Someone Left the iMac Out in the Rain
July 27, 2004 10:22 PM   Subscribe

And Someone Left the iMac Out in the Rain [water inside]

Found: One old (see here) Rev. D iMac. Power cord attached, mouse attached, telephone cable for the internal modem attached. No keyboard, though.

I don't know how long the iMac was out in the rain, but someone left it outside by the trash cans and obviously didn't want it, so I'd like to see if I can get it running. If I can't, I want to put some fish in it. Has anyone had any experiences with those companies that sell iMac aquariums like these? How easy is it to gut an iMac yourself, since I'd have to remove the innards to make room for the tank?
posted by emelenjr to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I'm 'on guess youse is meanin' hyar.
posted by mwhybark at 10:32 PM on July 27, 2004

Whilst I'm thinking about it, this may also prove of interest. Inexplicably, no reliable supply of iMacquariam plans surfaced.
posted by mwhybark at 10:37 PM on July 27, 2004

Agh, sorry for the screwed up first link. Thanks mwhybark. Good links, also. But let's see if any MeFis have some firsthand experience, since that's what I'm after here.
posted by emelenjr at 10:48 PM on July 27, 2004

Well, I'm gonna guess that the usual problem with these exists: since they have a CRT, they contain bits that can kill you if you're not carefull.
posted by weston at 12:26 AM on July 28, 2004

The crt terrifies me. I've dropped electronics into water before and dried them out with no apparent problems. Because of the high voltages on the CRT I'd be very wary though. Talk to a television repairman, he might be able to provide some insight.
posted by substrate at 6:08 AM on July 28, 2004

1) Take the thing completely apart. The CRT is easy to separate safely from the electronics and the power supply. doing it safely requires careful attention to keeping away from the flyback transformer connection. Doing it *properly* requires rubber mats, a discharge tool and other heavily insulated tools. Personally, I've fixed hundreds of monitors, computers and televisions *without* the discharge tools and huge amounts of insulation. I've been extremely careful.

2) When you took everything apart, you took apart the modular pieces inside, right? Separate housings from electronics. The plastic housings can be run through your dishwasher without the heat-dry cycle. Seriously. I've done it with iMacs with a GREAT degree of success.

3) The electronics. Get a bunch of >90% rubbing alcohol. Clean everything with this. Pour the alcohol in, around and through each electronic part over a paint-roller-pan (or other wide, flat pan). Recycle the poured alcohol from the pan to re-pour. The CRT can be simply wiped down. The alcohol will mix with the water and cause it to evaporate more readily. Pouring it through will also clean things of salts and dust.

4) Wait for everything to dry. Depending on the humidity of your house, two days is usually sufficient.

5) Put everything back together and hope.
posted by tomierna at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2004

As a bit of an aside. My parents had a 1G bondi imac that died from a power surge. It was certified dead by the local mac geniuses and insurance proceeded to pay for its replacement. As it was dead, they said I could keep it for fish bowl purposes. Well it took me a while to get to it and it was stored upside down for about a year. When I did get to it, I thought I'd give it a shot, and sure enough it worked. Moral of the story, store dead computers upside down for a while and they will work again.
posted by jmgorman at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2004

So from tomierna's detailed instructions, I'm guessing I haven't done enough by just leaving it overnight (actually upside down, yes!). I've plugged it in (all of the water droplets I saw on the inside of the case last night are gone now) and am very tempted to push the power button, but I guess I shouldn't, eh?

For all its revolutionary (at the time) design, it's not the most user-serviceable piece of equipment, is it? Can I safely unscrew all of the screws holding the casing together and at least open it up safely? I promise not to mess with the CRT.
posted by emelenjr at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2004

I couldn't resist. The power supply seems to be dead, so disaster averted.

Looks like I'm going fishing after all.
posted by emelenjr at 8:39 AM on July 28, 2004

The CRT could still be holding a charge, so exercise caution when making that fishtank.

The entire motherboard/CD-ROM is a module that comes out in one hunk. IIRC, the power supply and the video analog board are one piece, but there are instructions on how to take an ATX power supply and connect it to an iMac module.

The motherboard/CD-ROM module also has all of the IO connectors on it, as well as having an internal VGA (HD-15) connector.

If there's nothing wrong with the motherboard, CPU and RAM, you could make an ATX power supply and connect it to a regular VGA monitor.

All this, *and* have a fishtank? Makes me want to buy up some early-model iMacs with blown monitors :D
posted by tomierna at 10:02 AM on July 28, 2004

jmgorman: great tip!
posted by mwhybark at 11:19 PM on July 28, 2004

tomierna, that last comment was a big help in figuring out how to do what I did yesterday. Goddamn, there are a lot of screws to remove before you can do anything interesting. The motherboard is out, though.

Anyway, I think I'm at a stopping point here until I can find a CRT discharging tool. But I'm curious. With what kind of disaster am I flirting? One wrong move and kapow, exploding CRT sends glass, plastic and metal flying everywhere? Or disaster as in a spark igniting an electrical fire? Again, I'm not going to poke around to find out, I'm just curious to know what the actual danger is.
posted by emelenjr at 6:02 AM on July 29, 2004

Probably not an explosion. The big risk is that the CRT and possibly a capacitor or two actually keep a big enough charge to run a good enough current through you and mess with your heart or otherwise damage you.

Since current kills (and voltage mostly just contributes to getting a current level), if you insulate yourself well, you are safer, since the amount of current that can flow through you is inversely proportional to your resistance. So: don't be wet, at the very least, and at most, note tomierna's advice and read stuff like this.

Then get a discharge tool and apply it to the CRT and the appropriate capacitors. You may want to ask around on an iMac email list or usenet to find out if there's gotchas other than the CRT itself.
posted by weston at 9:37 PM on July 30, 2004

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