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MacBytes
May 18, 2005, 11:43 AM
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Category: Tips and How To's
Link: Battery Powered Mac Mini (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20050518124347)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

mkubal
May 18, 2005, 12:54 PM
Someone please tell me why this might be useful.

flat6
May 18, 2005, 12:58 PM
Someone please tell me why this might be useful.

Hook it up to a touchpad LCD and carry this little cube around as a tiny keyboardless laptop type thingy :D

TrashCanDan
May 18, 2005, 12:59 PM
pointless...

bentley
May 18, 2005, 01:00 PM
i was just about to post


is there a point to this?

it would seem there isn't

billystlyes
May 18, 2005, 01:21 PM
I guess it would be good if the power went out... :D I see no point other than being geeky!

James Philp
May 18, 2005, 01:25 PM
You're kidding right?

stevep
May 18, 2005, 01:46 PM
The point would be to run a Mac mini where there isn't mains power available, eg to run navigation software on a boat (which loads of people already do with Windows laptops). Its usually better to run sensitive electronics seperately from the main 'engine-starting' battery to avoid power supply spikes and ensure that the engine can always be started.
The mini is cheaper than a laptop, and with a cheap flat screen can also be used for playing DVD's and music. Some marinas in the UK have got wireless broadband available (I can sometimes pick up a wireless network from the Isle of Wight ferry in Portsmouth Harbour!), so internet access for things like marine weather forecasts is also possible.
I imagine it could also be useful for people in motor-homes on their travels.

JeDiBoYTJ
May 18, 2005, 01:49 PM
doesn't seem very useful... barely has 2 hours of life, and thats just when you are staring at a command prompt screen in Debian Linux. I doubt you will get an hour out of it running OSX.

James Philp
May 18, 2005, 01:56 PM
The point would be to run a Mac mini where there isn't mains power available, eg to run navigation software on a boat (which loads of people already do with Windows laptops). Its usually better to run sensitive electronics seperately from the main 'engine-starting' battery to avoid power supply spikes and ensure that the engine can always be started.
The mini is cheaper than a laptop, and with a cheap flat screen can also be used for playing DVD's and music. Some marinas in the UK have got wireless broadband available (I can sometimes pick up a wireless network from the Isle of Wight ferry in Portsmouth Harbour!), so internet access for things like marine weather forecasts is also possible.
I imagine it could also be useful for people in motor-homes on their travels.
What about the screen though? How do you go about powering that though? Did you think about that one?

EDIT: And when you add in running OS X, wirelss cards, AND the dvd drive, and watching the DVD (Muchos cpu power) you'll get what? 20 minutes life!?

Considering you can get a PB with an identical spec that will run for hours doing these tasks!

Jerry Spoon
May 18, 2005, 02:01 PM
The mini is cheaper than a laptop, and with a cheap flat screen can also be used for playing DVD's and music. Some marinas in the UK have got wireless broadband available (I can sometimes pick up a wireless network from the Isle of Wight ferry in Portsmouth Harbour!), so internet access for things like marine weather forecasts is also possible.
I imagine it could also be useful for people in motor-homes on their travels.
Better be a short trip or a short movie...

I wish I had the money to take a $500 mini and make it into a battery powered 4GB computer with no display and no optical drive. Also wish I had the time!

Let's not waste any more time trying to find purpose in this guy's folly.

Dont Hurt Me
May 18, 2005, 02:22 PM
True what a waste, either get a laptop or sit at a desk. What this guy did was pointless. Poor Macmini :(

aristotle1990
May 18, 2005, 02:47 PM
barely has 2 hours of life, and thats just when you are staring at a command prompt screen in Debian Linux.

I doubt he'd be doing straight command prompt in debian linux; it'd probably have some gui, especially if you had a mac mini doing it.

mainstreetmark
May 18, 2005, 02:48 PM
The point would be to run a Mac mini where there isn't mains power available, eg to run navigation software on a boat (which loads of people already do with Windows laptops). Its usually better to run sensitive electronics seperately from the main 'engine-starting' battery to avoid power supply spikes and ensure that the engine can always be started.
The mini is cheaper than a laptop, and with a cheap flat screen can also be used for playing DVD's and music. Some marinas in the UK have got wireless broadband available (I can sometimes pick up a wireless network from the Isle of Wight ferry in Portsmouth Harbour!), so internet access for things like marine weather forecasts is also possible.
I imagine it could also be useful for people in motor-homes on their travels.

I have yet to find ANY marine navigation software for the mac.

In fact, even though I do all my work on the Mac, the boat has a built in PC that i could potentially use for nav and gps stuff, but to my dismay, it's lacking an RS-232 port anyways (so, both my GPS AND weatherstation are incompatible).

24C
May 18, 2005, 03:07 PM
The point would be to run a Mac mini where there isn't mains power available, eg to run navigation software on a boat (which loads of people already do with Windows laptops). Its usually better to run sensitive electronics seperately from the main 'engine-starting' battery to avoid power supply spikes and ensure that the engine can always be started.
The mini is cheaper than a laptop, and with a cheap flat screen can also be used for playing DVD's and music. Some marinas in the UK have got wireless broadband available (I can sometimes pick up a wireless network from the Isle of Wight ferry in Portsmouth Harbour!), so internet access for things like marine weather forecasts is also possible.
I imagine it could also be useful for people in motor-homes on their travels.
Sheesh, and an isolated inverter wouldn't be simpler, or a DC/DC converter that bypasses the power brick :confused: Looks like he's just doing it for fun...'cos it seems a pointless exercise otherwise.

stevep
May 18, 2005, 03:20 PM
Right then - I'll try to explain why I think it may be useful to some (not all) people. This guy has demonstrated that you can run a mini from Li-ion batteries. Not exactly ground breaking stuff, and I wouldn't have done it quite this way, as I think a bigger capacity external power supply would be a bit better for the applications I'm thinking of (ie boats and motorhomes).

An external Li-ion pack can be charged from the vehicles charging circuit easily, so that it's always topped up, and can be used when underway for things like navigation software. Charging can also be done with solar panels or wind generators when underway or when stationary. The Li-ion battery provides a useful reserve when charging is not possible. This technology is successfully used on boats and motorhomes currently.

Why a mini? A few reasons - its a lot cheaper than a laptop (eg a PowerBook), it runs OSX which I think is more stable than Windows, its a compact machine and space might be at a premium in a boat, internal wireless is possible for internet access, it can be linked in to existing flat screens (commonplace nowadays on many boats and motorhomes), it can store music and other 'entertainment', it can be built-in as part of the electrical installation and hence not so 'thievable' as a laptop.

There are loads of people who go cruising for extended periods in boats from the UK to, eg, continental Europe who currently take Windows laptops. (and there are often letters and articles in the yachting magazines about setting up internet connections abroad, and linking to sat-nav devices). Why not take a mini instead? Geeky? I don't think so. But then I don't live in the Arizona desert and I own a boat (not a very flash one I hasten to add).
Come on guys - I know he's wrecked a nice little mini, but surely you can see some possibilities?

ps http://www.gpsnavx.com/ - mac sat nav software

maximumbarkly
May 18, 2005, 06:59 PM
i dont see why anyone should harass this guy.

i think this is awesome. money not a factor, lets just say that instead of removing those internals, he bought one of those mac mini hard drive enclosures that match the mini form factor. he fills it with batteries. wow. thats a long lasting mini you've got there. who wants to watch the decalogues with me on my boat?

I am all for this mans tinkering. When you tinker, or take apart, or play with at this level, it means you get coverage, and the product is getting out there. Geeks come out in droves to have this kind of fun, and certainly they arent stealing the minis, they are buying them.

James Philp
May 18, 2005, 07:21 PM
Right then - I'll try to explain why I think it may be useful to some (not all) people. This guy has demonstrated that you can run a mini from Li-ion batteries. Not exactly ground breaking stuff, and I wouldn't have done it quite this way, as I think a bigger capacity external power supply would be a bit better for the applications I'm thinking of (ie boats and motorhomes).

An external Li-ion pack can be charged from the vehicles charging circuit easily, so that it's always topped up, and can be used when underway for things like navigation software. Charging can also be done with solar panels or wind generators when underway or when stationary. The Li-ion battery provides a useful reserve when charging is not possible. This technology is successfully used on boats and motorhomes currently.
So can you tell me again why putting batteries actually INSIDE the Mini enclosure is useful?

You could run most laptops (or anything with an external power block) from the 12 or 24V battery & generator systems found in boats and motor homes, all you need as a voltage & power converter. You can even get 12/24V TV's and such.

dontmatter
May 19, 2005, 01:30 AM
Congratulations, for probably more money, and certainly more labor, you just created an ibook. Well, and ibook without a hard drive to speak of. Or optical, keyboard, trackpad, screen, warranty, or real portability.

See, you could do cool things with a similar windows box. I mean, you're running linux on both, right? And a similar windows box wouldn't be similar-it would be thrown together, and with a little thought about how to rearange, you could probably add a battery, AND another optical drive, and maybe some cooling so you could overclock the processor. But the mini is well designed-it doesn't waste space, so it can't be modded.

My idea: Buy a second mac mini. remove it's case, and find a very clever use for the body, running the computer by bluetooth from, I don't know, mount it in the weirdest spot possible on your car. Take the case, combine it with the other mac mini, learn to weld the plastic together without ugly seams, and throw in a huge HD and battery into your newly expanded double case, and... well, not a TOTAL waste.

montex
May 19, 2005, 02:36 AM
What is WRONG with Linux people? Look at what they did to that poor little mini! Bad enough to have your innards yanked and stuffed with batteries, they have to go and run Linux on it!

Let us observe a moment of silence for this unlucky member of our silicon family.

/wiping away the tears.

Platform
May 19, 2005, 02:50 AM
doesn't seem very useful... barely has 2 hours of life, and thats just when you are staring at a command prompt screen in Debian Linux. I doubt you will get an hour out of it running OSX.

And it has a: 4GB Drive :eek: :eek: :p Who wants a 4gig drive in their computer :confused:

840quadra
May 19, 2005, 03:23 AM
What is WRONG with Linux people? Look at what they did to that poor little mini! Bad enough to have your innards yanked and stuffed with batteries, they have to go and run Linux on it!

Let us observe a moment of silence for this unlucky member of our silicon family.

/wiping away the tears.


Well OS X is a form of a Unix system also, so it can't be THAT bad. Without Unix people, and the types things they like to try, we wouldn't have OS X.

Pyrix
May 19, 2005, 05:22 AM
It's top prove a concept guys.. nothing more :)

I highly doubt he actually thinks it's useful. But as numerous people have pointed out, the battery running the mac mini could be constantly charged. Ideal for car-mods, or boat-mods.

shamino
May 19, 2005, 04:04 PM
I highly doubt he actually thinks it's useful. But as numerous people have pointed out, the battery running the mac mini could be constantly charged. Ideal for car-mods, or boat-mods.
It also means you have a built-in UPS. If you're one of those people who has attached an external optical drive (perhaps to get dual-layer DVD burning) then you don't really need the internal drive anyway.

stevep
May 19, 2005, 04:43 PM
Originally asked by James Philp

So can you tell me again why putting batteries actually INSIDE the Mini enclosure is useful?


I didn't actually say that putting the batteries INSIDE was useful, in fact I said that it would be better to have an external battery pack (and therefore keep the disc drives that this guy has chucked out).

I can't see why so many people are so worked up** about a guy whos just just done something slightly out of the ordinary that just might have potential for a few people (a few - how many boat owners are there? And how many of them buy electronic gizmos? Obviously thousands, if you've ever been to the London Boat Show they're queuing up to buy them at all the marine electronics stands).
If you can't see any potential in it, so what. I can't see any potential in respraying my iBook bright red, but there are guys who do that, and good luck to them.
The point I'm trying to make is that there must be people who need a fixed computer installation in a remote location that needs its own power supply, and the Mac mini is such a compact little beauty that it seems an ideal basis for such a thing. If it was converted by an engineer rather than a butcher with a roll of gaffer tape it would be better than the example we're talking about, and I certainly agree with all the replies that have already voiced this opinion.
As ever, a thought provoking topic of discussion on this forum!

** Well yes I can actually - I've just looked at the pictures again!

James Philp
May 19, 2005, 05:11 PM
I didn't actually say that putting the batteries INSIDE was useful, in fact I said that it would be better to have an external battery pack (and therefore keep the disc drives that this guy has chucked out).

So you don't see why it's useful, but your posting that it is?:

Right then - I'll try to explain why I think it may be useful to some (not all) people
Are you saying it's useful or not? Coming or going or leaving or arriving or exiting or entering?

I can't see why so many people are so worked up** about a guy whos just just done something slightly out of the ordinary that just might have potential for a few people
Who's getting worked up? The most "worked up" thread was: "What's the point?" or maybe:
True what a waste, either get a laptop or sit at a desk. What this guy did was pointless. Poor Macmini
Hardly heart-attack stuff!

If you can't see any potential in it, so what. I can't see any potential in respraying my iBook bright red, but there are guys who do that, and good luck to them.
You spray it red 'cos red's your favorite color - an asthetic vs functional augment really doesnt prove anything! I'd buy a Mac even if it was fugly, because it has os x and is functional.

The point I'm trying to make is that there must be people who need a fixed computer installation in a remote location that needs its own power supply, and the Mac mini is such a compact little beauty that it seems an ideal basis for such a thing.
Yes, it probably one of very few "desktop" computers with an external power block. Did anyone try to run their Gamecube with batteries? - Better gameboy or summit?

If it was converted by an engineer rather than a butcher with a roll of gaffer tape it would be better than the example we're talking about, and I certainly agree with all the replies that have already voiced this opinion.
As ever, a thought provoking topic of discussion on this forum!

An engineer already tackled the problem HERE (http://www.apple.com/powerbook/) :p

** Well yes I can actually - I've just looked at the pictures again!
So are you the only one getting "worked up" I'm not, i just think there are better things to do with a Mac Mini and a few hundred $$.

stevep
May 19, 2005, 05:26 PM
Blimey....I think you've just had the last word. :)

bloftin
May 20, 2005, 05:46 PM
Actually, I highly desire to run the mac mini off of battery for my mobile robot. My blog about it can be seen here

http://www.phys-x.org/minibot/minibot.html

In the past, I used laptops but power and size is wasted on screen + cost.

yg17
May 21, 2005, 07:04 PM
Its pointless and you're not going to find many people in the world who have a use for a battery powered mini. But, you gotta give the guy credit, that doesn't look like an easy thing to do

Abstract
May 21, 2005, 09:48 PM
An external Li-ion pack can be charged from the vehicles charging circuit easily, so that it's always topped up, and can be used when underway for things like navigation software. Charging can also be done with solar panels or wind generators when underway or when stationary. The Li-ion battery provides a useful reserve when charging is not possible. This technology is successfully used on boats and motorhomes currently.

Why a mini? A few reasons - its a lot cheaper than a laptop (eg a PowerBook), it runs OSX which I think is more stable than Windows, its a compact machine and space might be at a premium in a boat, internal wireless is possible for internet access, it can be linked in to existing flat screens (commonplace nowadays on many boats and motorhomes), it can store music and other 'entertainment', it can be built-in as part of the electrical installation and hence not so 'thievable' as a laptop.


Apple makes a product called the iBook. With Airport and an external monitor, you may as well get an iBook. Mini's aren't even made for lugging around. No desktop is really.

Abstract
May 21, 2005, 09:53 PM
And it has a: 4GB Drive :eek: :eek: :p Who wants a 4gig drive in their computer :confused:

Can you put OSX on a 4GB drive? If not, then how will you put the Mac satellite navigation software on it?

shamino
May 23, 2005, 05:14 PM
Can you put OSX on a 4GB drive?
Sure you can, if you want to strip it down.

10.3 can install in as little as 1.3GB, if you turn off most or all of the optional components.

A full install of 10.3 is a little more than 3G, so even that can be done if you don't plan on installing much else. This might be perfectly OK if you intend on keeping all your documents on external media.

Based on this, I would assume that a minimal installation of 10.4 would have no problem fitting in 4G, even if a full install won't fit.

whalpin
Oct 16, 2008, 11:41 AM
I have a Mac Mini which I use as a media centre. Video goes to my TV and sound to my external DAC via the Macs optical out (doubles as a headphone socket).

The DAC and pre-amp are powered by a shielded laptop battery pack. They can be powered directly via mains but the sound is much cleaner with battery. The mini plays FLAC files from an external firewire drive and outputs the PCM bitstream to the pre/DAC. Unfortunatley mains induces some noise (jitter) in digital equipment and this can be heard. I would like to isolate my Mac from the mains, hence requirement for a battery pack. I am happy to remove/replace the internal hard drive with solid state memory (to further reduce noise and improve battery life). It already is a great PCM musical source but with mains isolation, it would be even better. BTW I would also like to use an external battery pack for my firewire drive, but this is another task, as is mains isolation of the power amps....

Can anyone help? This is truly not urgent in any way, but it would really improve my system.