Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Technical Difficulties

My apologies to those that have been unable to access the pictures on this site.  It appears that I mistakenly made the pictures that were being pulled into this blog private.  I have made all pictures public and I am hopeful that this will alleviate the problem.  Please let me know if there is any issue with viewing these pictures.

In regards to the future of this project, I have certainly not forgotten about it, but 2 young children and time constraints have made small iterative changes - not worth it.  The Haswell updates to the NUC (outside of power consumption) had no noticeable advances to the Ivy Bridge NUC.  I have put together quite a few tutorials that are essentially the same.  To repeat the project, I am swaiting for a substantial upgrade.

The iMac G4 20" mod (which I prefer over the 17") comes down to two variations that I recommend.  One variation utilizes only the existing iMac G4 LCD and the TMDS signal is made useable by wiring it to a DVI connector.  Use of the existing power supply allows the LCD to turn on using a 5V trigger to the 24V inverter.  The second is replacement of the iMac G4 LCD with the 20" Cinema Display.  This keeps the original inverter, but adds the Cinema Displays control board to the base.  This mod is made more difficult by having to change some wires in the neck.  However, if you can open and close the neck without damaging it, this mod is potentially more stable as it utilizes everything as intended.  It turns the G4 into a Cinema Display in disguise and gives you the power and brightness control afforded by the cinema displays control board.  This also utilizes the cinema displays power supply instead of the native iMac G4s.

Either mod results in the lcd and neck becoming an external dvi/hdmi compliant monitor.  The base will loose some space to either the native power supply or the Cinema Displays control board (the power brick can be internalized or externalized).  What goes in the rest of the base or externally is really a matter of personal preference.  There just needs to be a 5V trigger from the computer to turn on the monitor.  This can come from a USB port or the outgoing video DVI itself.

Waiting for Something New

There are 2 ways I can see to substantially improve these mods.  The first addresses the major issue that I have with me all in one Ivy Bridge Mod - Native OS X.

I have never been fond of hackintoshes.  I do not like having to worry about installing upgrades and can not use a machine as anything more than a hobby if there is a chance it could brick with an update.  Unfortunately the latest mac minis simply do not fit without dramatic modifications to the base.  I keep hoping that apple will release a Mac mini form factor that substantially shrinks down its current length and depth.  If it does this makes a new mod a no brainer.

The second improvement would be an LCD upgrade.  This is much trickier as the 20" 16:10 form factor is no longer made and in fact no LED backlit variations of this size and aspect ratio has ever been produced.  Thus, the entire chassis would need replacement.  I have looked at alternatives from apple including the 24" LED and 21.5" iMac.  While the newer iMacs look only slightly silly on top of the base, the gargantuan 24" looks ridiculous.  I have not yet found a chassis that I like though have settled on a 21.5" 16:9 thin bezel (preferably LED and touchscreen) as the best fit.

The issues that come up with this include the look.  (White is preferable and no white plastic monitors that I've seen have the right aesthetics).  Even with the right monitor, connecting it to the iMac G4s arm and utilizing the existing cables or replacing them represents a challenge either way.  I have even thought about custom 3D printing a new 21.5" with neck attachment chassis in the style of an iMac G4, however, I am then worried about the effect it would have on the arms which is so perfectly balanced to the existing monitor housing and LCD.

I have also considered an all in one (as they are not much larger than monitors in many cases) thus eliminating the need to route anything through the neck other than a power cable and possibly USB.  However, putting an all in one on top of an empty base may take away what makes the iMac G4 so special in the first place.  Nevertheless, I remain on the lookout.

Thank you to all my readers and I apologize again for the picture problems.