Using wireless network and keyboards and mice to clean up my office

I have a very small office network of 2 machines (one XP, one 98) networked via coax cable with BNC connectors. There is another W98 machine that needs to be plugged in from time to time (maybe once a month). The printer hangs off the W98 machine, the XP machine is used for dial up access and the W98 machine uses internet connection sharing. There is a USB card on the XP machine, used for nothing much other than digital camera access.

There is a lot of data sitting on the W98 machine, and a lot of source code .. essentially this is my data and code repository/server. I do not want to upgrade that to XP, as I have some development environments set up there and do a reasonable amount of development under W98 (the codebase is also accessed by my XP based IDE's).

I don't see any likely extension in terms of number of machines.. maybe replace one of these for more grunt power, but not much more.

I have only 1 monitor (not really enough deskspace for another, and no perceived need).
2xKeyboards and 2xmice hang off the end of  cables through a hole at the rear of the desk, and the monitor is switched between the two boxes by an A/B switch sitting on the desk.

ok, enough background. What I would like to do is to clean up my desk and under the desk by use of wireless based communications, and to do this economically. I would like to dispense with the mice and keyboard cables and the A/B switch.  I would prefer to work with just one mouse and keyboard (apart from the desk clutter, I am worried that multiple wireless and keyboard connections could cause radio interference with each other?).  

Under the desk I could maybe use a couple of small radio network cards instead of the hard coax cable? (remember, I want internet access from both machines)

Could anyone give me some guidance?

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Well to solve your keyboard problems... a solution that might be a bit more versatile then going wireless for the 2 computers (unless you want more mobility with them also (I love being able to sit on the couch and type while having my laptop sitting away from the couch... so thats understanable)) is using a KVM switch.... An example of one such product can be found at and for only 2 computers they generally run between $50 and $100...

As far as networking goes, if you are still using BNC/coax, I would recommend atleast going to CAT5 as its much more friendly on routing and can easily be routed out of the way... wireless is always an option but those cards can be costly compared to regular cat5 NICS.

And lastly, in regards to interference, if you were looking at getting 2 wireless keyboard/mouses (1 for each PC) as long as you buy a decent one, they should auto select the clearest channel (if they are RF units) or be selectable -- if they are bluetooth (slightly more expensive but can be encrypted for added security) they use an addressing system almost identical to MAC addresses and are less subject to interference then older RF type setups. And if you decide to go wireless for your networking, none of these will interfere with each other either.

Hope that helps.
Mutley2003Author Commented:
yes, thankyou that does help.

If I understand you correctly, with a KVM I have only 1 keyboard/video/mouse (which is good) but I still have actual cables for 1xkeyboard and 1xmouse (1KM)

So, is there no solution that involves only 1KM and is wireless?

I know zero about Bluetooth but there appears to be a bluetooth mouse+control center here

so, if I can get the mouse to talk to a PC via Bluetooth and a keyboard to do the same, and the two PC's to network via Bluetooth ... if all that is feasible, then I hguess I need a device to say which pc the mouse and keyboard are talking to?

thanks again
Mutley2003Author Commented:
another question <g>
.. you said
"CAT5 as its much more friendly on routing and can easily be routed out of the way"

I don't quite understand this. With cat5 I would still have a single physical cable joining the 2 PC's would I not?  Or do I need a hub or router thingo?


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Well you could do this all in one wireless buy and you could do this using bluetooth if you cared about security (but who really sits outside a house trying to pickup spurious keyboard RF signals and translate them into readable text to steal passwords? sure it would be possible... but unlikely...) Most Wireless mice/keyboards generally come with a PS/2 connector as well as a USB connector (the Logitech diNovo Media Desktop does (this is what I use at home),CRID=2158,CONTENTID=7321 ) which would allow you to plug it into the a PS/2 KVM switch... however I'm not sure how that would work for the HUB device (bluetooth or Rf wise) I would assume that since my HUB is capable of running of the PS/2 Keyboard port that it would function similiarly through a KVM. I did find a link about a software solution here -> which apparently uses your existing network to control multiple computers w/o overloading the network or the CPU usages.

I was also able to find this (sounds nifty, even saves individual keystates (ie numlock capslock etc) for each PC)

and this one which plugs in via USB and also has support for serial mice.

and one last one from Belkin (if you like fancy...)
this one supports everything the previous one did but it includes mic and snd jacks!

for more options from belkin

And I hope all this helps :) (and that I didnt confuse you with all the wireless talk included in this)

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In reply to the cat5 quesiton, CAT5 can still go direct PC->PC w/o an HUB you just need a crossover cable (the TX/RX (transmit/recieve) pairs are swapped so TX on 1 pc ends up at the RX side of the other PC's network card and viseversa... with a hub or switch, you use a patch cable which is similiar to the crossover cable with the difference being that the TX/RX pairs are not swapped

if you really wanted to get rid of as many cables as possible you could easily get 2 wireless NIC's and go that route... both PC's being in the same room would be absolutely no problem talking to each other. but for the cost of 2 wireless cards I would just as soon run a CAT5 cable if the PC's were only 8-10feet apart and hide the cable so that its out of the way and not a tripping/eyesore hazard ;)
>>If I understand you correctly, with a KVM I have only 1 keyboard/video/mouse (which is good)
>>but I still have actual cables for 1xkeyboard and 1xmouse (1KM)

if you can screw in the kvm switch under desk...
screw it under desk and you can use short wires to connect PCs and KVM.
and now use one set of wirless mouse and keyboard to connect to the KVM.  if you use the radio based wireless mouse/keyboard then you can tape/glue the receiver under desk again.
thus you will not see any cable over the desk for keyboard and mouse now.

some wirelss keyboard mise need to have receiver in front of them, dont buy those.

as far the networking goes, if you cant get the bluetooth devices, wireless NICs (PCI or USB based) are and option as ktiedt said. they have an ad-hoc networking mode that allows more than one of them to talk to each other without hub/switch/router. usb based devices will be easy to insert/remove but make sure that your usb ports are working and you get drivers for windows98.

and if you go for wireless, go for 802.11b only if you get them free. buying from one manufacturer would help as some offer proprietary speeds (dlink extreme-G plus or something) else settle for 802.11g

do this and voilla!!! no wire would be seen!!

my servers had a KVM that could switch displays if you press left control key twice. so that you dont need to reach the kvm netime. but i guess this feature wont be there for a desktop KVM
sorry for multiple posts...but if you install software like VNC or remote administrator, you can bypass keyboard mouse altogether and control all desktops with one set of keyboard mouse. just need network connectivity among all the computers.
you wont have to purchase the KVM
many of the links I posted are to KVM's that offer quick switch "hot keys" that isnt a "facny featured" reserved for high end KVM's ;)
downfall of VNC it is resource intensive and often slow, I personally would fork out the extra money for KVM, but thats just me.
Mutley2003Author Commented:
kiranhaq and ktiedt

great ideas and resources thank you. It sounds like kvm (with ps/2 connectors)
 and receivers screwed under the desk, with cat5 connections between the 2 PCs is the way to go

thanks a lot

no problem, always glad to help ;)
Thanks for the points amd the grade :)
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