Apple Power Mac G5 Hack – New Life for Dead Tech

Part of our basement is a technology graveyard.  It’s where old computers and the like go to collect dust until a new fate is assigned.  Last week I was restless and decided that I would never use my retired Apple Power Mac G5 Tower…at least not as a computer.  My inspiration started out simple…”I’m gonna gut this thing.”

What happened in the next few days I documented with my trusty non-Apple, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Android.

My DYI Power Mac G5 Hack

How to Revive Old Apple Mac G5Here it was being un-useful.  This was a state-of-the-art, drool-worthy computing monster in 2003. As of about 8 years ago, not so much.

Gutting my Mac G5 TowerI recruited my Son because tearing apart a computer is something you should share.

Mac G5 Tower TeardownOut comes one of the massive heat-sinks.

Taking apart the Mac G5 TowerI’m sure at one point this Superdrive (CD/DVD Optical Drive) was praised by Steve Jobs as ‘Amazing’.

Motherboard removed from Mac G5Hello Motherboard!  So during the teardown we talked about ideas of what this old tech could become.  Isak suggested it could be a mobile device charging station.  Another idea was to mount a flat panel inside the case.  Or maybe build a new Windows PC out of it.

Freshly Gutted Powermac G5Here’s the bare-bones cabinet.

Powermac G5 Case without motherboardNow that it was torn down, it’s a blank canvas and time to rebuild.  I’ve decided to make a multi-purpose open display cabinet with lighting and AC/USB power ports for that device charging capability Isak suggested.

Power Mac G5 DYI Project HackAw heck, the motherboard is so beautiful. Let’s put it back in for some nice techie texture for the back.

Wood Shelf for Power Mac G5I foraged around our place for some scrap wood.  This will make a good staging platform inside.  I like the idea of putting a wood surface inside a computer to warm it up a bit and give a hint of furniture-ness.

DIY Project transforming a Mac G5 into a Display unit.Let’s get out as many power tools for this project!  This is what low-tech hacking is all about right here!

Low tech Hack for an Old Powermac G5This wood framing will act as a riser for my shelf and hide my clever new power distribution system.

Turning my Power Mac G5 into a low tech display shelf.A nice coat of stain for the wood shelf.  Nothing says class like Plywood.  Pre-drilled and counter-sunk holes for mounting to the riser base.

Wiring Project on the Power Mac G5I took the female portion of the plug that was in the original power supply unit and did some non UL approved DIY wiring.  This will let me feed power to the lighting and chargers by plugging in the factory power cable to the back of the computer.

The New Low Tech Power Distribution SystemThe soon-to-be-hidden power distribution system.

Undercounter LED bar lightOn one of my 3 trips to Ace Hardware, I came across this 16inch undercounter LED light.  The perfect size for my new cabinet. Things are getting serious now.

Painting the LED undercounter lightPainting the white plastic silver to blend in.  You won’t even know it’s there.

Blue LED's for inside the Apple G5 Tower. This is some blue LED lighting that was taken out of another piece of unused tech.

AC and USB power strip.A simple charging area with USB power too!

Preparing_Switch_PanelI decided that I wanted on/off switches for the LED lighting.  Accessible from the outside cabinet somewhere.  This picture shows my new Dremel tool skills.  Keep scrolling it’ll make more sense in a minute.

Custom_Holes_Cut_Ready_for_SwitchesWait for it…

New custom lighting switches on Power Mac G5The left button is the switch for the Blue LED’s and the rocker switch (right) switches on and off the white LED light.

Inside_Switch_Wiring_Apple_G5_Case_TowerMy mad wiring skills seen from the inside. (I had to take the motherboard off to route the wiring behind it) It’s a beautiful thing, right?

Powermac G5 Hack - Device Charging StationAnd now for the big reveal.  And you’re about to see some different ways I may end up using this thing…

Powermac G5 Hack - Device Charging StationThe mobile device charging station.

Powermac G5 Hack - Handy BookshelfA handy bookshelf!  (Shoutout to Steve here)

Powermac G5 Hack - Hard Drive Storage ShelfA place for hard drives, small camcorder and camcorder battery charging!

Powermac G5 Hack - iPad Fireplace HearthA high-tech digital fireplace hearth and/or a dedicated iPad charging and docking area.

Powermac G5 Hack - A place for flower displayAnd for the ladies…if you’re still here…show off those new blooms from the garden and yard!  Or whatever else you might want to showcase.

Old_Mac_G5_Hacked_Display_Cabinet_Idea_04_CloseupThe perfect fusion of Garden and Tech!

Old_Mac_G5_Hacked_Display_Cabinet_Idea_with_Cover_OnThe best part, it can get closed up and even locked for that non-hacked look.  Nothing to see here, move along.

And there you have it.  A $2,500 shelf.

Actually, the price for a used Apple Powermac G5 averages from about $40 to $100 on Craigslist and eBay.  The electrical parts, spraypaint and LED’s set me back about $60.

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