Fun Home Projects for an Old Mac Mini
August 31, 2006 8:09 AM   Subscribe

What should I do with my neglected Mac Mini (1.25GHz/1GB RAM)?

I purchased a 1.25GHz Mac Mini around when they first came out. I'm not even really sure why. It's now been sitting on top of my Dual 2.0 G5 doing nothing for a good while.

I've been looking into figuring out something interesting I could do with it. Kitchen maybe? I have no idea. It's not powerful enough for the MythTV or some of the higher end ideas. Maybe a juke box of some kind?

Any ideas? Be creative, I'm willing to work for it. I also have a 19" LCD that could be utilized. I have a lot of audio and video stuff, so keep that in mind.
posted by travis vocino to Computers & Internet (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by SirStan at 8:12 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by matteo at 8:20 AM on August 31, 2006

I hate eBay. eBay isn't worth the $50 I'd get for it. I would rather throw it out and save myself the trouble.
posted by travis vocino at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2006

Donation? You could get a tax receipt if nothing else.
Music server. Home automation.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:27 AM on August 31, 2006

Do you have any kids or a neice or nephew or know any disadvantaged children? It would make a great starter computer.

Also, you could run it as a server and store stuff that friends could share (and friends could put stuff there too).

You could put it in your car. It fits just about perfectly in most radio sections.
posted by visual mechanic at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2006

Craigslist? If you're only expecting fifty bucks for it, you ought to be able to sell it with very little trouble. (Alternately, I'll give you sixty for it.)

Alternately, music server, Internet radio receiver, videogame emulation device, car computer, guest room computer, etc. And are you sure it's too slow to do MythTV stuff? If you like tinkering, it might be fun to see just how close to TiVo functionality you can get before you start to run into the limitations of the processor speed.
posted by box at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2006

What about a dedicated media server?
posted by ASM at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2006

Call some of the smaller ad agencies in your area. We use minis for the intern & receptionist computers & would be psyched to buy one cheap.

Otherwise I'd go with music server.
posted by miss tea at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2006

Hell, I'll give you $75. :)

If you're serious about wanting it in your kitchen, and you like DIY projects, check this out.
posted by danb at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2006

i ave a 1.5GHZ G4 mini with 512mb RAM and a Miglia MiniTV usb card. Works beautifully in my living room hooked up to a set of speakers and monitor. Got recordable TV, and Juke Box.

1.25 GHZ will be plenty fast for TV.
posted by twistedonion at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by Aquaman at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2006

eBay -> proceeds to charity of your choice.
posted by cillit bang at 8:58 AM on August 31, 2006


Or, an 80's-90's arcade, loaded up with NES, SNES, Genesis, MAME, etc. for the TV, in addition to a music server.
posted by sdrawkcab at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2006

Hmm. I seem to have linked to a blog talking about the Mac Mini-in-kitchen project, and the original site is dead now. Sorry 'bout that.

And actually, the emulation thing is a really good idea. My PowerBook is 1.25GHz, 512 MB RAM, and it runs everything up to and including the 16-bit consoles flawlessly, and does pretty well with some Nintendo 64 games as well.

If you decide to take this route, I recommend Snes9X for SNES, sixtyforce for N64, and Richard Bannister's amazing software for everything else.
posted by danb at 9:06 AM on August 31, 2006

Digital photo show. Hook up a monitor in the living room and hide the computer. Load all your photos and start an endless, random slideshow with photos changing every so often.

I've ALWAYS wanted to do this.
posted by kdern at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2006

I wish people that would sell a Mac Mini for $50 *would* sell on eBay. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Macs traditionally hold a high resale value when vis-a-vis a similar PC. This is true of laptops as well. Maybe keep that in mind if you're looking to sell.
posted by owenkun at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2006

CompUSA, until recently, was selling a brand new Mac Mini 1.42 Ghz for $349. If you sold yours on eBay, based on the prices I've seen for auctions recently ended and still going on, you'd get $200-250. I'll give you $175, if you're interested in avoiding eBay altogether.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:16 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by u2604ab at 9:17 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by cellphone at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2006

I mean $180
posted by cellphone at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2006

TRAVIS VOCINO - consider donating the computer to Quest for Peace, a national social justice organization that will send it to Nicaragua, where it will be used to teach IT skills to possibly thousands of people in the next ten years. Plus, you'll get a tax deduction for the computer.
posted by parmanparman at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2006

Don't underestimate the resale value of a Mac. They hold thier value very well.
posted by o2b at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2006

I'll trade you a teenage daughter!

Maybe do some home automation via X10 or indigo.

since you have the audio and video stuff, sounds like media server to me, though.

Put it in your car?

hook it up the monitor you mention and stick it in the window of your house on holidays with the appropiate video of said holiday?

Oh, hell, just give it me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2006

I have mine hooked up to our stereo and TV via the discontinued EyeHome breakout box (thereby getting digital surround out) and directly to the tube via Apple's S-Video adapter dongle; it's our media server and works right nice even with the stock 256mb RAM. I beleive I'll eventually centralize our iPhoto stuff on the interal drive and get my wife going on burning CDs to send to her folks.
posted by mwhybark at 9:31 AM on August 31, 2006

posted by casconed at 9:37 AM on August 31, 2006

It'd make a dandy Web server. You can just switch on the Apache server it comes with or, if you're slightly more adventurous, it's quite easy to install newer versions of Apache, PHP, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, lighttpd, etc. Having all this separate from your main computer makes it easier to isolate public-facing stuff from the rest of your network.

If you're interested in Linux, you could install Ubuntu and dual boot between it and OS X.

You could just attach a couple of big USB 2.0 hard rives to it and use it as a file server.

Or I could buy it off you for $199.
posted by timeistight at 10:20 AM on August 31, 2006

One hundred dollars!

oh, wait...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:42 AM on August 31, 2006

In all likelihood you'd get at least $400-$500 off of it if you put it up on ebay now. Given that they sold for $500-$600 when they were the latest, that's pretty good.

Rumor has it Apple's refusing to supply large orders of minis, which may indicate the mini is ready for an updated model soon. When that happens, the price on what you've got will probably drop $100, unless Apple introduces the new models by bumping the price point even a bit higher.

Home entertainment center sounds great, though. They were practically made for that.
posted by weston at 11:31 AM on August 31, 2006

I use my old Mac for running Indigo (with X10 motion detectors & door sensors and Insteon light switches) for automated lighting and SecuritySpy for security camera recording.

TV/Jukebox applications are good too, but I've got that pretty much wrapped up with TiVo and Airport Express.
posted by trevyn at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2006

I'll give you $300 for it...

I just sold my 1.25 with 1GB of ram for $450 on ebay
posted by Mesach at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2006

Mac Mini Carputer?
posted by hatsix at 1:36 PM on August 31, 2006

I'll give you $50 and your horse gets to keep its head.

My Mini served as my music hub for a while, then was devoted to, shall we say, my video collection. My neighbor now has it hooked up to his large plasma TV for game-playing.
posted by forrest at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2006

Install Front Row on it?
posted by phrayzee at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2006

Digital photograph (or newsfeed). Get out the tools and remove mount the flatscreen behind a matte in a nice wooden picture frame, hang it on the wall so it looks like a traditional print or photograph. Put the mac mini on the back (or nearby), and have it display a slideshow of pictures, or a realtime-updating news webpage. Just something on the wall that does something nice, unattended.

For a jukebox, you can buy touch-screen overlays fairly cheaply, that you'd just mount over the screen.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:54 PM on August 31, 2006

My Mac Mini's specs aren't much better than that and it's the most valuable thing that I own, so, thhbbt.

Of course, I mostly use mine as an entertainment center. TV Adapter + Front Row or MediaCentral + Handbrake. The last time I checked, MythTv for PPC OS X is frontend only. Nevertheless, I'm sure the Mac Mini has enough power for a backend.
posted by Skwirl at 2:55 PM on August 31, 2006

See? You'll have no trouble getting someone to take it off your hands. :)

The idea of hooking a firewire drive to it and using it to store media is a good one. Or, use it as a backup host. Get a big firewire drive and rsync important data to it.
posted by drstein at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2006

Ooh! I look forward to playing with MediaCentral!
posted by mwhybark at 8:28 PM on August 31, 2006

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