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MOD Project: Infiniti G35 MacMini

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  • MOD Project: Infiniti G35 MacMini holder for car pics, project goals, ect...
    (when I get unlazy to actually document the plans I have in my head)

    Stock pictures... before the install:

  • #2
    Infiniti G35 Carputer mac mini led mod

    The stock Intel Mac Mini has a white Power LED. Because I want the mac mini to look "stock" and right at home in my G35's dash; I'm going to spell out the details on how to mod your mac mini's stock LED color.

    After many google search attempts; I have not seen anyone publish a tutorial on how to change the color of the LED in your mini. I hope the Mini Modder's enjoy this how-to.

    Please keep in mind that you take all responsibility for implementing the LED mod on your Mac Mini. It will void your warranty so keep this in mind BEFORE attempting this mod. Neither Zittware nor WizD is liable for voiding your warranty.

    First you need to dissemble your mac mini to get access to the white LED.
    I did this by following two tutorials:

    First being the disassembly video @ Smash's world. I elected to use the putty knife method instead of the wire method. The putty knife seemed like less effort despite the risk of scratching the mini's body. I used a Warner 1/2" Flex putty knife purchased from lowes. It had the thinest profile of all putty knifes at Lowes.

    Once I had the top cover off my mini; I began carefully disassembling the mini using's step-by-step guide.
    I stopped before removing the ram or the hard drive.

    You need to remove the black tray assembly containing the cdrom and HD; but do not need to remove the CPU or Ram from the motherboard.


    • #3
      Now the real fun begins.
      Let's mod the MacMini power LED:

      Materials needed:
      • High End SMT (surface mount technology) capable soldering with fine SMT tip
      • desoldering wick
      • SMT 1206 LED color of your choice
      • Datasheet for the LED you selected. Need forward voltage drop spec @ 20mA.
      • SMT 604 resistor @ 56ohms.
      • hobby knife with newish triangle blade.
      • solder
      • uber soldering skillz for SMT devices
      1) Remove the LED board

      Remove the white LED's mini circuit board by gently pulling the black hard tape apart at the rear of the assembly. I used a hobby knife to start removing the tape. Be gentle; the black tape easily rips despite being thick.

      Once the tape is free; you'll have a small circuit board double sticky taped to the back of the black housing. Use that same knife to gently pry the circuit board from the tape.

      Take care with the wires attaching to this board. They are fragile and will break easily.

      2) Mac Mini's LED circuit board w/ "foam" light blocker

      Here's a picture of the circuit board removed. The black foam is adhesive backed; which is how it attaches to the circuit board.

      I beleive the purpose of this foam is to provide a spacer to secure the circuit board in the assembly... maybe to prevent "rattle". Apple certainly knows how to spec quality assemblies.

      Gently remove the adhesive foam using a hobby knife. Take care to remove with the adhesive intact on the foam (not circuit board) so you can reuse it during reassembly.

      3) Desoldering time

      Notice the white diode labeled D1. and the plus (+) symbol.

      Using an SMT tip; desolder the diode at D1 using a solder braid.
      Clean up the diode pads using solder braid.

      Rotate the wires by to the backside of the circuit board; one at a time; to ensure you don't accidently wire the board / LED backwards. I used a solder braid to remove the solder; then resoldered on the non component (or non copper) side.

      4) MacMini's HH LED prep

      Using the hobby knife; scrape off enough solder mask to mount your desired color. The author used a 1206 SMT LED - Orange from Digikey - A Stanley AA1101W.

      For our calcuations; we are going to assume the forward drop of the stock white LED is a typical 3.6V. Assume typical LED currents of ~20mA.

      Since we are using a lower voltage LED; we need to put a current limiting resistor (RLED) into the circuit to "drop" some voltage. Using some electrical engineering - Kirchhoff's voltage law's_circuit_laws#Kirchhoff.27s_voltage_law
      ; we know that the sum of all voltage must be zero.

      0 = Vwhite + Vr.led + Vled
      (a) Vrled = Vwhite - Vled

      Kirchhoff's current law's_circuit_laws#Kirchhoff.27s_current_law
      we know that the current through our LED must be equal to the current through our new resistor RLED.
      (b) Ir.led = I.led = 20mA

      Using Ohm's Law's_law
      we can solve for the value of RLED:
      I = V/R ; solving for R
      R = V/I

      RLED = Vrled / Ir.led ; knowing (a) and (b) yields:

      RLED = ( Vwhite - Vled ) / ( I.led )

      From our new LED's datasheet we know that VLED = 2.2V; so:
      RLED = ( 3.6V - 2.2V ) / ( 20mA) = 70 ohms

      The closest resistor value the author had in 604 package was 56ohms; so we will use 56ohms in the remaining steps.

      NOTE: If you are going to replace the LED with a newer color like Blue, bright green, or uv... note that the forward voltage of these LEDs is closer to the original White LED. As such; you will *NOT* cut the traces below or solder in a 56ohm resistor as calcuated above. IF IN DOUBT; check your datasheet for it's typical forward drop @ 20mA.

      IF your using a standard low voltage LED (red, yellow, orange) with a Vdrop ~2.2V continue. Else skip the next step cutting the trace below.

      Cut the long trace on the Kathode (+) side of the LED. Make the cut wide enough to fit a 604 SMT resistor.


      • #4
        5) Mac Mini's HH LED modified

        Solder the new 1206 SMT LED to your new landing pads; over the existing hole.

        If using a ~2.2V LED; solder your 56ohm 604 smt resistor to the cut trace.

        6) Mac Mini's HH LED reinstalled

        Reattach the black foam spacer over the new LED - allowing the LED to shine through the hole in the foam.

        Reinstall the LED board into it's housing.
        Make sure to align the LED to the hole in the black tape.

        Gently manuver the LED boards wire out the original hole.

        Reassemble the black tape around the modified HH LED board.

        7) Reverse your disassembly; returning the mac mini back to it's assembled form. Take care to reassemble everything.

        Here's the final look; complete with an Orange power LED which will match nicely with the G35's orange iluminated dash.


        • #5
          Mac Mini Modding: Disabling the internal speaker

          Lots of work has been done behind the scenes to test the mac mini before the G35 is disassembled for installation... here's some of the highlights.

          Before reassembling the Intel Mac Mini; I finished up some last minute issues.

          First; To use the mac mini in my car; It was desirable to disable the internal speaker of the mini. To do this; simply remove J23's connector on the back board which connects to the CDROM. I left this connector taped to the black plastic of the cdrom assembly.

          Next; To remote power up the mac mini using the Carnetix CNX-P1900 DC-DC supply; I put the supplied power button "y" adapter and routed the external connector out of the rear fan hole. I later changed this to exit on of the bottom vent holes.

          I began wiring the P1900 supply to my test ATX powersupply... with a simulated ignition. No pictures here; but can post a diagram if there is interest. This was done to work out the kinks of the power supply, Mini, and 700TSV lcd before it's installed in the G35.

          On tap tomorrow is a trip to Radio Shack to get a DPDT mini switch and a 1/4" audio plug for the continued installation.


          • #6
            It's ALIVE

            Austin Modders met at my house this past saturday to begin the task of installing the MacMini into my G35.

            After a long weekend... and several nights after work; I'm proud to present that the G35 MacMini project is alive and playing MP3s... dishing out gps coordinates via Google Earth and Earth Bridge.

            First a Stock picture... before the install:

            And here it is after the install:

            Yeap... here's the car when everything put away. still looks stock - which was ONE of the goals of this project.

            Bet your thinking: "ok smart ash... wtf are you trying to pull"
            nothing ... I swear!
            The touch screen is located in the same location as the stock navi screen. Closeup of the's 700TSV touch screen installed in the center console. Plans are in place to purge the housing of it's brushed aluminum bezel... but you'll have to wait to see that! Later in the project.

            Onscreen is Google Earth running Earth Bridge... and Winamp Playing mp3s in the foreground.
            Why you might ask? Because has yet to honor it's $50off coupon for Streetdeck for my September order.

            But... Where oh Where is the MacMini?

            The same location as the stock Navigation system.

            Ofcourse you can see a closeup... you needn't ask!

            Macmini installed in the G35's navi cubby uses a DigitalWheelz Din Converter from G35 was secured in the DIN converter using #6-32x3/8" standoffs on both sides.
            The modified CarNetix CNX-P1900 PSU is mounted on the right side.
            The left side is reserved for the USB2.0 hub... to be installed later.
            All of this will be polished off with a custom cnced front panel when I get a chance.

            More later...


            • #7
              wow, looks really good, it came out nice. what are you using for the audio? Is it connected to the stock HU?

              btw, what camera did you take thos pictures with? They came out great.
              Asus A7N8X-VM - AMD Mobile Athlon 2400
              512 Ram - 60GB HD - Opus 150w
              Lilliput 7" - Rikaline 6010
              [00000000000001100010-] 98% Completed

              Check Out My Install!!!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Quattro View Post
                wow, looks really good, it came out nice. what are you using for the audio? Is it connected to the stock HU?
                I'm using a PAC AAI-NIS2 to connect to the stock head unit. Which is why I'm really miffed that I can't get [email protected] to return my email about getting my $50off of streetdeck... As you can see from the install; I bought over $1000 from them to get this puppy off the ground!

                btw, what camera did you take thos pictures with? They came out great.
                I bought a first generation Cannon Digital Rebel several years ago... I love the camera. Did a good job of shooting in the dark tonight; huh?


                • #9
                  Hey, zitt, looks really nice. I've got a custom PC in my G; I love the G, it is such a sweet car, and you did it justice with your install

                  2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
                  Core Duo CarPC
                  CarDomain page


                  • #10
                    Time to report on the weekend activities.

                    As I stated in a previous post; one of the goals is to have the g35 look stock when the toys are put away. To this end; it was desirable to mount the override switches in an inconsipucious place. That place: The ashtray.

                    Step one involved removing the ashtray from the g35... which gives us the following stock ashtray:

                    The switches will be Bulgin Vandal resistant switches. Ring type with Amber and White LEDs. The Amber LED Switch will control the PSU via remote powerup on J1 Pin 1 of the PSU. The White will give me access to the MacMini's powerbutton which cannot be reached as it is in the dash.

                    I also integrated a "kill" switch to remove the PSU / MacMini from car power. IE long trips where the car will set for long periods of time. This switch is a Eswitch rocker switch RR3112 LBLKBLKYEL SPST with a 12VDC Amber LED. It interrupts the battery power to the PSU.

                    Ofcourse I needed a way to mount these beasties on top of the ash tray; so I went through several revisions to come up with the following design:

                    This is the most optimal configuration due to the space contraints inside the G35's ashtray.

                    This design was then ported to my CNC where it was cut out of 0.1" Aluminum plate.

                    Here are some pictures I took of a previous revision while CNCing and test fitting.
                    G35 Ashtray switch insert (cncing):

                    G35 Ashtray switch insert (done):

                    G35 Ashtray switch insert (test fit):


                    • #11
                      Ofcourse the Ashtray is still too cramped to fit the long switches inside the curved interior; so out came the :dremel: to allow room:

                      And here's the test fit of the switch assembly:

                      Remember: this aluminum will not be the finished state; soon when I get the mod nearly complete - I'll be powdercoating the aluminum grey to match the dash.

                      After several more hours of reassembling the ashtray and wiring in the switch assembly... here's the end result. A night shot with dash lit up and ash (I mean) switch tray extended:

                      (click to see full size)

                      Hint: The switches are visible just to the Left of the Red hazard switch.

                      I know... I know... you wanna see a closeup; here ya go:

                      (click to see full size)

                      The Amber LED on the rocker; only dimly lights when there is power being supplied to the PSU.

                      The Amber and white switch LEDs are being driving by a custom circuit I added inside the PSU body. The switch rings light based upon the state of the PSU LED. Flashing as appropriate to give me the same indication as what is going on inside the PSU. More details on the custom circuit later when I have all the kinks worked out.

                      Soon (maybe tomorrow); I'll post the schematics for the switch assembly.

                      It's been almost two weeks since I got the mini installed in the G35... it's been rock solid - working perfectly. I've only had to kill the mini once when I couldn't get control of the system when I was trying Winamp's visulation routines. The PSU does an excellent job of putting the system into standby and waking it up.

                      --- Austin Charity LAN Party Nov 10-12. Where 1 out of every two people should win a prize.


                      • #12
                        Anyone have problems with their keyfobs after installing new equipment?
                        For some reason; My Keyfobs no longer work with any range after doing the Mac Mini install.

                        I litterally have to be at the driver side door with my finger touching the metal before the keyfob will unlock the door.


                        • #13
                          Yes; I have the same problem, though not as extreme. The PC and/pr the monitor and/or the power cables and supplies interfere with the low level RF that the keyfob puts out. I'm not sure what the solution is, although like I said, mine is not as bad, since I can trigger the alrm with the keyfob from about 10 feet away, whereas before the install, I had about 200 feet of range.

                          2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
                          Core Duo CarPC
                          CarDomain page


                          • #14
                            That truly blows. Anyone know where the keyfob's antenna is (in the car)?

                            Now for the working part of the PSU mod and how the ashtray switches were wired:

                            (This Design is Copyright 2006 by John Zitterkopf. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!
                            Terms of use:
                            Free for individuals for PERSONAL use.
                            Business MAY NOT build, include, or sell this product for any reason without prior WRITTEN consent from John Zitterkopf)

                            BATT = Battery Voltage From wireing harness
                            VCC = Battery Voltage to circuit and PSU
                            LEDIN is connected to active Side of the LED in the PSU... on the circuit board.
                            GND is obviously car ground via wireing harness.

                            GRN_ACPI_MINI & BLK_ACPI_MINI make up the Mac Mini's power switch. The signals were wired-or into the existing PSU harness ordered from It's tied to S_WHITE, the white LED switch (for the mac mini).

                            PSU_J1_Pin1 is the remote power up signal to the PSU. This signal must go from GND to Battery Voltage back to GND to power up the power supply without the ignition. See the PSU manual for more detail. R_AMBER (10kohm) pulls this signal to ground when the switch button isn't depressed. The other sides of S_AMBER (the push switch with amber LED).

                            S_KILL is the black rocker switch with the amber LED. It removes power from the PSU and thereby the macmini if necessary. The LED for this switch is tied to ground through a 3.6K ohm resistor to keep the current at ~16V/3.6K = ~4.5mA. This small current was necessary to keep the battery drainage to a minimal value.

                            Q1, Q3, Q4 are 2N3904 transistors configured in a current mirror configuration. What's a current mirror you ask?
                            (bottom of page)
                            Basically the reference current through the emitter Q1 is "mirrored" onto the collector of Q4. This was done for several reasons; one of which is to minimize the "load" to the pin of the microcontroller driving the LED on the original PSU board. RC1 and RB1 cause the "on" current to be ~7mA at Q1E which means that the current through both of our vandal LEDs is ~7mA. RB1 limits the current draw on the pin of the microcontroller based on IB = IC/beta or ~7mA/50 = 140uA ; minisule compared to the 10's of mAs being supplied to the onboard LED.

                            LED_SW* are wired so that most of the LED current (~7mA) flows through the amber LED. RLW is chosen big to limit the amount of current through the white LED - to minimize it's brightness. As designed the white led should draw 2mA of current while the amber draws the remaining 5mA. A highly bright White LED would easily overwhelm the stock amber colors of the G35 dash. RL drops the voltage from BATT to ~2.3V needed across the Amber LED.

                            Expect an update of this circuit when I get the other aspects of the PSU mod debugged and verified.

                            --- Austin Charity LAN Party Nov 10-12. Where 1 out of every two people should win a prize.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by zittware View Post
                              That truly blows. Anyone know where the keyfob's antenna is (in the car)?
                              No, but I have been meaning to dig through the service manual and find out. When I do, I'll post it

                              2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
                              Core Duo CarPC
                              CarDomain page