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.