PiMac G4

I’ve been quiet for a few days, and that is because I’ve been in procurement mode, in fact, I tried to buy 11 broken iMac G4s, but was outbid literally one second after my bid went in. Still, they weren’t the make-or-break of this new project, it just would have been nice to have a lot of spare parts, and the potential to make several more if it all goes well. And it is at this point that I realise that I haven’t actually told you what it is that I am planning to do, so here it is:

I have an old iMac G4 which, by today’s standards, is practically hand-crank operated. *pffrr, 800MHz, please!* It works perfectly fine, but it is excruciatingly slow. What I am planning to do is turn the iMac’s 17″ display into a DVI compliant screen to run my Pi. At least temporarily. In pure numbers, the iMac is actually faster than the Pi, I don’t know how they compare when you consider their ages though. The end result isn’t to create a nice display for my Pi, but to create a nice display for a new Mac Mini, turing the PiMac G4 into an iMac Mini. In reality, you could run anything that can output a DVI signal, so you could put an AppleTV inside the dome if you wanted, just use an HDMI-DVI adaptor, or a PS3 or, well, quite a lot of things actually, but the iMac Mini is what I want, and the iMac Mini is what I shall have. (It will just temporarily be known as the PiMac G4 until I buy a Mac Mini.)

Unlike my previous project, I will not be creating my own guide, as this is not an easy build. In fact, that’s the reason I’m doing it, I know it won’t be an easy build, and I’m relishing the challenge. I will be following this guide from Dremel Junkie and if you want to attempt this build, then I suggest you follow his guide. I will post pictures and videos as I move through the project, but you’re better off following his advice rather than mine.

I love the design of the iMac G4, and it seems a shame to butcher its insides, but it needs updating. There is huge latency when doing simply tasks like word processing, so if I can successfully transplant a new heart into it, then it will have been worthwhile. Dremel Junkie does have another modification, whereby he installed new intel architecture into a 20″ model, but it seems to me to be more efficient if you just turn it into a screen. That way, if the display dies (it is over 10 years old now (although mine has had a new inverter in that time)) you can simply take out the machine you put in its dome, and connect it to something else. Or, if the display is fine for another 10 years, replace the, let’s say, Mac Mini with a newer version. That way you always have a powerful machine in a fantastic enclosure. But that’s just my opinion.

I’m still waiting for some quite essential parts which I don’t expect to arrive until Saturday 29 June at the very earliest, so don’t expect any pictures or videos any time soon. In the mean time, here is a look at my parts list.

partslist(This is a WhiteyBoard, a self-adhesive roll of whiteboard like material. It is very good, but the only company I could find who sell it in the UK have never heard of customer service. Further more, their online shopping cart didn’t appear to be secure, so use PayPal. It’s a great product, just a bad UK front-end.)

Author: Dan

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