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Planning on attempting an eMac resurrection soon, check out my plans and see if I missed and steps, IYDM


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Hey 68kMLA Forum Users,

I have a eMac in the closet at my parents' place that I purchased way back in 2003 in my move from high school to college. It's a 2003 model: 1Ghz G4, 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD, 32MB Radeon 7500, Superdrive.

I've replaced the Superdrive at one point during its life, as the original one either died on me or started having issues reading newer DVDs (don't remember) upgraded the RAM from what it shipped with (I believe 256MB) to 1GB and added an Airport Extreme card way back in the day.

My parents actually used the computer for a short time when I moved to my first Intel iMac in 2008, but unfortunately the hard drive gave up the ghost not long afterwards, and it was relegated to a closet. I'm rather glad that I didn't sell it, give it away, or otherwise recycle it, because I'm anxious to tinker with it soon.

Over the weekend while going through some old boxes at their place I actually found my original eMac restore discs, Apple Hardware Test, Applecare Disc, and even the Encyclopedia media software that shipped with the computer. This is exciting because I really thought it was lost to time. On top of that I have the original Pro keyboard and mouse it shipped with as well, though I'll likely order replacements from eBay at some point.

The wife and I recently moved from an apartment to our first home, so I finally have the space so set it up and tinker with it. I'm thinking I'll probably load it up with old edutainment software and movies and use it as a "Entertainment Station" for our daughter to use someday, who will be arriving soon. I figure this way I can keep her off of the internet as well.

So here's the plan.
Open computer and replace old HDD.
Replace CPU thermal paste.
General case & fan dust cleanout.

 

First thing I'll be doing is general disassembly and inspection. If there's any bulging/leaking capacitors I'll probably just cancel the whole project. While I've done a bit of soldering in my day, I'd probably end up ruining the whole board in an attempt to replace them. I may call around to local shops to see if any of them are up to the task, but I have a feeling it may not be worth putting money into that point.

 

But hey, if the capacitors look okay...

I'm eyeballing this IDE to SATA adapter, paired with a Crucial SSD, and this 2.5" to 3.5" bracket adapter. I know the ATA bus on the computer will limit the computer's actual data throughput, but the idea of making the computer even just a little bit quieter is super appealing, especially when I remember the fan on that thing being fairly loud to begin with. In addition a solid state drive will likely outlast any mechanical hard drive I put in there, and will outlast the life of the computer itself, meaning I should never have to open it back up again. I figure I'll go with the 500GB drive, which is probably overkill as hell, but I'd really like this to be a one and done solution.

While I'm in there I'll also pull off the heatsink, remove the existing thermal pad and paste, clean those up, and replace it with some Arctic Silver. I figure the popular MX-4 should be fine, unless ya'll want to suggest something else.

Anything I'm forgetting or additional that I should do on the hardware or software side while I'm fixing 'er up? I might give installing Mac OS 9 a go as this computer is right at the cutoff point--it didn't ship with OS 9, but some patched install discs online should be doable.

Thanks.

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Hey welcome in!

 

This is a pretty solid plan, just a couple notes, you may already have considered these things:

 

This model will not run Mac OS 9 directly, only the 800 version from this generation will, but the patched install discs may work.

 

If you want to have OS 9 software available, you can put Mac OS X 10.4 on it and then add Classic Mode. If you have the install CDs that came with this machine, the classic installer there should work fine, even if those CDs are themselves for 10.2 or 10.3.

 

If you don't care about OS 9 software, 10.5 should run on here, but you'd want to put as much RAM in as you can because 10.5 did like it. (Really 10.4 does too.) Although, from a practical and edutainment perspective 10.2/3/4 and Classic Mode gives you a lot more flexibility. (And if most of your stuff is Classic anyway going to a newer OS release (than what came on the install discs you mentioned) to get newer/better OS X stuff doesn't gain you all that much.)

 

Good luck!

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On 4/11/2021 at 10:34 PM, Cory5412 said:

Hey welcome in!

 

This is a pretty solid plan, just a couple notes, you may already have considered these things:

 

This model will not run Mac OS 9 directly, only the 800 version from this generation will, but the patched install discs may work.

 

If you want to have OS 9 software available, you can put Mac OS X 10.4 on it and then add Classic Mode. If you have the install CDs that came with this machine, the classic installer there should work fine, even if those CDs are themselves for 10.2 or 10.3.

 

If you don't care about OS 9 software, 10.5 should run on here, but you'd want to put as much RAM in as you can because 10.5 did like it. (Really 10.4 does too.) Although, from a practical and edutainment perspective 10.2/3/4 and Classic Mode gives you a lot more flexibility. (And if most of your stuff is Classic anyway going to a newer OS release (than what came on the install discs you mentioned) to get newer/better OS X stuff doesn't gain you all that much.)

 

Good luck!

 

Thanks for your assistance!

 

I've been looking over the disc images folks have hacked together for "unsupported hardware" on the macos9lives forum and I thought I'd give one of those a chance.

 

But you're right, I can probably give classic a whirl first and see how that works. I remember not having a good experience with classic back in 2003/2004, but I was also trying to run more intensive software and games via the compatibility layer that likely gave off a bad impression, more simplistic, older edutainment titles will probably fare much better in that environment.

 

I'll start there.

 

The big worry is just those capacitors at this point. Everything else I'm fairly confident about taking apart and upgrading myself.

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I have the same machine, and while the MacOS 9 support does sort of work (with the patched install discs AND open firmware hacks), it's not ideal. What annoys me the most about it is that you only get a single channel of audio.

 

I agree with Cory that 10.2/3/4 and classic mode is probably the best way to go on the models that don't boot into OS 9 directly.

 

These are great computers though, eh? I'm looking for a stand for mine to complete the set. It feels like an iMac G4 design that was scrapped.

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On 4/14/2021 at 3:07 PM, mjallemand said:

The big worry is just those capacitors at this point

 

To be straight-up, I think people are jumping the gun on this just a little bit, and, perhaps save for the analog board and power supply, I'd say let them be and see what happens over the next few years. 

 

We don't even know if capacitors will end up being a widespread problem on these models, there's plenty where it's not, like the Mac SE motherboard. (The problems that the later 1.0/1.25 models had when they were still new notwithstanding.)

 

It'll be fine if you do, but I vaguely suspect it may turn out to be work that didn't need to be done, unfortunately only really time will end up telling, so admittedly here part of this is going to involve whether or not you want to possibly have to take this machine apart again in the next ~5-10 years.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/21/2021 at 2:03 AM, Cory5412 said:

We don't even know if capacitors will end up being a widespread problem on these models

 

It is fairly well known that the through hole capacitors used in various eMacs were part of the 2000s capacitor plague. Many have bulged, or even burst capacitors that are in need of replacement.

 

The fortunate thing is that unlike SMD caps, which can "hide" slight leakage under itself, as the capacitor goop comes out the bottom, these through holes are easy to spot if they are bad. That, and they generally don't leak capacitor goop onto the logic board, reducing the chances of permanent damage.

Edited by Daniël Oosterhuis
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On 4/21/2021 at 6:57 AM, Daniël Oosterhuis said:

It is fairly well known that the through hole capacitors used in various eMacs were part of the 2000s capacitor plague.

 

Absolutely - I was there too! I helped diagnose this trouble with some of the machines at my high school in 2004/5/6 and "participated in" (hung out while an adult did it) shipping systems back to Apple and/or bringing them to local repair shops.

 

 

My question/thought here has a couple components to it:

  • OP has a 1.0GHz Radeon 7500 model, not the 1.25GHz Radeon 9200 model, which was the hardest hit by capacitor plague. (I'm not sure that any of the 2003 models were hit particularly hard? I don't even remember hearing that the 2004 1.0/Rad9200 models for education were that hard hit, and I don't remember hearing that this impacted the 1.42 very often.)
  • There are other Macs that most people claim don't need any recapping -- machines 10-20 years older than these
  • The ones that were going to fail from faulty capacitors priamrily did so basically when the machines were still new back in 2005/2006

With that all in mind, the thing I'm driving at is: is it known that these capacitors have started to fail, other than the ones that failed 15 years ago?

 

If so, then, yeah, sure, this is probably good/important maintenance to do.

 

If not, then, I'm kind of in the boat of "check it once in a while and work on more pressing things right now" -- which, I realize might not apply in this specific case.

 

So like overall, it's probably not harmful to replace capacitors but fixing things that aren't broken feels like a waste of resources unless the goal of the project is to learn how to do it to work on other restorations afterward.

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Wait, the 1.25GHz model is hit hardest by the capacitor plague? That's weird, my 1.25GHz eMac that spent who knows how long sitting in a box unused worked just fine the last couple times I used it.

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I'll have to go look, it's possible I'm misremembering.


The other thing is, once the problem was really identified there probably were a few runs of them with good capacitors, and there was also the repair program that Apple ran until like 2008 give or take.

 

 

From the Internet Archive:
 

Which eMac computers are affected by the eMac Repair Extension Program for Video and Power Issues?
The program is available for certain eMac models that were sold between approximately April 2004 and June 2005 featuring 1GHz and 1.25GHz G4 processors.  

The affected eMac computers have serial numbers where the first 5 digits fall into the ranges noted below.

Serial Number ranges:
G8412xxxxxx - G8520xxxxxx
YM412xxxxxx - YM520xxxxxx
VM414xxxxxx - VM518xxxxxx *
* updated as of July 12, 2006

 

How long is the eMac Repair Extension Program available?
The program covers affected eMac computers for up to three years from the original date of purchase. Apple will continue to evaluate the repair data and will provide further repair extensions as needed.

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