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Uncut G4 Cube Mod ( ongoing project)

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I think I didn't mention that the Cube was going to replace my old Mac Mini (2007) as my living room HTPC . The Cube logical location would have been in a tray below the HDTV , but with a one year old lurking around that was asking for troubles.

So I safely placed it in a shelf next to the HDTV.

I know that! Fortunately, here this is no problem anymore... Can't wait to see your final detail pics.


Yes , that will be my next challenge! The Cube build was a sort of rehearsal.

Cheers

Cool! Much people here have "done" their Cube project and now they are looking for an even more difficult project. :ugeek: :ugeek:
G5 = beginner
G4 Cube = advanced
iMac G4 = professional
and then? ... :lol:

MacTester
 
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Final Pictures

IO Ports

64081-io-ports-2.JPG


64080-io-ports-1.JPG


Wifi Antennas & Cabling
64086-wifi-antenna-2.JPG


64084-wifi-antenna-1.JPG
64083-io-ports-cabling.JPG


Cheers
iCubeFan
 
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Congratulations, you have done an excellent job in keeping to the aesthetics of the case, the purity of the original cube switch, and passive cooling, and well documented project also.

Good luck with the next build, did you say iMac G4?
 
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Congratulations, you have done an excellent job in keeping to the aesthetics of the case, the purity of the original cube switch, and passive cooling, and well documented project also.


+1 on Kiwi's comments. Great job iCubeFan, excellent work!


Ersterhernd
 
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Congratulations, you have done an excellent job in keeping to the aesthetics of the case, the purity of the original cube switch, and passive cooling, and well documented project also.


Good luck with the next build, did you say iMac G4?

Thanks Kiwi it would't have been possible without all of you.
Yes, the next one will be the iMac G4, this time I'm going to spend more time in the planning phase to avoid future issues.



+1 on Kiwi's comments. Great job iCubeFan, excellent work!


Ersterhernd

Thanks Erterhernd! I had lots of fun. It was my first mod and definitely not the last.

Cheers
iCubeFan
 
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note: I "moved" my replies to my Cube thread to avoid cluttering MacTester's iMac thread

Another possibility is based on the fact that each component functions independently, but in a certain combination an issue is evident, I would suspect a grounding issue, also know as a ground loop, Often caused by poor grounding, solution is to ensure everything is properly connected to a common ground.

The iFire AMP is connected to the PicoPSU's 12V/ground (via a molex connector) while the audio line out is connected to a NUC USB port. Could that be the cause?


Thanks for the links. Clipping is discarded.

PS Am a fan of your cube.

Thanks. It's a humble project compared to yours!
 
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Hi there iCubeFan,

Great work here. I'm in the process of following a very similar path, and have a few questions about the method you used to affix the mobo with mounting screws to the original heatsink.

Motherboard homemade standoffs & port location

Following MacTester's piece of advice I used four M3 hexagon socket screws ( with two nuts each) as motherboard standoffs.

It took me some time to adjust the mobo height, the heat spreader needs to be firmly pushed against the heatsink while adjusting the height or you end up having a gap between both parts.

The motherboad is now slightly bended , but nothing too serious.



I haven't glued the standoffs yet because I need to determine the optimal location of the ports.


I'll start with some questions, if you get a chance to reply that would be very helpful;


  • Did you end up gluing the screws to the heatsink?
  • Was thermal glue required, or just Araldite/two-part epoxy?
  • Is the motherboard still bent/warped to achieve sufficient pressure between the heatsink/heat spreader?
  • What are your temps like?

To explain my approach, I'm trying to get a completely original/stock port layout and use the original heatsink for passive cooling. I received a Rev.1.01 NUC thunderbolt motherboard which does not have internal USB or power headers, and has a very noisy/whiny fan. I'm in the process of trying to get Intel to replace it with a later rev. (any tips here would be useful, too.)

To achieve contact between the NUC and the large Cube heatsink, I've ordered some thin copper shims in various thicknesses from eBay. I'm not in a position to do any drilling through the heatsink for the posts/standoffs (which ideally would be the extent of my physical modding of the Cube) so glue/epoxy is my most likely method. I've used it before to attach a mobo in my Hackintosh in a G5 case, but obviously the pressure to maintain CPU contact with the heatsink makes this application a different case.

Otherwise, my intention is to make the G4 case as stock as possible, including;


  • the original power adapter (risky perhaps, but I have spares)
  • the original capacitive touch switch (again, I have 4-5 of these so can experiment)
  • an ADC connector to power a clear 20" Cinema Display (with an internal DVI->ADC converter, by feeding one 28V power rail back to the ADC connector and the other to a 28V-19V DC/DC converter)
  • borrowing the idea of using the FireWire ports for an alternative/custom I/O port (unsure what yet)

The only external signs I want to concede to modernity are;


  • an HDMI connector in place of a VGA connector
  • something else in the modem port (to be decided, perhaps Apple USB infrared attached to an RJ-12 to keep it stock?)

Thanks in advance, and thanks for all your work, and thanks to everyone in this forum for the great mods/suggestions/ideas/links etc.

I'm a Cube devotee, and in the past have modded a Cube as far as a G4 1.2GHz with silent fan cooling, and even had a rare black Sapphire 9800 Pro running externally. It was a sad day when I was forced to give it up as my main machine, I still have boxes of spare Cube parts/screws/cables/video cards of every description, two working Cubes, plus a spare shell. I'll keep them forever.

As a matter of fact, the .kext/driver modification of OS X began (IIRC) with flashed video cards, especially for Cube owners. I remember emailing various people around the world getting FX5200 video card ROMs flashed and working in the Cube (Dual DVI ports!!!!!).

The switch to Intel transformed the scene. From video cards, to everything. Nothing is safe! I'm astounded now at the time and effort that goes into it, and consider myself lucky to benefit from everyone's hard work.

The work here continues that tradition, and it's great. Love it.
 
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Hi dinnerplate

Glad to help you! I'm very happy with my Intel Cube but there is still room for improvement.I've several ideas I would like to try but I can't find free time lately
Did you end up gluing the screws to the heatsink?Was thermal glue required, or just Araldite/two-part epoxy?
Yes. The screws were glued to the heatsink using Araldite. No problems so far.
Is the motherboard still bent/warped to achieve sufficient pressure between the heatsink/heat spreader?
Yes. The motherboard tends to bend but as I said nothing too serious. To apply more pressure between the heatsink/heat spreader you can use the 3 holes in the CPU area. By glueing 3 more screws and using one nut at each side of the motherboard you can achieve additional pressure (This is one of the pending enhancements I have to try)
What are your temps like?
40º when idle
60º when fully stressed with prime95

There are 2 experiments I would like to try to improve cooling:
-Add a cooper plate (with a larger surface than the current one) between the heatsink and the current heat spreader.
-use heat pipes.

I received a Rev.1.01 NUC thunderbolt motherboard which does not have internal USB or power headers, and has a very noisy/whiny fan. I'm in the process of trying to get Intel to replace it with a later rev. (any tips here would be useful, too.)

You need to contact Intel Customer Support.If I remember correctly the first step was to fill in an on-line form after that a representative will contact you through e-mail.

If I were you I would go for the latest NUC generation. It has a Haswell i5, usb 3.0 x4 ,an internal sata port,audio in/out , ethernet and the most important a 5VSB pin needed for the touch switch.

the original power adapter (risky perhaps, but I have spares)
I think this is definitely doable but changelling. I don't know how small downconverters can be but for sure it will eat some precious inner space. Another potential issue may be heat generation.


the original capacitive touch switch (again, I have 4-5 of these so can experiment)
Doable as long as you have 5VSB available

an ADC connector to power a clear 20" Cinema Display (with an internal DVI->ADC converter, by feeding one 28V power rail back to the ADC connector and the other to a 28V-19V DC/DC converter)

I' m not sure about this one. I know ersterhernd uses an external dvi-adc connector in his cube builds. Maybe he can help with that.

borrowing the idea of using the FireWire ports for an alternative/custom I/O port (unsure what yet)

There aren't many available options. The obvious is USB 2.0.
You can have FW800 through Thunderbolt but you need TB to act as a mini Display Port if you want ADC and HDMI.

What about optical drive & round speakers are you planning to use them?

Good luck with your project and keep us posted!

Cheers
F.
 
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Thanks for your answers. Much appreciated.

To apply more pressure between the heatsink/heat spreader you can use the 3 holes in the CPU are. By glueing 3 more screws and using one nut at each side of the motherboard you can achieve additional pressure.

I think I'm following. What you suggest would spread the force working against the glue/adhesive across 7 screws/standoffs instead of 4, right? But the CPU screw holes are quite narrow, so will need something with a narrow screw and a wider base.

There are 2 experiments I would like to try to improve cooling:
-Add a cooper plate (with a larger surface than the current one) between the heatsink and the current heat spreader.
-use heat pipes.
I disassembled a 2006 MacBook to look at the heat spreader with two copper heatpipes. It's one of my options, but it looks a little awkward as both sides need to be perfectly flat (and parallel). Silverstone uses one heat pipe in their NUC case, but reports/reviews I've seen said it basically didn't work that well. Not sure if it's because the aluminium case is not an efficient heatsink, or whether the one heatpipe is inadequate for passive cooling.

pt14-1.jpg

Did you ever measure the offset of the northbridge chip to the CPU chip? I know there's a very slight difference in height. A temporary thermal pad may be necessary while my copper shims are on their way (on a slow boat from China.)

You need to contact Intel Customer Support. If I remember correctly the first step was to fill in an on-line form after that a representative will contact you through e-mail.
Re: USB and power headers, I have tried Intel support, but so far they've offered me a $1 thermal pad. Gee, thanks. Will continue to chase them.

If I were you I would go for the latest NUC generation. It has a Haswell i5, usb 3.0 x4 ,an internal sata port,audio in/out , ethernet and the most important a 5VSB pin needed for the touch switch.

Yeah. Much better specs, but already bought; the low price of the Thunderbolt model (under $200) sealed it for me. I also entertained the idea of putting a thunderbolt hub in play, either external, internal, or even inside a Studio Display! They remain expensive, though. And the Belkin at $150 has terrible reviews.

I don't know how small downconverters can be but for sure it will eat some precious inner space. Another potential issue may be heat generation.
The Cube power supply has two separate 28V rails, each rated at 105W, which are split at the Cube motherboard. One 28V rail goes to the VRM (of which I have 3 working). The other rail goes via a cable to the ADC riser card and passes directly through to the ADC display.

Internally, the 28V down to 19V is a way to go, but there are several options here. But yes, both the heat, and the 5VSB are an issue. The picoPSUs are a little messy just for 5VSB. But I also intend to power a 2.5" SSD or two. So I'm considering my options here.

What about optical drive & round speakers are you planning to use them?

Unsure about optical drive at this stage. May have one for purity's sake, but the pragmatist in me realises it will never be used. I have the original DVD-ROM and the DVD/CD-RW to choose from, plus multiple slimline DVD-Rs plus Apple brackets should I choose.

I only have one set of speakers, and won't be physically modifying them. With the removal of Apple USBAudio.kext I don't know how yet to make it work, needing extra voltage and the software to switch the amplifier on.

At this point I might begin drafting my own thread, so all my extraneous details will go in there. But I appreciate your help in getting this mobo attached to the giant Cube heatsink, which is the first and most important step. Everything else is details.
 
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