Category Archives: Hackintosh Project Blog Entries
Today’s post is especially for blog follower Jim Miller. Sorry I didn’t wait until 11:00 PM, Jim so your email notification would get you up. This is my newest Hackintosh. I actually built this machine last summer and it has been running fast, efficiently, and without a single problem so far. I built it primarily for HD video and photo editing. For those of you who may not know, a Hackintosh is essentially a home built computer made with PC hardware but with software and firmware “hacks” that allow Apple’s Mac operating system, OSX to run on it. Ordinarily a PC would not be able to run OSX, but by selectively choosing various combinations of parts and using hacks found on tonymacx86.com you can build a Hackintosh. Why would you want to do that? The primary reason for me was to save money. It is definitely possible to build a better computer than you could buy for much less money. If Apple even made a computer with these specs, it would carry a retail pricetag of around $4,000, and that would not include the sound system, monitor, keyboard, or mouse. This computer cost me around $800 including the sound system and peripherals. The second motivator is simply for the fun and challenge. It is not for the faint of heart or for anyone who simply expects to plug in a computer and have it work. Finally, with a little creativity and imagination you can build a unique computer to your own specs that is unlike anyone else’s.
My first Hackintosh was a mini built in a Commodore 64 case and Commodore 1541 floppy case. You can see that one here if you’d like.
Anyway, this one is built in a seriously modified old retro Apple Quicksilver G4 Powermac case. I decided to capitalize on the clear acrylic look of the handles by making the side panel clear, adding a clear pro keyboard and mouse, and a set of acrylic Harmon Kardon soundsticks and subwoofer. A pair of modded-to-function pro speakers will follow at some point too.
Once I saw that the pro mouse had a red LED in it, I also knew I had to make the whole thing have a translucent red “Candy Apple” look.
I did not document the build because there are already a lot of documented G4 mods on the web and I was anxious to get on with it. If anyone has any questions though, I’ll be happy to answer the best I can.
Here is a link to a video of it running…(the first part of the video is very dark because I wanted to demonstrate the red LED lights in the case. It gets lighter part way through. )
Here is the build…
Gigabyte GA-Z68M-D2H motherboard
OCZ 600 Watt PSU
3.4 GHZ Intel i5 quad core processor
OCZ 120 GB solid state drive
3 TB hard drive storage
16 GB RAM
Sony Optiarc slot load CD DVD drive
Dynex Firewire card
EVGA nvidia GeForce 1024 MB video card (1GB)
Apple Pro Mouse and Pro Keyboard
Asus 23″ LCD
Harmon Kardon soundsticks and sub woofer (sound and look awesome – video does not do them justice)
Silenx 120 mm fan with red LEDs
Red LED light strip
Side of chassis cut away and paint removed from acrylic side panel.
The apples on the side of the case are translucent red (candy apple) with a green leaf.
Running OSX Lion via Unibeast and Multibeast … THANKS TONYMAC!
Looking at the picture you might conclude that C3PO exploded on the desk. Yes, I realize that it looks like a mess, but the Commotosh has finally roared to life. My friend Jonathan Payne drove down from Columbus (Georgia, not Ohio) to give me an experienced hand with jumping through the various hoops required to get OSX installed. Being a Saturday morning I decided to lug the whole thing up to the school to work on it so I could let the family sleep in. Jonathan met me at 7:30 AM and we got right to work. The fact is I don’t know that I could have pulled it off without his help. At least not in the short amount of time it took for us to do it. I was prepared to go through several unnecessary steps that Jonathan poo-pooed, making the process much less difficult than I was prepared for.
This is basically the way it went down: The first celebration came when I plugged everything in, mashed the power button and no sparks, smoke, or unnatural sounds came from the case.
I easily navigated to the BIOS settings, made the necessary changes, then proceeded to run UniBeast with Chimera from the usb drive. (If you have any questions about what any of that is, I would again direct you to tonymacx86.com) That being completed we installed Lion on the SSD by booting from the thumb drive and installing Lion on the SSD. After the Lion install was complete we rebooted from the USB drive once again, connected to the internet and downloaded and installed MultiBeast, which is a post-installation tool from TonyMac that enables you to boot from the hard drive and get all the important little details like audio, graphics, networks, drivers, bootloaders, config files, and System Utilities files to make everything run like a real Mac. After that, we went to Gigabyte’s website to identify the motherboard version, then back to TonyMac to download the DSDT for the mobo. Lots of additional box-checking and un-checking took place at this point, all of which is outlined on TonyMac.
After all that was done it was time to restart and boot from the hard drive. If all went well, the computer should start right up and be running OSX Lion like a champ. Lots of finger-crossing happened at that time. “Please work, please work, please work…”
The whole thing froze up.
Booting from the thumb drive was no problem, but we ran into trouble when we tried to boot normally from the SSD. The light grey screen would come up, the beautiful white apple would appear, and the OS would get about 15 seconds into booting up and just freeze. Jonathan somehow concluded that it was an issue with loading graphics and we spent the next two hours troubleshooting, scouring the internet for solutions, and retrying. After messing around with various BIOS settings, and even rewriting root directory commands, we decided to wipe everything out and start afresh. We repeated the whole process again, went to crossing fingers and…
Froze up again.
We took a break and headed to Jersey Mike’s for a sandwich, then came back for another shot at it. At just about the time I was getting discouraged, JP got the notion to try an HDMI cable instead of the VGA cable we were using. Unplug the VGA, plug in the HDMI and… (please work, please work, please work)…
…it booted up just like magic! Had we done that to begin with, the whole process would have probably taken less that 30 minutes.
Another celebration! Next we went through a series of software updates, rebooted, and everything ran just like a real Mac. A real mac with a quad core 3.3 GHZ processor, 8 GB of RAM, 2 TB of hard drive space, and a 120 GB solid state drive, that is.
The next step will be to button everything up, ditch the old Dell wired keyboard and mouse (needed initially to get the system going), enable bluetooth, set up the wireless keyboard and mouse, get the Commodore 1541 floppy case set up as a CD/DVD drive and system backup, and migrate Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Microsoft Office 11, and other essentials from my MacBook Pro. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how all that goes.
After considerable measuring, figuring, reasoning, and research I have settled on using an Apple bluetooth keyboard for the Commotosh. A few more case mods were necessary to fit the keyboard, to make room for all the ports in the back, and to get the top and bottom cases to fit together fully closed. Now everything is finally assembled, except for the power button, system reset, and LED lights. There were some open spaces along the side of the case where the old C64 ports were located and in the top case where the original keyboard extended out farther than the Apple keyboard does, You can see in the pics that I constructed some custom vents that match the case pretty well. In fact, I think that they even look like they were there from the factory. These vents, along with the ones that were already in the case should make for good airflow and a cool running machine. The CPU fan sits right under the top vents. Things are finally coming together and I should be ready to begin the hack soon. The initial process has already begun. I bought an 8GB thumb drive, and made a bootable usb drive out of it by created a partition on it, formatting it as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) disc, and installing UniBeast from the tonymac web site. I have purchased a legal copy of OSX Lion and installed it on a thumb drive as well.
After unboxing the internal components for the Commotosh project I had a startling discovery. The mini-itx motherboard does not fit very well inside the 1541 case. Dimensionally it s OK, but the problem is that it interferes with the screw holes that keep the case together. After fooling around with modding the internal frame; cutting and grinding and thinking about how to make it work for an hour or so, it hit me to try it in the C64 case. Surprise! It fits beautifully. In fact, all the components fit inside the actual Commodore 64 case. It’s tight, and will require some creative wire routing, and case mods but when all is said and done, I’d rather have it all housed in the C64 case than the 1541 case. I still want to keep the CD/DVD drive in the 1541 case because I just like the idea of feeding the disc in the original slot for floopys. I’ll also put a second 2TB hard drive in the 1541 case to use for backups through Time Machine.
This new discovery has me super excited, but a couple of concerns remain. It looks like I will not have room for a dedicated video card in the C64 case. There is only about an inch and a half clearance from the PCI slot to the inside of the top case. Fortunately the 2500K processor I am using has integrated HD 3000 graphics so hopefully that will be adequate to run the video processing tasks I want to do with this machine. Let me know if anyone has any ideas.
A second concern is with the keyboard. Ever since I first thought of building this computer, my desire has been to use the original keyboard. Obviously there are considerable differences in key mapping between a 30 year old Commodore keyboard and an Apple operating system hacked to run with PC parts. Keyrah might be an option, but I still don’t see a way to make the original keyboard physically fit. Right now the CPU heatsink fan is nearly touching the inside of the top case. The keyboard hangs down a half inch lower than that, so I don’t think it will work. This issue is going to take a little more time to think through. Maybe a smaller heat sink, or a modification to the fan shroud? Or maybe I’ll just fit an Apple Bluetooth keyboard into the case. It’ll be a different look than using the original keyboard, but since I’ll be running OSX, it might be kind of cool to have the keyboard give a hint of what is lurking inside. Maybe I can pop the while key caps off the Apple keyboard and affix the brown C64 keys to make it look at least a little more authentic. We’ll see how this progresses. In the meantime, have a look at some pics of the first phase of assembly:
Nope, this is not a Wendy’s commercial from the 80’s but this pile of parts will soon be occupying a computer case from the 80’s. Now it’s time to figure out exactly how. Of course I realize now that are a few things I forgot to get, like extra SATA cables, a power/reset switch, LEDs, and various other little parts. Time to get back on Newegg and Amazon.
This is going to be FUN!
After getting into the guts of the C64 and the 1541 floppy drive, I have come to the conclusion that the floppy drive case is a better choice to build in than the actual C64 case. I just don’t think there is enough room in the C64 case to house everything I want to put in there. I’ll still use it for the keyboard and a backup drive, but the actual computer will reside in the 1541 floppy case. Amazingly, the floppy case seems like it is almost made to house PC parts. Even the floppy bay, with little modification is the perfect size, shape, and in just the right spot to house a slot load CD/DVD drive! Just imagine how cool (in the nerdiest sense of the word) it will be to slip a DVD into the slot where floppys used to go.
Using old parts I had in the garage, I mocked up a prototype of how everything (minus the motherboard , CPU, and CPU cooler) will pack in. The internal case mods are mostly done, but I need to wait until I get the motherboard to finish them up.
Here’s what it looks like so far: