Hacking The MagSafe

This is a simple hack that could come in handy one day. [Mooner] wanted to use a Kensington universal power supply with his Macbook Pro, but found the adapters and peripherals involved “hideous”. His solution was to wire directly to the Kensington power supply. It’s pretty simple really, only a couple resistors are needed. It’s nice to have someone else do the research for you sometimes. While his final picture does look neat and tidy, we just don’t know how much of an improvement he’s made to the aesthetics. What do you think?

27 thoughts on “Hacking The MagSafe

  1. umm… prolly more like he modified the look to clean it up is the hack… soldering is just the means to the hack… along with all the other tools and skills used. no… a screwdriver is not a hack, but using it to open up something to modify it, is a hack. Was that in small enough words for you? >:D

  2. Would be cool if there was a picture of the finished product. A better method would be to print a PCB and fit it inside a cable, so you’re not using heat shrink tubing for everything.

    That said, I see no reason to use a mac laptop.


  3. Call me stupid, but wouldn’t it be more aesthetically pleasing to simply remove the entire DC cable portion from the Kensington and attach the magsafe cable directly to the “wart”, thus removing the need for unsightly hs tubing?

  4. @ spork – The main reason I use Mac laptops is longevity.
    My iBook G4 has been chugging along since 11/03 with only a HDD replacement to mar it’s perfect record. Yes I could have bought a cheaper PC laptop and had to replace it every 1-3 years but I don’t like messing around with my main machine.
    I have surplus PC desktops and laptops scattered around my house for playing/hacking. When I want to get something done reliably I use my Mac.
    That said I also love my eeePC running cunchbang linux and my new MacBook Pro with Windows and soon to also have crunchbang or some other semi-minimalist Linux distro on it.
    What can I say – I don’t think that anyone should tie themself exclusively to one OS or hardware platform – That would be too limiting.

  5. I had one of these power adapters and my solution to the cabling problem was to just put a large piece of heatshrink over the connectors that joined the mag-safe line to the kensington line. This kept the cables from pulling apart and looked very clean. worked great until the kensington adapter failed. Two smt caps on the board were nearly destroyed and it failed in with sparks and magic smoke after the case was removed.

    having the long cable was nice too..

    @spork – once you go mac, you *never* go back

  6. Yes Owning an using a soldering iron is considered a hack now.

    Tommorow on hack a day. Boomer “hacks” his house by replacing the 2 prong outlets with 3 prong outlets.

    And dave will hack his car by adding a car alarm.

    Wow, this place is turning into “Make” for newbies.

  7. @fartface, don’t be so sure that “make” isn’t for newbs. there have been at least 2 posts on the make blog that have been directed at software. not making it but using it.

  8. I’ve been trying to workout a way to design a mag-safe-like connector for my pc laptop to no avail. It would be nice if you could find the relevant hardware on ebay or someplace. I imagine apple keeps dibs on the design with patents like the ipod connectors.

  9. I wish there was some heat shrink tubing that would stay in a perfect tube and not get all weird and bumpy when shrunk. I’ve tried filling the gaps in cable splices with hot glue first, to get the whole thing as round as possible, but it’s still not as nice as I’d like. Another poster had a good idea of doing the connection in the wall wort itself.

  10. Hi All-

    Thanks for the comments — both positive an negative…

    1: Why is this a “hack”?? Well, you could just go buy Apple’s MagSafe AC adapter and Apple’s in-flight MagSafe cord — but you still wouldn’t have a solution that allows in-flight battery charging. You also cannot use the Apple in-flight cord to charge/use your MacBook in a CAR. So, not everyone will need this “hack”, but some will find it very useful. I consider this to be a “hack” because the pinouts/resistor combinations are not published specifications. Requires some reverse engineering to figure out how to implement this… Just trying to save y’all some time and frustration.

    2: Why not just buy the “Mike Gyver” cable — uh, well, frankly, I think his shit is uglier than mine. There are way too many “moving pieces” in his implementation. AC adapter + Kensington cable + Kensington plug adapter + Mike Gyver cable — does that sound elegant to anyone?? Plus the whole point was to hack/make something, not buy it… Oh, plus my solution has a slightly higher output voltage — means your battery will charge faster on MacBook Pro models…

    3: Permanently attach the MagSafe cable to the wart?? Ok Diddle — you’re stupid. Just kidding. There are actually 2 good reasons I can think of… First: The whole point of a “universal” AC adapter is that you can carry the bag full of cables/adapters to power anything in a pinch. So, you pull my cord out, plug in a standard Kensington cable and you can power your other **insert brand here** laptop, iPod, phone or whatever you want… Second: Both connectors are proprietary — you can’t find either just the Kensington or Apple connector anywhere (at least not easily) — so, it is not like you can attach a virgin connectors to a clean cord and do away with the shrink tubing.

    4: Sloppy — wow, Albert, you’re an asshole ;). But yup, my soldering sucks. It gets better with each project, but it definitely sucks. Never learned how to do this in a professional setting, so it is all from trial and lots of error. And if you think MY shit is ugly, check out that ThinkPad “MagSafe” hack…


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