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Archive for the ‘Hacks & Mods’ Category

Using an HP HDTV as a monitor

Friday, September 4th, 2009

HP LC4276NI’ve got this 42″ HP LCD TV we bought a few years ago when HP was having a major blow-out sale after Thanksgiving. The TV was discontinued, and we got a massive discount on it. Ever since then, I’ve been struggling to get it working with a variety of Macs so we can use Front Row to play back our sizable movie collection on the nice widescreen display.

The TV supports 480i, 480p, 720p (actually 768p), 1080i, and 1080p. But if you’ve ever tried to hook up a computer to an HDTV via an analog connection (VGA), you know that just knowing the display resolutions doesn’t make it plug and play. But DisplayConfigX lets you set up custom display profiles to make your Mac work with just about any display.

For the longest time, I just didn’t have the patience to run through the trial-and-error process to get the display settings just right. But then I bought a nice iMac G4 1GHz with a bad LCD inverter. Hmm, perfect opportunity to get that LCD TV working…

So I finally sat down and took a couple hours to get the display working as a monitor on the iMac. Under the Timing menu for my monitor, I entered these values:
DisplayConfig X Timing Settings

  • Horizontal Active: 1360
  • Horizontal Front Porch: 144
  • Horizontal Sync: 144
  • Horizontal Back Porch 160
  • Horizontal Total (not editable): 1808
  • Vertical Active: 768
  • Vertical Front Porch: 18
  • Vertical Sync: 3
  • Vertical Back Porch: 14
  • Vertical Total (not editable): 803
  • Refresh rate: 59.993 Hz

The TV’s actual resolution is 1080p (1920×1080), but it supports 1366×768 (768p). I couldn’t get 1366 to work as a horizontal resolution, and the settings I used above were the best balance between my patience and image. There is still a pair of small black bands on the edges of the screen, but there isn’t any distortion, the image is pretty close to centered, and the iMac’s NVIDIA GeForce 4MX handles it easily. (Interestingly, DisplayConfigX insists that 1080p resolutions are out of range for the video card.)

For those looking for similar settings, my exact HDTV is the HP LC4276N which shows up to the Mac as an LC1080N in the Displays preference pane. Other models in this series are the LC4776N, LC4272N, LC4270N, LC3772N, LC3770N, LC3272N, and LC3270N. As I don’t have any of those other displays to test, I can’t guarantee that my settings will work with your TV, so your mileage may vary.

A final note for the curious: I disconnected the built-in LCD. Once the display is disconnected, the Open Firmware restriction against using external monitors in anything other than mirroring mode is lifted. However, if you don’t want to disconnect your built-in LCD, you’ll have to apply Screen Spanning Doctor.

Supporting Unsupported 3rd Party Hard Drives in 7.5 through 9.2.2

Monday, May 28th, 2007

(I certainly cannot claim that this was my idea or that I have had any original thought in composing this article. I have, however, put all the information in one place that I hope is more convenient for PPCMLA readers.)

Apple has a long history of having a “closed” system. 3rd party upgrades to your Mac were often difficult if not impossible for the casual home user to install. This extended to hard drives. It was often the case that 3rd party SCSI hard drives that did not carry Apple’s ROM would be unsupported by Apple’s disk formatting software. This left the user in the quandary of using either a 3rd party formatting software such as LaCie’s Silverlining or FWB’s Hard Disk Toolkit.

Silverlining and HDT were both definitely great applications, but they installed their own disk drivers that sometimes interfered with later Apple system upgrades and disk utilities. There was no obvious way around this problem. And then some enterprising Mac user discovered that it was actually possible to add support for SCSI drives to Apple’s HD SC Setup and Drive Setup.

This is accomplished through the use of ResEdit. (Beware of imitators. There is only one official ResEdit, and its version is 2.1.3. It can be downloaded directly from Apple here.) You’ll also need Adaptec’s SCSIProbe (version 5.2 requiring OS 8.1 or better is available here, version 3.3 is available here). ResEdit has a reputation for being inaccessible or difficult to use, but don’t be scared off. This modification is very simple. That said, you perform this modification at your own risk. If you foul something up, you’ve only got yourself to blame. 😉

SCSIProbe 5.2

Install SCSIProbe in the Control Panels folder, and put ResEdit anywhere. Now connect the new hard drive to the Mac so that you can still boot up from the old hard drive (or any way that lets you use SCSIProbe to get info about the new drive). Boot up your Mac and open SCSIProbe. Find the new drive in the SCSIProbe window, and write down the vendor and model number of the drive.

Drive Setup in ResEditNext, open ResEdit, and use it to open a copy of Drive Setup.  (As with any hack involving ResEdit, it is always wise to work on a copy of the program you wish to hack.  That way, if you make an error or the hack doesn’t work as expected, you still have an original, unmodified version available.)  You’ll see a window with a lot of icons with four letter names. Double click on the one named fSCR. The fSCR resource contains the definitions for the various hard drives supported by Drive Setup.

fSCR ResourcesFind a line that looks similar to the vendor and model of your hard drive. The closer the match the better. Duplicate that resource by pressing Command-D or picking the “Duplicate” menu item from the “Edit” menu.

Find the new resource you just created. It will probably be number 128. Get info (press Command-I) on the resource and change the Name to the vendor and model of your drive in a fashion similar to the other drives already in the fSCR list. Then change the ID number from 128 to a new number greater than any other in the fSCR list.

Save changes to Drive Setup, and you are done. Drive Setup should now recognize your drive and allow you to format it.

As for HD SC Setup, you probably won’t need to use it because Drive Setup is supported on all PowerPC based Macs that can run System 7.5 through 9.2.2. If you must, however, the solution is much easier. Someone has already created a patch to allow HD SC Setup to recognize any SCSI drive. You can download the patch here. The patch works on HD SC Setup 7.3.5 which you can download from Apple here. This version of HD SC Setup requires System 7 or better.

As with any hack, you are changing software to do something it was not originally designed to do. Although this modification is pretty simple and relatively reliable, there is a chance that Drive Setup or HD SC Setup will malfunction in a manner which is not easy to detect. It could write a bad driver to the disk or otherwise interfere with the operation of your new hard drive. Use caution with the new disk until you are confident that there are no bugs in its operation.

For more information on the Drive Setup hack, go here, here, or use Google. For more information on the HD SC Setup hack, go here.

If you aren’t a do-it-yourselfer or you find ResEdit too intimidating to perform this hack yourself, go check out Tyler Sable’s article on this same topic at Low End Mac where you can find downloads to patch Apple HD SC Setup or Drive Setup to work with any drive: Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools


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