Almost 10 years ago, a friend gave me his old Power Mac G5. At that time, it was a beast, with multiple Gigabytes of RAM. Like a beast, it was also quite loud, not only because of its two power-hungry PowerPC processors, but also because it contained a lot of noisy fans. The case itself, the “cheese grate”, is nice: Thick aluminum, simple, straight, easy to open and with a big, straight air path from the front to the back. Fitted with a few good fans, it can be made totally silent, unless it’s under heavy CPU and GPU load. Then, you hear a tiny bit of noise.
The case is not ATX-compatible. Luckily, The Laser Hive offers conversion kits . I went for the mATX (microATX) kit a 128mm fan. In my case (no pun intended), the ATX power supply is strapped to the bottom and blows its warm air out to the back. I kept the original power connector and used a small cable to connect it to the power supply internally. With the same idea of conserving the original look, I wanted to keep the original front panel, since it’s a crucial part of the design. But USB 3 would have been nice…
So the idea was born to convert the front panel from USB 2 and FireWire to USB 3 connectors.
For ATX boards, you can find USB 3 adaptor cables which have a USB 3 connector on one side and a matching connector for ATX mainboards on the other. Exactly what I needed! With a bit of luck, it should be possible to position those USB 3 connectors so that they line up perfectly with the holes in the front of the case, as did the old connectors. As a first step, measure the positions of the openings of the old connectors on the front panel PCB.
Then, desolder the old connectors. Mark and drill the holes for the new connectors. Roughen the surfaces between PCB and connectors. Check the height of the connectors, adjust it and glue them to the PCB with epoxy resin. While the resin cures, adjust the position again and finally solder the connectors into place, too.
Slightly enlarge he opening of the FireWire port so that it matches the height of a USB port. Also, connect wires for the headphone jack. I didn’t create the circuit to detect the presence of a headphone. But that’s good enough.
Now, connect everything and put the front panel PCB and cover back in place. The result, almost indistinguishable from the original, speaks for itself: