Build your own Mini Mac Classic with a Raspberry Pi


The Ruiz Brothers on the Adafruit Learning System had made another exciting project, the Mini Mac Pi. This project uses a Raspberry Pi as its main microcontroller. Along with a 320×240 mini touch screen display and a speaker unit, this small Mac will surely give you the feels of Macintosh 128k glory days.

The outer housing is completely 3-D printed. “You can either have a service print the parts for you, or you can print them yourself on an FDM 3D Printer. This project requires minor assembly and soldering.” according to the makers of this project. “These parts are optimized to print with desktop 3D Printers capable of printing in ABS or PLA material with a minimum build area of 100mm x 100mm x 90mm. The five parts are designed to print without any support material.”

3-D Printed parts of the Mini Mac Pi

The makers provide you with the STL files for 3-D printing. Using those, you can even customize the housing to add any additional feature you may wish to do, like a port for a webcam. For making this process smoother, they have even provided brief explanations of all the STL files.

Coming to the software part, the onboard Raspberry Pi runs a flavor of mini vmac and emulates booting into Mac OS 7. “The Mini vMac is an emulator that runs software for early Macs that ran Motorola’s 680×0 microprocessors. This project doesn’t require original hardware and runs alongside raspbian.” the makers noted. There are also some limitations to this project which are:

  • Minor Application Support
  • No Audio Support
  • Only Mac 7
  • No Networking
  • Screen Size Cut to 320 x 240 so we can use the PiTFT (original was 512×342)

Still, the Mini Mac Pi is a pretty good project as it can run most of the essential apps.

Electronics and Getting started

Electronic components of the Mini Mac Pi

For adding internal audio you can use one Stereo Class D amplifier and a thin 8ohm 0.25w speaker. A 6600mAh Lithium-Ion battery and a Powerboost 500C power supply and charger board can make this project portable. By connecting a 3-pin sliding switch to this board, you can charge the battery and boost the 3.7 V from the battery to 5 V, which is used to power the Raspberry Pi. An HDMI extension cable allows connecting to an external display.

For getting started with this project, first, you’ll need to be familiar with the working of Raspberry Pi and the Adafruit PiTFT display. The guides for the same are provided on the tutorial page. Then you can start gathering all the electronic components as shown in the figure above. You can make it even more compelling by adding a Raspberry Pi camera module as a webcam. We would suggest first checking the interfacing of all the components individually with the Raspberry Pi to avoid any last-minute troubleshooting. After all the electronics are working properly, you can finalize the outer body dimensions for 3-D printing. If you don’t own a 3-D printer and are planning to buy one, then make sure to check out this 3-D printer comparison. You can complete the software part which is the last thing to do after assembling the parts.

Head over to the Step-by-step Tutorial page if you want to build this project. The project can cost you between $140-$160, depending on the 3-D printing costs.

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