Adding Power Over Ethernet Support To A Mac Mini

Wiring up a Mac Mini's new PoE module. (Credit: Ivan Kuleshov)
Wiring up a Mac Mini’s new PoE module. (Credit: Ivan Kuleshov)

Despite all the fancy features on modern Apple Mac systems like USB-C and Thunderbolt, they have one glaring omission: the absolute lack of any form of Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). This is an issue that [Ivan Kuleshov] sought to rectify with some delicate board-level surgery. Since the original Ethernet jack on the lucky vic^Wrecipient M1 Mac Mini does not have integrated magnetics (magjack), tapping into the appropriate lines would have been rather awkward, with questionable results on the side of the PCB traces that would suddenly be used for PoE purposes they were never designed for.

Rather than choosing this level of experimentation, [Ivan] decided to patch in the Silvertel AG5412 PoE module with plentiful patch wires. This involved removing the Ethernet jack and bypassing the PCB and the magnetics module completely for the new PoE functionality, instead using the magnetics pilfered from a magjack and routing from there back to the mainboard as well as to the PoE module’s inputs. Continue reading “Adding Power Over Ethernet Support To A Mac Mini”

An M1 Mac mini sits next to a white Wii on a wooden table. In the background are various Edison-style LED light fixtures with an incadescent-like light profile.

This Wii Has An Apple M1 Inside

The conveniently tiny logic board of the M1 Mac mini has lead to it giving the Mini ITX format a run for its money in case mods. The latest example of this is [Luke Miani]’s M1 Wii. (Youtube via 9to5Mac)

[Miani] chose the Wii as a new enclosure for this Mac mini given its similar form factor and the convenient set of doors in the top to maintain access to the computer’s I/O, something he wasn’t able to do with one of his previous M1 casemods. The completed build is a great stealth way to have a Mac mini in your entertainment center. [Miani] even spends the last several minutes of the video showing the M1 Wii running Wii, GameCube, and PS2 games to really bring it full circle.

A Microsoft Surface power brick was spliced into the original Wii power cable since the Wii PSU didn’t have enough wattage to supply the Mac mini without significant throttling. On the inside, the power runs through a buck converter before making its way to the logic board. While the Mini’s original fan was too big to fit inside the Wii enclosure, a small 12V fan was able to keep performance similar to OEM and much higher than running the M1 fanless without a heat spreader.

If you’d like to see some more M1 casemods, check out this Lampshade iMac or the Mac Mini Mini.

Continue reading “This Wii Has An Apple M1 Inside”

Mac Mini Mini

The Mac Mini has been roughly the same size and shape for 12 years, as the current design was released in June 2010. However, despite being the same general form factor, the internals has shrunk over the years. [Snazzy Labs] took advantage of this to make a miniaturized Mac Mini.

With a donor Mac in hand, they cracked it open and found an oversized power supply, a diminutive logic board, and a good bit of space. Unfortunately, the logic board attaches to a wide IO shield. He removed that, and the fan attached to the heatsink (checking to ensure it still booted). Relocating the WiFi antennas was the trickiest part of the whole build. Given that he wanted to shrink the power supply and the Mac Mini accepts just 12 volts, he devised a clever solution to use MagSafe as a connector. However, Magsafe negotiates over a complex protocol when attached. So, rather than smarten his port up, he dumbed the charger down by replacing it with a Microsoft Surface power supply spliced into the MagSafe connector.

With his mini Mac Mini board ready to go, he began designing a case to fit what was now a single-board computer. A fan of the channel offered a design reminiscent of the 2019 Mac Pro. Unfortunately, FDM printing struggled with the cheese-grater pattern, so [Snazzy Labs] printed it in resin with some mica powder. As a result, the mini mini looks fantastic while taking up just 28% of the volume of the original.

They’ve posted the STL files online with detailed instructions and a parts list if you want to recreate it at home. Perhaps with the smaller motherboard, it might be worth revisiting the Mac Mini inside a PowerBook hack from a few years ago. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Mac Mini Mini”

Desktop Performance In A Custom Mac Laptop

Most of us either own or have used a laptop at some point. For traveling, as a student, or even for browsing Hackaday on the couch in front of the TV, they are pretty much indispensable. They do tend to have a sharp performance reduction compared to a desktop though thanks to the thermal and battery limitations of a portable form factor. [Scott Yu-Jan] wanted to solve that in his own life by building a custom Mac laptop with none of these downsides.

Noticing that a modern iPad Mini has exactly the same width of his Mac Mini, [Scott] set about combining the two devices into a single unit that he could assemble when traveling. A 3D printed case with a traditional laptop clamshell design takes care of physically combining these two devices, and a USB-C cable between the two takes care of combining them in software thanks to Apple’s Duet program. While this has better performance than a Macbook Pro it might actually have some perks, since Apple continues to refuse to make a laptop with a touchscreen.

There are some downsides, of course. The price is higher than a comparable Macbook Pro for the iPad and Mac together, plus it doesn’t include a keyboard or mouse. It also has no battery, so it needs to be plugged in. In the follow-up video linked below, though, [Scott] notes that for him this still made sense as he uses the Mac and iPad individually already, and only works remotely at places that have power outlets readily available. For the average person, though, we might recommend something different if you really need an esoteric laptop-like machine.

Thanks to [Varun] for originally sending in this tip!

Continue reading “Desktop Performance In A Custom Mac Laptop”

A Single SSD’s Journey From System 7 To High Sierra

With some time to kill and an array of old Apple computers on hand, [Pierre Dandumont] wondered if he could continuously upgrade a single OS drive from the oldest system he had, System 7.1 on a Performa 630, to the latest version of MacOS on a MacBook Air. He recalled watching an old video which demonstrated a continuous upgrade from DOS to Windows 10 (we think this video from 2016 may be the one), which gave him the inspiration for this journey. [Pierre] documents his efforts on his blog (in French; English translated link is here).

Along the way, he installed 24 different operating systems

  • System 7.1.2, 7.5
  • Mac OS 7.6
  • Mac OS 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 8.6
  • Mac OS 9.0, 9.1, 9.2
  • Mac OS X 10.0 – 10.11
  • macOS 10.12, 10.13

on seven Mac computers

  • Performa 630 (ca. 1994, Motorola 68040)
  • Power Mac G3 Beige (ca. 1997, Motorola PowerPC 730)
  • Power Mac G3 Blue (ca. 1999, Motorola PowerPC 730)
  • Power Mac G4 Digital Audio (ca. 2001, Motorola PowerPC 7400)
  • Mac mini G4 (ca. 2005, Motorola PowerPC 7447)
  • Mac mini 2009 (Intel Core 2 Duo Penryn)
  • MacBook Air 2012 (Intel Core i5/i7)

across three of the four processor families spanned by the Macintosh line of computers since their introduction in 1984. You can see in the lead photo the success, where the Mac OS 8 search tool Sherlock is shown in the dock of a MacBook Air running High Sierra.

Continue reading “A Single SSD’s Journey From System 7 To High Sierra”

Retro PowerBook Gets A Mac Mini Transplant

Around these parts, seeing a classic laptop or desktop computer get revived with the Raspberry Pi is fairly common. While we’re not ones to turn down a well-executed Pi infusion, we know they can be controversial at times. There’s an impression that such projects are low-effort, and that the combination of old and new tech gains little in the way of usability due to the usability quirks of the Pi itself.

But we think even the most critical in the audience will agree that this build by [Tylinol], which sees the internals of a circa 1993 PowerBook 165c get replaced with that of a 2014 Mac Mini, is something else entirely. For one thing, there’s no question that packing a modern (relatively) desktop computer motherboard into a laptop’s body takes a lot more planning and effort than hot gluing the comparatively tiny Pi into the same space. Plus as an added bonus, anyone who counts themselves among the Cult of Mac will be happy to see the vintage machine retain its Cupertino pedigree.

So how do you get a Mac Mini inside of a PowerBook?¬†Very carefully. As explained by [Tylinol], the inside of the PowerBook’s case was coated in graphite and conductive enough to be a problem. So after the original hardware was removed, a layer of tape was added to insulate it; though we imagine a suitably thick spray-on coating could be used as well if you don’t have that kind of patience.

Once the case was gutted and insulated, [Tylinol] added new stand-offs to mount the Mac Mini motherboard and hard drive. For anyone wondering, the 2014 model was used because the shape of the board almost perfectly fits around the trackball PCB. A board from a newer Mac could be used, but it would likely mean using an external mouse.

Which would have been a problem for [Tylinol], because one of the main goals of this build was to get the original input working. That meant adapting the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) devices to USB, which turns out to be something of a Dark Art. But with the help of some contemporary information about the long-forgotten protocol and a Teensy 3.5, both devices are now picked up as standard USB HID.

But of course, that’s just scratching the surface. [Tylinol] also had to figure out how to swap the original display out for a modern panel, and then get the whole thing running on internal battery power. Even if you’re not particularly interested in retro Apple hardware, this is really a phenomenal build that deserves a thorough read-through.

For those of you who don’t mind getting a Pi in a PowerBook, we recently saw a recreation of Lord Nikon’s laptop from¬†Hackers that went that route.

Mac Mini Teardown Late 2018

What’s Inside That New Mac Mini Anyway?

It’s been four long years since Apple has refreshed their entry-level desktop line. Those that have been waiting for a redesign of the Mac Mini can now collectively exhale as the Late 2018 edition has officially been released. Thanks to [iFixit] we have a clearer view of what’s changed in the new model as they posted a complete teardown of the Mac Mini over on their website.

Mac Mini Teardown Late 2018 RAM Slots

One of the most welcomed changes is that the DDR4 RAM is actually user upgradeable this time around. Previously RAM was soldered directly to the motherboard, and there were no SO-DIMM slots to speak of. The 2018 Mac Mini’s RAM has also been doubled to 8GB compared to the 4GB in the 2014 model. Storage capacity may have taken a hit in the redesign, but the inclusion of a 128GB PCIe SSD in the base model fairs better than the 500GB HDD of old. The number of ports were flip-flopped between the two model generations with the 2018 Mini featuring four Thunderbolt ports along with two USB 3.0 ports. Though the biggest upgrade lies with the CPU. The base 2018 Mac Mini comes with a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 as compared to the 2014’s 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5.

Although Apple lacked “the courage” to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack this time around, they did retain the same footprint for Mac Mini redesign. It still provides HDMI as the default display out port, although the additional Thunderbolt ports provide additional options via an adapter. A quick overview of the spec differences between the 2018 and 2014 base Mac Mini models have been summarized below.

Model 2018 Mac Mini 2014 Mac Mini
CPU 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Storage 128GB PCIe SSD 500GB HDD
RAM 8GB DDR4 @ 2666MHz 4GB DDR3 @ 1600MHz
Graphics Intel UHD 630 Intel HD 5000
Ports Thunderbolt 3 (x4), USB 3.0 (x2) Thunderbolt 2 (x2), USB 3.0 (x4)
Card Slot N/A SDXC
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Audio 3.5mm Headphone Jack 3.5mm Headphone Jack
Video HDMI HDMI
Price from $799 from $499

Source [MacWorld]