It stands shorter than a Steve Jobs doll. It can be held in the palm of your hand. It runs System 6, and elicits squeals of delight from vintage Mac fans.
It is the Smallest Mac in the World.
Hot on the heels of the news of the world’s oldest working Macintosh comes a breakthrough of much more modest proportions. John Leake, co-host of the RetroMacCast, has created what may be the world’s smallest working Macintosh using a Raspberry Pi computer, PVC, some off-the shelf parts and a Mac emulator running under Linux. He calls it “Mini Mac.”
Why? As Leake writes on his blog, “this is one those ‘because I can’ projects with no practical use – my favorite kind!”
Honey, I Shrunk The Computer
After Dark running in Mini vMac. Hold on, the fish are spawning…
The Mini Mac is done to 1/3 scale. Leake made the case using sheets of PVC plastic (white 3M Sintra) which yields easily to an X-Acto knife. He then used files and sandpaper to shape the bezels, with extra care taken around the curves near the screen. The sides, bottom and front were glued together to make one piece and the top and back a second piece.
During the podcast discussing Mini Mac, Leake notes that the assembly took about twelve hours total. If he decides to make more of these super-cute miniscule Macs, he may employ a 3D printer rather than manually crafting elements.
The monitor is a 3.5-inch composite LCD panel, held in place with two brackets and a few Velcro tabs. The Raspberry Pi (aka “the motherboard”) sits on the left next to a four-port powered USB hub. Two USB ports are facing out and two facing in.
One of the inside ports holds a Wi-Fi dongle, the other a Bluetooth dongle. On top is a two-port USB charger that powers the Raspberry Pi and the monitor. To make everything fit, Leake had to make a few modifications.
“On the Pi, I had to cut the SD card down almost flush with the edge of the Raspberry Pi board. I also had to cut away quite a bit of the USB cable on the top to get it to bend below the top of my case. The last thing I had to do was to solder wires directly to the Pi board to bypass the power connector.”
This may be the only Compact Macintosh in the world with an HDMI output port!
Custom creations are nothing new to this Mac über-fan. Back in 2010 he converted a Mac Plus into the infamous Banana Junior from the comic strip Bloom County. (Is there a side business brewing here?)
On the software side, the Raspberry Pi is running Rasbian, a modified version on Debian Linux. On top of this is the Mini vMac emulator running System Software 6.0.8. Leake was worried the tiny screen would be completely unreadable, but things turned out OK.
“It’s not as bad as I thought,” he says, “especially since to get Mini vMac to run at full screen I had to adjust the boot config file to get it to output at 512×384, which is then being shoved onto a screen with a resolution of 320×200.”
Another video gives more details of the design and shows the Mini Mac in action (there’s no sound, apparently the audio output of Mini vMac on the Raspberry Pi is a bit glitchy):
More video of the Mini Mac in action.
More info is available in the latest RetroMacCast, which is rapidly approaching its 300th episode! Nice work, John.
When can we order one?
- Source RetroMacCast
- Image All photos by John Leake, used with permission.