"The Mac mini was already being used as a media center Mac, where it was connected to the television in the family room. We saw this toy Millennium Falcon and thought, hmmmm....that should work!"
We picked up this Millennium Falcon plastic toy model
for about $20.00. It is made by Playskool. It is available at
Amazon.com. We picked this up locally from a toy store at Downtown
The Mac mini was already being used as a media center
Mac, where it was connected to the television in the family room. We
thought it would be cool to have this available for double duty. Make
this work as a computer or continue to serve it's media center
functions. Either way, we could just plug in the VGA or S-Video cables
for however it would be used. We started with the toy as seen above and below in this picture:
It seemed to have enough space inside for a Mac mini, as long as it was easy to remove all the inside plastic pieces. So the deconstruction started.
After starting to disassemble the inside, we ran into a problem where all the supports would be in the way for where we were to put the Mac mini. Well, that wasn't going to work, so they all had to go. We marked what we thought needed to go and then it was time to dremel.
This was after we started grinding down all the plastic pieces we needed out of the way. As you can see, we still had quite a bit to shave down, but oh well, we thought it would be quick and it was. You gotta love a dremel. We took off enough to make the Mac mini fit nice and even.
Here is a rear picture with the top back on the Falcon (temporarily) and off on the Mac mini, to make sure things lined up. You know, we did not even notice that Playskool put the rear sticker on crooked, oh well, no time for that now, we had more to still do.
iPod Shuffle Dock
The next step was to add a front mounted USB extension cable, for the iPod shuffle. This was pretty straight forward, just dremel out the small area needed, a little hot glue and reassemble the top of the falcon. We really weren't worried about the looks on the inside, as once this was reassembled, you couldn't really see all the plastic on the inside and it was the outside that would make the most impression.
Here is one with the iPod shuffle inserted. We thought about putting a little sticker that said made for iPod on the front, but decided against it as it was funny enough just seeing an iPod shuffle sticking out of the front of the Millennium Falcon. I wonder what Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo would have had on their iPod? Oh well, no time for that, onto the next step.
Next step was to install an iSight camera in the top hatch.
We had to dremel out the plastic window. Again, don't grade us on our dremel skills, as we do not have any. We realize that it looks like Luke might have just light sabered the hatch to death, but it still turned out okay for our needs.
One challenge was to get the iSight to stay mounted. We had already removed the insides of the hatch and figured out that the remaining plastic mounts would support the iSight. Once we found this rubber washer, it slide right into the groove of the hatch and sat perfectly. We would love to tell you where to get this rubber washer from, but we can't as it was just a random one found in a junk drawer in the garage.
Now we of course realize that you would have to be sitting directly in front of the camera for this to work well with iChat. The idea was that as a media center Mac, we could turn on iChat and use this as a webcam or a live video feed for what was going on. Does it really matter though? We have a Millennium Falcon with an iSight inside it. We thought that was cool enough to just show, without needing to explain ourselves. Heck, it is MacMod, why not?
The last steps were really just installing the cables inside the Mac mini and putting the Mac mini inside once the cables were connected. Again, we really did not care how the inside looked and the cables were bunched up and pushed to the side, so not to block the rear exhaust, hence the mayhem you see in this.
last picture above. As it turns out, this mod is pretty simple. We spent about a total of 4 hours putting the whole thing together. About an hour was spent coming up with an idea and taking the toy apart. The rest of the time was mostly spent grinding plastic down and figuring out where to get the correct size rubber washer for the iSight.
In the end, this wound up not being setup as a computer and continues to serve it's function as a media center Mac. With a bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse as it's main input devices. Using either Remote Desktop or VNC, we are able to run updates. It is connected via the network using an Airport Extreme wireless card, so we can transfer files as needed.
First, in answer to the question, as seen in the pictures above, the rear hatch does open, which allows access to the optical drive and power button if needed. The DVD-R drive still functions fine. Although our mod was quick, we are still glad on the outcome. At least we think we are the first to have a Macintosh Millennium Falcon, or any computer for that matter.
The other last thoughts are that we have seen the other mods that are being posted and they are great. We espeically like some of the new mods, based on older ideas. The White and Blue G3 with the LCD screen reminds us a little of Ken Sala's BlueICE G4. The MacPLusPLus reminds us of last years winner, as does the iMac in the clear case, so great job to those modders on renewing those old ideas. The mods came out great!
We are glad that their are Mac modders in the community, everyone deserves a pat on the back. Oh yeah, how the heck does a scroll wheel work through wood? Either way, still pretty cool. When we saw it on Slashdot last month, we were very impressed.