Introduction: PC in a Macintosh Classic Case

Picture of PC in a Macintosh Classic Case

This instructible is about building a working and usable PC in a 20y/o Mac Classic Case...

The original mac of 84 was such a joy, it was so nice, small, cute and easy to use. It was an instant hit for me that I fell in love in first sight.

Then later I continued growing up and went to a technical Lycee's computer department. The school was tough but working on computers, learning about them was worth it.

I was lucky enough to be among the few who unpacked the very first mac classic imported to my country during my student apprenticeship in high school around 90 - 92. The first difference from the original mac was the machine coming to life with the sound of a fan. I worked on the machine for some weeks during the apprenticeship. I liked it so much that it visited my youth dreams of all my teenage years several times.

Then years passed. Now I'm an assistant professor in a fine arts university in Istanbul / Turkey and my lectures are all around technical stuff, electromechanics etc. trying to give some engineering understanding to industrial design students. I have also got some free time to make stuff, so i visit instructables frequently.

In one of that visits, I've searched for mac projects and saw gmjhowe's project about upgrading a 84 macintosh to run OS X Snow Leopard and liked it a lot. The same thing was in my mind for maybe 10 years but I hadn't seen anyone doing a similar thing. The project inspired me enough to start my own Mac. Though I liked mac classic more than the 84 Mac, I've planned to use a classic case.

 After a search that lasted 3 months, I've found my classic in a local ebay :D for 30$ and converted it into Mawi, the MAcintosh that runs WIndows XP. If you want to build something similar, than this instructables might be helpful for you. And dont forget to visit gmjhowe's inspiring project. Type macintosh into the instructables search and you'll find everything related to mac, including gmjhowe's Snow Leopard.

Apart from this instructable, I've got a site full of free robotic projects, if you like robotics, I recommend you to take a look at them after reading this one. Its link is

So, Lets begin....and  Would you please RATE after reading? Thanks..

Step 1: Materials and Tools.

Picture of Materials and Tools.

•An original dead 1990 Macintosh Classic
•Several A3 sheets of modelling carton.
•A bit coloured plexyglass 4mm thick
•A netbook with a broken keyboard
•A pair of speakers salvaged from a dead toshiba notebook
•USB extension cable
•USB Hub
•A Bluetooth dongle
•Some SUGRU for making the internal construction
•Gorilla Glue for making the internal construction
•Hot air gun
•Hot silicone glue gun
•Box cutter
•Metal or plastic rule for measuring and cutting
•Pliers , cable cutter, scissor etc hand tools.
•Soldering iron
•A multimeter

Step 2: Disassembly

Picture of Disassembly

My main objectives were.
 1.Do not alter, cut, deform, change, or break the original Mac's case.. I felt free to change or dump the circuit boards of the mac. They are not working anyway.
 2.Though I want mawi (MAc WIndows) to be useful for some of for my computing needs,  it should be able to run windows XP.
 3. The machine shouldn't be expensive, so I planned to construct it by using second hand, cheap but problem free parts.

I started with disassembling the case, took nearly all the parts off. Only left the on off switch, the power inlet and the cooling fan. Though my mac had sat on a depot shelf for years, the high voltaged charge left in the CR tube wasn't a problem but to be sure, I've applied a safe discharging procedure with a electrically insulated screw driver with its tip shorted to the chassis by a crocodile wire. 

 After the disassembly, I've cleaned the plastic parts of the case thoroughly by washing and rubbing. I didn't  apply any chemical cleaning methods like the retro bright etc, I wanted my mac to look a bit normal, old I mean :D. Well like 20 years or so.

Step 3: Donor PC

Picture of Donor PC

First I was thinking of using mini atx boards, separate hard disks etc all new but after a quick search of the market I've discovered that the prices of those were out of my project aims and more importantly, budget!. So I rethinked and decided to use a simple netbook as a donor PC and use most of the parts of it inside Mawi.

I've checked my Asus EEEPC netbook's 8.9 inch screen and saw that it is too wide for the mac screen. Though there is no netbook with 8 inch screen, I decided to go on with a 7 inch one. After researching the models on the second hand market I've seen that the most suitable one is the Datron Mobee 7.

With a 1Ghz Via CPU, it was able to run XP and has more HD capacity (40GB) than the ASUS EEEPC 700 models (4gb SSD).  After a search, ask and wait  period of 15 days I've found one with a malfunctioning keyboard at the local sales site for 120$. Well its not so cheap but has everything I need.  I bought it.

Step 4: Case Preparations

Picture of Case Preparations

I've removed (nearly) all the components off the monitor and power supply board at the side of the case. Just left a single IC for memorial :D. I planned to use the board as a mounting base.

I've screwed a cable terminal on it for the mains connections and did the necessary connections to the power inlet and the power switch. I carefully soldered all of them.

I've used an old cell phone charge adapter to power the cooling fan. The adapter generates around 7V and this is less than the fan's normal running voltage of 12V. So the fan will turn slower and quieter. Though there is no CRT and high power things inside, that cooling would most probably be more than necessary.

I hot glued the adapter into a hidden space near the fan.

Step 5: Netbook Disassembly

Picture of Netbook Disassembly

First I've disassembled the screen part of the netbook.

seeing it has so weak and easy to rip off cables and connections inside, gave up the idea of disassembling the main case of it and decided to use as a whole inside the Mac case.

Step 6: Installation

Picture of Installation

After preparing a frame to hold the plexyglass part that would repplace the CRT's front glass, I started to design and build the supporting structure that would firmly carry everything in one piece inside the case.

Though the netbook's case is a bit big and the mac case is small, the need for placing the netbook diagonally arised. So I designed the structure according to this. I've tried to take into account of the cooling of netbook in an enclosed space. Special care is given to the ventilation in-outlets of the netbook and the cable routing inside.

 After roughly completing the main carrier body, I've put on everything in to see if they work okay and fit nicely into the case, while closed. Discovered some problems and did some layout changes. 

Step 7: Preperation of Cables, Usb Hub Etc

Picture of Preperation of Cables, Usb Hub Etc

I've arranged the cables of the speakers and on off switch of the netbook, lengthened them by using extra cable and simple connectors made from DIP pcb connectors.

I'm planning to use the 68000 mainboard of the mac as a carrier board too.
The two switches (reset and int) at the side of the mainboard are easily accessible from the outside of the mac case so I've planned to use them as the netbook on off switch. I've paralelled them so any one of them being pressed will turn the netbook on and off.

I've used a black keyboard lying around my workshop for first tests but later I've bought a white, mac keyboard lookalike thing which has got 2 usb ports at the rear and multimedia keys as well.

Though the keyboard has got usb ports on it, frontal usb ports on the mac case is not necessary anymore. I simply covered the front 3.5inch disk drive port with white cardboard.

Also bought a Targus mini usb hub. Tested them all, they work okay.

Step 8: Speakers, Hub, Power Adapter and Stuff.

Picture of Speakers, Hub, Power Adapter and Stuff.

I've hot glued the Toshiba notebook speaker to the front of the case facing to a cooling grill at the front to enable sound to reach out with minimal loss.

 The netbook has only 2 usb ports. I've given one directly to outside the mac case with the idea of  enabling the use of USB hard drives which need more current. And used the other usb port for mounting a USB hub.

 The Targus usb hub has 3 ports at one side which are all very close to each other and one at the back. I've used the one at the back for a permanent bluetooth dongle. The hub's body is also very small so its all three ports fitted well to mac case's printer port. I only widened the corners of that port on the case. Thats the only modification done at the case.

 That was a perfect fit, now three usb plugs can be used at the rear of the case without problems. Adding the direct usb port, Mawi can support 4 external usb devices .

 I've shortened the mains cord of the adapter and assembled it to the side board of the Mawi. 

Step 9: Some More Construction and Disaster

Picture of Some More Construction and Disaster

For reinforcing the structure, I've glued additional cardboard parts around.
 Built the webcam supporting part. The webcam is supposed to work behind the colored 4mm thick plexyglass, so I was anxious a bit if the light passing thru the plexy would be enough for the cam or not. Results were fine. The cam worked very well behind the plexy.

I assembled everything once more and saw them work. Then took apart things and started painting the white parts that can be seen from the outside at the sides of the LCD.

 Then disaster struck, while trying to straighten the position of the LCD, I've ripped of a small flat cord on it. A real disaster. it is ripped of at such a bad place, seems impossible to fix.

I need a replacement LCD.

Step 10:

Picture of

I've found a replacement second hand LCD within a day by great chance. I've bought it for 60$ which is  a bit expensive, but i didn't have any other choice.

 While the screen frame and the plexy is disassembled, I worked on the curve of the plexy a bit more. Now it matches the curve of the CRT perfectly. So it will look more like a CRT on Mawi.

I autographed the plywood frame for memory :D

There used to be many signatures at the inside of the back cover on classic  macs of the 1980's. But there is none in my mac classic of 1990. So now, there is one again.

Later I've added some more supports to the LCD carrier part of the structure.

Step 11: No Pain, No Gain

Picture of No Pain, No Gain

I've burned my mouse-click-finger with hot silicone glue. It hurts.

Later I discovered a small alignment problem at the webcam support and rebuilt that part.

Added some more support to the cables, taped them to hard places and also installed bent cardboard pieces which would press against the wall of the rear cover to avoid the structure freeplay inside the case.

Step 12: Closing the Rear Lid.

Picture of Closing the Rear Lid.

Will it work?

Step 13: First Run

Picture of First Run

I pressed the power button. It booted, came to life as the completed Mawi, for the first time.

Though the netbook's battery is also inside, it doesn't need the power cord to be connected all the time.

In my tests The Datron Mobee worked nearly 5 hours on battery power. Thats great.

Step 14: Final Photos

Picture of Final Photos

Mawi poses to my Nikon D5000 on a tripod.

Doesn't it look nice?

Step 15: On My Table

Picture of On My Table

Mawi moved from workshop table to my computer table.

I love it :D

A pc in a mac case is a bit complicated project and I admit it is not for everyone. Especially working on many tiny cables that can snap off any time is a tough and stressfull thing to do. 

A case with an intact (not disassembled) digital picture frame which has also divx playing capability inside might be a simpler mac resurrection project. And much better than using a graceful mac for dispersing toilet paper etc.


DavidV333 (author)2017-05-03

I plan on build one similar but using a Raspberry Pi 3.

JamesV38 (author)2016-09-20

Does anyone know where I can get a square LCD that would hook up to a mac mini for this purpose? Ideally, I'm then going to put the Cathode Ray glass over the top to give it the bulge.

Johnny5g (author)2015-05-24

All of those macintoshes in those pictures if you don't want them I will take them. I collect them. Oh and even if it is broken I will take it. I will take it no matter what.

EricF21 (author)Johnny5g2015-08-10

I have a Mac Classic II want it?

dosfan95 (author)EricF212016-05-15

I realize this is an old post but if you still have this classic ii I would take it off your hands working or not!

EricF21 (author)2015-08-10

I get that this thread is old,

But as cool as the old MAC's are, they are all junk.

I say this as someone with experience with them, they were made with very cheap parts and thus they don't last more than about 15years tops. I say this out of a bit of frustration, as I think they look cool and i'd love for the older macs to continue to live on, but sadly it just ain't so w/o serious upgrading of electronic components. The capacitors used on the boards were really cheap and all start to leak after about 10-15years, the batteries on the boards also start to leak, ...just cheap parts.

I found this article interesting because I have been looking for something to do with my old dead MACs. ...maybe this will be the answer.

WinXPGeek (author)2013-10-24

Even better, color it blue with paint

WinXPGeek (author)2013-10-24

Cool, makes sense: Take a useless mac(All macs are useless without windows) , Put PC guts in it, Put Windows on it. Awesome!

woodstockbirdy (author)2012-03-17

WHY WOULD YOU PUT A WINDOWS IN A MAC CASE!?!?!?!!?!??!?!? you break it no-one will care.

Sorry I just had to say that.

Just install OS X on the hardware.

CybahMA (author)2012-09-09

I know this is an old thread but I wanted to make two points here..

Please be aware that the old Mac CRTs are INCREDIBLY dangerous, as they can hold a charge for many years after its been disconnected from a power source. You can get a lethal zap if you aren't careful.

Also, I wonder if a generic LCD and a motherboard from a Thin Client would work in this case too. I know the HP Thin Client's motherboard is about the same size as a Classic Mac's MB.. (and yes you can install regular windows on a Thin Client, it just takes some finangling..)

Asmodeous (author)2010-11-29

I have an Mac classic for sale if anyone wants it. Hit me up.

tinker234 (author)Asmodeous2012-03-10

i am intrigued about a mac classic does it work

app0 (author)2011-03-26

Now install Hackintosh on it :)

Smanetta (author)2011-03-09

how many time take this "instructable"?

chilll2009 (author)2010-12-31

Why not use the mac insted? (i'm just joking! great instructable!)

osmanselvi (author)2010-11-22

veri interesting

MagicTom (author)2010-11-11

even better, you should install hackintosh and use it as a mac. :)

Treknology (author)2010-10-11

Excellent job! I just want to know where you were able to source the really long Torx drivers (aka Mac-Crackers) needed to open the case? I had two sets when they were readily available, but both have been stolen.

hobbyman (author)Treknology2010-10-11

I've used a normal length screw driver (which matches the mac-screws) and extended it below into the handle well of the mac case holding it with my fingertips. Wasn't so easy I must confess. It took me some time to crack the mac actually :-)

Reffner (author)2010-10-04

Finally, a good use for a mac.

pnky_14 (author)Reffner2010-10-05


gmjhowe (author)2010-10-04

hobbyman is correct, as you can see, there is actually a lot of glue used. I would almost say he used a little too much glue!

gasw (author)2010-10-04

Very nice ,how much paid for mac ?

hobbyman (author)gasw2010-10-04

something like 30$

xillwillx (author)2010-10-03

I did this a few years ago with mine, I made MacTrack. Backtrack linux inside an old mac case, I ended up installing Debian , but gonna go back to Backtrack again soon for a pentesting box.

hobbyman (author)xillwillx2010-10-04

Mac Daddy seams neat
thanks for sharing.

gabry207 (author)2010-10-03

Why did you use a pc and not a mac?

hobbyman (author)gabry2072010-10-03

Because I preferred to use windows XP.

gabry207 (author)hobbyman2010-10-03

however, it's beautiful! we also can do it with a mac. another question: do you use it?

hobbyman (author)gabry2072010-10-03

Sure, I think it will be easier to build one by using a mac mini.
Yes its on my desktop all the time, installed a usb IR remote control to it to change internet radio channels, listen to mp3s, watch movies on the giant (!) screen etc.
I'm planning to buy a usb TV tuner so I would be able to watch TV too. Well the screen is a bit small and so the mawi is. who cares, I love it.

I'm planning to build a reprap mendel 3d prototyping machine at school, after I finish that, Mawi can be the control computer of it.

Yerboogieman (author)2010-10-02

The problem is that square LCD screens are so scarce anymore. Which is why I will never get rid of my Toshiba or my newly found, working, old Dell Laptop. But I still use my Lenovo S10 the most.

joespicnictables (author)2010-10-02

Thats really neat! I have a Macintosh Plus i got for free and it runs. Maybe I'll try this.....

Thanks Joe :D

gmjhowe (author)2010-10-02

This is an excellent build, thank you for sharing, and thank you for keeping me upto date throughout the process. It was great to see you work your way through this differently to how I did.

It turned out excellent in the end.

One suggestion, Swap your first picture for one of those first 3 in step 14. They are much better pictures of the final thing.

hobbyman (author)gmjhowe2010-10-02

Thanks gmjhowe, the inspiration I got from your article made me start and complete this project. Thanks for your spark ;)

The pictures are ok. Exchaged them right away.

karossii (author)2010-10-02

I've seen dozens of similar projects over the years, though many more back in the late 90's than now... It is such a nostalgic computer to so many people for so many reasons!

My idea of late is to use a piezo projector internally to illuminate a sheet of acrylic as a frosted screen, so that it fully fits the screen dimensions of the case (bigger is better!!!) - but if the acrylic could be removed, the image could then be actually projected out onto a wall or projector screen, etc. It would be a great portable entertainment center, on top of a nostalgic PC!

Sadly, due to schedule constraints (as well as budjet constraints) I won't be able to work on this idea any time in the near future...

hobbyman (author)karossii2010-10-02

The projector idea is a good one really. Didnt come to my mind at all. First I've considered 9 inch CRTs of cash machines. But after completing the project, i can see that it would be really tough to fit everything necessary inside the mac case along with the CRT and its circuitry.

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