Mod a Mac Mini for DC Power

DISCLAIMER: Our Mac mini was modified by a seasoned Gotham Sound service technician. Performing this operation on your Mac mini yourself will AT BEST void the manufacturer’s warranty, and possibly result in damage to your computer, yourself, and your ego. Follow at your own risk. We are not responsible for any harm or damage that results from following these instructions.

The latest of Mac minis pack a powerful punch into a small form factor, lending them to all sorts of mobile professional applications. The Mac platform has proven itself as a reliable and versatile option for recording production audio, supporting applications such as Gallery’s Metacorder and VOS Games’s Boom Recorder. This hardware is small in size, but equipped with a powerful processor and Thunderbolt, making it easy to incorporate into cart-based recording rig. The only real caveat is the internal power supply, which forces the Mac mini to be AC-powered.

Modifying a Mac mini to run on DC power isn’t a strange concept. There are plenty of well-documented conversions performed to power the Mac from a car or boat battery. One reason this is such a popular mod is because the Mac mini operates natively on 12 VDC, making it a perfect match for car batteries, and more importantly, the DC power distribution systems already found on many sound carts.

Materials Needed:

  • Apple Mac mini (Late-2012)
  • Hirose HR10A-7R-4SC(73) Panel-Mount Connector
  • Wire
  • Shrink Wrap or Electricians Tape
Tools Needed:
  • 2mm Hex Screwdriver
  • Mac Mini Logic Board Removal Tool
  • Spudger
  • T6 Torx Screwdriver
  • T8 Torx Screwdriver
  • Soldering Iron & Solder
  • Wire Cutters/Strippers
  • Pliers
  • Heat Gun (if Using Shrink Wrap)

For this modification, we followed the iFixit guide for replacing the Late-2012 Mac mini power supply. This leaves you with two important components: The Logic Board Assembly, and the Power Supply.
  • Identify the positive and negative cables on the power supply as illustrated in this picture
  • Cut the cables closer to the power supply so that you have long leads to work with
  • Strip and solder all of the positive wires together. Do the same to the negative wires
  • Plug the Logic Board connector back into the Logic Board.

  • Cut two lengths of wire and solder them to the positive and negative leads
  • Fasten the Hirose connector in the space left by the AC connector

  • Strip and solder the leads from the Logic Board to the Hirose connector. Note: We made the connector’s Pins 1 & 2: Ground and Pins 3 & 4: Hot to reduce the current on each pin. This requires a mating cable wired the same way to be effective.

  • Insert the Logic Board assembly back into the case.

  • Follow the steps in the iFixit guide in reverse order to reassemble the Mac mini.
That’s it! Connect the Hirose connector to any 12 VDC source, and power it up.

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