Hotdesk Solution

A bit of background to start with, Munki and I had set up accounts on our own PC’s for when Little Troll (LT) started using the PC for Netflix, CBBC iPlayer & playing games, so we are accustomed to locked down browser accounts with white-listed websites and where possible games weren’t linked to an socially active account like Steam or Origin, GOG is a blessing.

After a recent upgrade I had nearly all the parts for another PC that we could build as a dedicated machine for Little Troll that we could have the games installed as needed, lock down the websites & applications, time limit the usage. This get around LT having to install minecraft mods on both Mine and Munki’s machines, not to mention game saves and settings.

Additionally we have a Steam Link sitting in the Living Room that just needs to connect to Big Picture mode which isn’t possible when a machine is in use by another account, so having a seperate machine would be beneficial in that regard too.

So it was decided to crack on with project.

Plan A

We have limited desk space so adding an additional monitor/mouse/keyboard on a permanent basis wasn’t practical, so the plan was to devise a system that would allow the most flexibility when it came to being able to hot desk.

I am familiar with using KVM switches as they allow the same Mouse/Keyboard/Monitor & Speakers to be shared between machines, so Plan A was to look into the possible use of HDMI KVM switches.

Plan B

So when I started to look into the details of Plan A it turns out that that a HDMI KVM switches would result in:

  1. a mass of wires to manage
  2. generally more expense
  3. no easy way toggle three machine between 2 monitors

So Plan B came into existence which was to move away from splitting mouse, keyboard and sound, focusing on the Video output.

This meant some a cost buying a wireless Keyboard\mouse bundle, a Bluetooth headset and 3 HDMI splitters, however the cost was less than the HDMI KVM switches, so we opted for this approach.

The result

I am happy to report than the solution has worked very well, allowing hot desking to work seamlessly. The HDMI splitters are actually switches which have a toggle button so they don’t automatically switch, additionally they are bi-directional, so the same type could be used for the 3 devices needed for the project.

Now at the touch of two buttons, and carrying of a keyboard and mouse swapping between seats is rather easy.