RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

"Are you tired of waiting for your 512k (Fat Mac) to support OSX?"

"Do you feel excluded from your wireless home network?"

"Have you been longing to connect those modern day peripherals to your computer?"

"Could you use a little more resolution & color on your screen?"

"If you answered YES at least once, then the new Fat MacMini is for YOU!!!"

After a few years of restoring vintage Macintosh machines, I decided that I needed to do something different... so, inspired by a few mods that I read online, I decided to combine the power of a modern day MacMini with the classic design of the 512k (Fat Mac).

The result is a retro-machine that is quite stunning.

One of the goals was to preserve the look-and-feel of the 512k as much as possible; this meant that the original plastics were left alone, not modified or cut in any way (except for one small piece inside the mouse). I also wanted to use the original peripherals (mouse, keyboard) for maximum "retro-ness", including their existing connectors to the main machine (Sub-D and telephone style keyboard cable).

Here are the connections on the back from left to right -- original 9-pin Sub-D connector for the mouse, HDMI out (for a second screen), Gigabit Ethernet (for a fast, wired connection), two USB ports (disguised as Sub-D connectors) and a 3.5mm audio-in port.

The mouse was converted to USB using an infrared optical tracker (no visible red glow from underneath as it is used); it still connects to the Mac using its original 9-pin Sub-D cable and plug, only carrying USB signals now.

The original Macintosh mouse has only one button and no scroll wheel, and it is really annoying to use today!

The keyboard was also converted to USB, and just like the mouse, it still connects to the Mac with its original coiled telephone style cable which is also now carrying USB signals. For the USB connection, every single key had to be wired to a modern-day USB controller that is located in the old keyboard case.

In addition, I decided to re-use the existing power receptacle and power switch of the original 512k analog board which was burnt up and unrepairable. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge since the MacMini refuses to turn on automatically when power is applied (it will only do so if it was not shut down gracefully). In order to make the original switch work, I had to resort to a push-solenoid that is controlled by a timer which pushes the Mini's power button to start it up whenever the switch on the back is flipped on.

The screen is an 8" TFT monitor with a native resolution of 800x600 (really not optimal for OSX to say the least) that will also run at 1024x768. It is connected to the MiniDisplay/Thunderbolt port of the Mini using a VGA adapter.

Like in other conversions, you'll find a USB connector in the front floppy port; to the left of it is an SD card reader. I have re-used the old 512k's internal loudspeaker, and its volume can now be controlled from the front with the dial that used to control the brightness in the 512k.

The Fat MacMini will also run System 7, 8 and 9 using the well known emulators available, so it's quite a versatile machine!

Here's a quick look inside... the MacMini has not been modified and can be removed any time.

Any inspiration / comments / questions are welcome!

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Very nice conversion. That is one clean machine, inside and out.

Thanks! Just installed Mini vMac, it almost looks like the unmodified 512k now.  ;-)

I'd love to see the inside of the mouse and keyboard. All together, a very nice conversion. Well done.

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