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I caught the fever...G4 Cube fever!

BoomR

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Stumbled across the great builds by sleppek and eelhead (and later a couple more great threads)...and I was bit by the fever bug!

SOOoo... found this G4 Cube on eBay in the local DFW area and began the deconstruction:


Began gathering my build components:

ASRock H77M-ITX LGA 1155 (Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0) Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157311

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072

Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148540

Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F120GB3A-BK 2.5" 120GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233206

Updated: Sony Optiarc Slim Slot-loading Combo Blu-ray Combo Drive Model BC-5650H-01
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118070

GELID Solutions Slim Silence i-Plus (CC-SSilence-iplus) 75mm Ball Bearing CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835426028

Mini-Box PW-200-M, 200w output, 12v input DC-DC Pico Power Supply, with optional P4-ATX Cable
http://www.mini-box.com/PW-200M-DC-DC-power-supply

Mini-Box Model: STD-12160 AC-DC 12V / 16A Switching Power Adapter (100/240V)
http://www.mini-box.com/12v-16A-AC-DC-Power-Adapter

SilenX IXP-11-14 40mm Case Fan (2)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835191001

EDIT: Added Sabrent Mini Bluetooth USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter - model BT-USBT
http://www.frys.com/product/6103319

Already owned:
Apple Wired Keyboard
Apple Wired Mouse

Background on my motherboard choice...
The reason I went with the ASRock board is because I wanted to try & orient the motherboard close to the original position & eventually try getting the touch-sensor power switch/power LED functional.

Most every other board I found (like Gigabyte) had the DIMM slot almost flush with the edge of the circuit board. I was trying to minimize interference issues. A few other ASUS and ASRock boards that had a bit more space between edge of board & DIMM also had the ATX connector just a bit too close & taking up some of the space I felt I needed.

My BIGGEST challenge to date is that there is no current DSDT file in the TonyMacx86 database. Worse yet, there is no patch (yet) in Maldon's site either. So it's been pretty painful getting a fine-tune build.

...and now, on with the show! Just for yucks, here's a shot of the G4 guts completely disassembled:

98% of the stuff at the top half of the pic is unusable. The stuff at the bottom are the key components of the "cage" that will hold all the updated components.

A closer look at the stuff that will make it into the build:


Making it pretty...
In reality, the Lexan case was scratched up worse than what was shown in the eBay pics. I was sort of bummed:


But after a little research, I found a collection of Lexan polishing compounds at The Container Store: Novus® Plastic Polish Trio

Got a buffing wheel for my drill & went to town - first, with the most coarse compound to help remove the heaviest scratches, then the 2nd compound to start refining the finish; finally the high-gloss polish to finish it off:


Voila!




To be continued....
 

BoomR

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Part 2:

A few others in the Cube collective chose to cut away the massive heatsink that was use in lieu of a CPU fan; I followed suit. Since my plan was to re-use the existing HD/CD drive bracketing & space for my SSD & optical drives, I didn't need to mod the heatsink to hold a standard 3.5"HDD, video card, etc. SO...Got out my trust RotoZip and had at it:


Heatsink cut away, leaving the portion around the latching mechanism & brackets that mount them to the cage:


Reassembled the cage components required to hold all the new hardware (just to make sure I remember how it all goes back together LOL):


A view from the top down, showing the reclaimed space once used by the massive heatsink:


A close-up of the space now ready for all the new components:


Low-hanging fruit...
So I decide to load up my new components, starting with what I perceive is the easy stuff first. One user in one Cube thread mentioned that he re-used the outer casing of the Cube's original optical drive as a great "caddy" for mounting the new optical drive. What a great idea! ...and that's what I did:

I removed the top cover from the original G4 optical drive (on the right), which now becomes my new optical drive caddy. I used some uber-heavy-duty double-side 3M foam tape to mount the new optical drive centered in the caddy & flush with the opening (shown on left).

I also took my Dremel tool with a metal cutting disc & neatly carved out a new opening at the back of the caddy to accommodate the cabling of the Sony drive (as the opening for the connections on the old drive were on the opposite side of the cover).

Now, simply replace the caddy to it's original location in the HDD/ODD frame, and it lines up perfectly!




(...and shot of the back where the connections go):


SSD mounting...
Initially I was going to use a 3.5" > 2.5" drive adapter and simply mount the SSD where the original 3.5"HDD went. But as the build went on, I needed that space for the Pico Power Supply. SO... since the SSD is so small, there was some extra space between the new optical drive and the part of the bracket where the old 3.5" drive went.

I got out my drill + tap set. Drilled 3 holes in the Corsair's mounting bracket + tapped them out to 6/32. Drilled 3 slightly larger holes in the G4's drive bracket to match.

Then used the screws normally used to mount the Corsair's metal bracket in a traditional computer case-onto the G4's bracket:


The space once occupied by only the G4's optical drive now holds both my new Sony optical drive AND the SSD!


Next: BoomR goes rogue from the Tonymacx86 Cube collective...
 

BoomR

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Part 3:

Several of my fellow Cube brethren used a plexiglass mounting system for their builds. I thought: Since I'm trying to mount my mobo in the same location & orientation as the original, I should try & cook up a mobo standoff system similar to what was used in the original cube.

AppleMacIdiot has a GREAT G4 mod where he rolled his own standoffs, too. So I took a page from his playbook (but with a slight twist): http://www.tonymacx86.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=62061

Tried to find some 6/32 screws with fine threads at several places around town, but that was a no-go. Then discovered if I was very VERY careful, 8/32 screws would JUST BARELY fit into the existing motherboard holes. I had to actually "screw" them in vs. just trying to force them straight through.


At any rate, lined up the mobo holes with the aluminum brackets that had the original standoff screw holes, then drilled some new holes. Used a system of multiple nuts to lock the motherboard in place + secure the standoffs to the aluminum brackets:



Once this was securely in place, I re-attached the latching mechanism to the aluminum cage brackets - still plenty of clearance to spare!



Well, rats - I forgot to grab some pics of the step where I cut out a space in the bottom of the cage for the backplane & all the connections. Once I got the motherboard mounted on the standoffs & then re-attached loosely to the bottom of the cage, I was able to trace out the opening. Then Dremel tool with metal cutting disc to the rescue. As you can see, it came out OK:



Note that this technique allowed me to save the original openings for the factory hardware power & reset switches. There was a method to my madness for this. In addition to leaving the oblong air vent next to the holes in tact for ventilation, it also allowed me a spot to put a hardware switch to use as a stop-gap until I could figure out how to make the touch-sensor power switch work.

I purchased a SPST momentary switch from Fry's Electronics to use as my temporary power switch. I re-cycled the wire & Molex connector from the original G4's BIOS battery and use that to wire to the power switch panel header. I had to re-orient one of the pins in the Molex connector to match up to the pin orientation on the mobo header, but you get the idea:

(fast-forward ahead later in the build so you can see the power switch in action):


Quick recap:
Optical drive mounted - check! SSD mounted - check! Motherboard (and assorted pieces parts) mounted to cage - check! Backplane cutout - check! Stop-gap power switch wired, installed, and connected to mobo - check!

Time to reassemble the cage to make sure that everything, indeed, fits, and to give myself a little sense of satisfaction! Here's a tour around the cube thus far:







Next: Power to the Cube!
 
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It just amazes me how you guys are able to bring life back to a cube. I'm so tempted in doing one and converting it to a media computer with a slim drive blue ray player!

Anyways, good luck and can't wait to see the end result. :)
 

neilhart

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I love G4 Cube hacks and your hack is coming along fine. I would like to see more detail on the space and fit at the proximity switch and more detail on the Pico PSU. And do you plan to have additional fan(s)?

Keep up the good effort.

neil
 

BoomR

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Part 4: Power & Air

Following some of the great build models that are on here, I opted to go the "Pico Power Supply" route vs trying to fit a 1U/ITX style power supply into the case. I probably had enough room for that, but I didn't want the added fan noise of the power supply. So I opted for the 12v DC > 12v DC Pico Power Supply in my build list (above) as it is 200W (my build list comes to about 180W, so this was the best call, and confirmed by mini-box tech support). The AC > DC power supply is pretty close to 200W as well; thus far, I've not had any issues.

Neil: there are lots of detailed photos at the links above for the Pico PS and the AC > DC adapter, so I won't take up space or bandwidth here to simply duplicate all of that (just a few key images). But definitely use the links & poke around a bit there.

Because of the size of the Pico's circuit board, I needed to use a 9" ATX 24-pin extension cable. Sorry - I forgot to include that in my parts list. But they are READILY available at Amazon, NewEgg, and all your regular outlets (I picked mine up at Fry's):

My plan was to locate the Pico circuit board in the cavity where the origina 3.5" HDD was.
I discovered after ordering the Pico, that I should have also ordered the companion P4-ATX cable. This option provides 12v ATX connector/power to the motherboard (typically somewhere near the CPU). If you order the cable from mini-box.com and make the request, they will actually solder the cable to the Pico circuit board before they ship to you. OOPS...

So while I was at Fry's, I bought a 9" ATX extension cable & simply cut the female end off.


Leave yourself a few inches of lead on the female socket you cut off - you'll need that in a bit! Then, Cindi at mini-box.com tech support gave me a quick tutorial via email on where to solder the connections. It was EASY - there are 4 very clearly marked solder connection holes right where the DC power comes into the Pico from the 12v jack.

Next, I realized that the 12v socket that came pre-wired on the Pico PS was not the same one required by the AC > DC power supply I purchased. SO - I cut off the existing socket, then wired up the female 4-pin ATX socket. Now I could connect the 12v DC socket that came with the AC > DC power supply to the Pico. Here's the socket that came with the AC>DC PS:

...and here's what it should have looked like when I was done:


Next, I drilled a round hole that was large enough to accommodate the connection from the AC>DC power supply, with a little bit of extra clearance - I didn't want to risk any shorting out or grounding issues. I used a couple teeny-tiny bolts/nuts to secure the socket in the bottom of the tray:

Again, here's what it looks like in action:


I then ran the ATX power extension cable over the CPU cooler & into the cavity once used by the old heat sink & the 3.5" HDD. Then I connected the Pico to the extension cable (Neil: do you see what's coming next? :D ).




Note: The Pico PS only has 20 pins whereas the extension cable has 24 pins. According to the ASRock user guide, this is a non-issue. Since the socket & plug are "keyed," you can only connect it one way successfully.

I had some Rubbermaid black rubberize drawer/shelf liner left over from when we moved into the house. I used a piece of that to line the area where the Pico circuit board would rest to prevent any chance of any of the solder joints shorting out against the HDD/ODD caddy (seen in the previous pics, as well as here):

Here's another view of the extension cable & the Pico:


...and finally:

In sleppek's build, he chose to use a couple 40mm fans at the top of the case to help draw air up & out. I really liked that idea! I chose a different 40mm fan - one that I found in stock at Fry's that was rated within a few dB of the Noiseblockers he used:



I realized that when I sat them side-by-side on the arms where the 3.5"hdd was screwed to the HDD/ODD cage, one of the mounting holes on each fan lined up virtually perfectly. Since my day-job boss recently awarded me "best use of zip-ties" in a recent "MacGyver" project for work, I thought: what the heck?! I'll use a zip-tie to secure one side of the fans together, then use the holes that line up to secure the fan in place on the HDD/ODD cage! Just for good measure, I cut a small strip of the Rubbermaid liner and sandwiched that between the 2 fans (see image above).

These SilenX fans come with some silicon fan mounts that fit PERFECTLY into the existing holes:

With the zip-tie in place, I simply pulled the silicon mounts through the holes, and voila!


Last but not least, I bought a case fan "Y" adapter cable (rats - another forget on my parts list) from Fry's, then connected both fans to the case fan motherboard connection:


(a little better look at the Pico, too)

..and that's it!! Here are a few pictures of everything in place (except the top of the cage with the touch-sensor switch):




..and a couple with the "lid" on the cage:



Neil: As for images of the proximity of the touch-sensor (and underlying circuit board) and my motherboard, those were hard to get. Here's the best I could do:





Fussing with getting the touch-sensor switch going is the very last thing I'll do - maybe in a few weeks. My next priority is a) get everything back in the case, and b) getting my install of Lion optimized. There is no DSDT for this board...yet. BUT:

I can for sure get up & running using nothing but EasyBeast, Lnx2Mac's NIC drivers, and the "all-in-one" ALC8xx (with audio rollback + non-DSDT enabler), FakeSMC, and NullCPUPowerManagement. BUT, it seems to boot really slowly (like it takes 30 seconds at the gray Apple logo/progress indicator) when it should only take 5-7. (seems to hang on "SNB framebuffer did not show up" and "ERROR: EFI ROM did not publish 'hda-gfx' associative properly...").

If anyone following along has some good suggestions on fine-tuning so it boots faster, I'm all ears!

Next... Back in the Cube case it goes...

EDIT (19June2012 - 6:00pm GMT -6)
I discovered that when I booted up the Cube, the fins at the top of the case JUST barely touched the 2 @ 40mm fans, causing some undue extra noise. SO... I decided that, instead of having the fans mounted atop the arms where the HDD was fastened, I'd attach them to the underside of those arms, in essence, having them hanging down from the arms via the silicon fan mouts (vs. sitting atop the arms as pictured above):



Basically, reclaiming the thickness of the fans, and ensuring that there is no contact with the fans & the ventilation fins:
 
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Loving it! Keep it coming! Makes me really wish I could find me an old cube...
 
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Looks Awesome! I didn't even know they had a Apple product that looked like that?
 

BoomR

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DavGerm4 said:
Looks Awesome! I didn't even know they had a Apple product that looked like that?
New York Museum of Modern Art includes a G4 Cube (plus the matching Harmon Kardon speakers) on display in their collection! WOOT! :headbang:
 
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