Putting a Mac mini 2012 in an RV

in Genius Bar
My wife and I will be moving into an RV full time this summer. I was using my 2012 Quad i7 Mac mini as my main computer until I recently got a 2014 Macbook Pro 15. The laptop has become all I use now for my main work machine. However, I still have the Mac mini running as a media server for my iTunes library and streamed to my two Apple TVs (3rd gen). 

Here's what I want, just not sure how I should do it exactly: Have a way to watch video that I have on local storage, watch Netflix/Hulu when we have internet access, and play old school video games. My MBP and my wife's MBA will be our normal day to day machines for internet, web/graphic design, writing, etc.

Because I want to have everything self contained in one system, I'm going to use the Mac mini for everything. So for games, I have two Xbox One controllers and I'm getting the MS Xbox Wireless adapter so I can connect them wirelessly. I got Joystick Mapper, so once I have it set up completely, I can use the Xbox controller instead of a mouse in the Finder. Then I'll install RetroArch to play lots of older games, up to GameCube.

With iTunes, I have all my music and movies, and can use the full screen option to watch then on the TV that is being used as a monitor. By redoing the sound system in the RV, I can use the Mac mini to have its audio in the whole RV and should be able to control it through the local Wifi with the Remote app. Instant music on the road if we don't want to listen to the radio.

There is room for one TV in the living room area, so we can sue that as our main viewing and gaming spot. I can set up a webcam so we can use that to video chat if we want when we have wifi as well. That completes the main area.

Next up, and I'm not sure we'll even do this, but we can add a TV to the bedroom area in the back. For that TV, we can just use an Apple TV and have it stream the Mac mini library. It doesn't need to do much else, so that's fine.

Now, the hard part. Running it all on as little power as possible. I want to use solar, hopefully for everything if I can. If I can get the Mac mini to run on DC power completely, that would be ideal. The original minis had an external power brick, so it was a little easier, but this model has the AC converter inside the body. I don't want to have to use an inverter for everything if I don't have to. I can get a TV that runs on a cigarette lighter adapter off DC power, so that is easy. But the Mac mini uses up to 85 watts of power at max, so that can be a definite load. If I can get a 160 Watt solar panel hooked up to a battery, that should be enough to power the Mac mini. While the RV is running, the battery will charge from the alternator. While sitting though, the battery needs to be charged from solar, and if it can be, run the mini without interruption. I'm pretty sure this will require an inverter, but since it is only one computer, it really shouldn't be a problem.

Has anyone done anything similar to this? I'd like to mod it to be perfect, but that might be impossible and good enough might have to work.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    nhtnht Posts: 3,420member
    I kinda think the mini is a sub-optimal solution.  Why not run retroarch on the MBP until you can get Retroarch for aTV?  Last I heard they were working on a tvOS port.

    Then replace one of the aTV3 with an aTV4...

    Still need an inverter for the aTV4 which is a bit of bummer.

    If I was going to live in an RV I'd go iPad for entertainment when on solar and MBP for work.
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