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The Mac PC

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Home of the confused Macintosh Classic PC.
This is the home of the Macintosh PC. It is basically an old Mac Classic case with the CRT ripped out and PC motherboard plus a 10.4″ LCD flatpanel put inside it. Some pictures are shown below. Images open in a new window.

The Apple Mac Mini has been released recently. The plan is to get one of those, and if the novelty of the small footprint wears off mount that inside one of the empty Macintosh SE formfactor cases i have lying around.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
Front view what the… Side view

Images on this page were taken with a digital camera, and due to my general ineptitude with any sort of optical devices some of them are warped/curved/skewed. Sorry.

The document is broken up in fairly random fashion. I am a horrible writer.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
That ‘aint MacOS Internet Explorer I see this a lot

The idea was to put a perfectly working PC compatible motherboard into the Macintosh Classic form factor case. The secondary goal was to leave the case alone as much as possible. Structural changes internally were okay, but from the outside the machine should simply appear like a Mac to even the trained eye.

This meant avoiding things such as drilling holes into the case, or anything that altered the outside appearance of the design (within limits of course). Overall it has been largely been a success.

The third goal was to make something suitable for LAN party usage and as a television replacement. The jury is still out on this one.

The machine featured in this page is my “guinea pig” specimen, OLD BOB. It has lots of rough edges but proved that this project can be done. Bear in mind it was also built within the confines of a New York apartment WITHOUT annoying the neighbors.

That explains all the rough edges in the cutting work. I also had a disturbing lack of patience during this project. This page will attempt to discuss all of the major issues i encountered during the construction process. It is NOT a step-by-step manual. The idea is to prevent you from making the same mistakes that i have made during the construction process. No responsibility is taken if you accidentally destroy any equipment or inflict any bodily harm on yourself during your attempt at this insanity.

That having been said, let’s begin.

Bring out Your Dead

This all started when i stumbled into the possession of a couple Mac classic cases. They landed in my lap when i found four hulks gathering dust in a corner of the basement at my ex-employer’s office space. We were in the midst of an office move and they were basically left to be abandoned. I snapped them up and hauled them off, not quite sure what i was going to do with them.

Of course some alternatives to freak luck are listed below:

  • jagshouse.com – Jag has compiled a monster resource page for Mac Classic machines and parts.
  • Low End Mac – There are some resources here for Mac Classic formfactor machines.
  • Sun Remarketing Inc. – A mail order company that tends to carry lots of legacy Mac hardware.

You definitely want to obtain non-functional computers in performing this upgrade. There is a fairly strong Mac Classic user community so whacking off a perfectly working computer means one less in the body pool for hardcore enthusiasts to use or salvage parts from. If you really must off a working computer, be sure to keep the remaining parts around. The CRT tubes are fairly valued for example.

If you wish to learn more about the Mac Classic series of computers, the links below are a good place to start.

  • jagshouse.com – Classic Mac Tutorials page at Jag’s House. Tons of stuff.
  • everymac.com – Mac Classic specs at EveryMac?.com.
  • yahoo.com – Yahoo.com’s section on the Mac Classic lineup.

Gutting the Case

I don’t know what the deal is about stripping one of these things down. An Apple-literate friend of mine made it seem like a task akin to deciphering the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt without the Rosetta stone. In reality it turned out to be no big deal.

  • Remember that the screws do not need to be tightened too hard in the plastic.
  • Very little pressure is needed or else the plastic strips easily.

Having the right tools of course made things so much easier. You will need a Torx T15 sized wrench, or a 3/32″ hex wrench to open the screws that are inside the case. In particular there is one section that is tricky. The top handle area has two screws that are recessed fairly deeply within the case. You will need a tool that is long enough to reach these screws. I found a 3/32″ inch tool in the garbage pit at our office that fit the trick. I’m not sure of the origins of this tool but you can see it pictured below.

Anyhow even a tool bit with an extension would do the trick. Whatever it takes. The self-tapping screws are not tightened very tightly, nor are they intended to be.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
The very long hex wrench Remove from face-down The stripped-down case

Removing the front bezel from the rest of the case is a bit tricky. Do not use tools to do it. Just make sure that you have removed all of the screws. Sit the case on a desk/workbench in front of you. Protect the finish by placing the computer on a smooth rag.

  • The best way to remove marker prints and blotches is with an old toothbrush and some general purpose cleaner such as Formula 409 or Windex.
  • If you want to glue things to the case, it is made of PVC so use PVC cement.

Grasp the sides of the bezel and start wiggling it out towards you. Lift upwards somewhat while opening. Be mindful of the fact that the entire component set inside the computer is attached to the front bezel.

Actually it is attached to a sheet metal chassis that is in turn attached to the bezel. Be patient. The case is stuck together rather tightly, but do not use tools or else you will mar the casing.

Once you have the case open, simply take everything apart. Be methodical. I left this part vague on purpose. I had previously never seen one of these computers gutted out before so examining the insides and learning how everything was laid out was actually a treat. If you slaughtered a perfectly working Mac to do this, try to keep the rest of the components intact.

Everything seems to be very intuitive once you have popped the case open and have all of the Mac guts out in front of you. The end goal is to have just the plastic case and the sheet-metal chassis left over as pictured above.

From this point forward it is assumed that you understand that the sheet metal chassis will need to be cut/trimmed according to taste. There are several ways to skin this cat so be creative.

Motherboard Fit

One thing I realized quickly was that MicroATX motherboards don’t quite fit. It was just a matter of cutting out a 9.6″ x 9.6″ cardboard square and trying to make it fit somehow.

No such luck. That was such a shame, since it is a more modern form factor and is widely supported by motherboard vendors. Hope is not lost however as you can always fudge in some other type of form factor. A quick listing of what i have used/considered is provided below:

  • FlexATX – Probably the best fit of the bunch. You can arrange the board flat in the position of the original motherboard. However heatsink size becomes an issue as the board is basically directly under the metal chassis. Creative hole-cutting is required, and the usage of a full-sized internal CDROM/DVDROM becomes very tight.
  • Baby AT – A strange fit, but works well. You will have to turn the board on its side and stand it straight up. Unfortunately Baby AT is hard to find these days as it is being phased out. Companies such as ASUS still make boards of this type. You will most likely be only able to use very small peripheral cards for your PC. ISA slots have a tight fit, and the longest feasible card for use becomes about 5″ long.
  • NLX – The fact that this board needs a daughterboard is a turn off. I did not choose this route but it appears very difficult to fit.
  • MicroATX – Too big 🙁

A very good guide to various form factors and their sizes can be found here at PCGuide.com. For my Mac OLDBOB i used an old but reliable motherboard that was kicking around. It is a trusty Asus VX97, with an AMD K6-2 233MHz processor. There is 128MB of RAM on the systemboard. Everything was made from “junk”, things that other people threw away because it was “too slow”. Even the CDROM was rescued from the trash heap. My next Mac will use a FlexATX board so internal space can be maximized.

Mounting the Power Supply

The type of power supply of course on the motherboard you select. Ideally, this part should be mounted first. The reasons for this are not too obvious in the beginning, but just trust me.

  • BabyAT – There are not too many choices here, but at least they exist.
  • Normal AT power supply – These fit, but it will monopolize one entire side of the case.
  • Slimline AT power supply – These are nice as they are very compact but some modifications will need to be made to it. The cables will most likely need to be lengthened.
  • FlexATX – There are a variety of smaller form factor power supplies available. Some of them are listed below.
    • A half-depth 150 watt ATX power supply – Saves some space and power consumption on the front.
    • The eMachines 145 watt ATX power supply – Rather an awkward fit since the fan points the ‘wrong’ way, but its compact and is an option nonetheless.

Below are some pictures of how i mounted the power supply. It is by all accounts quite ugly. I was working in a New York city apartment with clearly inappropriate hand tools. Next time around i will have the luxury of at least a real workshop. However, no excuses for me. Check out the photos of the shoddy workmanship for yourself 🙂

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
Closeup of the back The AT power supply fits inside snugly

Internal Storage

You can get fairly creative in mounting internal peripherals. A regular PC floppy drive can be used, as in the pictures. The only drawback is that i have had is that it is hard to insert the floppy disk itself, because the plastic bezel is in the way. I chose to leave the plastic alone to preserve the original look, but a recess will need to be cut in the case for practical use.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
Closeup of the floppy drive Example cutout pattern for floppy

You can even mount a CDROM or DVDROM internally without too much case alterations. Something like this will need to sit flat on the metal chassis.

Of course a trayless device such as the Pioneer drives would have to be used. You could also use a notebook-height device, or even do a major hack on a plain tray-type CDROM. An excellent source for these devices is at Dirt Cheap Drives.

Mac picture #3 Mac picture #1
Example cutout pattern for internal CDROM Pioneer’s trayless DVDROM (DVD-105S pictured)

For my next Mac conversion i plan on using an internally mounted DVDROM, since the floppy these days is not used as important as it once was. Remember that the fit will be very tight if you choose this route.

Expansion Cards

If you use a BabyAT form factor motherboard it is possible to install expansion cards within the case. However you will be limited to using fairly short length cards (5″) as they will bump into the floppy drive. If you use an internal CDROM your expansion opportunities will be fairly limited, so keep that in mind.

You will also need to remove the metal backplane from the card to make it fit. A FlexATX board typically has everything such as sound, video, and networking built onboard so the need for an expansion slot is fairly low. Below are some pictures of the layout inside my computer. Note the mess and cable clutter.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
A peek inside Original speaker connects to sound card The ‘naked’ expansion card

Display Options

The LCD is the heart of the system. This is the part where no skimping should occur. Before continuing any further, a quick primer on the technology here:

  • LCD screens come in two output flavors – digital and VGA analog interfaces.
  • Digital interfaces are cool, but you are usually chained to a particular video chipset which is never going to be a stellar performer.
  • Most video interfaces use the Chips & Technologies 65xxx series chipset. It is reliable and the drivers are fairly readily available for most operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and BSD, but those wishing to run BeOS or others may be out of luck.
  • Analog terminates in a standard VGA D-sub connector, allowing you to use whatever video card is of your choosing but you may have signal/interference issues. The display may also suffer from jitter, as waves of pixels ‘swim’ in front of you. This is an artifact of the digital-to-analog and back-to-digital conversion process.

An excellent article at Tom’s Hardware guide talks about analog and digital interfaces. Although it pertains mostly to completed LCD flatscreens, it is still very much relevant.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
Digital interfaces can be almost anything – proprietary or uncommon or both Analog terminates to a more familiar VGA cable (Picture is Earth Technologies SK-2005R)

Now, here are several options to use for the display:

  • A monochrome LCD – These are not recommended. It is not for the reason you may think. These screens tend to be older, and are not as compact as their active matrix color cousins. They tend to have the inverter sticking out the side of the display, making them unnecessarily wide and not generally practical for use. Note the first image below. You may find a mono screen that is compact, but i haven’t seen any.
  • A passive matrix color display – These are not recommended for the same reasons above, and also the image quality really does look horrible on these systems compared to active matrix.
  • An active matrix color display with digital connection – I had to go with this route. There are several vendors, and i chose the Earth Technologies integrated driver solution. The LCD screen has a digital output which then goes into a PCI card. The part numbers i used are listed below.
  • An active matrix color display with analog connection – Almost a perfect solution, allows you to run your display with any video card.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
Monochrome screens are usually too fat Difference in bezel size between Macs

The parts i used are listed below. Note that this will ONLY fit on a Macintosh SE or later case. The older cases have less room and will NOT allow for a 10.4″ screen to fit at all. You will be limited to 9.4″ or less. Remember that the best thing to do is research the screen, technical documents are usually easy to come by from the vendor listing the exact dimensions of the screen in detail. These documents are used by OEM vendors wishing to add screens to their hardware designs.

  • Screen P/N LTM10C273 – This is a Toshiba 10.4″ 800×600 active matrix screen.
  • PCI Adapter Card – P/N CNT-EV-PCI-1 – This is the EarthVision/PCI controller by Earth Computer Technologies. This is a universal type card that is designed to work with a variety of different screens and resolutions. Earth makes a custom cable header which plugs into the card depending on which display you select.

A listing of vendors is shown below. Please note that in this list i have only done business with Earth Computer Technologies. They are very prompt with their deliveries, and definitely know their stuff. I would recommend that you research your options before calling them up.

Nobody enjoys being a free tech support/FAQ line, and who can blame them, as their primary customer base seem to be original equipment manufacturers who typically pick up the phone, shout in an order number, and promptly hang up. The other company listed here i have not done business with. I merely stumbled into them during my search.

Mounting the LCD

The first thing you need to do is cut the front bezel to fit the LCD screen. There are several ways to do this, anything from a hot glue gun to duct tape will do the trick. For OLDBOB i used the hot glue gun. It works great, but on my next project a silicone mounting system seems to make a lot more sense. Use your imagination.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
The bezel before The bezel, with LCD screen fitted

Mounting the inverter requires one major rule to be followed. GROUND the thing biggly! I blew up an inverter not following that. Currently I have a cable with alligator clips connecting the ground point of the inverter directly to the power supply. You also want to keep the inverter clear from any peripheral cards or devices that may be operating nearby. I do not fully know why, just that it is a very good idea.

  • Make sure that your Mac Classic is an SE or newer.
  • The fit is VERY tight. Be prepared to use a hacksaw/bandsaw on the extreme ends of the LCD circuit board.

If you ended up using the same LCD screen that i chose (the Toshiba one) you are actually going to have to modify the screen to make it fit! This meant cutting off the extreme edges of the screen (with a hacksaw) so it will fit. Even then it is a tight fit and will require some serious patience and tweaking.

Ports and Cabling

Admittedly what i did with the ports on my Mac was very half assed. As you can see in the photos, i simply have the cables plugged into their various ports on the motherboard/peripheral cards and they just hang out of the case.

This is truly ugly, and i am embarrassed that it was done this way, but it is here for you to learn/laugh at my expense 🙂 A much better way would be to actually order connectors and parts, solder them into a breadboard, and properly cut out the back to make this fit. It won’t require much other than patience and meticulous attention to detail.

Once i motivate my lazy self i’ll update the page with the new project. Without proper port setup, a machine like this is not very portable.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
Wow this is really ugly How not to perform cable management An external cable pile for the IDE CDROM

Keyboard and Mouse

I did not hack the original keyboard or mouse to work with my computer. The main reason is because i don’t actually have either one. It should not be too hard theoretically to create a PS2 compatible keyboard using the stock parts to work with this computer.

The mouse might be tricky because it is just one button, but shoehorning a PS2 compatible device in there would just be a real estate issue. I’ll update this section as more information/parts become available.


This section mainly contains the icons and artwork i used with my computer. The credit cannot really be claimed since most of this stuff is basically reworked from original icons anyway. I made them available here as transparent .GIF files. You can save the files in the gallery below and modify them as fit for your own use. Have fun.

An icon image The robot Old Bob, from the Disney movie “The Black Hole”. He’s the personality for the job. I use him for my desktop icon.
An icon image A Mac, with 16 or less colors.
An icon image The same Mac, but made for a 256 color environment.
An icon image A 16 color “Network Neighborhood” type image.
An icon image A 256 color “Network Neighborhood” type image.
An icon image Another 16 color “Network Neighborhood” type image but for some weird reason people i know seem to like it.
An icon image Another 256 color “Network Neighborhood” type image consistent with the Windows 2000 “pastel” icon look.

More Pictures

Here are some more pictures.

Mac picture #1 Mac picture #2
OLDBOB, happy in his operating environment. My desk is messy. The bunnies rejoice

Mac picture #2 Mac picture #3
Guts wide open shot Another view of the inside guts, but with expansion cards removed.

Oldbob Specs

Here are the specs for OLDBOB, the Mac Classic featured in this article. Connectivity

  • Serial port: 2 (not currently used – on motherboard header)
  • Enhanced Parallel port: 1
  • Video port: 0
    Mouse port: 1 PS/2 compatible
    USB port: 2 (not currently used – on motherboard header)
    10/100Mbps Ethernet port: 1
  • Keyboard port: 1 PS/2 compatible
  • NIC information: Intel EtherExpress? PRO100 S
  • Floppy drive: 1.44MB HD, standard PC floppy, manual eject


  • Height: 13.6″
  • Width: 9.69″
  • Depth: 10.9″
  • Weight: about 13 pounds
  • Chassis: Small form factor desktop (Macintosh SE)

Hard Drive


  • Capacity: 128MB
  • Memory type: 72 pin SIMM, 4x 32MB modules
    Memory speed: 60ns





Possibilities and Ideas

Here are some random ideas i came up that others might want to try.

  • Better display technologies: There are polysilicon displays such as the Toshiba LTM10C306L that handle XGA (1024×768) resolution. These would be really neat to see operating inside a system.
  • A built in UPS, or to use a motherboard from a notebook based system: This would be interesting 🙂
  • Shoehorning a better 3D video solution than what is currently out there.
  • Building a 12″ or 13″ LCD screen into the case… mounted SIDEWAYS!
  • Using an iMac case and getting a full 15″ of LCD real estate instead of the Mac Classic case.
  • For people wondering why i stuck with x86 hardware – purchasing an Apple G4 Cube, and putting THAT inside the Mac Classic case.

I hope someone out there comes out with something cooler than what i made so far 🙂


  • People actually wondered why i used Windows 98.
  • If it made you jumpy then i have succeeded.

Well, i did this in the name of fun. Slaughtering Macs had nothing to do with it. Putting looks of steep bogglement on computer hardware enthusiasts had everything to do with it.

It gets really confusing when you are running a windowing environment such as KDE with any of the numerous Mac themes that exist out there.

Put away the flamethrowers, i can already see some zealots crawling out of the 32 bit dirty BIOS. You people need to lighten up, or go and put a G3 notebook in a Thinkpad to satisfy your bloodlust urges. For the rest, i hope that you found this entertaining. Thanks for reading.


  • Apple and Apple Macintosh are registered trademarks or Apple Computer Corporation.
  • Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
  • All other trademarks are property of their respective holders.
  • I take no responsibility for your actions. You follow these guidelines and generalized procedures at your own risk.

Written by Tijger Tsou

January 15th, 2001 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Things

Tagged with , , , , ,

One Response to 'The Mac PC'

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  1. Awesome work.

    I’m about to embark on my own voyage of discovery.

    Macintosh Plus, no KB or mouse. No idea of the state of the system. Might have a go at restoring it to see ‘what if’ but it is slated for re-tasking as a cute XP or W7 wireless & BT PC.

    The keyboard socket on the front is exactly right for a USB socket…mmm.

    Between case mods, peroxide bleaching and UV protectors, it will be a haul. But I plan ahead in the knowledge that I have been here and I know what to do.

    Getting a suitable 9.2″ TFT with analogue plug will be tricky or very, very expensive.

    Good luck with your future projects, I hope to convert an iMac (’99 model) to have a 15″ tft and an Intel mac mobo so I can dual boot into Snow Leopard and W7.


    Rob in Belfast

    28 Jul 10 at 7:32 pm

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