Mac Conversion Project

A few people seemed interested in this: I’m working on a project to convert a Mac Classic into a ‘modern’ piece of hardware. Got some time on it today.

And there’s pics:

Pics of Work Volume 1

The lithium battery in this vintage 1990 machine leaked (not my fault!) which will require some cleanup work. Got the CRT loose without any damage, although I had to bend the chassis slightly to get the motherboard out as it was stuck in by dried battery leakage. Got a guy who wants the parts as-is so they’re spared the dumpster, assuming the damage doesn’t scare him off.

I’ve got an LCD panel ordered, which will be the next major step after cleanup. It’ll take a couple weeks as it’s coming from China, though.


I’m eager to see how this goes - because I want to do it too! :smiley: If the LCD is good, you’ll have to tell us what it is and where you got it, because finding an appropriate sized LCD seems to be the biggest sticking point in this kind of project!

Yeah, the LCD is hard to find. I’ve got a source on eBay that has a couple with different specific panels and boards to drive it. I think the one I got will fit with a tiny gap or overage (on the vertical, I think) but we’ll see when it arrives. I’m considering running piece of thin black foam material to act as a ‘gasket’ of sorts anyway.

I’m probably keeping the ‘Monitor’ and ‘PC’ as essentially discrete elements: The monitor is going to get attached to the front bezel and use a separate power assembly, unless I can find a way to power it off the motherboard.

The panels I’ve found (on eBay, from China) seem to be targeted at people doing in-car entertainment systems and similar. The ‘good ones’ come with a separate board or boards that handle the inputs and controls, but can be mounted as needed.

It’s been a long time since I cracked open a ‘Toaster’ and my memory of the inside layout was a bit off. I don’t want to even try to scavenge the internal chassis (which has a ton of battery damage) and was mistaken in that I thought there were rails inside the plastic chassis I could support an internal ‘tray’ on. I’m still thinking I’ll do the ‘tray’ but it’ll either be self-supporting or on some rails epoxied tot he case.

Any grounding issues with connecting the motherboard and related bits to a framework made from acrylic? I’ve seen this done the same way… I’ve seen people run bare motherboards, though!

My other brainstorm (of sorts) is wondering if I should position two fans in the existing cooling grate so as to have one that sucks air in on top, a baffle so air has to go to the front, and then a second fan blowing out. Here’s some bad ASCII art to explain.

|                          |
#X --> (Fan pulls air in)  |
#-----                     | Glass Screeny-Bit
#X <-- (Fan pushes air out)|
|                          |
|                          |
|                        __|
| Here Lies Motherboard |

Put the fan blowing out in the top slot. Heat rises and you don’t want to suck the warm air right back in.

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Yeah, switching direction might make sense. The quality of the ‘fan cage’ will be slightly dependent on my assembly.

I think the main thing is I’m looking at adding a small piece of material so the air actually goes to to the front of the enclosure instead of just making a shortcut between ‘in’ and ‘out’.

I should probably price out a couple of the nice quiet fans so it doesn’t sound like my network lab rack when it’s fired up.

I’m not entirely sure about the Classic cases but under the “chin” are there not small vents like there are on the Macintosh Plus? You could have a fan at the top of the rear expelling air that has been drawn in under the front. Added bonus: can help cool the monitor logic board. I’m not saying I distrust unbranded screens from China, but I am saying I’ve had a hand-held LCD TV explode into flames in my hand before and it was not pleasant.

This is an illustration of what I mean:

That might be workable, too. I think the default chassis had a small fan to pull air in through there. When i was pulling out the bits the fan was full of 25 years of lint, of course.

I’ve got my likely motherboard checked, so I’m going to start sketching out a rough layout for the internals this week.

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+1 for straight-through cooling as opposed to “swirling”

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Circulation swirling is one of the many, many reasons my belovèd PowerMac 6200 was declared “worst Macintosh ever” by several high-brow and low-brow websites.

What did I care though, it was my first colour PC and hot damn did those 256 colours look good!

Mini-itx boards have made stuff like this so cool.

But I sometimes think it’s almost too easy now.

I used to service (well, troubleshoot) those things in all its 9,623,643 variants in the late 90s. I lost count of the number of units that came in with a volume button stuck, or a CD-ROM that wouldn’t open.

One lecturer had a Performa 6260 and would bring it in almost every other week to have something fixed. I remember it vividly because it smelled like chicken noodles (I know this because I found one such specimen in the case as I was popping the top. Eww) and although she had a severe limp she insisted on bringing everything (minus the monitor) in, every time.

Sorry @balance, please continue.

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Interesting little project! May everything go well! :slightly_smiling:

Would love to “convert” one of these babies :


Ahh! The Compaq Portable I or “Luggable” as we called them.
I can still see the Lotus 123 logo burnt into the amber or green CRT!
Introduced me to the single-use tool.
To remove the power supply you needed a 90’ socket thing-a-majig.
Lo be the tech that did not have that tool in his case… along with this beauty.
The Mac "Cracker"

While you could prise off the cover of a Mac Plus/SE without one, this tool was essential when speed was of the essence. I do believe I still have one of these stuffed in a drawer somewhere…

Memories… misty water-colored memories…



I replaced the CRT in an SE in the mid 90s and the kit I got came with a long-handled hex-wrench and a cheesy clamp to replace this tool. I don’t think I needed the clamp that time, but I did here, actually. Thankfully, I could still find the clamp, although my extra-long Hex wrench was long gone. I ended up ordering a pack of long bits and one of the dozens of ‘phone repair kits’ that’s got all the weird screw bits you’re likely to see these days.

Did some cleanup this weekend. Got all the ‘built up’ battery goo off, at least. Some discoloring of the case, but it’s inside.

Slightly annoyed as my plan to give the CRT and other innards to someone local to deal with is falling through. They’re a pain to ship (it’s a loose CRT and high voltage board, then the chassis and motherboard, and a few loose bits like the HD) and I really don’t want them anymore.

Otherwise, pretty much on hold until my CRT comes in.

Do you not have a local waste reclamation site? We have them dotted all over the country, with bins for the regular stuff like food waste (if you’ve overfilled your collection bin for example) and garden mulch but they also have containers for electronics and stuff.

We do, and my county is actually pretty good about such things. The Dump (Official name is the ‘County Transfer Station’ actually) is free to residents so I don’t have to pay unless I’m taking in very large amounts. The electronics bins there tend to be more for ‘intact’-ish stuff like old PCs and such, though. They may give me funny looks.

Mainly I wanted to at least try to keep the parts in circulation for those that want them, A circa 1990 68k-processor based machine is about as useless to me as a bicycle is to a fish, but some people do like keeping the older machines going, and I doubt anyone is making replacement 9" B&W CRTs anymore. The motherboard and other parts less so, but again, collectors might want spares.

(Are CRTs being manufactured anywhere, actually? I remember there was a period where they were still preferred for color-sensitive work, but that was years ago. No one really wants the bulk of a CRT, and I don’t think they’ve become hipster-popular yet.(

Ah, the Blyth Valley County Waste Reclamation Site (try saying that when you’re drunk) has a sign on the door of the “computer and entertainment technology” container that specifically says they send it to Africa for reclaiming, so it doesn’t matter what state it’s in, it’ll be torn apart anyway.

I think either Sony or Sharp were manufacturing CRTs last. I know for definite the last Sharp factory in Europe ceased fabrication of CRTs on 2012-09-28 so there’s that, but I don’t know about worldwide. Which is a pity because the idea of owning miniature particle accelerators and using them for entertainment is in itself entertaining.

Hey, that was my first PC!

It was handed off to me by my sperm donor, and got me through several semesters of college, until I gave him all the money I had saved to get a 386 (and still with a monochrome monitor).

And that was while the 486 was on the market.

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Monitor is incoming, assuming I do not receive a box full of shiny rocks. Or a bobcat. Always possible with eBay.

I also ordered somt threaded rods I can use as supports for the acrylic pieces I’m using internally. I might stop by a hardware store and pick up some rubber bushings to act as insulators, but I think I can get clever with this so I’ll have the motherboard on one layer, then the SSD(s) above it. Still ened to order a motherboard… I want tog et the monitor connected first.

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