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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter Laptop Macs
Quick! Go count the number of cords you pack when travelling with your laptop. Quite a lot, right? Here's a possible way of reducing that number. Take the adapter off your laptop power supply (or iPod power supply or Airport Express), and plug it into your other power bricks.

So long as their AC input is able to handle it (you can find this on the underside; it should read AC Input = 100-240V 50-60Hz), you shouldn't have any problem. Definitely double-check, though, so that you don't create potential problems.

I have used this for a while, and have written about it, along with some images of the solution in action.

[robg adds: I wrote about the sheer number of things I pack for even a short trip a while back, so this hint is of interest to me. And while not directly OS X related, it's related to using Apple hardware, and I thought it might be of interest to others ... I guess the rating will eventually answer that.]
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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter | 17 comments | Create New Account
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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: Bwana on Jul 06, '06 08:35:46AM

Along those same lines I like to charge my iPod via the firewire port which frees up my powerbook's usb ports to charge my Blackberry and Razr - both use the same mini usb jack to charge.



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Apple ensures you don't break things
Authored by: LegoEvan on Jul 06, '06 09:27:38AM

I remember trying to do this backwards--I had the little plug-in part from my iPod power brick and my laptop powerbrick and they would not mate. The female part of the power brick for my Powerbook looks like a figure 8 while the female part of my iPod power brick looks like the letter B, so that you cannot use the iPod wall socket piece in the powerbook brick (my guess is that it's got a lower amperage rating?). But, you can still go the other way 'round because the male 8 will fit in the female B.

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Give me a lever large enough and a place to stand, and I will make use of Fudd's Law.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: donaciano on Jul 06, '06 10:43:51AM

I would warn people to watch out for adaptors that require being plugged in a certain way.

My Camcorder plug is ALMOST the same as the Apple one, except that one part of the 8 on the plug is a bit more square. Looks like DO, following the wire to the plug, the D side has a larger connector than the O side. So at the wall you'll see |I ... which means if I plug the Apple adaptor into my Camcorder brick I could plug it in backwards and fry something. So watch out for that, some devices care about polarity. Maybe some of you are old enough to remember blenders running backwards if you plugged them in the wrong way... and of course toasters that froze your bread when plugged in backwards.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: Superboy on Jul 06, '06 12:02:33PM
Actually, you can't fry something by reversing the polarity as long as it's AC. The live and neutral terminals constantly switch at 50 or 60hz, reversing the polarity. Reversing the polarity on DC stuff will usually damage it!

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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: Scripter12 on Jul 06, '06 01:31:07PM

Similarly, I carry just one Firewire cable for my iPod, external HD and iSight. Now that I have a MBP I don't carry the iSight anymore.

My tip for traveling is to never unpack. I keep the same set of cables, DVI/VGA adapter, etc. in one section of my roller bag. That makes it much easier to be sure I always have what I need whether I'm at home or on the road.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: kevinv on Jul 06, '06 02:24:14PM

Couple of gotchas to watch out for, first the amerage. In addition to voltage make sure you take an adapter that can support the largest amperage of your devices. For example if your adapter is labeled 1.5 amps, then it can support any device up to 1.5 amps. Any device that draws more than 1.5 amps can cause the adapter to overheat at best and explode at worst.

Also, sometimes which part of the plug is hot vs. neutral is important. Some devices can work ok either way, some can't.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: yrret on Jul 06, '06 02:26:01PM

Schwing!
I am traveling in Germany actually, and was getting ready to run out and get another converter to run my PB while the wife is using her moms iBook. But I went with the "Reverse Power Adapter" tip and used the cord I use for charging my camera and video camera.

The cord BTW is a 1.99 one from Radio Shack, and is plugged into my book as I type.

I also highly recomend the little zip and rewind cords for the USB and Firewire. I have a tip converter for the USB, and the Firewire.

So after my cable fetish confession I have spilled out here, imagine my surprise that I had never noticed it before!

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Microsoft is not the answer.
It is the question.
The answer is NO!



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: donaciano on Jul 06, '06 02:44:55PM
That's a common misconception... there IS polarity in AC since one wire runs to the power companies generator and the other wire runs to the ground. Sure a power adaptor will convert the AC to DC and there shouldn't be a problem, but some are badly designed and really can fry it plugged in the wrong way. Here's an example... Zapped Laptop

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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: dave_williams on Jul 06, '06 03:10:08PM

>That's a common misconception... there IS polarity in AC since one wire runs >tothe power companies generator and the other wire runs to the ground. Sure >a power adaptor will convert the AC to DC and there shouldn't be a problem, >but some are badly designed and really can fry it plugged in the wrong way. >Here's an example... Zapped Laptop

The guy zapped his laptop because the polarity of the DC voltage he put into it was the wrong way, not becaise of AC polarity. It's poorly explained- he talks about the polarity on the AC adapter, but it's obvious he's talking about the DC output voltage.

I'm not one to belittle the importance of being careful with mains AC power (especially the 240v variety we have here in the UK), but reversing the neutral and live connections doesn't make any difference on wholly insulated items such as power bricks. Check how many power bricks you have with figure of eight plug ( 8 ) input leads, which can be inserted either way round.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: Bwana on Jul 06, '06 03:12:20PM

Plug direction won't make a difference - if you look at the European two prong plugs they can be plugged in either way - you'd be hard pressed to make sure it went in one way or the other.

The power that fried the guys laptop was DC.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: Superboy on Jul 07, '06 12:17:46AM

Do you mean earth or neutral? If you mean earth, then that is incorrect. The blue/black/neutral wire does not lead to earth. The neutral wire leads back to the alternator in the power station, which produces AC right from the start. it doesn't matter what way you plug the thing in, as like I said, the polarity reverses every 50th or 60th of a second anyway. They use AC because AC is needed to make transformers work properly. They need a reverse in their magnetic field in one side of the transformer to induce a current in the other. The reverse in current reverses the magnetic field.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: greed on Jul 08, '06 10:29:18AM

On North American AC wiring, the neutral wire leads to the centre-tap on the step-down transformer that provides 240V (nominal) house current. From the centre-tap to either hot wire gives you 120V, 'cause it's right in the centre. (The centre-tap is also grounded, but only at the transformer. Current flowing on the neutral return wire will produce a voltage compared to ground in your house wiring. The exact voltage depends on the current and wire gauge.)

The ONLY risk you run by reversing hot and neutral is having case components and cable shields float "hot". None of the electronic circuitry will be affected, UNLESS you connect two such devices together, in which case a current will flow on the cable shield connecting the two together.

This is a sign of an incredibly bad design, as it is possible to have hot-neutral reverse in a mis-wired receptecle, power-bar, extension cord, and so on. Relying on neutral to be the same as ground for safety applications is BAD. Either isolate mains from the case by a transformer, or don't connect the chassis to any mains wire at all. Use true ground (3rd pin) for chassis ground if needed. Heck, neutral is almost never true ground and you can get ground-loop currents on ungrounded devices that try and use neutral for shield or chassis ground.

You cannot identify a hot-neutral reverse without a ground reference. There is no way of having a fuse blow, or any sort of wiring fault indication, in a two-wire device. (Incidentally, if you have a "wiring fault" indicator on your power bar, that's what it is indicating--there is current flow from neutral to ground. A "wiring OK" indicator means that there is current from hot to ground.)

Lamps and devices like that are polarized so that the "hot" wire is always the little tiny one at the bottom of the lamp-socket, so that if you touch the lamp screw-threads while changing the bulb, you aren't going to get the full 120V to any ground you might be touching, just the 5-10V that tends to be the local difference between neutral and true ground (induced by current in the neutral cable in your house).

And yes, I have received electrical shocks from equipment with poor choices of chassis ground--and it isn't always because it's plugged into a mis-wired outlet. I can get a "tingle" on bare skin (it's summer, I'm wearing shorts) from the screws in the bottom of my iBook and the FireWire cable shield from my old Maxtor 80GB external drive, because the two devices use a different way to get chassis ground.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: nufoto on Jul 06, '06 06:57:20PM

Cool Works with my Buslink Transformer, and seems to Fit the lacie Transformer as well!

Thanks Great tip!



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: critcol on Jul 06, '06 07:49:26PM

I thought the cable/tip thing was a well-known fact. Another fact is that the Apple power bricks will always make sure the power reaching your Apple product is safe, so any cable that can connect to the power brick and to any wall socket is a good cable.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: mschaff on Jul 07, '06 09:08:41AM

Maybe I'm slow, but I didn't fully understand the hint until I saw the picture.

This is a cool hint as I happen to have the same Nikon camera battery changer. I never noticed the plugs were the same.



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: OceanCubed on Jul 08, '06 05:51:17AM

Cool hint, the hint on your own website about the language removing should also make your laptop a bit lighter too!! :)



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Travel lighter with Apple's power adapter
Authored by: tooki on Jul 13, '06 08:20:28AM

For what it's worth, and to make this thread searchable: the "plug" is called a "duckhead" by Apple.

tooki



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