Mac Mini UPS
#181 Henry, Saturday, 28 June 2014 11:50 PM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: macmini ups)

The UPS unit on my Mac Mini (my media center) has been bad for a few months. The blinking red light indicates it needs a new battery. If that blinking red light was all that was happening, I would ignore it some more. But the Mac Mini turns off whenever there is a whiteout, or sometimes just for fun. There's nothing worse than sitting down with your meal, turning on the Apple TV and finding the Media Center behind it has turned off again. It takes forever for a 2 gig Mac Mini to load iTunes and load up 4,000 videos and 100,000 songs. I really need to upgrade this Mac Mini to one with a lot more memory. Or switch to Plex and Roku. But that's an argument for another day. Today, it's the UPS.

I went out and bought a new UPS unit. We have five in the house, covering all the computers, and the TV gear. Whenever a battery goes dead, I find it's more cost effective to buy a whole new UPS unti, rather than just replacing the battery. The money is only a little more, but you get newer technology and newer features. This time, I got a new APC unit with the little front screen which tells me what the load is and how long it will last if the power goes off. Now all my UPSs have this screen and I can see at a glance how many "events" have happened, and what the load is, and how long the gear will stay on.

I installed the new UPS and instead of keeping hidden on the ground, I put it up beside the Mac Mini. I always have problems with the amount of power outlets. One for the Mac Mini, one for the monitor (doesn't need battery backup), one for the powered USB hub, and four for the power bricks for the external hard disks. So many external hard disks, and maybe I should replace them all with a Drobo or something like that, but again, that's an argument for another day. All these power bricks for the hard disks are carefully designed so when you plug one in, it uses one power outlet, and covers up another two so they can't be used. It must take talent to make such poorly designed items. I've seen some slim ones that take one power outlet and go sideways so they don't obscure any other slots, but I don't have any of them. Shame. So I put extender boards off the UPS and by the time I had piggybacked enough power boards to accommodate all the hard disks, I had three boards. That's not good. It's messy, it's inefficient, and probably unsafe. Then I remembered that I had some rack mount power boards left. Oh yes, I had one left, double-sided, industrial. I plugged that into the UPS and suddenly I had 24 power outlets to use up. I plugged everything into that and it all worked. Looks seriously ugly, but everything is nicely arranged.

The UPS says I am using 3% of load, and the gear will run for 216 minutes if it had to run on battery. So I don't think I am overloading it, and I'm pretty happy with the power usage of all those hard disks and the Mac Mini. And hopefully it won't switch off at the first hint off a brownout.

But anyway, I am going to have to consider all my options here. The Mac Mini is not cutting it with the amount of media that I have. Having all these external hard disks is not efficient. On the other hand, each of these hard disks has a matching one attached to my prime Linux desktop. They are kept in sync with rsync, and it's a crude form of backup. It's worked okay for a long time, but maybe now it's time to consolidate to a Drobo or equivalent. But do I get two Drobos and have the same arrangement, kept in sync? Or do I go really radical, and get one Drobo attached to dedicated Plex server, and replace the Apple TV with a Roku? Plex irritates me. But not as much as iTunes irritates me. Nothing works the way I want it to work. I have to compromise and use someone else's mental model of how a media center should work.

In the meantime, I will keep slowly improving everything. Next step is probably going to be something Drobo-like.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the new UPS, and not having to turn on the Mac Mini whenever I want to watch a movie.