Quadra 7100b/G3 - Power Mac 7100/G3 in a Black Quadra 700 case

Macintosh Quadra 7100b

Quadra 7100b - with Keyboard

A Power Mac 7100 in a black Quadra 700 case with a wireless keyboard

Introduction

I've always been a fan of hacking, case mods in particular. Recently I've felt the desire to do something a little less intricate, and at the same time a little more comprehensive, than the CC mods I usually do.

I love the Quadra 700 mini-minitower form factor, and while I respect the 68k purity of it (it's my favorite machine for running A/UX), I've always wanted a PPC Quadra 700. PPC601 cards are hard to find and relatively expensive, so I decided to make a cheapskate's PPC Quadra from what I had around the house: namely, an extra Q700 with a discolored case and no RAM, and a really beat-up 7100 with a terrible case and no CD-ROM drive.

I later added a G3 card, a MacPicasso 340 NuBus video card, and an old Dolch industrial 10.4" black LCD VGA monitor. The G3, MacPicasso and Dolch LCD set me back quite a few clams, but hey, hacking ain't supposed to practical!

You can see some pics of the monitor here: http://homepage.mac.com/mruben/macstuff/PhotoAlbum51.html

The black color for the case was inspired by a very cool black wireless keyboard I just got off eBay. The Acer Airkey is an infrared, ADB keyboard with built in mouse pointer and clickers. It's compact and just too cool.

Finally, I'd been wanting to try out Molecubond, a spray dye designed for cars and boats that actually bonds to plastic. Unlike paint, it won't peel off, it won't scratch off (unless you really gouge it), and it won't obscure the texture of the plastic.

Step 1: Get out the Jigsaw

Step One was to modify the Q700's case to fit the 7100's mobo. Both mobos share the same form factor -- they're the same size and, crucially, they have the same two cutouts in the middle, which allows the 7100's mobo to latch securely to plastic standoff hooks molded into the base of the Q700's case.

So the only real modification involved removing the rear port holes to accommodate the 7100's different port array. I also cut a hole in the rear of the Q700 to accommodate a monitor port from the 7100's HPV card, because I had no HDI45 adapter, and this mobo's HDI monitor port seems to be defective anyway. Here are the cutouts, made with a drill and a jigsaw. I started with a dremel, but it was taking forever and was melting the plastic -- yuk! (Inside, the Q700's shielding was cut with tin snips--wear gloves, the edges are razor sharp!)

Quadra 7100b - Cutouts

In the foreground is an Asante NuBus ethernet card I had lying around the house.

When I upgraded to a G3 card, I had to abandon the HPV video card - it would no longer fit in the case. Instead, I got the aforementioned MacPicasso NuBus card. I now wish I hadn't cut the HPV card opening, but it is relatively small and is in the back, so it's not a big deal.

Step 1a: Plow the Field

The top wouldn't close properly with the HPV card installed. It doesn't appear to stick up any higher than the ethernet card, but you can't argue with physics. So out came the Dremel. After three abrasive cutoff wheels shattered on me, I switched to the metal cutoff saw, which did the trick. The basement did smell like melted plastic for the rest of the night, however. Undecided

Quadra 7100b - Top Preparation

Step 2: Molecubond!

I'd read about the miraculous Molecubond, a paint that's actually a dye, and which promises to bond to plastic so that it can't be scratched or peeled off like paint -- all the while preserving the texture of the Mac's case.

Molecubond is now ColorBond, and is made by Bryndana International Ltd.:

Quadra 7100b - Molecubond Spray Dye

So I got two cans for -- ouch! -- $9.99 each, and went out in the yard to spray.

But first I had to remove the Apple logo and the plastic piece that lets the power LED shine through:

Quadra 7100b - LED plastic

That done, I began to spray the dye:

Quadra 7100b - During Painting

Quadra 7100b - During Painting

Molecubond preserved the case texture as promised, but it covers very thinly, as evidenced by the above pictures, taken before the final coat. And it stinks to high heaven. If I were indoors I would've passed out from the fumes -- seriously! Shock

I went through both cans, which promise a combined 14 square foot coverage, and the case -- which is about 4.5 square feet -- still needed one more coat.

I made sure to coat the front and top well, so they looked the most even:

Quadra 7100b - Painted Case

Quadra 7100b - Top Detail

Here's some detail on the front, around the floppy and logo area, and around the reset button holes:

Quadra 7100b - Front Detail

Quadra 7100b - front detail

And here are some shots of the little things: reset buttons, NuBus slot covers, and case feet:

Quadra 7100b - Reset ButtonsQuadra 7100b - NuBus Slot Covers

Quadra 7100b - Case Feet

After I took these pictures, I bit the bullet and got a third can of Molecubond. The case now looks much better, deeper black and much more even in color.

Step 3: Putting It All Back Together

This part was fairly simple, with only one little trick. Here's the 7100's motherboard, fully populated with 72MB RAM (4 16MB sticks I had laying around, plus 8MB on the motherboard). Also shown are the cabling, the HPV card and the ethernet card:

Quadra 7100b - Donor Motherboard

Here's everything stuffed back in the painted case...

Quadra 7100b - Assembly

... except for the speaker. The Q700 has a different shaped speaker, (below, left) with a different impedance and a different motherboard connector:

Quadra 7100b - Speaker Swap

So the 7100's speaker must be used. And because of its different shape and size, it won't fit into the Q700's speaker enclosure. So I attached it to the case with super-velcro:

Quadra 7100b - VelcroQuadra 7100b - Speaker Installatino

Quadra 7100b - Speaker Installation

BUT, I soon discovered that the original speaker's plastic bracket also helps steady the motherboard in its case. So I cut off the top of the bracket and reinstalled it, re-stabilizing the mobo.

Finally, I snapped on the top and put on the feet:

Quadra 7100b - Painted Case

In outdoor light, or by the flash of a camera, some unevenness in color showed up. But now, with the third coat of Molecubond on, it's a non-issue.

Step 4: Fire It Up!

I'd installed a 2GB Seagate Barracuda I got from who-remembers-where, and I had no idea if it had an OS on it, much less one that would boot the 7100. So in addition to a monitor, I attached an external CD-ROM drive in case I had to install an OS from CD.

Finally, I attached the super-cool Acer Airkey wireless keyboard, pressed the power button (the Airkey has no power key Sad ), and voila!

Quadra 7100b - Up and Running

Turns out the Barracura had OS 8.0 on it and booted right up. It was rather noisy, however, and I got sick of listening to it. So I swapped in a 500MB Apple/Quantum drive and installed OS 8.6.

Now, at this point the Quadra 7100b got a little full of itself and started posing like the old Beige G3 towers, with its keyboard leaned up against it, sort of like a jacket slung over the shoulder:

Quadra 7100b - with Keyboard

When not in use, the keyboard fits perfectly on top of the machine:

Quadra 7100b - with Keyboard

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dankephoto's picture

nice job!

Well done!

A couple of quick queries/comments if I may be so bold:

The black looks nice but doesn't match the KB, at least in the pictures . . . are any other colors that might be closer, say a dark gray? Also re: using Molecubond vs. something more 'conventional' - while most gloss and semi-gloss paints will cover the grain, flat/matt colors usually don't. And are a lot cheaper!

How about ditching the floppy altogether and install a slot-load CD drive? There are 1" high scsi slot-loaders, but they may be difficult to source and too long to fit (unless you shift the CD drive to the middle/left side of the box.) A slim/laptop drive would fit nicely in the floppy area, but the cost of the required ATA-scsi adapter would triple your outlay so far. Hmm, of course if one moved the CD drive to the middle/left one could use most any mechanism.

However, you've inspired me to build my IIcx-G3. Laughing out loud

Dan K

ps: wondering what could one stuff into a full-sized Mac II box? Yikes! Tongue

tmtomh's picture

Follow-ups, and Thanks Dan

Thanks for the kind words and suggestions, Dan!

UPDATES:
PAINTING: First off, I got a third can of Molecubond/Colorbond, and the case now looks much better.

CPU:
I've managed to get a G3 card with PDS pass-through for $25 shipped from LEM Swap (thanks Mikie!), but I'm not sure if I will still be able to get the case lid on after installation. The HPV card rests on a NuBus slot and the pass-through cable comes in from the top, so it might be too high. In that case I will have to find a NuBus video card. But it would be cool having a Quadra 7100b/G3!

RESPONSES TO DAN:

MOLECUBOND VS. SPRAY PAINT:
I agree that next time around I'll go with Krylon Fusion or a similar "bonds to plastic" conventional spray paint. Not only is it cheaper ($4/can vs $10/can), but I've found no way to prevent Molecubond from spattering, which is just unnacceptable. If I hadn't used black, the spatters would be really visible and it would look terrible.

COLOR MATCH:
Yeah, the keyboard doesn't match the case; that's why I said the case was "inspired" by the KB. Wink But the real reason is that no store in my area had any color except black (or beige, which would've been sublimely pointless Tongue ). I could've ordered graphite or charcoal online direct from the company, but I couldn't be sure of a match, and it would've been $13/can plus shipping! Yet another reason to use something like Krylon Fusion next time: more color choice locally.

CD/FLOPPY:
I did think about that, but as you note the problem with using the floppy slot for a CD is that the PSU prevents installation of a device as deep as a CD drive. I have thought about an internal card reader of some sort, and I will look into that some more, but it would need to be SCSI based (ATA-SCSI converters are expensive as you say), which would be hard to find an probably expensive.

eeun's picture

Nicely done!

I love the G3-ish pose.Wink

I found the 700 case was a real challenge to paint due to the grilling on the top and bottom (or side and side depending on where you put the feet).

The PC-compatibility card is also a bit big, and requires some shaving from the lid. I never thought to cut a hole for the HPV card...I'll have to look into doing that, or going hog-wild and making space for an AV card.

Do you have any trouble keeping the mobo in place without the speaker plasic installed?

tmtomh's picture

HPV and mobo

Thanks for the kudos, eeun,

The motherboard does move a little bit without the speaker assembly, but the PSU seems to keep it in place well enough. The case slots into which the PSU slides prevent the PSU from moving more than about 1/16", and the PSU fits pretty tight into its receptacle on the motherboard. At any rate, the slight shift when I attach peripherals from the rear hasn't been enough to activitate the reset buttons (i.e. mobo goes forward, engaging reset buttons), so I figure it's pretty stable.

But I will re-examine this, to see if there's a way I can chop down or modify the speaker assembly to fit in without getting in the way of the new speaker.

UPDATE: I did it:

Quadra 7100b - Motherboard Stabilization

Quadra 7100b - Motherboard Stabilization

As for painting and the grilling, one advantage of Molecubond/Colorbond seems to be that it atomizes into really small particles. So there's no filling in of gaps as there might be with paint.

As for the HPV card hole, it was really easy. I found I could force the card into place before cutting, which allowed for (relatively) easy marking and calculation of where to cut the hole. I will say that it would have taken me 3 or 4 times as long if I had tried to get an exact, professional looking result. But since it's on the back I don't really care.

Cutting a larger hole for an AV card shouldn't be any more difficult. It'd probably take an extra five minutes. But I do recommend a jigsaw rather than a Dremel.

Best,
Matt

MacTrash_1's picture

Well done.....makes me want t

Well done.....makes me want to ge my IICX out of the attic and finish the project I started. Those are really cool cases !

Out of curiousity, what did y

Out of curiousity, what did you end up doing with the leftover Q700 motherboard?

<<>

Keyboard

How do i contact you about aone of those keyboards or where can i buy one at.

tmtomh's picture

Leftover Q700 motherboard

Hi jruschme,

Currently the leftover mobo is just sitting in my work area.

If you're interested in it, send me a PM on Applefritter or email me at mruben -at- critpath -dot- org.

Thanks!

Best,
Matt

tmtomh's picture

Keyboards

Hi,

If you -- or anyone else -- wants one of these keyboards, feel free to send me a PM here on 'fritter or email me directly at mruben -at- critpath -dot- org.

I have a few of them left. As I wrote in my hack article, I'm happy to sell them for $8 apiece plus shipping. WIthin the U.S. shipping will be very reasonable. Outside the U.S. it will be pretty expensive unfortunately.

Best,
Matt

dsharits's picture

Wireless KBD

Do you know how much shipping would be to 34655, Florida? I want one of those keyboards, if you have any left.

Daniel

tmtomh's picture

Shipping to FL

HI Daniel,

I do have a few of these left. I will be happy to set one aside for you.

Shipping to the Florida ZIP code you've provide me would be $7 (for a grand total of $15). That'd be via Fedex Ground, which provides a tracking number and included insurance.

I am happy to give information in this forum thread, but I would encourage interested folks to PM me here on 'fritter or email me directly at mruben -at- critpath -dot- org if they would like to buy one of these KBs. As of now I have a few left, but I don't know how long they will last, and if folks contact me directly, it will help me keep track of who's first in line.

Thanks!

Matt