The aim of this mod is to shake up the norm of aluminum-silver G5/Mac Pro mods by employing a darker theme for my Mac Pro. I want it to be clean and non-flashy, yet still have the gravitas to make people stop and take a second look.
TO DO LIST
This list is more for my personal benefit than anything, but will give you a good idea of what's to come!
- Install custom front panel with USB 3.0 connectivity (waiting for part)
- Install anodized DVD drive cage (waiting for part)
- Install panel-mount 3.5mm female jacks on the back of the case (waiting for parts)
- Possibly install panel-mount USB 3.0 ports with right-angle adapters (not sure if they will fit...)
- Improve PSU airflow by drilling holes/removing side of enclosure
- Install white LED light strip and inconspicuous power button for lighting (waiting for parts)
- Possibly replace GPU and HDD LEDs with white one (kinda leery of messing around with my only GPU!)
Well, despite having Project Gravitas on pause due to hardware issues, I couldn't turn down an eBay auction for a poorly-described Mac Pro chassis, that was listed without pictures and simply titled "Apple Case". On a whim, I decided to take a chance (they had listed one part number for a Mac Pro fan, so I figured it might be a Mac Pro) - $30 and no other bids later, I had a PERFECT Mac Pro show up on my doorstep. Ebay win:
Despite being mostly empty, the case had only one small scratch on it, and the important parts like the front panel and shelf were included, so I had absolutely no reason to complain.
Here's a quick and dirty shot right out of the shipping box:
I knew that I wanted this mod to stand out. I'm always encouraged to see the sheer volume of G5/Mac Pro mods floating around various communities, and after being inspired by the Gunmetal G5 project from ToddFX on G5Modders (and contacting him to find out how much he paid for his anodizing), I decided to make some phone calls around town and see how much the cost of anodizing a Mac Pro would annoy my wife. She would undoubtedly (and not incorrectly) think that it was superfluous. Well, "superfluous" is not in the vocabulary of most modders, and I was delighted to hear back from "Anodizing Specialists" in Ohio that, yes, they would be interested in me coming down to talk things over. Delighted, I took a trip to the shop to talk with the VP of operations. Being an aluminum guy, I would like to think that he appreciated the hunk of his metal of choice almost as much as I do. Sitting in his office he pulled out some color samples, and I chose a dark gray. I had toyed around with black and even white, but this is to be my last computer case for a little while, and dark gray is my favorite color. After going over the case with magnets, he pointed out the parts that needed to be removed and told me to come on back when I had it disassembled. He very kindly gave me permission to photograph and document the process for informational purposes, which will be released in a forthcoming article on G5Modders.com, and of course will be included in this worklog.
Not having the same experience that I do with the G5, I decided to be overly-organized with my disassembly. Every part/area has its own bag, and in that goes any parts and related screws/fittings. It's annoying, but I'm sure I'll thank myself in the end! (Note: a lot of this full disassembly is applicable to the G5!)
The awesome modular drive bays that I won't be using:
This is perhaps the most intricate and difficult case that I have ever worked with, and that's including old server towers from the 90's! With this more than any other case, TOOLS ARE EVERYTHING. If you don't have the right tools, you're going to have a tough time doing things efficiently, and you'll probably end up cussing.
(T8 Kobalt Bit)
Before picking up the tools above, I was close to giving up twice. "It's not worth it", I thought to myself on those occasions, "just do a regular mod". Once I buckled down and bought the tools, things were MUCH easier, if only slightly faster.
I'm going to hazard a guess that there are around 80 screws that you need to remove for full disassembly, although considering everything I had to take out, that could be an underestimate.
The above screws are the biggest pain the neck. Being so close to the bottom of the case, regular screwdriver handles are simply too big to have space for your knuckles to turn, and of course Apple uses that blue loctite stuff on all of their screws, so pliers just don't cut it most of the time.
Once I had removed all the screws (including the hidden ones…sigh) I carefully pulled apart the handles from the shell. Now I'm not sure if I did it correctly, but using some fabric in between the two parts, I pulled the handle assembly away from the shell, and slowly slid up out and over, taking care not to scratch anything! I don't have pictures of this step as it takes both hands, but I'm here to help if anyone needs guiding!
Here's half the beast, looking like a car door in a gangster flick, riddled with bullet holes:
Here's a close up of the pesky screws that I mentioned earlier. Four would be fine, but 8+ on each side is just a pain:
After that, there were more screws to separate the two halves of the shell as well as some rivets that had to be drilled out, but that was relatively easy with much more space to work in! Still, look at these alternating rivets and security screws:
Steve Jobs meant it when he said he didn't want people rooting around inside Apple products. Finally I removed anything that was not made of aluminum, including all I/O plastic and EMI shields, and several screws and a few other bits and bobs here and there. Pics to come of the thing totally apart! Hopefully I'm dropping this case off to be anodized in the next few days, so we won't have to wait too long for a pic update. I'll have some mod plans drawn up soon as well. Thanks for watching!