Cyrozap's Tech Projects

Computers. Circuits. Code.

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.

More IM-ME info

Ok, I don't think I'm going to do anything with this, but to all those who've seen my previous posts and want to hack a GirlTech IM-ME, I give you this.


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.

Reverse-engineering a VCR Knob/Jog-wheel

Here's a video I made showing that it outputs in a pseudo-digital way:

From the video description:

This is a simple test I did to see how to decode the output from a VCR knob. First, I used a multimeter while I moved the knob to find out which pins went where inside the device. Then, upon finding that it's a sort of pseudo-digital output, I wired it up to some LEDs and started turning it. I didn't get any output when I turned it right, but I'll figure that out eventually.

By the way, my digital camcorder has a REALLY nice macro mode built in (if you haven't already noticed from the video). One time, I held the camera up to my netbook's screen while it was set to macro mode and I could see the individual pixels INSANELY crisply; so crisply, in fact, that I could see the individual RGB bars.

Expect a post about the DIY-intosh tomorrow. Right now, I have to get some sleep.

DIY Mac Part II

The parts have been bought; all except the MacBook keyboard and the thermal compound. So it begins.

Please donate; I really need money for this project!

^ That must have sounded reeeeally desperate.