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Off-the-Grid Total Portability for the Apple IIc

Jul 24, 2014 @ 2:45 pm - 3:30 pm

Presented by Stephen Buggie. Of the various Apple II models, the IIc is the closest we have to a laptop, but it is not optimized for portability. The IIc CPU weighs 7.2 lbs., its external power brick weighs 2.6 lbs., and any of our cathode-ray video monitors weigh plenty. As a system, the IIc is “luggable,” rather than portable.

To make the IIc truly portable, two challenges must be met: (A) Weight and size must be reduced as much as possible, and (B) The system must be modified to operate from a 12 volt DC power source. This second change will enable the IIc to be taken “off-the-grid” where AC power is unavailable, such as at campgrounds where there are no AC hookups.

Weight/size reduction: The IIc CPU cannot be shrunk: Its 7.2 lb. weight must be accepted as it is. But the heavy and cumbersome external “power brick” can be replaced with Bugg-Brick, a modern laptop-style power supply, modified with a female DIN-7 plug which is compatible with the IIc’s rear-panel power socket. Bugg-Brick weighs only a fourth as much as the original power brick, and it is smaller, only one-third of the original’s physical size. The heavy cathode-ray monochrome monitor can be replaced with a lightweight portable flat-screen color TV monitor: 14” flat screens weigh as little as 5 lbs, a fraction of the weight imposed by the old Monitor IIc with its metal angle-bracket stand.

Freedom from the 115 volt AC power grid: The Bugg-Brick power supply, combined with a flat screen monitor, will be sufficient for use at campgrounds where AC hook-ups are available. Off-the-grid camping is done at remote locations where AC power is unavailable, and the IIc system can accommodate that option as well. The IIc Technical Reference Manual (pp. 218-219) states that the IIc’s internal converter can accommodate DC power from the external brick within the broad range of +9 volts to +20 volts. This means that a standard 12 volt DC battery (car battery, or a yellow jump-start battery) can feed directly into the IIc power socket. The connector cable will have a DIN-7 female plug at the computer end, and a cigarette-lighter plug (or alligator clips) at the other end to connect to the car battery or jump-start battery. The flat-screen monitor must be suitable for RV use, with a 12 volt DC input option. The flat-screen video monitor must also have a composite input jack (yellow RCA socket) to accept the video output from the IIc. The flat-screen monitor must be chosen carefully, because many of the newest flat-screen TVs no longer have the three RCA sockets for video, audio-right, and audio left.

In my presentation, I will set up a IIc system that is totally free from AC power: The IIc and its color flat-screen monitor will run entirely from a 12 volt DC jump-start battery.


Jul 24, 2014
2:45 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Corcoran Hall


Stephen Buggie