Original iMac as DVD monitor
April 11, 2007 4:51 PM   Subscribe

(Standard Google-Fu failure disclaimer.) How can I use my old Rev. B iMac as a monitor for a DVD player?

The hard drive is hosed, so I'd like to just bypass (preferably remove) the whole motherboard, drives and other guts. I need to power the monitor, and find a way to plug in a standard video device. I may try and fit a small DVD player into the case, but I can figure that part out once I get the other part figured out. (I already know how to take the case apart and removed the motherboard, btw.)
posted by The Deej to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just saw an AskMe on this -- I think the consensus was "you can technicaly do it but it isn't worth it" (site:ask.metafilter.com imac monitor)

If only the hard drive is hosed, why not just replace that?
posted by you at 5:00 PM on April 11, 2007

,l <-- leftover parts from the previous comment
posted by you at 5:03 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, you. However, it looks like the other AskMe is talking about using the old iMac as a computer monitor. I want to use mine as a funky-looking TV. I can indeed replace the hard drive easily enough, but I don't want to use it as a computer at all. And, as a computer, it doesn't play DVDs. To clarify, this is the old bondi blue iMac with the CRT monitor.
posted by The Deej at 5:09 PM on April 11, 2007

However, it looks like the other AskMe is talking about using the old iMac as a computer monitor. I want to use mine as a funky-looking TV

The difference between a TV and a (CRT) monitor isn't great, except that it already functions as a CRT. That is just about impossible, so I'm pretty sure making a TV-type device would be more so.
posted by niles at 5:12 PM on April 11, 2007

"That is just about impossible" refers to the using of old iMacs as monitors.
posted by niles at 5:15 PM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: I'm not familiar with how the monitor hooks up to the motherboard inside the iMac, and I don't feel like getting my rev. B iMac out of storage, but if it is a regular VGA connection, this may help. You will need an external tv tuner to hook your DVD player up to, though.
posted by doublesix at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2007

If I remember coorectly, the connection between the motherboard and the CRT is a male VGA connector. So you if you can find a device to convert your DVD's output to VGA you've got a start. The problem you may encounter is I remember the CRT drawing power off the motherboard through a non-standard connector, sou you're going to have to find a way to splice a new power supply onto it.
posted by lekvar at 5:32 PM on April 11, 2007

The internal connection on a revision B iMac is indeed a VGA connection (it's the newer flatscreen iMacs which can't easily be converted to use an external source). A converter in the style to which doublesix linked will do the trick.

Only difficulty I could see would be whether or not the CRT power supply turns on without a load from the computer (the same power supply powers both the screen and computer, obviously). I don't have any insight into that.
posted by j.edwards at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: Hey, wow, thanks for the quick replies everyone. I think doublesix is on the right track! And I may be able to keep the motherboard in place just to power the monitor, but send the signal to it from another source.
posted by The Deej at 5:41 PM on April 11, 2007

After buying a device to turn TV/DVD signals into VGA, you'll have spent more money than buying a similarly sized television, and it probably won't look good. I'm just saying, is all.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:21 PM on April 11, 2007

But after all of my nay-saying, you'd better post pictures if you pull this off
posted by niles at 6:34 PM on April 11, 2007

Cut out the middleman - here's a DVD player with VGA output. No, I don't work for cnet.
posted by doublesix at 6:38 PM on April 11, 2007

Yes, we demand a write-up if you pull this off.
posted by lekvar at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2007

Wait a sec...couldn't you just replace the CD drive with a DVD drive, load a PPC variant of Linux (Ubuntu and Yellow Dog come to mind), and install DVD/media player software? You proabaly even have a IR port, which I'm sure you could set a remote up for. IIRC, Mac OS responds to most Sony remotes, as a holdover from the Mac TV days, but it looks like there's Linux support for it.

I know this probably isn't in the spirit of what you were thinking, but this could be easier. Come to think of it, I have an old iMac lying around. If I can figure out why it doesn't turn on all the time, I might have to give this a try.
posted by niles at 9:22 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: I will FOR SURE post photos and an update if I pull this off.
True, I can buy a little TV for cheap. But I am not doing this because I NEED a little TV. My little 2 bedroom apartment already has a 27 inch TV in each bedroom and a widescreen 55 inch in the living room, which can also be seen from the kitchen. I am doing this because an iMac converted to a TV will look so cool on my kitchen counter! :) I even thought of buying a little TV and fitting its guts into the iMac case, but I don't think it would be a good fit.

niles, I like the Linux idea. In fact, it does boot up from an Ubuntu CD right now, so I know it will work. Not sure if running a DVD on a 233mhz processor would be any good though.

doublesix... now THAT looks interesting! Hmmmm

Thanks again everyone!
posted by The Deej at 5:06 AM on April 12, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, niles, maybe your iMac doesn't turn on all the time because the PRAM battery is dead. Give that a shot. Radio Shack carries the battery. (Just my way of letting you take the lead on this so I can copy your success.)
posted by The Deej at 5:07 AM on April 12, 2007

Response by poster: Also... just so my fellow geeks know my while thinking: IF I can't get the DVD angle to work, I will use it for photo slide shows, or for looping QuickTime videos of family stuff. If I get the DVD to work, my plan was to use DVDs to play the slide shows, in addition to playing movies. Think of it as a decorating accessory.

And, I am not against replacing the hard drive if it makes the end result easier. They are under $20 on eBay.
posted by The Deej at 5:51 AM on April 12, 2007

Response by poster: Alright, I have marked 2 contrary answers as best.

doublesix is correct: I could use the converter as shown in the video and it should work. I would also have to get a 3-row, 15 pin adapter to make it fit the Apple 2-row, 15 pin video connector. The cost: around $150 for the TVBox-9 as shown in the linked video, plus whatever DVD player I have laying around. Using a DVD player with built in VGA is another option doublesix mentions, for about $80.

The key is: you can't just adapt the connections and make it work, it MUST go through a converter. Which is why you's answer ends up being correct, even though he is actually referring to a different question. :) As it turns out, I can get a later version of funky, CRT iMac on ebay for around $120 including shipping. The later versions have a slot-loading, built-in DVD drive.

Sooo.... thanks everyone. And I hope this is helpful to anyone else with the same idea. If I do manage to make my Rev B iMac work, or indeed if I do any kind of converting to it, I will post a link here as promised.

Ah well..... good times...
posted by The Deej at 5:13 AM on April 13, 2007

Response by poster: Late follow-up for posterity.

I bought an iMac 400MHz, DVD-ROM, 20 GB Hard Drive, 512MB Memory. It's orange and includes the matching mouse and keyboard. It was about $140 including shipping. There were many others available for a little less, but I wanted one of the more unusual colors.

So, $140 isn't bad for a combination DVD movie machine, stereo, internet appliance, recipe server, game machine, and funky decorative accessory for my my kitchen/dining counter. Plus I can link it into my home network.
posted by The Deej at 11:26 AM on April 29, 2007

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