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Case Mod - In Progress Simplified Mac Pro (2006) case mod

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by novaris, 23 Mar 2012.

  1. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    Hi everyone.

    I've been working on this mac pro barely after completing the case mod on the G5. this time round, i'm going to use a different approach to making it matx ready as compared to many case mods on the mac pro.

    This case mod was more of a test of working around limitations, roadblocks at every almost stage, finding cheap and simple solutions and the lack of proper workshop tools/equipment rather than a technical challenge.

    I got this case, a 2006 version, quite cheaply frm a friend of mine and it was in mint condition. it even had the protective plastic wraps on exterior surfaces. Shipping it from the US would be at least 1-2 times the cost of the case.

    Firstly, we all know the mac pro case's standoffs are completely different from atx ones. So, most modders either rip out the existing standoffs, then screw onto a matx motherboard then using epoxy to glue the standoffs in the proper position.

    However, I am not keen on the idea of epoxy. I don't really like the idea of having the motherboard, cpu, ram etc and its motherboard tray resting on 9 epoxy blobs. It's just me..:wallbash:

    Anyway, the project stalled while I tried to come up with a solution to use an adapter plate of sorts to "reconcile" the matx mounting holes and the mac pro's.

    google-d for any electronic drawings of the mounting holes came up empty, didn't have access to precision measuring tools for the mac pro mounting holes, most rulers would give too big of an error margin, so I went primitive. I decided to cut thick acrylic blocks to stack on top and over the mac pro standoffs, like ring on a finger.

    My overall plan was this:

    First, make a negative impression of the mac pro standoffs using an acrylic panel and blocks, then drill the same holes through a carbon fibre panel.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    the CF panel will act as the actual adapter panel.

    secondly, matx mounting holes are then drilled onto the same CF panel and the custom standoffs mounted on it.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    4mm holes to screw the adapter plate to the mac pro standoffs (drilled and re-tapped to 4mm)

    drill 5.4mm holes to fit the custom made standoffs to mount the matx board. The grey area is just a rough idea of where the matx board will sit.



    Why custom standoffs

    standard standoffs used in most casings are too tall so when expansion cards like gfx cards etc are mounted on it, the pci bracket will be too high to be screwed in.

    At the same time, the existing mac pro standoffs had to partially sawed off.
    [​IMG]

    Using 1 of the acrylic blocks and a handsaw to be accurate.



    Making the adapter plate-determining the mac pro's standoffs positions

    Acrylic blocks placed over the standoffs, where the total height of the blocks is greater than the standoffs.
    [​IMG]

    Subsequently, a 3mm thick acrylic board is placed over the acrylic blocks and either epoxy or acrylic glue(chloroform) is used to stick the blocks to the acrylic sheet and I ended up with this


    The centre hole at each acrylic blocks is a negative impression of the mac pro's standoffs.
    [​IMG]


    a carbon fibre panel of just 1mm thickness was placed behind the same acrylic board
    [​IMG]

    Since the mac pro standoffs are 5mm in diameter, I have to somehow drill a 4mm hole dead centre. For this I asked a friend to help out but accidents do happen and many of the 4mm holes on the carbon fibre panel were slightly out of alignment, enough to block the screws from going in.

    Test fit of the drilled carbon fibre panel
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Failed! As you can see, the screw holes do not line up perfectly with the drilled holes.

    I managed to slowly grind away the tiny portions that overlapped the standoffs but I decided I wanted to try again with no mistakes.


    Logic board and 2nd chance with a fresh cf panel

    This time round, I got a spoilt mac pro 2006 logic board cheaply off ebay and bought a new CF panel which cost me more this time round as the previous seller didnt make cf panels anymore/

    What I did was, I placed the 2006 logic board ON the cf panel and cut exactly to size then drilled the required mounting holes.

    The only tricky part is the 8 holes surrounding the 2 cpu sockets which are 10mm in diameter. The remaining mounting holes on the logic board were 4mm in diameter. I didn't take any chances and make small acrylic rings, 10mm wide external diameter and 4mm internal diameter.

    it acts like a drill centering guide.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 4 Nov 2012
  2. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    New cf panel
    [​IMG]

    Test fit of the new cf panel....and it works perfectly.
    [​IMG]


    Since I used the logic board as a template to drill the mounting holes and the logic board wasn't aligned to any specific corner of the casing, basically it was a few mm away from the sides.


    To make sure matx holes are lined up properly with respect to the mac pro's, I used a test motherboard, placed a gfx card to get alignment using the pci expansion slots.

    [​IMG]

    To be sure, i used the mac pro's "captive screws" to secure the gfx card.

    * captive screws is a metal bracket with 2 spring loaded screws that secures all pci cards in the system

    Once it was aligned, i drilled out matx mounting holes on the cf panel directly.
     
  3. jhanlon303

    jhanlon303 The Keeper of History

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    good start. I watch

    john
     
  4. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    Custom made matx standoffs
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It seems, challeges/problems will always crop up at every corner.

    when i did the test fit, i realised I couldn't use standard sized m4 screws as the screw head will be too high and risk short circuiting the motherboard. Grinding the head to make it flatter isn't a safe option as the screw head will have a much higher risk of being ruined. My only option was to use hex screws and grind the head down to just 1.5mm high.

    I chose hex screws because the gripping surface is on the outside and is easier for me to unscrew if the hex surfaces start to wear out

    (L) modified hex screw. Normal hex screw (R)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 23 Mar 2012
  5. Timmynator

    Timmynator New Member

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    With the work you're putting in (custom CF adapter tray? check. custom standoffs? check.) I would hardly call that a simplified mod.

    I'll be following this ;)
     
    Last edited: 24 Mar 2012
  6. theoeyeo

    theoeyeo New Member

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    what he said :thumb:
     
  7. RealWeaponX

    RealWeaponX New Member

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    Interesting... I didn't know about the custom fit for Mac Pro mainboards, but I guess it's typical of Apple to have everything a proprietary fit... :p
     
  8. dark4181

    dark4181 Ero-sennin-tebayo

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    Watching
     
  9. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    i think i'll go easy on the details. might be too confusing for many. so if anyone needs more details or wants to clarify, do ask.

    Updating with more steps soon. I was out the entire weekend
     
  10. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    I/O ports area

    Again, I decided I didnt want to cut out the entire back piece to replace with a matx compliant io port area and pci expansion areas.

    After some measurement and test-fit, I figured i would just cut out the original IO apple IO ports area since the current IO ports area has the same height as atx's and slightly narrower than atx's

    Referencing matx/atx's design specifications, i designed a U shaped IO port bracket.
    [​IMG]

    But the usual CNC milling workshop I used for making the standoffs couldnt do it for some reason. says the 90deg corner was too narrow for the IO bracket to be made in 1 piece. But when I asked him to make the corners curved instead of a sharp 90degrees, he changes his story and just says he couldnt do it.

    I was faced with a dilemma, either I forgo the entire io ports bracket and cut a hole or I get him to mill out 3 separate pieces of aluminum bars and somehow epoxy or screw the parts together.

    I decided to use a tiny piece of angled aluminum bracket as a bridge to screw+epoxy them together
    but i made a series of silly mistakes on this :wallbash:

    First I drilled 4.5mm holes in the brackets at similar positions so it meant only 1 of the 3 pieces can fit in but not both.

    secondly, on my 2nd attempt, I wanted to make a m5 screw thread so i had to drill a ~4.5mm hole. instead i drilled using a 5mm wide drill bit.

    :wallbash: FFS! if i continue to drill increasingly larger holes, there will be nothing left...


    I'm going to attempt 1 last drilling attempt the next day. drilling now will only piss off my neighbours.


    To be updated, I'll show more of the final result pics to make my intentions and plans clearer.
     
  11. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    looks like there is yet another setback. the drilling for the IO port bars didnt work out. so I need some welding services but i;m not sure where can I find workshops willing to weld for small jobs
     
  12. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    Updates after leaving it aside for sometime

    I/O bracket

    I've decided to scrap the idea of having a custom io bracket to fit the IO shield because I made a mistake with the dimensions of the original piece and workshop that made the initial piece doesn't reply to my enquiries and even if they did, the welding services provided by another workshop would prove to be too costly for a simple weld.

    Mac Pro front panel board

    the 2006 front panel's pinout meant that i needed a 12v positive wire from the PSU/molex to the front panel and the ground would be shared with rest of the components.

    Picture (http://laading.net/temp/mac_pro_pt_1/macprofrontpanela.jpeg)

    I decided to go with the 2009's front panel instead since it uses a 44 pin IDE port and all the wiring would go through those 44 wires, including the usb, audio, power switch, led. No other complicated wiring, piggyback wires, etc needed.

    Kindly refer to pics posted here Link

    Of course, Apple, being the annoying PITA, decided to change the mounting holes of the front panel board between the 2006 and 2009 versions just for fun.
    [​IMG]

    I sourced around for a suitable 44 pin to 40 pin IDC adapter (IDC not IDE, IDE adapters are keyed so they can only be inserted in a certain direction. IDC adapters are not keyed). reason being, the front panel's port isn't keyed so the convention 44pin IDE adapter wouldn't work.
    Alot of time was wasted when I bought the wrong adapter and the correct ones are either too expensive (US$10-20) or take too long to arrive.

    [​IMG]

    At the same time I had to wait for everything to arrive, jumper cables and usb, audio, power switch, power led extension cables to connect the motherboard to the IDC adapter.

    [​IMG]

    After sleeving and 5mins of assembly,
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Complications with the 2009 Mac pro's front panel

    Firewire seems to be a problem for everyone who tried. no one seems to be able to make it work.

    On my asus maximus IV gene Z, USB ports on the front panel is acting weird. Plugged in a working mem card reader and system tells me the USB ports are unrecognised. Installed the latest usb drivers and rechecked all the connections. doesnt work.

    Plug the same card reader to the usb ports on the m/b, works fine.

    Mr.D. from this forum suggested I try using other devices such as computer mouse and my spare razer mouse worked just fine without any error messages.


    Audio jack is throwing some kind of tantrum. First time i connected it, it had no audio coming out. Because the front panel audio jack sensing doesn't work, audio signals would go to both outputs at the same time (e.g earphones on the front panel and headphones at the back).

    after some tries, it works exactly as expected, audio output was duplicated thru the front earphones and headphones connected at the back.

    But the next day, it doesn't work again despite not changing a single thing. :wallbash:

    Most importantly, the power button and led works.


    Sleeving for the above cables kindly sponsored by jtchoy of pcleds.com
     
    Last edited: 4 Nov 2012
  13. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    Original mini-sas cable

    google-fu suggests the cable used in the mac pro is actually a sff-8087 to sff-8482 (mini-sas on 1 end and 4 sata data and power ports on the other)

    The cable is rather short as it was designed to be connected on the extreme left side of the motherboard, closer to the front of the case. However the dedicated raid card I intended to use is nowhere long enough so I had 3 options.

    1. solder extension wires to the original cable and mount the connectors on the casing as per normal but risk developing faults with the soldering and the cable becoming useless.

    considering I have zero experience in soldering, it's a possible problem.

    2. Buy 1m long sff-8087 to sff-8482 cables. But none of them have the same mounting holes and I will lose the ability to mount the connectors on the casing like original cables. This might be an issue because the sata connectors for the 4 hard drives are deep inside once they are mounted, making it hard for me to connect the cables.

    If I try to connect the cables before sliding in the HDDs, I have to slide in all 4 HDDs at the same time.

    3. Use male to female sata connectors like these
    [​IMG]
    or like these (http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/161441-mac-pro-case-mod-project-with-eatx-motherboard/)

    But they don't have the mounting holes too.


    I settled on option 1 and this meant I had no choice but to finally get a wire splitter and took the chance to get the necessary heatshrinks, wires and sleeving.

    The wires they use are a bitch to solder. the 2 main wires in each cable are protected by thick plastic insulator instead of the normal plastic cover.

    Took me sometime and i finished 2 of the 4 sata wires.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    To be updated

    Completion of sleeving+extension of original mini-sas cable (hopefully it works or I'll get a working one frm ebay

    transplanting of my current system to the mac pro, dealing with possible tantrums thrown by the pc (it always happens. Murphy's Law)

    and installation of my watercooling kit (again, dealing with possible tantrums thrown by the pc (it always happens. Murphy's Law))
     
  15. Pranja

    Pranja Blackwolf

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    I have suggestion for your problem-desolder port from Apple PCB then take test board(http://www.ebay.com/itm/220983886213?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649) and solder them on test board.

    After that buy normal front panel (http://www.ebay.com/itm/270823066901?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649) and desolder ports from that panel.

    Then solder wires in place where ports on front panel used to be and other end of wires solder to test board with Apple connectors. It will work 100 % without any problems.
     
  16. elAwesome

    elAwesome New Member

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    Sounds very interesting. I'm planning do a G5 mod as well, but I've never done any modding or PC building before. Is a G5 mod for a noob like me possible?
     
  17. novaris

    novaris New Member

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    modding is a tough job. but then again, ppl have to start somewhere. I started my major case mod with the G5.
     
  18. whyte

    whyte New Member

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    I just did my first mod on a G5 also. It is not the easiest case to work with, but is certainly doable. Happy modding!
     

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