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Rack-mounted Mac mini power problem solved by remote servos

A Raspberry Pi-controlled Mac mini server rack [X/@merocle]

A hardware hacker has solved a problem of powering on 16 Mac minis in a rack, by using a Raspberry Pi to physically press each power switch.

The Mac mini has been used in the past as a compact server, with applications ranging from typical server-related functions to virtualized macOS desktops such as MacStadium's Orka Workspace.

However, one of the problems of running a Mac mini in a server racks that its physical button occasionally needs to be pressed, such as to turn them on. Server racks pack as much hardware into as little space as possible and are intended to be left alone and remotely managed.

That situation can make it difficult to put many Mac minis into a rack space while still allowing the buttons to be accessible.

Shared on Twitter, hardware hacker Ivan Kuleshov has come up with a system for mounting multiple racks of Mac minis in a standard server rack. In his implementation, 16 Mac minis are installed at a time into a larger case, all with the ports angled up for accessibility.

To solve the problem of manually turning on all 16 Mac minis remotely, Kuleshov uses a Raspberry Pi, best known as an electronics-friendly and low-cost computer on a compact board.

To that board, he attaches a number of servo HATs (Hardware Attached on Top), which in turn controls a series of eight servos. Eight servos are used since each can press the power button on two Mac minis.

On top of the Servo HATs, the Pi is running PiKVM, an IP-KVM system, and has enough space left over for a small informational display. It's all packed into a custom case, and mounted inside the cabinet alongside the Mac minis.

Kuleshov has a lot of experience with the Mac mini, having previously created a hack for the Mac mini to make it run over Power over Ethernet. This is also not Kuleshov's first server rack of Mac minis, as this project is his third-such arrangement.