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Thread: Project Mac Cube

  1. #1
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    Project Mac Cube: Complete (Pictures and Videos - 16/08/05)

    I'm nearly finished on Project Little Devil ( http://www.gordyhand.co.uk/main.php?page=liquidbloo ) I just have a few minor bits still to finish when I pull my finger out.

    So with that in mind I started thinking about my next project, I have two other ones on the back burner but neither of them really inspire me at the moment or suit my needs. What I really need is a fileserver that small and good looking. With this in mind I started coming up with some idea's as to what to do.

    My orginal plan was to do a smaller version of Project mini me ( http://www.gordyhand.co.uk/main.php?page=minime ) which was a shuttle flex atx sized based project. I liked this idea but I couldn't decide what to do with the externals to make it nice. The plan was to spray paint it but after Project Little Devil I've had enough paint fumes in my lungs over the last few weeks to last me a lifetime hehe.

    So I set about trying to find some other idea, I stumbled across Sun's Cobalt Qube 3 these would be great to convert into a file server. The only problem is they go for far too much money on ebay to make it worthwhile.

    Now with my current Apple switch in progress I was having a look at older mac's on ebay to see what we could sell my girlfriends Powermac G4 for. When I did this I stumbled across some mac cubes. They are Powermac g4's crammed into a cube space. These were the very first SFF computer and are still ahead of the current sff's in many ways.

    I've spent the last month or two trying to find a well priced Apple Powermac Cube and finally I found a great donor case. It was a incomplete cube with just the motherboard , cpu and psu included. This suited my needs perfectly and after a short bidding war I won the auction!



    Some more pics of the cube (Click on the for full 800x600 shots)







    I picked up the cube two days ago from the courier and set about taking it apart. I realised the previous owner had really abused it when removing some of the components, the inner chassis was missing some parts and others were damaged grrrrrrrr. It didn't bother me too much as I wouldn't be using most of the insides anyway.

    I started taking the cube apart which is no easy task, the cube drew blood in my battle with it but I finally got it into is components.

    The perspex has a few scratches and has some dirt so it needs work but for the most part its in excellent condition considering its age.



    Last edited by Gordy; 15-08-2005 at 08:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    I've taken out most of the parts I won't be needing now here's the parts I will be using. including the very clever handle and locking mechanism which is going to be hard to use but worth the effort.









    The black item in the first picture is the heatsink believe it or not! Its massive and a structural part of the chassis. So I will have to make something up to replace it as it takes up too much room!

    The orginal cube is very well built the motherboard is amazing its very nice indeed. How they shoehorned a fully working g4 in there all those years ago is amazing particularly when it was running 100% passive.







    Here's a couple of final shots of the motheboard to compare it to the mini-itx board that will be replacing it and a shuttle motherboard for comparison.






    The first task for me to complete was to replace the missing top chassis plate , I've started work on cutting and bending a piece of aluminium to replace this section. After that I need to find a way of replacing the huge heatsink to allow me too shoehorn 2 hard discs in there. I ideally want 500gb of storage in the cube so I will use 2 x 250gb ide hard discs along with a laptop combo drive for optical storage.

    I hope you like the project so far let me know what you think.

  3. #3
    Hexus.net Troll Dougal's Avatar
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    First time I have ever seen these cases.

    Looks a lot nicer then the current cubes u see around.

    What you going to be loading on, linux or windows?

    Cos if its windows I would like, nay I Demand, to see the Apple Logo replaced with Tux!
    Quote Originally Posted by Errr...me
    I MSN offline people
    6014 3DMk 05

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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    It will probably be windows as its what I know best.

    They were very expensive when they were released so not many were sold. But damn are they nice looking

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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    Well its time for the first update on this project and its something I don't normally do thats for sure!

    I had a play with the internal layout and I worked out that I can fit 2x hard discs and one laptop optical drive in the cube chassis whilst still using the heatsink/structural element with a few changes. The advantage of this is that I dont have to machine a whole new structural element. It would be a nightmare to recreate. The only issue was that the bottom section of the heatsink would have to be removed.





    You can see the bottom section in the second picture above. At first I thought it was screwed into place but I quickly realised it was soldered in place. This gave me some second thoughts on the idea but I came across the idea of heating the whole heatsink till the solder melted....

    So for the first time ever for me I had to use my oven for modding :dremel: 280 degrees of modding power hehe!





    I wrapped the heatsink in foil to save my oven, apologises for the sorry state of the oven its in desperate need of a clean hehe. After five minutes in the oven the parts fell apart in my oven mitts!











    I've also started to create the new top chassis plate along with the motherboard plate. During the creating of the motherboard plate I discovered that the chassis is 16.7cm thick on the base and bareing in mind the dimensions of the motherboard is 17.0cm that creates a small problem. I will have to sand back the area where the motherboard will fit to squeeze it in.

    I've not taken any pictures of the plate so far, but I will do that tommorow.

  6. #6
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    I've had a chance to do a few more bits on this project, first thing to do was to make a motherboard tray after a couple of different designs I got one that worked. I had trouble finding a method of fitting it to the heatsink whilst still being able to mount the motherboard standoffs. I realised the best way round this was to use existing threads and I found three in the middle of the heatsink and even more luck they were m3 threads!

    So I went about putting the heatsink and the handle mechanism back together this was far from easy!





    Then the motherboard tray was attached to the heatsink. It sits flush to the heatsink which will help cooling I hope.





    With the motherboard in place it works a treat.



    I then did a test fit of the heatsink/motherboard tray combination and it fits perfectly. I didnt test fit the motherboard as it wont fit without the port cutouts that was next!



    I've started on cutting a rectangle into the chassis, I used a nibbler tool which takes little "bites" of metal so its great for this sort of thing. The only problem is that it gives nasty blisters without gloves and I hate using gloves grrr. I'd forgotten how hard steel is compared to aluminium this was hard work. It needs finishing yet but a particularly nasty blisters has stopped me for the day.



    Thats all for today I hope to get the motherboard into place tommorow and then finish up the motherboard tray.

  7. #7
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    Picture for competition entry:


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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    After working on project little devil mainly over the last week or so it was time to get back onto Project Mac Cube. I've made some real progress over this weekend. The main task was to get the optical drive and two hard discs mounted onto the chassis, along with making a blanking plate for the motherboard ports and stuff.

    The first thing I made was the blanking plate, for this I used the proper one as a template to make a copy out of aluminium. I used a nibbler , a drill and a set of needle files to create it.







    I then sanded back the interior of the chassis to gain the 2-3mm I needed to fit the motherboard into the chassis. I did a quick test fit and it was perfect.



    As you can see the two ps2 ports are blocked but I dont have any use for them so I'm not bothered in the slightest. I then mounted the blanking plate for a test fit. It needed a bit of fiddling with but now fits perfectly




  9. #9
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    After this I set to work on the mountings for all the drives this was far more work than I imagined. At first I tried to make it as simple as possible with all 3 drives held in by just two brackets















    This was nice and easy to make well not that easy but I had to change my plans as this setup wouldnt work the inner hard disc fouled the mechanism for inserting the chassis into the cube, so it wouldn't work. grrr

  10. #10
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    So I had to make set of plates for the two hard discs and a seperate mounting for the optical drive so I could place it centrally without having the two hdd's off center. In order for the optical drive to be mounted correctly I had to use three brackets but it works perfectly and the drive allows you to insert a disc when dropped in with no problems yeaaaah!





    Its a cosy fit with everything in place but when I did a test fit into the cube chassis it works perfectly! You can see the orginal handle mechanism is still working you whip the cube over and push the handle in and it pops out. Then pull the inner chassis out. A great design. This works just as it does in the orginal.





    Thats the progress to date, next up on the list of things to do is to mount the power switches and led's and to look at the cabling. In the orginal cube design there is a plate on the top of the inner chassis. I'm not sure if this is actually needed other than to hold the power switch in place so I'm going to look at what is actually required. The cube came without this piece so I'm going to have to make my own if I do want to use it.

    Let me know what you think so far....

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    Illegal Alien wedge22's Avatar
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    • wedge22's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS H87i PLUS
      • CPU:
      • 4770k
      • Memory:
      • 2x4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3
      • Storage:
      • OCZ 240GB SSD and Seagate 3TB HDD
      • Graphics card(s):
      • PNY GTX 780 OC
      • PSU:
      • Silverstone SFX 450G
      • Case:
      • Fractal Node 304
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 8.1
      • Monitor(s):
      • Yamakasi 27" IPS and 1080p 100" Projector
      • Internet:
      • 50MB
    Excellent work mate I cannot wait to see the finished product. What will you be using it for once it is done? I could use it as a lovely looking HTPC
    Main Rig: i2600k@4.3Ghz/ASUS P8P67 PRO/MSi GTX580/16GB Mushkin/HAF X/Noctua NH-D14

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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    Its going to be used as a file server , for my house and lans and stuff. Just ordered the new hard disc and cables for it so hopefully I can get it finished soon

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    VTECmeous Vimeous's Avatar
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    Superb convertion. Looking forward to the finished article.
    TBH it'd be nice as a Media Centre PC alongside a snazzy flat-panel tellie
    1 : i5 4670K | 8Gb | ASUS Maximus VI Genie | HD6890 | MX100 512GB | TX650W | CM Black Widow | Dell U2713H | 8.1 Pro
    2 : Q9450 | 4Gb | ASUS P5E-WS Pro | HD4650 | M4 256GB | 2 x 750Gb (RAID1) | Enermax 525W MODU 82+ | CM RC-590 | 17" | 7 Pro
    3 : i7 3570K | 16Gb | ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe | GTX 660 TI | 2x 1TB 840EVO | Sugo SG05BB-450 | Dell U2713H + 17" | 8.1 Pro
    Svr : X2 4200+ | 2Gb | ASUS A8N-SLI Premium | HD6870 | SonicFury | 8x 250Gb (2x RAID10) | 3Ware 9650SE-8LPML | Seasonic 700W | CM Stacker 830 | XP Pro
    NAS : DS1511+ | DX513
    W1 : Dell Precision 690 | X5355 | 4Gb FBDIMM | Quadro FX3450 | 2x 146Gb 15k SAS (RAID1) | 2x 500GB (RAID1) | Dell SAS 5/iR | 2x U2412M | XP Pro
    W2 : Dell Precision T3610 | E5-1650 V2 | 16GB | Quadro K2000 | 256GB SSD | 1TB HDD | 8.1 Pro


  14. #14
    Illegal Alien wedge22's Avatar
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    • wedge22's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS H87i PLUS
      • CPU:
      • 4770k
      • Memory:
      • 2x4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3
      • Storage:
      • OCZ 240GB SSD and Seagate 3TB HDD
      • Graphics card(s):
      • PNY GTX 780 OC
      • PSU:
      • Silverstone SFX 450G
      • Case:
      • Fractal Node 304
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 8.1
      • Monitor(s):
      • Yamakasi 27" IPS and 1080p 100" Projector
      • Internet:
      • 50MB
    Ok Gordy sounds like you will be putting it to good use.
    I only wish I had your modding skills and then I too would make myself a sexy PC as a media centre.
    Main Rig: i2600k@4.3Ghz/ASUS P8P67 PRO/MSi GTX580/16GB Mushkin/HAF X/Noctua NH-D14

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    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    Ok time for another quick update. I'm still waiting on my new ide cables which have been lost by royal fail grrr. Hopefully the replacements will be here tommorow. In the mean time I've been tidying up the metal work/brushing the aluminium and doing the wiring.

    First up the brushing and tidying, I did some re filing of the edges to clean them up. I then , went on to brush the surface of all the aluminium parts I've made. I used a wire brush to start off with then finished with a high grit sandpaper to give a good finish.











    Next I had to make up the wiring looms needed. I needed one for the power and then two switches and two led's. I've used a special kind of clear cable with silver inner core before now on other projects, but I discovered an amazing blue version a while back and I've been wanting to use it for some time. Its a right royal pain to work with as its thicker than standard cable but I got there in the end.





    If the ide cables arrive tommorow I can get this project finish very soon.

  16. #16
    Gordy Gordy's Avatar
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    This project hasnt had an update for the last few days or so because I've been waiting on parts and hit some problems.

    Last time I had completed the wiring rigs with some nice blue cable, this was fine until I tried doing a test fit of the cube and the wiring rapidly became a nightmare. I also created a plate for the switches and led's to fit into. I wanted to use the chassis itself, but drilling the led holes showed that that wasnt possible so I created a little plate to go onto the chassis like the motherboard I/O plate.





    In order to fit the wires for the switches in I had to redo the wiring loom with far thinner wire. I used some nice blue and green wire but I wish I could use the blue see through stuff but it cant be done.

    The parts I was using for the test fit are required for another project I am doing so I had to order a new mini-itx board and some other parts. I discovered the new VIA Epia SP8000E , this is a passively cooled mini-itx board with sata and all other new bits. Great I thought sata would be much easier to wire for. The snag I hit though was that the plug-in power supply wouldn't fit this board nor was there any other ones out there.

    So I had to go back to my orginal plan of a VIA Epia MII6000 board. This is identical to the one I was using before but only 600mhz and passively cooled. I also got a new plug in psu for this board. I takes up no more room that the mini-itx board does already.







    I've got a few more bits arriving over the next couple of days, I will redo the wiring to try to make it more managable. I've worked out that the wires will fit if I use the smaller wiring so it should all be easier this time.

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