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Mac Powerbooks and Altitude

Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 ft
Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 ft
Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 ft

Does anyone know about using powerbooks at higher altitudes than recommended in the tech specs?

We will at times be at least 13,000 ft up.

Im really interested in why the operating altitude is 10,000ft, what happens to the computer? Is it radiation? Is it condensation?

I have searched the net, and have found nothing.

Is it okay to have the unit at or above the 10,000ft altitude and just powered down? Is this what they mean by storage altitude?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


by [a former member] at 2005-05-18 08:52:49 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) New York City, NY , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

My understanding is that this is related to air pressure; the hard disk depends on air flow between platters, and if air pressure drops too low, those parts could theoretically collide. This would only be an issue with the disk powered up and spinning; that’d explain why storage/shipping altitudes are higher. (Why storage is different from shipping, I have no idea.)

Anecdotes over at the Apple discussion forum seem to indicate that it’s pretty safe. Be sure to come back and let us know if you find out more, eh?

by Shinji Kuwayama | 18 May 2005 11:05 | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
I also think it’s related to the harddisk. Microdrives are specified to certain altitude as well. IIRC there was one brand of HDDs that was specially sealed to operate at any (reasonable) altitude, but sadly I donn’t remember the details :-(

by Frantisek Vlcek | 18 May 2005 15:05 | near Pila, Poland | | Report spam→
I was just using my powerbook at about 10,000 feet yesterday with no problem. 13,000 feet though I can’t answer.

What I can say, is that I was shooting a job at around 13,000 feet, and my out of shape, overweight, sea level self, had a bit of a struggle. The air is noticably thinner, and movement was slowed. By the end of 6 hours, I was feeling nauseous, breathing deeply, and occasionally seeing stars after heavy, lengthy, exertion. All these symtoms vanished when I got back down to about 9,000 feet. And the beers definitely kick in pretty quick at such heights.

Drink lot’s of fluids, wear some good shades, lather up with the sunscreen, and have a good time. If you have the opportunity, try to adjust for a few days at an altitude higher than NYC.

by Jethro Soudant | 18 May 2005 20:05 | Boulder, CO, United States | | Report spam→

This is interesting. I just was up at a little over 13,000 ft last week with my powerbook. I had it turned off as we hiked up. I turned it on and downloaded my cards (running off of the batteries- there was no electricity). I plugged in a firelite drive to back up the pictures and it immediately drained of all power and went into sleep mode.

I got to a place where the was electricity, charged it back up, backed up the pictures and used it no problem (I think this area was somewhere between 12,750 and 13,000).

Got to the final place, (again, running off of battery) and as I was just downloading cards it shut down, went into sleep mode. I assumed it was because the battery was slightly cold, even though it was fully charged.

In the end I had a few corrupted files, but luckily the images were still on my cards. I have no idea if this had anything to do with the altitude, but I had never considered that it may be a problem. The computer works fine now.

By the way, if you are going up high, consider getting a prescription of Dimox- it will help you adjust to the altitude faster by increasing your respiration…. that and drink tons of water….

by [former member] | 19 May 2005 02:05 | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
check on
these guys are really on it and for sure can give you some serious feedback……good luck

by [former member] | 21 May 2005 01:05 | Hong Kong, Hong Kong | | Report spam→
I don’t know about the macs, but for people, the Diamox does work — it got me up to 20,000 feet with no major pain — a few weeks ago, with no vitamin D, I choked around 14,000.

another thing to keep in mind is how fast you gain altitude. more than a thousand meters a day is pushing it — doctors will probably tell you a thousand feet a day is a safer limit. generally, if you’re moving on foot, you’ll be gaining altitude slowly enough to acclimatize - my worst bout with AMS came at relatively low altitude- I flew into Lhasa from sea level, and basically gained 12,000 feet in a couple of hours. I was a mess for a week.

by teru kuwayama | 21 May 2005 06:05 (ed. May 21 2005) | dushanbe, Tajikistan | | Report spam→

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Shinji Kuwayama, Software Engineer Shinji Kuwayama
Software Engineer
Chicago , United States ( ORD )
Frantisek Vlcek, Photojournalist Frantisek Vlcek
[undisclosed location].
Jethro Soudant, Photographer Jethro Soudant
Buffalo, Ny , United States
teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States


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