Shop Multimedia #1: Shop Computer - Remote KVM via CAT5

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Blog entry by mot posted 08-16-2007 02:53 AM 1915 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Multimedia series Part 2: Shop Computer Workstation »

Hi Folks,

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
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)

17 comments so far

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 3506 days

#1 posted 08-16-2007 03:15 AM

Great idea….my brother has an almost identical setup in his shop…only difference is that he’s a motorhead.

I think you should have gone for the bigger LCD though…...45 inch minimum….Oh and where’s the fridge?

I ran CAT5 all through my house years ago so we could have web access in all the rooms. I went wireless a couple years ago and can now bring the laptop to the shed.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View TomFran's profile


2952 posts in 3414 days

#2 posted 08-16-2007 03:15 AM

Nice solution to get PC access in the shop.

I’m sure you thought about having another complete PC on a wireless router, but chose this method to reduce cost and not have a full blown PC sucking in dust with the cooling fan, which would eventually ruin the motherboard.

Thanks for sharing your innovation!

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 3747 days

#3 posted 08-16-2007 06:27 AM

great, and economical solution!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3456 days

#4 posted 08-16-2007 07:52 AM

Thanks guys! Tom, I did consider an entire machine down there and actually bought an iMac just for that purpose. However, I just couldn’t get around the fact that there is such a dust environment. As a test drive for whether I’ll even use the computer in the shop, this solution was more economical. My desktop PC is a rocketship, so I’ve really not made any compromises. My only quibble so far is that I should have used a 4:3 monitor like I have on my desktop. I have some screen size issues. However, I have another of the same monitor at work. I’ll just swap them out so there is the same thing in the both locations. The display issues should disappear. I hope.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3408 days

#5 posted 08-16-2007 08:30 AM

Great Idea! I have never seen those KVM’s before. I already have 2 CAT5 and 2 CAT3 cables running
to my shop when I built it. I have been hesident about putting a PC out there for the same reason.

I see on the web site that one person was having a problem with the video. Let me know how yours
works out when you get the new monitor.

I think I will have to do this also!

I don’t understand what you meant by the “one limitation” you mentioned.
Did you mean that both keyboards can’t be used at once?
Could you elaborate on that please?

To keep dust out of the keybaord just turn it over when you’re not using it.


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3580 days

#6 posted 08-16-2007 11:52 AM

35 Celsius.. yikes !!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3359 days

#7 posted 08-16-2007 01:08 PM

Very well done and thanks for solving my problem for me.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 3664 days

#8 posted 08-16-2007 01:59 PM

Mot – Great solution. At another job we used the KVM to control trhee or four computer from one keyboard, mouse and monitor. I never thought of running it the other way. When we built our shop, we buiried a pvc pipe to run cables to it in the future. This will work good for me also. Thanks.

-- Joel Tille

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3441 days

#9 posted 08-16-2007 02:18 PM

Don’t know if this would interest you but I saw rubber keyboards a discount house about a week ago for $8.00. (Bianca Amour) next door to Princess auto.
At that price you don’t have to worry about dust etc.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3456 days

#10 posted 08-16-2007 04:00 PM

Thanks for the link, Bob. Yes, to ellaborate, the limitation is that only one console can be used at a time. You can’t have one user on the office PC, and one using the remote KVM in the shop concurrently. I saw the same video problems as the one guy that reviewed that KVM switch. It was a cabling issue for me. I put my own ends on my CAT5 and had one wire that didn’t get up high enough into the end and was making an intermittent connection. New ends and problem solved.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View USCJeff's profile


1062 posts in 3488 days

#11 posted 08-16-2007 04:06 PM

Nice set up Mot. I had thought about something similar. In the wireless world we live in I thought it wouldn’t be too tough to set up the peripherals in the shop and leave the actual computer in the house. My study is luckily in the FROG room above the shop. It wouldn’t be difficult to leave the PC up there and run wires for the display and controls for the shop. If the keyboard and mouse go bad, no big loss. I have a couple antique minivan size monitors that I could care less if they went. They do take up space though. I have come to the conclusion that it is more work than reward for me. It wouldn’t see much use as of yet.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 3581 days

#12 posted 08-16-2007 05:39 PM

Nice work Mot. Now how will you get anything done in the shop with always on your monitor?

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3456 days

#13 posted 08-17-2007 02:38 AM

I hear ya Bill. Until I decide on final placement, it really hurts my back to surf with the monitor on the workbench. I think I’ll get a lot done before that. LOL.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3382 days

#14 posted 08-17-2007 11:32 PM

GReat set up, Tom. But how would I get a pop break if the computer was in the shop??

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3456 days

#15 posted 08-18-2007 12:24 AM

Just make it so it’s too uncomfortable to actually work on it…I guess. LOL

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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