Maestro

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This is the story of the rebirth of a lowly PowerMac 7200/75. One night after church I was talking to our assistant pastor when he mentioned that someone donated a computer to the church. He said it was a Mac and they couldn't use it and asked if I wanted it.  Of course I accepted even before I saw it.  When I loaded it in my car that night I had no idea what this discarded Mac's fate would be.  I was just going to keep it around to play with or possibly sell it on eBay.

7300

One day as I was contemplating what to do with my newfound treasure; the idea hit me like a bolt of lightning!  My girlfriend is a pianist and was starting to do her own arrangements so I thought this would be the perfect gift for her.   The 7200's one-piece cover and it's three PCI slots made my job somewhat easier.  I had a Performa 6360 which was manufactured AFTER the 7200; the 7200, along with other Powermacs with the same design factor, was way ahead of the Performa series as far as case design and upgradeability.

cover

Time was of great concern with this project since it was to be a Christmas present.  I had about 3 months to complete it and the fact that she was always coming over to the house made things a little challenging.  The case was fairly simple to do, but was very time consuming due to the amount of paint involved.  I used 100 grit sandpaper to rough up the case and take off a little of the texture.  I smoothed it out with some 320 grit before priming. As for paint, I used strictly Rust-Oleum lacquers.  I lost count with how many coats I used around 10; let's just say it was a lot.  I made the mistake of transporting the case between work and home.  Some of the coats of paint were just to cover up scratches and scuffs from banging into doors or chairs.  If at all possible, find a place for your project and leave it there until it's done. One thing you'll notice is the repositioning of the Apple logo. I just pried it carefully with a knife from its original spot on the left  side of the case, painted it gold, and glued it to the middle.  I thought the logo was a piece of molded plastic, but it's actually made from a thick metal foil. In any case, be careful when removing one if you're planning on keeping it because you could bend it pretty easily.  The logo was recessed into the case so I filled the hole with epoxy then sanded it smooth.  After the case was done it was onto the mini-piano lid!

lid

The lid is made from 1" poplar.  Poplar is a hardwood with a smooth finish and is fairly inexpensive.  I drew the pattern and had my girlfriend's grandfather cut it out with his scroll saw.  The hinges that attach the lid to the case are just brass middle hinges you can find at about any hardware store.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to use screws in the top of the case for fear of hitting something on the inside.  Fortunately, the screws are just on the inside edge of the case and don't interfere with anything...whew.

The 12" brass hinge that connects the two pieces of the lid was not an easy thing to find.  Most of your major hardware chains (Home Depot, Lowe's) don't carry anything smaller than a 3' hinge.  My girlfriend's father finally tipped me off to a small hardware store that specializes in hard-to-find woods and hardware. For the finishing touch I added felt pads to keep the lid from scratching the case and act as shims to add the proper spacing between the lid, case, and lid pieces.  The peg that props up the lid is made from scrap wood and isn't attached so it's removable. The two biggest and most important pieces were done and now we're headed into home "base", get it?  Base?  Nevermind, it was funnier in my head.

base_full

The base is a piece of 1"x12"x14" pine board that's had the edges rounded and painted black.  I wanted to make my own piano legs, but didn't have the time or the tools.  While looking for a hinge at Lowe's I found these pre-made hardwood legs.  All I had to do was screw them into the base and paint the whole thing black. The legs also have felt pads on the bottom to keep them from scratching the desk and help it slide.  I didn't mention it before, but these felt pads have self adhesive backs and can be purchased at most hardware and crafts stores.  Maestro sits on top of the base and isn't actually attached.  I did this to make it easier to transport if the need arose.

marble_blk black_mouse

She really loved the mouse and thankfully it was one of the easier things to do.  Since she was used to using a trackball mouse I bought one off of eBay and painted it matte black. To prep the mouse I removed the trackball, covered the bottom and optical sensor with tape, and paper ball to stuff into the trackball bed. I used a gold paintpen to draw the treble clef and to do the "Maestro" lettering on the case.

keyboard

The original keyboard for the 7200 had a key missing. Fortunately, I still had the keyboard from my old Performa 6360. There are just a few screws holding it together so it was a simple matter to take the actual keyboard out for painting. I also had to remove the rubber feet which were later reattached with a little glue; Superglue is a wonderful thing! I was going to paint the keys white, but I didn't want to have to repaint all the letters and numbers. With the painting done I focused on gathering peripherals and system upgrades.

Here's a list of accessories and such:

  • Black Antec 17" monitor purchased at a computer trade show
  • Benwin GX-6 black flat panel speakers
  • ADS Tech external Firewire® 20GB hard drive
  • iXMicro 8MB PCI video card
  • Logitech USB Optical Trackball Mouse
  • Sonnet Tango Firewire/USB PCI Combo card
  • Sonnet Crescendo G3/400 PCI upgrade
  • Mac OS 9.1
  • 192 MB RAM

Almost everything I added worked without a hitch, except for the processor upgrade. After following the directions and installing the card, Maestro wouldn't boot up. After swapping around the memory several times (Sonnet says you have to have the same amount or more memory on the card as is installed on the motherboard) I called tech support at Sonnet. They were very informative and helpful but I still couldn't get it to boot up. Before totally giving up and removing the card I tried a memory configuration that I hadn't tried yet. I installed one 32MB DIMM on the motherboard and one on the card, hit the power button, and PRAYED. To my great pleasure it started up and was zipping along at four times the speed! After playing with the memory some more, I was able to add a 128MB DIMM to the card for the final total of 192. A couple of things I regret are not taking more pictures through each step of the project and not using a 7500 motherboard because it would have been cheaper and probably run a little better; oh well, hindsight is 20/20. You'll be happy to know that Maestro is humming along quite nicely and is busy producing musical arrangements. It's good to know that another old Mac has been given new life.

full_view sonnet
surprise first_use key_closeup