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Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, May 18, 2005.
Category: Tips and How To's
Link: Battery Powered Mac Mini
Posted on MacBytes.com
Approved by Mudbug
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
i was just about to post
is there a point to this?
it would seem there isn't
I guess it would be good if the power went out... I see no point other than being geeky!
You're kidding right?
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.
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.
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!
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.
True what a waste, either get a laptop or sit at a desk. What this guy did was pointless. Poor Macmini
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.
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).
Sheesh, and an isolated inverter wouldn't be simpler, or a DC/DC converter that bypasses the power brick Looks like he's just doing it for fun...'cos it seems a pointless exercise otherwise.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
And it has a: 4GB Drive Who wants a 4gig drive in their computer
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.
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.
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.
Originally asked by James Philp
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!