Many of you know that I’ve been trying to work out the shop computer situation. I had a number of suggestions given to me and most of them excellent, and all quite good. In true “Me,” fashion, I chose none of them and came up with another option.
As most of you know, one of the greatest concerns about a computer in the shop, is dust. This is a big concern, because even a cheap computer can ingest a lot of dust but there also came the concern about the space situation in my small shop.
So, here’s what I did:
1. I bought a clearance LCD monitor at the local box store for $97.00
2. I bought a cheapo keyboard for $19.00
3. I bought a cheapo mouse for $9.00 (optical with scroll wheel a must)
4. I ran CAT5 cabling from my home office to my shop.
5. I bought a Remote KVM Extender= from Monoprice.com
6. I plugged it in.
What the Remote KVM Extender does, is allow a second keyboard, video display, and mouse to operate off the main computer. The connection between the transmitter and receiver is made with CAT5 cabling which is pennies per foot. The KVM switch give priority to whatever keyboard is being used and instantly gives control to whatever console you are at. You can switch off the display on the remote or host PC by hitting a series of hotkeys that I haven’t bothered to try. So, essentially, my home PC is my office PC and my shop PC. The tower sits in my office but can be controlled from either location. The one limitation is that it can only be controlled fully from one of the two with this setup, so it’s not a remote desktop as much as just a second display and control. However, this isn’t an issue for me as everyone in the house has a computer or two.
At first, it didn’t work. I was choked. It wasn’t particularly easy to run the cabling for me. Not because running cabling is hard, but it was 35 degrees Celsius with 90% relative humidity. I was crawling around in a non-airconditioned shop and office sucking up behind-the-desk-dust-bunnies. I was really choked. I went to work ready to just buy another iMac for the shop (I already bought one for the shop, but I decided to keep it at work to play with…long story) Anyway, after thinking about it for a bit, it HAD to be cabling. I replaced both ends, and it works perfectly.
Here’s some shots, but it’s just a little black box at both ends, and a keyboard/monitor/mouse in the shop.
There is a matching little black box “sender” in my office upstairs.
This isn’t it’s final home as I’m going to build it into a new storage cabinet behind my workbench, but chalk it up as problem solved! I’ll also put in a CAT5 jack in the wall. Right now it’s just running out of the ceiling until I get the bugs worked out of where I’m going to put this thing.
-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)