My Franken-Mac - A G4's Transformation

Franken-Mac Front

Click to enlarge

I must first say that I am a Switched PC User. I bought an iBook off of a friend because I was interested in OSX. I then wanted a Mac that I could edit Final Cut Pro on, because I was using Adobe Premier on a PC and I wanted to make the transition.

I bought this G4 466 Digital Audio on ebay, figuring that I would upgrade as funds became available.
The first thing that I did was up the ram from 128meg to 1.5 gig, and add an 80 gig hard drive to the 30 that was already in it.
I then bought a Lacie DVD Burner to replace the CDR, and Panther upgraded Jaguar.
The third step meant moving the 30 gig Hard Drive to a firewire box and adding a second 80 gig drive. Step four was the addition of a 1.33 gig processor, and a third 100 gig hard drive.
Step Five was moving the internals to a new ATX case.

The case transfer was very easy because I decided to keep everything that I could, and work on making it fit in the acrylic case. If you notice, I used the original power board and drilled holes into the side panel and connected it using standoffs. The power button was simply "super glued" to the case wall.

I never worked with acrylic before, but I found it pretty easy. Naturally the motherboard mounts were for a PC, but I was able to redrill holes and move the mounts to the correct location. (Someone ought to make a template that would show the exact place to redrill while aligning the PCI and AGP slots where they ought to be.)

The Acrylic case that I bought came with more that enough hardware to mount things like the speaker, airport antenna, and power button.

The only thing that made me somewhat nervous was adding a LED fan to the inside of the power supply. While it wasn't hard, I heard stories of a charged capacitor blowing people's hands off.

I went to ebay and bought all the lighted goodies, and as of now I am still waiting for some of them to come in. I would like to figure out a way to make acrylic handles for the top and bottom, and give this case a "clear g5" look .

Like I said, I think that it went very easy, but I must say that I have been building PCs for 10 years. I never knew that there were websites available like this one, and so many after-market upgrades out there for Macs. Once I found them, I was able to make my Mac into a Franken-Mac.

Franken-Mac Franken-Mac Back Franken-Mac Side

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g3head's picture


Get some sheet plexi (I doubt I'd use anything over 1/4th inch thickness) and cut them to the width you want. Then make a mold out of wood or clay (something that will hold up to high heat) Then place the sheet plexi onto the mold and gently heat the plexi. An oven or heat gun will work but you have to do it slowly otherwise it will bubble up. As it heats up it will take the shape of the mold. Once it finishes remove it from the heat scorce and let it cool and attach it to your case.


Dude, that sounds easy. I will try it. Does that mean I can make a custom case template/mold out of wood (with more curves; you know, more organic), and then sort of vacume-form/heat the plexi into that shape? I hear that a roto-zip is better for cutting plexi, is that true?

g3head's picture


Should work. Plexi is cheap so you may as well experiment.

Roto-zip: I've heard that works. I can see powertools being needed on stuff 1/4th inch thick but for the 1/8th inch stuff I use in my hacks I either score it with a utility knife and a straight edge then break it or get a hacksaw/copeing saw and cut it

DanR's picture


Looks pretty sharp. Shock

Just about anything should cut plastic. The trick is finding something slow enough that you don't melt it instead.

eeun's picture

Cutting plexi

Gene -beautiful job.

In one of my scroll saw books, they recommend putting masking tape over both sides of the plexi along the cutting line.
Something in the tape seems to lubricate the cut and helps prevent melting. This should be just as applicable to roto-saws, jigsaws and coping saws.
I tried it, and it does work, though there was still some cleanup to be done along the cut.

Heat forming works well, too. I molded a replacement turn light for the K-car out of plexi. It looks like stink, but it's the right shape. I used a heat gun and formed the plexi around a length of ABS pipe. The edges of the plexi tended to curl, so for doing a real job - not a quick slap job like mine Smile - I'd recommend a slow, even heat like an oven, and maybe leaving some extra plexi around the edges to trim off later in case it curls.

Plexi handles...

You might consider LEXAN, it doesn't shatter like plexi. (and you can bend it 90 degrees) If you can find a local supplier, you might just be able to get some scraps for free. I belive PET plastics perform best with heat. Call a local plastics supplier and tell them what you are trying to do.

If you want a cheap heat source, try a propane tank with a heater attachment. Build a box to suspend the plastic about 2 feet above the heating element.... watch for the plexi to sag. If you heat it up too much the aformentioned bubbles will appear in the plastic. The trick is timing. (ovens don't allow you to see this) P.S. you will need to build a frame to clamp your plexi into - it'll be hot. Use this frame to lower your heated plexi on the shape your trying to create...

Allways give yourself more material around the desired shape, as there will be distortion around the edges.
The tape trick does indeed work as it doesn't allow the molten plastic to easily travel down the cutting blade back into the cut. Also the faster the tool the better. Routers remove material at 30,000 rpms - no time for melting, the material is ejected too fast.

Cut and sand to perhaps 220 grit and apply a blow torch to the edges and melt them until they are clear and clean...

Oh one more thing, plexi bits are a must if you are new to the material... If you dont have them, drill S L O W to avoid cracks, it takes practice. Non Plexi bits "shoot" through the material too fast and grab and cause cracks... Plexi bits are more pointed, you could alter a bit with a little grinding...

Good Luck.

floatingtrem's picture


oh dear god! he doesnt want opaque handles!
lol, that would prolly work, but too much heat could be bad and potentially rouin a peice you spend alot of time working on,
you're gunna wanna wet sand it
start out with some 220, or higher, and slowly work your way up to around 1500, (you can find it at auto part stores)altrenate the direction of the sanding when you move up in grit to make sure you get rid of the grain form teh previous level
after its all nice and smooth with teh 1500, get some buffing medium, and buff that bitch like there is no tommorow

otherwise sharp mod,
get some sleeving on that psu!

and dont be too afraid of working in a PSU, i have even done it live, (with teh PSU plugged in and running) and while the one time i tried that i got 120v throught heart, i'm still here aint i?

westieg3's picture

good work

i like this alot. i hav an amd motherboard in my basement that i wanna put in a case and install beos on. i would get a powermac case but itd be hell to cut out the chassis and remove the painto from the case, but then again itd look real bad if i had a really boxy case. o well, the video card i have works with apples flat panel (he he), so i could make something very much like a mac. ill post it when im done.

now how would you mount those handles to the case so they support it and look cool at the same time?

p.s. omg 3 hard drives!?

Nice OWC Processor

Nice OWC processor upgrade. What do you think of it?