I have always liked Apple computer systems. My faves are the Apple PowerMac, the G4 cube and the Apple G3 powerbook (you know, the black one). Unfortunately I have never been able to afford them. As such I decided on the next best thing, putting a normal PC into a Mac Case. A few years later and a job, I had enough money to start the project and as such I bought a damaged G5 Powermac case from an apple repair store. Cosmetically it was in ok condition (a few scratches here and there, and some dents), but the wiring inside was badly damaged. As I will not be using most of the original wiring, this is a minor inconvenience.
I have to admit, after the initial case purchase, I left this project behind and didn't do much, the case just languished around the flat for a while. But when my normal PC case broke I had to quickly find a replacement. I ended up installing the ATX components into the Apple case. The hardest thing was to work out how to wire it all. The Apple case does not follow the ATX standard for components, so I could not just a normal backplate for the connections. But at the same time, I don't want to alter the case, I want it to look as authentic as possible.
In the end I installed the motherboard in the case at 90 degrees to normal, so all the connections point towards the bottom of the case, and the wires come out of gaps at the bottom (usually for the PSU plug) and the slots at the top of the case. Thats all I did for now, here is a picture if you are having trouble visualising it:
As you can see, there is still a lot of work to do, but it works for now, which was my goal. I will make a proper motherboard mount when I get my new rotary tool (my old one had given up on me a while back).
Got myself a new rotary tool, a Dremel 300. The difference between it and my previous clone is amazing. It's so much better, and well worth the extra cost. Anyway, more changes to this project.
I changed the layout again. I mounted the motherboard so that the ports face the back, but moved it further inwards. In order to mount the motherboard properly, I cut out a sheet of plexiglass, and drilled two sets of mounting holes. One set connects the plexiglass to the G5 case, the other set connects the plexiglass to the motherboard. Here is the plexiglass with the first set of holes marked out:
And the plexiglass all cut, mounted in the G5 case (I figured not much point in showing the actual cutting stage):
In order for this new layout to work, I had to reduce the height of the PSU (because it could not fit under the fans). I removed the PSUs cover, and this allowed me to slip it underneith the fans. I also wanted the power socket to be in the same place as the original G5, so I removed the PSUs power socket, cut off the ends and installed it in the existing hole:
The PSU socket with the sides cut off so that it would fit. Below: The socket mounted in the G5 case:
I mounted the PSU in the case, then added the motherboard and extra cards, as so:
In the pictures you can see the current setup with everything mounted. I moved the IDE drive to the bottom as I've bought a SATA disk, and when it arrives I will put it into the bay at the top were it should be. The PSU is mounted just behind the motherboard. Top PCI card is a TV capture card, below is my Nvidia GeForce 8600GS that I use for CUDA Work, and below that is my Quadro (NV 44) which drives my dual 19-inch monitors. The fans at the top do not work yet, so I'm avoiding putting any drives up there until I get some airflow.
The original fans at the back were burnt out, so I have to get some new ones, till then I shall be using some smaller fans that I had kicking around.
So far the case is doing very well. It is not silent, and it's not exactly quiet either, but the airflow that the case allows through it is impressive. So far the entire system never goes past 55 degrees celcius as a whole, even when it's pushed to it's limits. I'll work on quietning all the fans later on.
A new GPU was installed (BFG GeForce 8800GTS) and with it, a new PSU was bought and installed. I needed a more powerful one, so went looking. My gf was far better at this than me, as she found an excellent 700W micro-ATX PSU, which I bought and installed. It worked perfectly:
By virtue of moving the PSU to where the old HD was, I had to temporarily shove it into the corner in the messy way you see above. Despite this overall the system stayed pretty cool, although the 8800GTS's fan was really noisy, especially when it was running CUDA programs full tilt.
Also, by having a fully enclosed PSU the chances of getting a nasty shock were reduced, which is always a benefit :)
At this point it became possible to close up the case and have it actually look like a PC rather than a half open project.
Well.. what can I say, a lot happened in my life yet again, and this project was on the back burner for a while. I guess part of it was also due to the fact the machine actually worked, and when closed it was "good enough" that me using it was more important than me fiddling with it as a project.
However with the purchase of a dual-core laptop that was pretty powerful in its own right (good enough to be used as a primary PC) I went back to fiddling with this one.
I was unhappy with the layout, it really wasn't working for me, so I decided to rip everything out, and start over. This time however, I meant everything.
After a lot of dissasembling, I finaly got the central shelf out of the case (my god what a huge number of screws, it was crazy!), I could not resist to take a photo :)