Touchscreen Macintosh | Classic Mac With an IPad Mini for the Screen

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Introduction: Touchscreen Macintosh | Classic Mac With an IPad Mini for the Screen

About: My name is Travis and I like to build cool stuff and learn about interesting things and use run-on sentences.

This is my update and revised design on how to replace the screen of a vintage Macintosh with an iPad mini. This is the 6th one of these I’ve made over the years and I’m pretty happy with the evolution and design of this one!

Back in 2013 when I made my first Macintosh with an iPad mini, I was inspired by Techmoan on YouTube: https://youtu.be/TMsRwcWcv-U

My first iPad Macintosh and original Instructable from 2013 can be found here: https://www.instructables.com/id/iPad-mini-inside-...

Similar to Techmoan, I used a shutter release button to manually push the lock/unlock button for my first iteration. This worked well enough but the mechanical movement just didn't feel solid or reliable. Plus it was a real pain to build and align up properly!

Eventually I thought of a way to unlock it electronically. The only downside is that the iPad needs to be plugged into power for it to unlock. But I thinks it's a worthy tradeoff for the reliability and ease of use. But we'll get into how that works specifically in Step 2.

Let's make it, shall we?

Supplies

  • Vintage Macintosh: I've found that every Compact Macintosh that looks like this one (SE, 128K, 512K, Classic II, etc) have the same screen size and mounting points.
  • iPad mini
  • Four #8-32 bolts and accompanying lock nuts
  • on (off) Push button: This means a button that allows power to move through freely when unpressed but momentarily stops power when the button is depressed.
  • Black frame for around the iPad mini: I'll show you how to make one with a laser cutter or I have them for sale at https://www.etsy.com/listing/208464139/black-acry...
  • Thin black foam (https://amzn.to/39ZBqby)
  • Soldering equipment

Step 1: Disassemble the Macintosh

This is fairly simple, just gut the whole thing. It's a good idea to look up how to do that because it can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing but I'm not an expert so I won't go into detail on that. There are numerous tutorials on the internet.

I also washed the case of my Macintosh in a simple green solution. That got all the dirt off of it nicely.

Step 2: Wire Up the Unlock Button

In previous iterations of this, I created a contraption to physically push the unlock button on the iPad inside the Mac. But this was clunky, hard to do, and didn't work very well.

After hours of thought I finally figured out how to unlock it electronically. The only downside is that the iPad needs to be plugged into power for it to unlock. But I thinks it's a worthy tradeoff for the reliability and ease of use.

The way it works is that the button is wired to the charging cable which allows power to continually move freely and charge the iPad. But when the button is depressed, it momentarily stops charging the iPad. When the button is released again, it allows the iPad to charge again. It's like quickly unplugging and replugging the charger which wakes up the iPad mini.

To lock the iPad and put it to sleep, you have to wait for it to time out and do that automatically.

To begin, expose the red power wire inside of the iPad charging cord and cut it.

To do this, I found this instructable by w1se to be very helpful: https://www.instructables.com/id/Shorten-iPhone-5...

Next, take some spare wire (for reference, I used yellow in the photos) and solder a 2 ft. length to each side of the button.

Then, mount the button to the back or side of your Macintosh. I always use an existing hole in the case so I don't have to drill a new one but it's up to you.

Lastly, attach and solder one yellow wire to one end of the red charger wire. And solder the other yellow wire to the other end of the red charger wire.

Finish off with some shrink tube and/or electrical tape to clean it up nicely.

Step 3: Mount the IPad Mini

Since the iPad mini is smaller than the original macintosh screen you will need to make a border. I cut mine using 1/8" black plastic on an epilog laser. I also cut holes in so it mounts to the original screen mounting locations.

I'll try to get the file I created on here soon so you can create one yourself if you'd like. Otherwise, I'll have them for sale on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/208464139/black-acry...

Cut out some black foam (https://amzn.to/39ZBqby) and hot glue it to one side of the black frame and mounting strips. This will prevent slipping and scratching of the iPad mini.

It's important to setup the iPad mini before you mount it because depending on the software version you're running, you may have to press the home button which you won't have access to.

Paint or plastidip your screw heads black so they blend into the frame.

Mount the iPad mini into the frame by tightening the mounting straps to the frame (Use the photos for reference). Be careful no to over tighten the bolts because you can crack the black acrylic frame. The iPad should fit snug without sliding around.

To mount the iPad and frame to the Macintosh, you'll need to shave off the top of the original mounting locations so the black border sits flush against the Mac. I used a Dremel tool to sheer them off but you can probably use a knife or something too.

Use the original Macintosh hardware to mount the black frame and iPad mini to the Mac. Again, be careful not to over tighten the screws and crack the acrylic.

Step 4: Reassemble Your Touchscreen Macintosh

Slice the exterior of the charger casing so it can bend quickly from the end of the lightning plug. It needs to bend quickly so it'll fit into the Macintosh case. But be careful not to cut too deep and slice a wire inside (I've done it twice!).

Plug the charging cable into the iPad, run it through the back of the Mac, and assemble the Macintosh back together.

Step 5: Finish Up and Enjoy!

I used the classic "hello" script as the background for my iPad which I thought was a fun touch!

You're done! Enjoy your new touchscreen Macintosh!

Because you don't have access to the home button, you'll need to take advantage of multitouch gestures to get back to the home screen and such. Here's a tutorial on how to use those: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/ipad-gestures/

I also have these pre-built for sale on etsy, check out the listing here: https://www.etsy.com/ShopTrav/listing/722846304/v...

Please let me know your thoughts on this project, if you try it yourself, along with any ways to improve this design.

– Travis

P.S. I also host a podcast called Curiosityness! Every week I conduct a podcast interview with an expert about the most fascinating history, things, & people of our world. If that interests you, I encourage you to check out the Curiosityness podcast available for free at https://www.curiosityness.com/

And find me on Instagram @travderose: https://www.instagram.com/travderose/

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    20 Comments

    0
    ptrivp
    ptrivp

    4 months ago

    It might be a good idea to install a bluetooth receiver to a mechanical keyboard and have the "complete vintage kit". On the other hand, the measurements of this computer would be valid for an iPad Air? This vintage MAC model may be easier to 3D print than to get one. Still, good job.

    0
    rdiiorio
    rdiiorio

    10 months ago

    Other than doing this simply because you can I can’t think of any other reason why anyone would defeat iPads intended function of portability

    0
    foxpup
    foxpup

    Reply 9 months ago

    I can think of two reasons why someone would want to do this.
    1: People of a certain age and older often pine for days when computers were simpler and more friendly and the original Macintosh was exactly that. It's naustalgia.
    2: Putting the IPad in a case and holding it up on the desk like that effectively secures it in place. Mobile devices often wander off. Being stationary is sometimes a FEATURE. :-)

    1
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    It’s just for fun

    1
    Meglymoo87
    Meglymoo87

    9 months ago

    Hahaha! I remember those computers! Nice work :)

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    Thank you!

    0
    mohoganogan
    mohoganogan

    10 months ago

    0
    mohoganogan
    mohoganogan

    Reply 9 months ago

    You could also recycle the original power outlet/switch from the Mac. Install the power transformer inside the case. You could then turn the power on to wake up the iPad. I have reused both in a RPI in Mac classic case. This makes it even closer to original. Though for my RPI I keep the front glass of the CRT by cracking away the back of it. My lcd screen is then behind curved glass. This one is set up as a tweeting photo booth. So the red plastic in the floppy drive is the trigger and the black hole is for the camera.

    697EB7C4-64D7-455D-9133-EE9141161BF8.jpeg
    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    That’s awesome! And great idea

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    That’s a great idea! Could totally make it work with that and not have to do any modifying or soldering

    0
    mohoganogan
    mohoganogan

    Reply 9 months ago

    With the latest iPadOS you can now use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to keep in the “it is a computer” look

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yeah it’s be cool to retrofit the original mouse and keyboard to Bluetooth as well!

    0
    TheOriginalNerd
    TheOriginalNerd

    Tip 10 months ago on Step 5

    You should consider using the empty former Keyboard Cable opening in the lower right front corner, to put the on(off) button. Perhaps you could find a square button or make it square by removing the button cap and replace it with a square one 3D printed (or purchased).

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yeah that’s a good idea. I just didn’t put it on the front because I thought it ruined the look a bit. But if I can make it match well, that’s be perfect!

    0
    jrw558
    jrw558

    10 months ago

    Very nicely presented! I think I have all the ingredients to put this in my audio system. I use an iPad mini to control my Roon Audio system. I like the “wake up” work around. I would love to incorporate a physical volume control also.
    I use old nail clippers to strip extremely fine insulated wire 26ga and higher. Create a notch in the clipper carefully clipping a solid strain of copper wire close to the wire gauge you desire to strip. It makes a repeatable stripper and saves your future dental bills.
    Thank you for sharing your project.

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    That’s a great idea!!

    0
    JeffC281
    JeffC281

    9 months ago

    Not that I would ever do anything with or to a Mac, but couldn't you just notch your screen frame for your home button? See, my Android devices all have soft buttons for Home/Back/Recent, no problems there.

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yeah I could but just prefer the look without a notch. But it would make things a lot simpler for sure!

    0
    JacenF
    JacenF

    10 months ago

    Hey, that's great! I don't know anything about Ipads, but maybe you could rig up a mechanical pushbutton with some conductive covering on it that tapped the screen when you pressed?