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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > Anyone still have some love for G4 Mirrored Drive Door?

Anyone still have some love for G4 Mirrored Drive Door?
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seanc
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Dec 3, 2023, 03:17 PM
 
After a long time away from MacNN and tinkering with Macs (other than a Mac Pro 5,1), I stumbled upon a PowerMac G4 MDD at a local auction, I couldn't help myself, placed a bid and won it. Back in the early days of my membership here, I remember them being very popular.

It's a dual 1.25Ghz model and came with 2 x 512mb sticks of RAM. It detected 1 stick as 256mb and had been randomly throwing memory errors while running from a USB stick with OS 9 and would randomly boot into Open Firmware.

I've just recapped most of the power supply as a preventative measure and to see if I could cure some instability - I didn't have some of the correct specification of caps as they're on backorder, I'll go back in when they arrived and if needed.

I've purchased and fitted an IDE to SATA adapter with 128GB SSD along with 3 x 512mb sticks from eBay. Since the power supply overhaul and the RAM it seems happier, but it did hang while copying OS 9 system data from USB stick to SSD earlier.

Currently trying to download the original MDD 9.2.2 .toast image as I have read that they are finicky.

Anyone here still got one in use and have any stability tips? I'm keen to run OS 9 with some old games.
     
reader50
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Dec 3, 2023, 05:11 PM
 
The "Mac OS 9 Lives!" forum hosts OS 9 image files for download. Apple doesn't seem to care. They assembled image files with the latest file versions of every OS 9 release, including the last trickle. So their image files are later than any official Apple release. Some updates only happened on OS restore discs (like graphics drivers for the later Sunflower iMacs) that never made it to an official OS9 general release.

They also cover hacks to get OS 9 working on *any* G4 Mac. Including the last few, which Apple didn't officially make compatible.

The G4 PowerMacs were fussy about RAM, preferring low-density sticks. That's probably why the one stick would only recognize 1/2 the RAM. It was a generic stick with the wrong density layout (rows vs columns).

It's impressive you got it to boot from a USB stick at all. The G5 Macs would unofficially boot from USB, but Apple didn't advertise it. I did it a few times, and it was dog-slow to boot my PM G5. Like maybe the firmware only knew to boot in USB-1 mode. This is the first I've heard you could boot a G4 from USB at all. It was normally booted from internal drives, PCI cards, FireWire, or netboot.

I have a G4 AGP, which I occasionally dust off and fix up. It got a Firmtek SATA card last time, and I got every OS version it supports installed on different partitions. But it hasn't been operated since, so it's probably in need of another fixup.

You'll want a graphics card with OS 9 drivers, in order to run OS 9 games. The strongest/last cards with full OS9 drivers were:
ATi/AMD: (AGP) Radeon 8500, (AGP or PCI) Radeon 9000 {half an 8500}, (PCI) 9200 {8500 equivalent}
nVidia: GF 4 Ti AGP

All must be Mac versions, or Mac-flashed, or they won't be recognized. The GF 4Ti is the strongest OS9 card, somewhat stronger than the 8500.

The somewhat later Radeons (9700, 9800) have 2D Mac drivers, they'll boot and work on the desktop. But they lack 3D drivers in OS9, making them primarily OSX cards.
     
seanc  (op)
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Dec 17, 2023, 02:41 PM
 
Hey reader50, long time no speak!

The MDD has been behaving itself, but still has some occasional quirks, I found a Reddit thread where it was suggested that re-soldering the RAM slots helped another person, so might investigate when I clear some other projects.
The graphics card is a Geforce 4600ti, working well but the fan was grinding. In trying to remove the fan to add some oil, I accidentally snapped the fan from the spindle - whoops. A small fan, zip tied to the heatsink works for now.

In the meantime, I acquired a Quicksilver 800mhz from the same auction. It comes with 1.5GB PC133 RAM and moving the SSD from the MDD over, it works fine. It also has a Geforce 4600ti whose fan is even worse than the one I broke - so I'm on the hunt for two fans or compatible heatsinks which I think will be like finding a needle in a haystack.

I'd read about the Firmtek SATA cards - I've seen that it might be possible to flash a generic SIL3112 card which is tempting.
Both Macs are fitted with SCSI cards but I don't think I want to listen to SCSI drives screaming away.
     
reader50
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Dec 17, 2023, 03:50 PM
 
Newegg has a wide selection of case fans, and eBay has parts for older cards sometimes. Check the mm width of the current fan, and work from there. Mine's installed and hard to reach, so I'll leave that part to you.

I've oiled GPU fans in the past - it never worked long. The old GPU fans seemed to be all sleeve bearings - once they wear a bit, oil will only help temporarily. Get a replacement. If there is room above the card (say, an adjacent slot you might have to leave empty) then you can get a thicker fan that's otherwise the same size.

nVidia often used a custom heatsink/housing, which from past experience, is hard to match. Might be better to replace only the fan, or attach one atop the existing housing.

The problem with replacing the custom housing/HS on my 7800, was that it also had conduction pads to cool the VRAM chips. And I couldn't seem to get the spacing to match for both the GPU and the VRAM. So I installed the nearly-identical HS/housing, only to have the card fans ramp up quickly to max. I'd missed on one of the clearances.

Pay attention to the fan pin connector, and the voltage. Common case fans are 12v or 5v - suggest taking a volt reading on the current fan connector, to verify which it is. Matching the connector may not be possible, but if you can, it will save you some splicing & soldering.
     
   
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