Hardware Hack

Renovating a Sawtooth G4 Case

Initially I intended to hack a PowerMac G5 case I have, but decided I'd rather make my initial mistakes on this old G4 given to me by a friend years ago, along with the original Cinema Display you'll see in pics later. I didn't realize that a Sawtooth mod is more difficult that an Powermac G5 mod!

This build will replace a 2008 Mac Mini running El Capitan. It serves as my whole house audio over AirPlay server, my NO-IP.com client, and most importantly, as my Indigo home automation system. Indigo is a Mac-only automation solution that's amazingly flexible and highly recommended to anyone interested in HA who has an old Mac lying around.

From what this has to do, you can see that there's not much in terms of graphics that's required. Indigo didn't really tax my Mini, so I don't expect processor usage to be all that high. I may even be able to move my security camera software over to this machine, instead of another mini that also runs Plex. In fact, I may be able to move my Plex server to it to.

Since my graphics needs are paltry, I'm staying with onboard graphics to save money and reduce complication. Currently I plan a PCI wifi card and a FireWire card, but I haven't even purchased those yet. Though I do have an old AirPort card from a 2008 MacBook I may buy an adapter for.

I chose an i5 because it seems a good mix of price and performance as well as the lower wattage making the awkward cooling in a Sawtooth less of an issue. I chose the GA-Z170M-D3H because it's recommended as Mac OS X compatible and it fits in the Sawtooth case.

The right parts are critical for a Hackintosh. So here they are:

Gigabyte LGA1151 Intel Z170 Micro ATX DDR4 Motherboards GA-Z170M-D3H

Intel Boxed Core I5-6600 FC-LGA14C 3.30 Ghz 6 M Processor Cache 4 LGA 1151 BX80662I56600

Silicon Power SP SSD Upgrade Kit, 2.5" SP120GBSS3S55S27 (Got this one because it was a Deal of the Day.)

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4 DRAM 3000MHz (PC4-24000) C15 Memory Kit - Black

EVGA 500 W1, 80+ WHITE 500W, 3 Year Warranty, Power Supply 100-W1-0500-KR" ( It doesn't match up well with the Sawtooth back, and it seems a little noisy to me. It's also not modular. My mistake.)

And I already had a bunch of 5.25 HDDs for a total of 3.5 Tb of storage.

Still to arrive:
ICY DOCK ExpressCage MB322SP-B 2 x 2.5” SATA/SAS HDD/SSD to 5.25” Mobile Rack w/ 3.5” HDD/Device Slot

Vantec USB 3.0 Multi-Memory Internal Card Reader (UGT-CR935)

Headless MacBook Core Duo 2 Case Conversion

I bought a theoretically dead, liquid damaged MacBook Core Duo 2 which turned out to have only a few things wrong with it: the power switch doesn't work because the keyboard connector cable is bad, the IR may not work, and I took its screen off to attach to a working MacBook that had a cracked screen.

Bring on the Zune Hacks!

Based on the wide variety of lackluster and hostile reviews, the Zune is heading the way of Nehru jackets, Audreys and Newtons.Considering how poorly thought out many of the technical features of the Zune are, it is no surprise. I imagine a time a few months from now when retailers dump their unsold Zunes for substantial discounts. Since Microsoft's margins on a consumer device must be razor thin, once the clearance discounts start, a Zune will probably be worth more as parts than as a whole device. So, like these previous devices in search of customers, before you know it industrious hackers will be tearing Zunes apart in order to use the drive, screen and other internal parts for their own hardware projects. I'm sure the software guys will also work hard to break into the Zune's operating system, just like they found a way to turn the Xbox into the Xbox media center. Just like hackers are already working hard to do to the Xbox 360. I can't wait to see what comes first. Here are a few of my guesses:

  • Linux (really a prerequisite for many of the following things)
  • wireless-based walkie-talkie (does Zune have sound in? No specs I could find list it)
  • MAME Compatibility
  • Doom

What hacks do you imagine will be possible on the Zune platform?
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