Thursday, January 19, 2012

Afterthoughts and Future Plans

20" iMac G4 and 20" iMac G5 (Apple Cinema Display LCD Controller Hack)
Connected  to External Mac Mini

Genuine 20" iMac G4 All-In-One Sandy Bridge Hackintosh
Above you see my two favorite 20" mods.  The one on top uses an LCD controller from an Apple Cinema Display for both the iMac G4 (though the iMac G4 uses its native inverter) and the iMac G5.  These are connected to an external Mac Mini.  Although somewhat more complex, the great thing about this method is its stability.  It is really an apple cinema display in the form of an iMac G4 and G5.  The extra room in the in the iMacs is not put to waste.  The iMac G4 houses a USB optical drive (replacing the missing one on the Mac Mini.  The iMac G5's iSight and Mic are converted to USB.  This has become one of my most frequently used computers.

The second picture is my latest All-In-One Sandy Bridge Hackinosh using an ECX board to run Mac OS Lion.  This is very much native and did not require any alteration to the neck or lcd.  The computer, DVD burner, SSD (running lion) and onboard Compact Flash (running Windows 8 Developer Preview) are all internal.  This was a tremendous amount of fun and will make a great all-in-one computer.

Obviously both these methods are viable and both have their advantages.  From the outside, they are indistinguishable from each other or a native iMac G4.  Of course, which ever method you use for the LCD is independent of what you connect it to.

iMac neck connected to Apple Cinema Display
My slightly older 3rd method, used the actual housing from an apple cinema display.  The few extra millimeters this gave allowed the use of the cinema displays inverter (I had previously not been able to get the 20" iMac's native inverter to work).  This method also allowed for the addition of a 20" touch screen.  However, I have retired this mod for a couple reasons.  First, while I thought this was an acceptable work around at the time, I much prefer the look of the true LCD housing.  Second, while the touch screen was great with the iMac's design, I did not love the only touch screen I was able to find in the now rare 20" 16:10 size.  This resistive touch screen was fairly accurate, but its surface was uncomfortable to touch and its glossy plastic surface detracted from the resolution of the LCD.  Third, as a resistive screen single touch was all it could do.

While I now have a functional upgraded replica, I still like the idea of adding additional functionality to the iMac G4 with a touch screen.  There are a couple options that are now available.  Some capacitive screens have become much more reasonably priced.  Although they were originally designed as single touch, new software may be able to make them function with gestures and at multitouch.  Another possibility is optical or IR touch.  Although the available optionals do not come in 20" 16:10, they possibly can be tweaked.

The downside is that the 20" capacitive screen will add too much weight and the optical touch will require extra room between the LCD and the bezel.  One thing that may make this possible is to use LED backlighting which would be much thinner.  A fellow modder JP7 has done a fe amazing mods of apple cinema displays using LED backlights.

In terms of the base, I have no use for either a desktop monitor or an all-in-one.  But, a larger screen for a notebook computer has always been something I have considered for the iMac G4.  Using either wired technology (A thunderbolt dock? - If they eventually come in at a reasonable price) or wireless technology (Wireless DVI and USB adapter?) is something I can definitely see being useful.
Wireless DVI - Courtesy of

After I use my current G4 and G5 spare parts, I will probably move on from this.  And I still have a Cube which has been sitting waiting to be modded.