Twelve Volt Mac

October 17th, 2009

Back in November I switched to Macintosh, after many years of PC-ownership, and even more years of being a die-hard Acorn Computers fan in my youth. Now, I am very fond of my uber-shiny Mac, but there has been one small gripe up until now. The Mac laptops all have this very nice MagSafe power adaptor which attaches magnetically – the idea being that if someone trips over your power cable, the adaptor just unplugs, rather than dragging the whole machine crashing to the floor.

Apple, in their infinite wisdom, have not marketed an in-car power adaptor to work with these laptops. Nor have they licenced anyone else to make one. There is an “airline” power adaptor, but it’s a) expensive and b) doesn’t actually charge the laptop’s battery – it just powers the machine when it’s running.

Fortunately, there is a workaround. This site explains how it’s a simple matter to cut the MagSafe power cable off an Apple mains adaptor and solder it to a normal DC power socket. It also explains that you can safely and easily power a Mac from any 16V DC supply. I already had a 12v adaptor for my old Windows laptop (bought from Maplin, cost £20, IIRC), so it seemed like an easy job. However, I was mildly reluctant to just cut the cable on my existing power supply – so I went to eBay. Fortunately, I found a firm – Relchron – who had a job lot of dead Magsafe power supplies. A quick phone call later and the guy there agreed to cut the magsafe connector and cable off a PSU and send it to me in the post for the princely sum of £2.50. This afternoon I’ve soldered it to a normal DC socket (again from Maplin) and hooked it up to the PSU. Hey presto, twelve volt Mac!

The upshot of all this is that I won’t need to run the inverter so often, and should reduce my power consumption quite considerably. Here’s hoping. And please, Apple, if you’re out there – sell this as an official product, rather than leaving it for us to hack up!