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PowerNAS Pentium (PowerMac G4 ATX Casemod)

So I had an old Powermac G4 laying about and decided, hey, it looks pretty cool, maybe I should casemod it! I needed a NAS, (network attached storage) and figured I would try giving this old mac a new lease on life with a paint job, some metal hacking, and a micoATX motherboard! This was a ridiculously over complicated case, I suggest people stay away from the g4 for modding, unless you really like the way it looks, as it was not particularly difficult, but a real pain to get working correctly. I was also doing this with extremely limited set of tooling, that being; a drill with dead batteries, shears, a hammer, and jb weld, since all of my more useful tooling was packed away. (hint, a drill press would have been FANTASTIC.)

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First came disassembly, and anyone who has taken one of these apart will know how non-intuitive it is when you first try it. The Motherboard is held in with small hooks that grip the sides of the mounting holes, while a few screws lock it in place, the cpu cooler is held on by VERY sturdy clips and bolts, and the cables are routed in such a way it takes some serious force to separate them. Then comes the plastic case parts, these are a nightmare, it took me hours to get this thing apart the first time… Four bolts holding in the panels PLUS really tough clips?? Apple really makes some insane gear, as this thing is a safe, it even has a lockbar! After finally taking it apart I put it aside while I searched for some nice surplus computers that were NAS worthy.

System found! I located a 2010 vintage DVR computer for television recording with some decently grunty internals. What was inside was a microATX Jetway m15-g41sgmd3-lf with an Intel Pentium Dual core 2.7 GHz Processor, 1GB DDR3 RAM, and a stock cooler. The power supply was an insanely oversized 560 watt AcBEL unit, and it also came with extra sata cables, and a few other bits and bobs. Score! especially for free!

I then began the process of painting the plastic parts, which was, and still is, a nightmare. I used a valspar paint+primer in black and white, however it was an extremely weak paint, boasting little protection from the elements, therefore, a clear coat was added. Unfortunately, the clear coat destroyed the paint job, rendering the black painted parts uselessly milky. Fortunately, I had a black rustoleum paint+primer that was stronger and somehow matched the valspar. Unfortunately, it is still just paint and already has chips in it. Moral of this story, spray paint is a waste of time more often than not, but either way, it still looks fantastic for what it is, much better than the horrendous clear grey and blue that it used to be!

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Mounting the ATX hardware was not necessarily difficult, but also not very straightforward. The power supply required me to drill a network of holes in the side of the case so it could somewhat properly intake, and the motherboard required careful placing of the mount points so the pci slots would line up properly with the board. I also had to deal with narrow windows for cable routing and cooling, as I still wished to use the stock disk drive tray and fans. A notch had to be cut out of the disk drive tray to accommodate the ATX power connector, and the original IO shield needed its rivets drilled and removed so the IO on the ATX board could be used. To cut the shield off from the pci slots, I simply drilled holes in a line and snipped it off. When everything was ready I carefully positioned the board and jb welded the standoffs to the base plate. The disk tray was hen put in, wires tied, and a power button made. I also decided to omit the case latch since when i found this mac the latch plate was broken and i did not wish to integrate it into the ATX design.

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4 thoughts on “PowerNAS Pentium (PowerMac G4 ATX Casemod)

  1. Very nice job! I have a question: does the atx power supply fit in it? And how about the ventilation inside? That cabinet seems to me very narrow, without enough air filters (except the one at the bottom)…don’t you have overheating problems? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi! yes, the atx supply mounts to the same mounting holes as the original G4 supply, and ventilation was provided by drilling holes in the case around the intake fan of the power supply. It stayed relatively cool, about the same as any decent micro atx case. I have since retired this computer as it was just too heavy to be practical, however it ran 24/7 for about a year with absolutely no issues. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi! Did you manage to reuse the original switch panel (on/off, reset) and connect it to the motherboard? I found the pins for the on/off switch but it is triggered automatically when connected to a molex…

    1. Hi! I did reuse the switch panel, however I soldered two wires directly to the switch and another two wires to the LED. Those wires went into a socket that connected to the regular ATX style motherboard power connectors. You can see it in the picture that shows the backside of the switch inside the case, there a four wires coming out of it.

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