I am Jake

People know me as the "Computer Aquarium Guy?" because there really is no name or title to what I do here.  I don't even know if I'm an artist, computer nerd, inventor, entrepreneur, or just a weirdo.  It's kinda hard to explain to people that I turn old computers into aquariums and lamps and such, especially when some are not that familiar with Macs in the first place.  They look at me a little skeptical when I tell them that I've sold over a thousand aquariums and lamps all over the world.  The response is usually "huh...well that's neat..."
The iMacAquarium Story

It started in 2007 when I was asked to throw away a broken G3 iMac.  As the type of person I am, instead of tossing this beautiful computer in the trash I asked to take it home knowing I may tinker with it someday, maybe getting it to work again, or at least tear it apart just for the fun of seeing the inside.  Soon I found pictures online showing all types of Macs that had been turned into aquariums.  I decided to build one myself but with no luck finding any instructions online I decided to design my own.  

After experimenting with different tank designs, materials, lights, and filters I finally perfected it!  The tank held more water than any other Macquarium I could find.  The water level could be all the way to the top of the "screen".  The lighting was bright, simple, and water resistant.  The filter was perfectly sized for the tank.  I could buff the scratches out of the case to make it shine like new.  

The most difficult obstacle was to make the face of the tank curved to match the curve of the old CRT computer screen.  I didn't want big gaps between the curved front bezel of the iMac and the face of the aquarium tank so I used acrylic to make the tanks.  Acrylic has many benefits over glass plus I could bend and glue it to get the curve I wanted.  This makes the tanks much more complicated, time consuming, and expensive to make, but the finished look is well worth the investment.

Upon finishing and testing my final design I built a second iMacAquarium for a friend, then another and another.  One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew I was shipping my iMacAquariums all over the world.  

It's cool to take a computer that was on it's way to be destroyed and give it a new life as a home or office decoration.  I purchase the iMacs from various places, usually they are on their way to the trash or to be de-manufactured.  After I turn them into  aquariums I properly sort and recycle all unused materials.  I've always liked to recycle so I try to have as little waste as possible.  I even source and re-use bubble wrap and packaging materials for shipping.  If you order an item it would make me happy if you could reuse or recycle the packaging as well.  

As the G3 iMacs get phased out they are harder and more expensive for me to find.  I'm always looking for more so if you happen to know where I can find some feel free to send me a message.  I have a small supply of them now, but soon I will be sold out and I will be on to the next project.  Anyone have interest in an ant farm made out of a flat screen iMac?!
The iLamp Story

After years of building aquariums out of G3 iMacs it just seemed natural to build lamps out of the G4 model.  I spent several months pondering and experimenting with every detail of the design and this is the result!  I have a limited number of G4 iMacs to convert, so the lamps I make will be very special collector items. 

My goal from the beginning was to use as much of the original iMac as possible to create a visually stunning lamp.  With a google search I found images of lamps that other people had built, but they all seemed to be lacking something and none were built the way I planned to build mine.  I wanted my finished iLamp to be something that Steve Jobs may have been proud to have on his desk.  

First I found a source for premium lamp hardware.  The chain, socket, harp, final cap, and check rings are all polished nickel.  Even the power cord looks good because it's wrap is made of braided rayon fabric.  

For safety and simplicity I decided to install a genuine Apple USB power adapter under the base so a device can be charged directly from the lamp.  By installing the power adapter under the base the charging cable can simply be tucked away when not in use.  The motherboard hides all of the lamps wiring and makes even the bottom of the lamp look pretty cool!

From the beginning I knew I wanted to use an LED light bulb, but finding the perfect one was more difficult than I expected.  "Warm White" LED bulbs made the shade look yellow, and "Cool White" LED bulbs gave a blue color cast.  A "Neutral White" bulb looked perfect with a color temperature of about 4100K.  Many LED bulbs are directional but eventually I found a globe style bulb that wasn't too dim or too bright for this application.  

The next obstacle was making the base plate look good again.  Since this piece was on the bottom of the iMac it often got scratched.  My lamp design requires this piece to be facing up and therefore always on display.  The etched serial numbers and barcodes along with random scratches made the baseplate look terrible!  

The plate has a spun brushed look with a sand blasted recessed Apple emblem in the middle.  I created a jig mounted to a lathe which spun the base plate allowing me to sand out the blemishes and re-apply the spun brushed metal look.  I then overlay an aluminum stencil and sand blast the Apple logo back to it's original appearance.  It's a lot of extra work, but the nice clean result is worth it.

I polish my iMacAquarium cases with a high speed buffer and polishing compound to get a shiny new finish, however the G4 iMac plastic has a matte finish which can't be polished in the same way.  I have to use stain removers and cleaners that won't harm the plastic.  I clean and polish each one by hand.  All scuffs, stains, and stickers are a little different, but with enough time and elbow grease I'm able to get them to look pretty good again.
  
I know many people will want to build their own iLamp.  For this reason I've prepared an iLamp Kit.  The kit includes materials and detailed video instructions necessary to turn your own G4 iMac into an iLamp.  For the kit I have modified and simplified my design a bit so that anyone with common tools and handy skills can build an iLamp out of their own G4 iMac using my Kit.  Visit the iLamp Kit page for more information.
The eClock Story

eMacs came out after the iMacs.  I tried to turn them into aquariums but the design of the case didn't really make it a good computer to be a fish tank.  I had one disassembled and was trying to figure out what to do with it when I noticed the CD drive tray cover sitting on the table by itself.  I thought it looked cool and decided having a small clock on the side would make a neat decoration.  I found a clock I liked, made a jig to rout the hole and gave it a polish.  Tada! Desk Clock!