Building an iMac Lectern

The following is a brief account of a lectern that I built for our seminar room.

Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

For instructions to set up an iMac to triple boot, have a look here. These were prepared by Joe Elso. You will need to alter them slightly to insert your own network mask, router, dns, etc.

Last updated 2nd Nov 2006

Initial box
The box to hold the iMac consists of 4 lengths of 12mm thick planks, with the sides joined to the front and back pieces at a 22.5 degree angle. A hole is cut in the bottom plate to allow the iMac stand to pass through.

It fits!
First fitting of the iMac into the box. Amazingly it fit pretty well. The position of the hole for the stand was worked out beforehand with some cardboard mock-ups.

Frame for leg attachment
Building a frame to fit into the box, that the legs will be attached to. This also fixed the bottom plate to the sides a lot better.

Leg construction
The legs are constructed out of 19mmx65mm lengths of wood. The height is 900mm. One of the legs is hollowed out to allow for a cable run (which will have a hinged door attached). There is a 185mm plank attached to the front (basically it was left over due to minimum purchasing lengths for the wood, and I thought it looked good stuck on there).

Legs joined to top
Bolting the legs to the box. Hoorah, the iMac still fits.

Top surface construction
The top surface was made out of 185mmx19mm wood, about 520mm length. I've cut a few more pieces to go up the side of the screen. They are then grooved with a plane to fit 6mm thick glass.

I've joined the side to the bottom piece of the lid using grooves and a small piece of ply, and lots of glue. Hinges are fitted to the lid for easy access to the iMac.

When your partner points out that your markings for the CD drive aren't in the right spot, you should believe her rather than just cutting where you have marked. I later had to make the hole a bit bigger on the bottom side to make it symetrical.

Wiring and lock
A plate on the bottom has connections for 2 ethernet, audio out, microphone out, and power for a light. One of the ethernet plugs goes to the iMac, the other goes to the top of the box for users to plug in their laptop. There is a USB to wireless adaptor in the case, which is used with a wireless keyboard, mouse and slide controller device.

I added a lock to stop the lid being opened, to hopefully make it less inviting to prying fingers.

You can also see wooden blocks that the iMac sits on so that is kept at the correct height, and parallel to the glass surface of the lid.

Computer on/off switch
The iMac has its power switch on the bottom. I wanted the power switch on the top panel of the box.

What I've done is put in a lever on a pivot point, with a hinge at the top end attached to a vertical bolt, and a small raised nut at the bottom end (covered in felt). Pushing down on the bolt at the top will move the lever up at the bottom, and the nut pushes on the iMac power switch. Works a treat.

Other bits
Some other stuff. The bottom lip of the top surface needed to be raised, to stop books or laptops sliding off. I started with a square piece of wood (left) and after an hour of planing and sanding have the shaped piece to fit on to the box (right). It was a bit fun, as the box has 22.5 degree angles.

A plate to slide on the bottom was made, which covers most of the hole needed by the iMac stand.

Varnishing with a gloss finish.

Installation of iMac
The iMac goes in, and it all works. The Logitech keyboard is huge, which is unfortunate. Hopefully for the use that it is intended, the keyboard won't be used much and can be left aside. The wireless mouse works on the gloss finish.

The top surface has the light, iMac power switch, USB, ethernet and audio in fitted.

I've also got ventilation holes in the top surface (and more in the bottom plate) to try to get some airflow through the box so the iMac doesn't cook. The CPU cores and hard disk run at about 45 to 50 degrees centigrade, which is reasonably normal.

In the seminar room
The lectern is installed in the seminar room - it looks way too classy. The rest of the room needs a make-over now.

The boot up screen - offering Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, and Windows XP. A few shots just to show booting into Windows and Ubuntu does work.