Goal: Use an old eMac G4 for a CRT monitor combined with a relatively powerful machine. The end goal is to use the eMac as a "good" looking box to enjoy older games on from 2005 and earlier when it was more common to have a CRT and 4:3 resolution. The OS that will be used on the Machine running the CRT will be Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and will be loaded to the teeth with Emulators and Steam library.
Day 1 - (Friday July 28th)
Beginning of eMac CRT VGA Hack
I consider today to be the first official day of the project. After a few days researching the feasibility of completing this, it seems as though a few others have completed it or similar undertakings that provide me with enough insight to execute this project.
Initially I intended to start this project with an iMac G3 (slot loading) but changed to using a eMac G4 because the monitor is slightly larger + Flat and the resolution is a bit better than the G3. Original goal was to replace the CRT with an LCD, after some thought it seemed like a cooler idea to preserve the monitor and use this machine for specific games. I will probably get a G3 as well and do the same thing except not put a computer in it or ultimately move the computer from the G4 to it if I like it that much more and I probably will because its curved and colored.
If the mod heads south, I would be happy to just remove the CRT and replace the interior with a ~17inch 4:3 LCD. I figured starting with the G4 is probably better as its newer, more complicated :> and could be used with an LCD easier than the curved G3.
I picked up a G4 off ebay for $99 dollars, the cost of the machine is about $50-$75 dollars so I did pay a little bit of a markup with the shipping but it seemed worth it to guarantee a working CRT and locating one in person is harder than I imagined being located near apple... I tried to pick a case that showed little signs of damage at first the machine I got looked pretty good but it turns out might have a slight crack on the front of the bezel. Needless to say, I doubt Ill be staring at the bezel often. A few scrapes on the back but I think Ill get over it. The next G3 project will be next to immaculate if not ran on a dead stock G3 indigo. I might even do an entire keyboard mod with mechanical switches if I get a dead-stock box.
The OS I intend to use to do most my research/development is Ubuntu 16. I have a few arduinos, raspberry pi's, all cables/solder I might need to create a VGA Adapter. I found a guide on wiring an arduino to activate the IVAD board on the monitor complete with a push button to send power-on signal to the monitor. I cloned a sketch: emac-ivad-board-init that has a recording of the sequence of the startup of the eMac where the IVAD is initialized over the I2C. On boot the eMac's motherboard initializes the IVAD board on the monitor over an I2C interface. The arduino sketch in the github sends the commands to the IVAD board in order to initialize the CRT. The logic board can be removed at this point and replaced with almost anything that can output a VGA signal.
Day 2 - (Saturday July 29th)
Started purchasing some hardware today that I would love to get inside the eMac. More than likely I was a bit too hopeful with my estimate of how much power I can fit into the box. I think largely this is attributed to the fact that initially I wanted to remove the CRT and put in and LCD but decided against this after the fact. Due to this I have a Micro-ATX motherboard to work with at first, if its just too big I will get an Micro-ITX motherboard. I also might have a hard time using the video card I chose for the project, however I think I can get it to fit somewhere in the case even if I have to use a PCI-e riser.
Parts I hope to fit inside the eMac:
Motherboard - MSI B350M Gaming PRO AM4 AMD B350 SATA 6Gb/s HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
CPU - AMD RYZEN 5 1600 6-Core 3.2 GHz (3.6 GHz Turbo) Socket AM4 65W YD1600BBAEBOX Desktop Processor
GPU - EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC GAMING, 04G-P4-6253-KR, 4GB GDDR5, DX12 OSD Support (PXOC)
RAM - CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2666 (PC4 21300) Desktop Memory Model CMK16GX4M2A2666C16
CPU Cooler - CORSAIR Hydro Series H60 (CW-9060007-WW) High Performance Water / Liquid CPU Cooler. 120mm
PSU - EVGA SuperNOVA 550 G2 220-G2-0550-Y1 80+ GOLD 550W Fully Modular
2TB Segate Baracuda - $65 USD
eMac - $99
I'm going to exclude cost of several items, cables, solder, dremel, arduino, as I already had these to begin with. I might need to buy a PCI riser if the video card is too difficult to place. If something costs me quite a bit of money I will make an effort to update this page.
I am quite afraid at this point that the parts won't fit comfortably in the eMac's case, if this is the 'case' I might just get a case and toss them into it for the time being and just use it as a monitor. If that is the case Ill more than likely focus on the G3 build to have a Micro ITX with lesser specs.
Day 3 - (Friday August 4th)
Today the eMac g4 arrived, along with the iMac g3. Both appear to be in excellent condition, no cracks, just some scuffs that should largely clean off. I powered both machines on and watched them boot to their archaic Operating Systems the g3 had OSX 9 and the g4 booted slowly into OSX 10. Monitors looks to be in good condition from what I can tell.
Next step is to wait until Sunday to break down the eMac. Need to do some research on how to discharge the CRT safely, also want the machine to be powered down for at-least 24 hours before doing so as their are some capacitors in the machine that need to discharge. Since the CRT is made after 1995 it should have bleeder capacitors and discharge itself automatically but I should not be too sure about this. Going to make sure I triply discharge the CRT before I start messing around with it at all.
After I can disassemble the machine I will start cleaning up the plastic case pieces and working on the logistics of fitting the parts I bought into the machine. I did buy a PCI-E x16 riser because I just don't think that 1050 TI SC is going to fit with it plugged directly into the motherboard. I think its going to have to be hung somewhere inside the case.
Started looking at the arduino portion of the project. I was going to try and simplify down the sketch but it looks like I should also wire up a power button like the sketch has. Found my ardunio and a push button.
Started the assembly of the PC outside of the case to verify the pieces work, got the GPU, CPU and RAM in the motherboard. I lack a power button as I have no case, so I wired a push button to the PC's motherboard. Probably will update this post with some pictures of the eMac running.
Day 4 - (Sunday August 6th)
VGA Adaptor and eMac Disassembly
Today I started working on creating the VGA adapter for the CRT. I got 2 female DB 15 3 row plugs. I started soldering some cables to one of the plugs and realized that some of my jumper cables snapped right into the back of the VGA plug. I wired it up using 15 jumper cables and it looked pretty pretty good. I did order a DB15 3 row with a breakout board in-case this plug does not work and as something with a bit more permanence. With the breakout it is much easier to connect all 15 cables.
Decided to breakdown the eMac as much as I could this afternoon. I was able to get all the parts disassembled and took out everything. I cleaned off the front bezel, speaker area, bottom and main plastic panel as much as I could stomach. I did get a-lot of the discoloration off but a few scuffs remain but it is much better than before, I can work on the outside later with a magic eraser or something. Did not really get any photos doing the disassembly, kind of winged it, pretty easy to disassemble surprisingly. I would check this page if you want some steps/pictures of the process: eMac Disassembly
I did not discharge the CRT, but it has been powered off since Friday afternoon. I intend to keep it unplugged until I get back at it again sometime next week. I need to do some research on how I will power the monitor and arduino. I have a few cables that work with the arduino, but I am not sure how the CRT Is going to get its power or what voltage it wants. I vaguely remember reading this somewhere and might be able to send the power from the ardunio to the CRT but am unsure.
Still not sure the Micro ATX board I got will fit, looks like it might if I can mount off to the left of the case. It does seem like the GPU might fit in the case as well with the riser cable. I think for the time being I will just build it out of case and hook it up to test out the CRT, then work on getting the guts inside the monitor. I might need to get a Micro ITX motherboard, I will cross this bridge when I get to it.
It has been quite inconveinent having Radio Shack closed, no Shacks open within a 50 mile radius. I needed some de-solder braid this afternoon bad and both hardware stores did not have it. One did not even sell solder for electronics just pipes. Just going to resign myself to the fact that most everything has to be gotten online now. I do know of an electronics supply store in town, but its a warehouse and I think they look more for bulk buyers/professional electricians. Likely-hood of them carrying a vga female plug is slim to none. Their is a PC repair store within 20 miles but they would only sell things I would need to cannibalize. (Old video cards etc.)
Spent sometime tonight drawing a few diagrams that I intend to digitize of just simple things, the eMac Pinout and the DB15 Pinout, and the wiring diagram table. Also an example of the ardunio configuration with the current sketch design. Did some messing around with my arduino, got the dev environment setup and copied the sketch RockyIll made to my arduino.
I modified the sketch slightly to send on setup the sequence after waiting 7 seconds, blinking an on-board LED.
I probably will have a power button and make the sketch much more similar to RockyIll.
Next step: Hook the CRT to the VGA Adapter, hook the arduino to the CRT, Power the CRT. Close it up and hook up the machine.