Cyrozap's Tech Projects

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How-to: Build Your Own DIY-intosh

Well, I think it's about time that I made more of a how-to to build a DIY-intosh.

There are plenty of how-to's to make Hackintoshes, but those are teetering on the edge of legality, are difficult to get as stable as a store-bought Mac, and OS updates can't always be installed without any mods. Macs are supposed to be reliably stable—that's one of their main selling points; when you remove that stability, you remove a major component of the Mac. The only reasons you would want to build a Hackintosh is to have a really powerful Mac Pro at a really good cost, to have an OS X netbook, or to have a really inexpensive Mac Mini.

The DIY-intosh can be built as a really inexpensive (mine was around $300) yet still Apple-reliable Mac. Here's how to make one of your own:

DIY-intosh is Working!

UPDATE (8/19/2010): You could probably do this a lot easier/quicker by just making an OS X USB drive by making a DMG of the OS X install disk and then restoring that image onto an 8 GB or larger USB drive, but this post is just about how I did it.

The final result!

Well, that sleep switch certainly did the trick! It turns out that Macs w/o an OS can't do anything until OS X is installed. This means that boot keys like "T" for Target Disk Mode and "C" for Boot from CD won't work until the OS is installed. The good news is, using this info that I learned myself, I was able to install OS X on my DIY-intosh.

Fun With Git, iPod touches, and Cellular Modules

See my iPod touch Cellular Upgrade to see what I mean. This pretty much turns any iPod touch into an unlocked GSM phone. There's also potential for making it have a cellular dial-up modem, but that is a bit beyond my coding capabilities. At least the hardware would be capable of it so someone who can get it to be used as a cellular modem can just fork my project. I <3 Git.

High-Resolution Pictures of the Macbook Sleep Switch/Battery Connector

I tried figuring it out, but I couldn't get the sleep switch pinout (Apple goes to a lot of trouble to obscure the traces with the silkscreen and both my multimeters are wonky—they don't like displaying correct values). Now it's in the DIY-intosh and it still doesn't default to outputting to the external screen. I can only hope that it doesn't work for the same reason that Firewire Target Disk Mode doesn't work; OS X hasn't been installed yet.

As always, click on the pictures to see the hi-res versions.

Swapping FTDI USB to Serial Cable for Hardware Serial Works Nicely

Well, I was getting tired of having to load my prints onto an SD card by formatting, loading the file, and inserting into the MakerBot because when a print fails, I have to repeat the process. So, I finally decided to swap the FTDI USB to Serial cable for hardware serial cable. Now, I can print from the computer directly without worrying about slowdowns. It's faster because instead of relying on a driver to convert the data and push it over the USB where it is then converted into serial, it just uses the hardware serial controller, which uses a whole lot less processing power than USB does.

Here's a video showing my MakerBot workstation:

I also have it on YouTube, but YouTube makes my videos all jittery when it transcodes them. I only really use YouTube when I need to use the annotations.


Ok, in the last post about the DIY-intosh, I said that it was complete. Well, it wasn't. I really did think it was, but I was unable to install OS X. The reason? It doesn't actually think that its non-existent lid is closed. I thought the sleep switch was built into the board, but it is in fact built into the battery connector. So, after trying to emulate the switch by shorting out pins and not succeeding, I decided to take the easy way out and just buy the battery connector. $8.50 in a Best Offer on eBay; search for "Macbook battery connector." When I get the item, I'll run tests on it to find the real pinouts and I'll take a bunch of high-resolution photos of it because there are no high-res photos of the battery connector online that I could find. I think it's a hall-effect sensor and not a reed switch, and that might make things a bit more difficult, but I'll try. I'll look for a chip number. Even if I don't succeed, I'll still have some great photos so others can figure out something without needing the actual sensor/assembly.

And I'm still under my $300 goal ($293.29) :D

Edit: Oh, and it looks like PuSH wasn't working before, but there was an update for it and it's working now. Instant updates FTW.

The DIY-intosh is finally complete!

I finshed it! Many thanks to Tyler of Phantom Dev, who inspired me to do this project and who gave me the link to another mod that has a little more detail on wiring the power button. I also thank ebay for being there to host the auctions and I thank the people I bought parts from for having such awesome prices. I thank Hammerhead Technology for selling me the logic board and Apple's designers and engineers for making such a great piece of hardware and software.

Total cost of the project: $284.79

DIY-intosh Works!

DIY-intosh Boot

The blinking folder icon just means that the EFI bootloader can't find a hard drive with an OS installed on it. This is fine, considering that there is no hard drive attached! All I need now is a good SATA laptop HDD and I'll be all set.

MAKE: Money and DIY-intosh

I signed up for MAKE Magazine's Make: Money program. With it, I can sell MAKE Magazine subscriptions to people and have %50 of the money go to this blog! It's a really cool system, and now, people that can view this blog can order online using this link. When you click on the link, you are taken to MAKE Magazine's web order form. All you have to do is fill out the required information and pay for the subscription. Half of the money is automatically sent to the blog and you get subscribed to an awesome magazine. I'm speaking from experience; I subscribe to MAKE, too, and it's great. There are a TON of great projects, articles, product reviews, and more. So why wait? Order now!

Ok, the sales pitch is over. If you haven't already noticed, I've renamed the DIY Mac project to DIY-intosh. The current status is good; I have most of the parts already and the rest are on their way. The reason why this has taken so long is because I accidentally bought the wrong CPU fan and had to send it back. Also, I had to wait until monday to deposit the money I got for Christmas. The good news is that I have or have ordered all of the parts to make a functioning Mac. The next post about the DIY-intosh will have a bunch of pictures. This is going to be awesome.

Oh, and I probably won't be posting any more fund-raising posts.