iMac Story, June 2005

I traded Animal Crackers for two iMacs. Sounds almost like a fairy tale - Barovelli & MacStalk. This is simply a log of the work done on them.

When a person answered my Craig's List post looking to swap a PC for an iMac ( I was looking for a DV - 400Mhz , DVD with fire wire) he offered not one but two. Only issues were that the one that matched my specs had no video, would shut down after boot, and the DVD did not work. The other was fairly weak, but ran OK. My adventuresome spirit overruled the immediate need - he said that the 400DV ran intermittently but had no video. I figured that if I could get it to work I would end up doing a case mod with the internal parts - an iMac in a Dell case or something. A little thinking and some research and I agreed to swap.

Mac One is a lime 333. It sports a 24x CDROM, 6 gig HDD, 32 MB of RAM, looks like it has a video memory upgrade as well. OS9 was installed on this one, with a few MSOffice apps and a bit of pr0n in the drive.

Mac Two is a Tangerine DV400 with 64MB RAM, a slot load DVD and a blank screen.

I traded Mac One to the offspring - he has a strong curiosity with computers and wanted it. I got the remains of his 'second computer' in trade. He used it much like his second computer - for a communications console and media player. Did a little exploring of Apple Script. We really wanted to put OSX on it, but it's capabilities were too weak. At the same time, I was looking for a RAM upgrade for the Weasel's iBook - that Tangerine Clamshell that already ran OSX with 128MB of RAM. See where it's going? Bought a 256MB RAM upgrade from PBFixit, installed that, then stuffed the 128MB module into it's expansion socket and voosh, we have 160 total now. OSX installed just peachy. Though it does not run as zippy as the iBook, it did give jr some more things to play with.

Playing around with OSX needed more than 6gig of hard drive. iStuff takes up lots of iSpace. I dug up a 14g hard drive that came from a HP Pavilion and stuffed it in. Little did I know that I'd meet up with my old friend (see the Packard Bell pages for that story) the hard disk size limitations. More research and using the disk tools on the OSX CD fixed that. That's about it - learned the RAM is somewhat similar across hardware, that an old PC hard disk replaces the original and that it's limited to 8gig partition.

Imac2

Mac Two is a funny tale. Yes, it did run, yes the display was totally blank. It would start, whirr and shut down. This model has an external monitor connector - I hooked it up to a PC monitor and got nothing. Some net searching using terms like "imac display run" and "imac shutdown" took me to message boards where others had been dealing with the same issue. The odd but least destructive cure offered was to push the power button on the main case repeatedly. OK. I'd laughed at Mac support that recommended hard offs and cold restarts as the only thing to try before packing it off to a service center. I'll try anything. I waved my hands, said that Jobs is not evil, turned my 8x10 picture of Bill Gates around and rapid punched the power button. Like shooting koopas with flameballs from Super Mario I pushed. After that assault I let it try and boot. It stayed on. No picture, but it ran. Woohoo. I had an OS9 disk, I tried inserting it into the slot and restarting the Mac with the C key held down - but it would not do anything. Time to operate.

True fact was the shutdown issue is related to the LED in the button was slightly crooked and would jam the power switch. After booting it would read a short and think that you wanted to shut down, or any movement of the case would activate the switch. A slight realignment of the LED was needed to fix that issue for good. One problem fixed.

After seeing the disassembly of the lime iMac, I was hoping for the same simplicity - wrong. There's a few more screws to take out and a screen to remove but it was not too bad. A little more care than say - changing a video card in a PC but not as hard as replacing a volume control on a TV. Got down to the DVD drive - had to disassemble a drive cage to get to that. Looked down the hole of the slot load drive. Wot? Who left a "Girls Under Glass" CD in there? That explains why the OS9 disk would not 'take'. You cannot see down the slot from the outside of the case, but once it's apart it was obvious. I put it back together, but did not reattach the case bottom. Another cross of the fingers and hit the power switch and it powered up. I pushed the manual eject button and the GUG CD popped out like it should. Put in the OS9 disk. Attach the external monitor. Hit power and hold down C. Finally see life in the darned thing, I installed OS9 using the external monitor. After the post install restart I was shocked to see the iMac's own CRT light up and display an image!! An ugly smeared make you dizzy image, but an image!! I hooked the iMac to my home network and did some web surfing from it. So I had come so far - the shutdown issue was fixed and the DVD was fixed. Still had display problems but I was where I thought I'd be - a working DV400 to do a case mod on.

Reassembly of the machine - I did not notice that the front of the case was not installed straight - there are some little tabs on the front that may stick and create a gap between the case halves in the front. That was the cause of the stuck CD - when trying to eject my OS9 disk it would bump the front of the case and stay in the drive. Another teardown - I thought that a strip of conductive gasket was too thick between the drive and the bracket and I adjusted it and put it back together again. In went "Office Space". It played, I tried to eject it and nope, no go Moe!. After the 3rd teardown I got it right. Remember - there appears to be a gap in the case halves, but you are only seeing the plastic rabbet joints, there is only a hair (or "hare" ha ha) thin gap. After that reassembly the drive worked perfectly. This kept me up late, I mistakenly left it running (it is silent in sleep mode) and went to bed. That was enough for a night.

Imac 2 Lives

The next morning I saw that I had left it on, and it was the longest time it had been on. I gave the machine's mouse a wiggle - yo and behold! The PC monitor lit up and showed that I indeed had fixed the shutdown problem. More interesting than that was that the external monitor was telling me that the Mac had downloaded several updates and did I want to install them? Sure. Same as Windows automatic updates, eh?

After a fairly quick download and restart I was greeted by a happy mac, SHARP AND CLEAR on it's own monitor as well as the external one. Turns out that one of the updates was a firmware update - and update that was required for installing OSX. Umm. so. It looked like someone had attempted to install OSX without the firmware update applied. It fouled the ROM and broke the video. This followed by a teardown that was not put back right - that bunged the power button and DVD slot. I had fixed a Mac - a Mac that was almost scrap. I put in more RAM, 2 256MB PC2100 modules from my one generation ago PC, that worked without a hiccup. I swapped the hard drive with a quiet WD 40 gig - this one required no partitioning, must be an improvement made somewhere along the line.

Imac 2 Gets it's OSX on

Footnote 2009: Sold both iMacs after awhile. Did use the Tangerine for record ripping with Audacity. Selling price was low, breaking even in cost of upgrades and original PC. Both went to families with kids.