreen, wired through the neck and to a USB hub where one USB cable goes to the external computer for both the USB ports on the back of the monitor and the touchscreen.
Status: Still together but moved off desktop in favor of Mod#6A

1) Very Stable - using Apple Cinema Display with its normal components and an external mini
2) All cables go through the neck
3) No Monitor Drift even with addition of touchscreen
4) Extra wires in the native neck allow for use of the rear USB ports and touchscreen
5) Looks almost identical to the native iMac G4 and aluminum on the back actually matches most of apple's modern products.
6) Power brick can be hidden in the base.

1) Expensive: Mac Mini, Working Cinema Display, and 20" iMac housing in good condition
2) Requires some construction, cutting out hole and the inner housing from the iMac G4's monitor to secure the neck
3) Have to open the neck - while the original cables can be used for touchscreen, USB, and DVI, no native cables can replace the DC power to LCD controller.
4) Requires an external computer.
5) Although similar it is not identical to the native iMac G4.

MOD #6: The iMac G4 20" with Cinema Display Controller All-In-One ECX Mod

Summary: Use a native 20" iMac G4 including native LCD, monitor case, dome, and inverter with the LCD controller from an Apple Cinema Display to power it hidden at the bottom of the base.  Incorporate an ECX form factor Core 2 duo motherboard in the base to make this a true all-in-one computer.
Additional Features: All-In-One computer and Blu-ray drive is able to fit in the base.
Status: Base components removed in favor of Mod #6A.

1) A true All-In-One computer with Intel x86 Processor.
2) Small Form Factor PC allows a full size drive, in this case Blu-ray to fit inside.
3) Visually identical to native iMac G4.  Utilizes original power button and with some extenders, new ports can be made in place of the original ones.
4) No monitor drift and all wires go through the neck.
5) Easier than most mods - no "construction" required.

1) Expensive - Although you do not need a full Apple Cinema Display finding a working LCD controller board and cables may cost as much as an intact monitor.  Although not as expensive as a mac mini, ECX boards are overpriced based on specs alone, and the RAM and processor are purchased separately.
2) Uses compact flash hard drive.  Although you can use a hard drive like any other mobo, to save space I used the onboard compact flash slot.  This is not nearly as fast as other sold state options and is very expensive per GB.
3) Not a Great Hackintosh - as you can see it currently uses windows.  2 problems with hackintoshing this - for one, snow leopard will not recognize compact flash.  This can be solved by squeezing in a small SSD (such as a 1.8".  However, while the hackintosh community has gotten the onboard Intel 4500HD graphics to display at its native resolution (complicated hacks) there is not yet any QE/CI support.
4) Power bricks are external.  Although small, there are 2 - the apple cinema display's and a 60 watt brick for the mobo.
5) Extensive Neck Modification - this entire mod is about the neck.  Uses some wires from apple cinema display, some from native neck, and I used an additional wire from a different iMac neck.

MOD #6A: Conversion Of iMac 20" G4 with Cinema Display Controller Mod For Use With External Computer / Mac Mini
Summary: Variation of Mod #6.  This uses an unaltered iMac G4 20" enclosure (same exact mod as above).  However, the all-in-one has been removed and replaced by the power brick which has now been internalized.  As above this mod relies on the 20" aluminum Apple Cinema Display's controller board hooked up to the native iMac G4 inverter.  As I have now learned, this TMDS board works perfectly with the native 20" 16:10 LCDs from either the aluminum Apple Cinema Display, the iMac G4, or even the iMac G5! Two ports on the back are a DVI out and a computer power cable.  It is hooked up to a mac mini in my setup.
Additional Features: Can include DVD/Bluray.  Can make use of Cinema Displays powered USB and Firewire 400 ports on  back of base.
Status: In Use as part of dual monitor display with a converted iMac G5.

1) Visually and functionally identical to original iMac G4 and ACD's powerbrick hidden in base.
2) External computer allows for easy upgrades and versatility.  Can use as external monitor for laptop.
3) Room in Base - as only the power brick and lcd controller board are in the base, there is room for additional components: DVD/Bluray, wireless docking base station for laptops etc.
4) No monitor drift and all wires go through neck.
5) Can use LCD from either ACD, iMac G4, or iMac G5
6) Despite its authenticity its actually one of the easier of the mods to do if you can get the parts.

1) Still Expensive: requires cosmetically good housing from iMac G4, A working ACD controller and cable, a working LCD, and of course - a computer.
2) Not an all-in-one
3) Not a touchscreen
4)  Extensive Neck Modification - as before this entire mod is about the neck.  Uses some wires from apple cinema display, some from native neck, and I used an additional wire from a different iMac neck.

MOD #7: The 20" iMac G5 as an External Monitor Mod.  Original iMac G5 and the iSight iMac G5.

"Original iMac G5 mod"

Summary: I know this site has been primarily dedicated to the iMac G4, however the iMac G5 is actually quite similar.  Also, its a great design in its own right.  Since the LCDs of the cinema display and iMac G5 are (depending on model) either identical or slightly varied.  As a result you can re-purpose a cinema display with a broken LCD or damaged aluminum case.  In the original mod there is plenty of room to work with.  The entire metal chassis which holds the inverter and lcd controller can fit inside the g5's chassis.  The cinema display's cable can then be routed out the back in place of the iMac G5's original power cable.

iMac G5 "iSight" Mod
The iSight variation is similar except the LCD controller and inverter much be placed individually in place of the previous computer components.  In addition the iSight camera can be spliced with USB as well as the microphone.  Connecting these with the cinema displays on board USB ports and this monitor becomes an external webcam with mic as well.
Additional Features: Lots of room in original - can easily fit slim slot load dvd and speakers.  Much tighter in iSight, but can use iSight/mic via USB.
Status: Original iMac G5 is use as a spare monitor.  The iSight variation in daily use as dual monitor with iMac G4 in Mac Mini Setup.

1) Visually identical  to original iMac G5
2) Can act as either external DVD, speakers, or webcam/microphone
3) Very easy - no soldering
4) Very stable - Cinema display in an iMac shell
1) Expensive - based on a working cinema display
2) Power brick is external (though you could likely fit it inside this would greatly increase the complexity and stability of this mod)
3) Not an iMac G4

MOD#8: The "Genuine" 20" iMac G4 Sandy Bridge 10.7 (Lion) All-In-One Mod (TMDS to DVI)
Nearly Complete Mod
SUMMARY: Although this is a variation of the TMDS to DVI presented in MOD#4, the 20" is more complex.  This took me over a year to figure out and is truly the computer I had hoped to build when I first started.  Although more advanced variations may come including LED backlights, touch screens etc.  I do not believe it is possible to make a much more authentic version than this.  So I want to give it its own space.
20" iMac G4 running Lion via Sandy Bridge ECX Board
This mod uses an unaltered 20" iMac G4 frame, monitor components, and neck.  The entire mod takes pace within the dome.  Using a Pico Power Supply and a 12V to 24V DC Step Up converter, power is provided to the LCD and backlights.  Using the same DVI connector seen in MOD#4 the TMDS signal is properly aligned to be DVI compatible.  A Hackintoshable Sandy Bridge ECX board, the KEEX-6100, serves as the computer.  This fits within the space previously occupied by the 3.5" Hard drive.  A DVD optical drive also fits within the base, allowing this to have all the functionality of the original.
Lion Sees This Board as MacBook Pro
Additional Features: If its in the original iMac G4, its here.  The DVD optical drive.  Even the Power LED and Microphone in the LCD enclosure work.
Status: Updated to MOD #9.

1) Very close to the original iMac G4 (I've tried to retain every element)
2) Relatively Easy from a Technical Standpoint - The LCD and Neck do not need to opened or even removed.  Only the dome and the cables that come into the dome are modified.  The DVI Connector makes this much easier, though this is more difficult than the 15" or 17" version.
3) Cost - while the KEEX board, the SSD, the Pico Power Supply, and a cosmetically good 20" iMac G4 with working LCD can be expensive, this is not much more than you would expect to pay if you were putting together any other Sandy Bridge Set up using off the shelf components.  A good case, a SSD, a sandy bridge motherboard and processor, a power supply, and an LCD monitor will run about the same.  No other "large" purchases are required.  The DVI Connector is available for a few dollars and the Step Up Converter is about $20.
4) With only a few Bios Changes the board is Hackintoshable to Lion with tonymac's Unibeast
5) A 20" iMac G4 with a Sandy Bridge Processor that is Running Mac OS X Lion!!!

1) There is an external power brick.  Apple had the luxury of being able to design a circular power source. The rectangular commercially available AC to DC converters just don't fit in the dome.  For heat reasons this can actually be a good thing.  As this is a 40 pound desktop that is going to be in a fixed location, this really isn't such a big deal.
2) Onboard Audio causes a Kernal Panic.  The onboard audio is pretty crappy, so I have not looked to see if there is a fix for this and simply disabled it.
3) The original speakers still require an amp such as the PowerWave adapter.    
4) This is a Hackintosh not a true Mac.

Mod#9: The 20" iMac G4 Intel NUC/Ivy Bridge AiO Mountain Lion Hackintosh Mod
20" iMac G4 running Mountain Lion via Intel  NUC (DC3217BY)
SUMMARY: Based on the same TMDS to DVI conversion used in the previous mod.  The smaller Intel NUC form factor allowed for an upgrade to Ivy Bridge and HD4000 graphics.  The small board and my better understanding of the native PSU allows the use of the native PSU which offers more power and eliminates the need for an external powerbrick.  This all results in improved cooling, graphics, and stability.

The mod is based on the consumer targeted Intel NUC which is fully compatible with Mountain Lion 10.8 via tonymac's Unibeast.  With the internalization of the power brick, only close inspection of the ports identifies this as anything other than an original 20" iMac G4.

Even Mountain Lion thinks its an iMac G4
Additional Features: Everything Above:  The DVD optical drive. Even the Power LED (not hooked up, but connector in base - personal preference) and Microphone in the LCD enclosure work.  Thunderbolt is also untapped potential.
Status: In Use.

1) Virtually Identical to the original iMac G4.  Even provides a firewire power port for use with the native Apple Pro Speakers.
2) Relatively Easy from a Technical Standpoint - The LCD and Neck do not need to opened or even removed.  Only the dome and the cables that come into the dome are modified.  The DVI Connector makes this much easier, though this is more difficult than the 15" or 17" version.
3) Cost - Much more reasonably priced than the above mod.   Although not cheap, the NUC board includes the processor, needing only RAM, Wifi, and a mSATA to use the NUC.  The use of the native PSU is potentially a huge savings.  No other "large" purchases are required.  The DVI Connector is available for a few dollars and the the converters Converter are usually less than $20.
4) The NUC is Hackintoshable to Lion with tonymac's Unibeast.
5) Stability - this may not be the best system imagineable, but it is quite stable.  Unlike PICO PSUs, the existing PSU, easily powers this board, LCD, and peripherals, with plenty of room to spare.  The 2 fans remain quiet but greatly improve cooling to the point of an afterthought.
6) Goodbye Powerbrick!
5) A 20" iMac G4 with an Ivy Bridge Processor that is Running Mac OS X Mountain Lion!!!

Before Clean up and final assembly

I hope this summary helps anyone attempting this, but not sure which way to go.  Please feel free to ask any questions.

Apple cinema display/ iMac g4 Mod - Videos

The first video is an overview and general appearance

The second one demonstrates the mod being used

Completed Mod - The 20" iMac G4 / Apple Cinema Display Touch Screen Mod

I am thrilled with how this mod came out.  Not only does it look great, but I really believe that it will stand the test of time.  It is rock solid stable and an absolute pleasure to use.  And to be honest, relatively speaking, the mod was not that difficult.  It can be done in a few days.  For those interested, I can give very detailed instructions.

OK, I wanted to make it this all-in-one BADLY! But, after almost shorting out my itx mobo, I was in no mood to open the mac mini up and put it inside.  That said, the older generation mac mini would likely be superior to the mini itx in terms of fit.  However, the new mac mini is a no-go without serious modification to the internal faraday cage.  For now I am going to keep the mac mini external.  I may revisit this in the future, but for now, I put the power adapter, touch controller, and usb hub into the base.  I was also going to add the griffin powerwave adapter, but am considering trying to track down an iFire adapter (if the price isn't astronomical).  They both power the Apple Pro Speakers. but the iFire doesn't require external power.

Here are several additional pictures:
    The ports on the back are simply a USB (to connect the USB hub), an AC cord (the cinema display power adapter is at the top of the dome), and a DVI.

The 5 wire touch screen cable is still a little but of a work in progress.  I'm confident that Ill be able to hide it under the front bezel, but I am likely going to have to cut into the ribbon cable.  Because I do not want to damage the 20" touch screen, I have purchased, a much smaller 7" 5 wire resistive touch screen to experiment with.  But for now, this works fine.

This mod has really been my favorite so far.  It feels exactly like the original iMac to me, plus the touch screen.  This was certainly not the direction I expected to go when I restarted this project, but am very happy where I wound up.  Again any comments or even constructive criticism would be appreciated.  Thanks again and happy modding!!!

Update: Touch Panel wires hidden under bezel

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mini-Itx problems, Hackintosh and iMac mini Mod

I have been having a very difficult time with the itx mobo.  It does fit in the base and does work, but with the ports in place, there is even less room.  I even removed the tray door mechanism entirely to try to get more room.  I was then able to secure the power button and put the wifi antennae through the audio ports, but there are really two problems.  One - the tight fit is less than desirable.  I've had to re-open it several times.  Once a wire was audibly hitting the cpu fan, another time, it was shorting out.  Luckily there was no damage, but two solder points on the mobo must have been touching the metallic faraday cage.  I am concerned about the long term stability of putting an itx mobo in the base, but for those wishing to do it it does fit, its not impossible.

The second problem is that I really would love for this to be a true Mac, I do not love hackintoshes.  I know there is a excellent community out there and I do not mean to offend, this is simply a personal opinion.  Because I consider myself better at hardware than software, I have been frustrated at having hardware options limited by compatibility issues.  Take my itx mod for example - I do not believe there is a onboard i3 graphics hackintosh option at present.  So, my options were - go core 2 duo or atom with onboard ion or equivalent, get a PCI card for this mod (this would take up a lot of room, add to power requirements etc.) or go on without a hackintosh option.

The other option of course is to incorporate a mac mini.  So, I have acquired a 1.8ghz core 2 duo mac mini.  While not the speediest, it runs snow leopard just fine.

I have painted an alternate Apple Cinema Display case white and glued on the silver apple from the original iMac G4.  I actually don't mind the silver and am not sure which one looks better to be honest.

Now the big question is how to use the mac mini, permanently opening and damaging the mac mini is not something I'm keen on doing.  Now the entire man mini does fit in at a similar angle as the mini itx.  But this raises some problems with the ports, power buttons, and does render the drive useless.

While not as "sexy" keeping the mini external would work.  So here is the question, open it up and fit the components in vs. putting it in whole vs. keeping it external.

Although it really hurt to take apart what I've already put together in the base of the iMac, I am very worried about stability, out of all my mods, this is the one I would truly like to keep on my desk for years to come.  I have really wanted a true all in one, but am not sure its worth it, given the very small footprint of the mac mini.

Apple Cinema Display / iMac Mod - The Base

OK - I thought it would be the answer to all the problems of this mod.  But, the ECX for factor has been nothing but a disappointment.  As it is the size of a 3.5 inch drive, contains a core 2 duo processor, and is able to boot from an onboard compact flash drive, i thought this would easily replace the existing hard drive in the iMac G4s current design and thus, I would be able to keep the dvd drive and have the entire bottom of the base to wire up ports.  Unfortunately the onboard intel "HD graphics" may be HD, but only display at minuscule resolutions.  So, it does have a PCI express x 4 slot, however x1 and x4 cards tend to be overly expensive for what you get.  The biggest problem is that a graphics card, even low profile with a riser makes the setup almost as big as a Mini ITX rig - but much less powerful.  So after advice from posters (thanks Tobi) - I have decided to go the mini itx route instead.

So here is the Zotac Mini itx LGA 1156 board with the Core i3 Processor.  As I have mentioned before, I am very concerned about heat and stability issues - this hasn't changed.  What has changed is the price.  The core i3 offers decent performance for the price as does the itx board itself.  So, if something does "go wrong", it wouldn't be as devastating as it would have been several months ago.  In addition, I have heard favorable reviews from heat/power as well as performance regarding the i3 on-chip graphics.  I am hopeful with good wire management, the on board graphics, a pico itx power supply (200W pictured), keeping all power bricks outside, and a solid state drive, I can minimize heat and keep this board ticking for a while.  The board fits at the right angle, however, the DVI plug can not fit, so I had to use a DVI to HDMI and STILL had to use a right angle HDMI connector to fit.  Likewise USB plugs are a tight fit and small connectors are preferable.  As a result of the taper of the dome as well as the "nooks" of the metal faraday cage - there is substantially less room inside the dome than there appears to be.  Fitting in a full size drive is impossible, a slot load may be possible, but doesn't work with the drive door.  Also, do not discount the room that connectors and wires take up.  I have also replaced the existing fan with an atx compatible one.

I have spent the past day or two trying to develop a mechanism to use the drive door.  I have several touch latches that I've been trying to work with, such that you push on the drive door and it pops out a little allowing you to pull it down and expose a card reader.  While I did get it to work, the mechanism required the drive to be "pushed out" a little at baseline and took up a lot of room.  In the end, I decided it was simply not worth it.  I want to give as much room to air flow as possible and keep the base simple.  An SD card reader can be placed at the back.  Instead I secured the 60GB solid state 2.5" inch drive just inside the drive door.  This will allow me to take a flat screw driver to pry the door open to have easy access to the drive for easy swapping. I am trying to remember my own advice that less is more.  Everything that takes up room, impedes air flow and is something that could potentially go wrong requiring having to reopen everything.  As a result of the faraday cage the itx board has to be put in at an angle - so none of the existing screw holes line up with anything.  So, I'm finding myself using a lot of twist ties, velcro, and electrical tape - I'm hoping to replace some of these with brackets when possible, but nothing is fitting easily.

I replaced the neck with my new hybrid neck (see wiring the neck post for details).  I hear none of the "grinding" that worried me about the last neck.  I placed the screen in and because I used shorter wires - it fit perfectly and closed easily without any force.  The small wires you see coming out of the first firewire port are actually for the touch screen.  Because I had extra wires using the "hybrid" method, I was able to place the touch screen controller in the base.  This won't use up a USB and now I don't have to put the controller on the back of the monitor, but I did need a place for the connector to go.  As, I'm not using the firewire ports, I dremeled one off to allow me room to fit the wires out.  I'm going to place a female connector there.  Then fashion a short 5 wire male to male cord to connect the touchscreen.  I'm hoping to keep as much as possible on the bottom edge of the monitor, but either way I feel this is a more elegant solution than a clunky controller on the back, but still allows me to make the touch screen easily removable.

This was supposed to be the first sealed test of this mod.  Unfortunately, I closed it up, confidently pressed the power button, but nothing happened.  I had to open it up where I found that I had mistakenly put the power switch on the power led pins.  So, as it was getting late, I left it open and performed the inaugural boot - which was successful.

Left to do:
I have purchased a few types of modeling clay which I plan to use to make/secure the rear ports.  On the back I plan on having, a Bluetooth, the zotac's wifi bracket and antenna, 3 - 4 usb ports using internal wifi headers and usb male to female, a usb to sd card reader , the dc power for the mobo, ethernet, microphone and audio out (via either internal header or male to female rear plugs).  I have already physically secured the power button to the existing imacs button.  Right now I have the monitor power cord simply coming out the back (pictured on right).  Ultimately, I would love to find some type extension so that I can have a female plug on the back to plug the power cord into.  However, I have not been able to find a female version of this cord.  This is the same one on the Mac Mini, does anyone know if something like this exists?

Also, how badly do I want the native speakers - the Griffin power wave adapter pictured above may be able to fit at the very bottom.  The question is, do I need it internally? Are the native speakers something I am going to want to stick with?

Then, mount the front bezel and touch screen and finish the touch screen connector.  It's really coming together and this is my favorite mod so far.  Ironically, the very first thing I tried was the VESA mount mod on this very apple cinema display.  I only even went the itx route on advice from a reader of my blog, so I'm looking forward to advice, comments and questions.  Thanks!!