A Third Scale Mini PowerMac

We’re surrounded by tiny ARM boards running Linux, and one of the most popular things to do with these tiny yet powerful computers is case modding. We’ve seen Raspberry Pis in Game Boys, old Ataris, and even in books. [Aaron] decided it was time to fit a tiny computer inside an officially licensed bit of miniature Apple hardware and came up with the Mini PowerMac. It’s a 1/3rd scale model of an all-in-one Mac from 1996, and [Aaron] made its new hardware fit like a glove.

Instead of an old Mac modified with an LCD, or even a tiny 3D printed model like Adafruit’s Mini Mac Pi, [Aaron] is using an accessory for American Girl dolls released in 1996. This third-scale model of an all-in-one PowerPC Mac is surprisingly advanced for something that would go in a doll house. When used by American Girl dolls, it has a 3.25″ monochrome LCD that simulates the MacOS responding to mouse clicks and keypresses. If you want to see the stock tiny Mac in action, here’s a video.

The American Girl Mini Macintosh is hollow, and there’s a lot of space in this lump of plastic. [Aaron] tried to fit a Raspberry Pi in the case. A Pi wouldn’t fit. An ODROID-W did, and with a little bit of soldering, [Aaron] had a computer far more powerful than an actual PowerMac 5200. Added to this is a 3.5″ automotive rearview display, carefully mounted to the 1/3rd size screen bezel of the mini Mac.

The rest of the build is exactly what you would expect – a DC/DC step down converter, a USB hub, and a pair of dongles for WiFi and a wireless keyboard. The software for the ODROID-W is fully compatible with the Raspberry Pi, and a quick install of the Basilisk II Macintosh emulator and an installation of Mac OS 7.5.3 completed the build.

12 thoughts on “A Third Scale Mini PowerMac

  1. I must steal that one! I’ve always liked a 68040 Mac (Quadra line specifically) and I have a Q800 qith a DOS card inside. Wonder if I can cram in enough to run Mac OS and DOS on the same screen with the same keyboard and same mouse?

    1. There isn’t one.

      Beaglebone Black has built-in LiPo support and charging, and can be set to provide RTC power from the LiPo when in the power off state. It has lots of I/O and interface peripherals to back them. But it’s much larger than the ODROID, can’t run USB 5V when on LiPo, and has some power supply corner cases that makes running the RTC while off potentially unsafe.

      Intel Edison is super tiny, has good power/performance, has a separate RTC power input, and can run off of a LiPo. But it doesn’t have much I/O, and what is there is controlled by a separate real-time processor that runs a closed source firmware. All I/O is 1.8V and comes off of a very hard to solder mezzanine connector which may be a problem too. There is no documentation on the SoC itself, no schematics for the board, no effort from Intel to push changes upstream or keep the sdk kernel up-to-date, and very infrequent updates from Intel to the SDK or documentation.

    2. The UDOO Neo may do the trick for you, and it ships this month. It’s s hybrid A9/M4 machine with 1G of RAM, WiFi and BlueTooth built in etc.
      The ODROID was cancelled because Broadcom refused to keep supplying the CPU. It was in the IT news last year.

    3. I agree, the ODROID being EOL’d is a huge bummer. For what it’s worth, though, I think a Raspberry Pi Model A+ would have worked in this build too – it just wasn’t available yet when I built this last summer. It’s still probably not as small as what you’re looking for, but I think you could pair it with Sparkfun’s LiPo “Power Cell” and LiPo “Fuel Gauge” (two separate products) and get the same functionality.

  2. I actually thought of the possibility of using that Mini Mac toy before, but this one took the cake lol. And I assume there will be a surge of hackers buying American Girl Mini Macs for this purpose too.

  3. I know this one’s a tad more expensive for most of you guys to hack or modify, but thought you might be interested in improving this:


    It’s a toy TV console for Maryellen, American Girl’s historical character from the 1950s. Problem is that it suffers from a rather pointless case of vendor lock-in, as the TV feature can only work with a regular-size iPad, thus locking out people with a non-Apple tablet.

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