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Two monitors, one keyboard, one KVM switch

Posted on 2006-07-05
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Last Modified: 2010-03-19
I would like to be able to retain information/screen on one monitor, while I use the KVM switch to transfer to the other system, in order to enter the information/screen displayed on the other monitor.
Question is; How can I do this?  I have gone to CompUSA and looked at adding another KVM switch, but they do not have any "device" that will work for a setup of; two monitors, one keyboard connected to one KVM switch.  They suggested that I could use two video cards, but I do not believe that would work.
I hope I have made myself clear.  The way I am handling it now, is that I copy the information on one screen to a file, then place that file in a "shared folder" between networks.  On the other network I bring up the file and enter the information onto that system.  So I would like to maintain the information on one screen, switch to the other network, use the other monitor to enter the information.
With the KVM switch that I now have; I could hook it up whereby I could have two monitors, but then I need two keyboards.  I DO NOT want to have two keyboards.
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Question by:chima
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17045086
Why don't you believe it would work, using two video cards?
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17045106
Basically, get a second video card and open the window you want available on the second monitor.  Then switch with the KVM to the other system and do what you need to do.  For me (I have a dual monitor/one KVM setup) working on the system I'm typing this on.  The only hassle is that I have the power management configured to turn off the monitor after 2 minutes (I have a huge 21" monitor that eats power, so I'm trying to conserve a little electricity).  But if I needed, I could disable that setting or make it go 20 minutes or longer before shutting down.  
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:prashsax
ID: 17045287
One thing I don't understand, why do you keep information in a file and then on a shared folder.

Can't you do a Remote Desktop to the other machine.

This way you could see both Desktop on single monitor at same time and can use Clipboard to copy Text information between them.

Just login to one machine at console. Now do a Remote Desktop to the other machine from this console. Then you would be able to see both desktops. If you want, you can set the Resolution of RDP connection to be smaller to that of console so that both desktops(Console and RDP) would be visible at same time.
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LVL 17

Assisted Solution

by:jburgaard
jburgaard earned 150 total points
ID: 17045294
If you do not like that setup, you could split the video-signal.

Just like in:
 teachers-PC to Y-splitter to Teachers monitor & OHP
you could go:
PC to Y to KVM(with monitor1) & monitor2

Y-splitters can generate shadows, so a better solution would be an video-amplifier with one in and min 2 out.

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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17045318
leew, "open the window you want available on the second monitor" how does this work?
I am thinking that when I use the KVM switch to look at my desktop computer, that both monitors would be displaying the same info.  Then when I make the switch again, the monitor hooked up to the second video card would not change its screen.  Is this the way it would work?
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:jkelley53
ID: 17045332

Or you could get a video card that supports two monitors. A few years ago I bought a video card from Matrox, I believed it was a G4 DualHead card that supports two monitors connected at the same time. I'm sure you can find one of these card at a reasonable price now. Most video cards nowadays also come with a VGA and DVI connector. I'm not really sure if you can use both connectors simultaneously but if you could, you can simply buy a VGA-to-DVI or DVI-to-VGA converter, depending if you are using crt or a lcd monitor. Another option is to use a video splitter. Connect your PC to the input port of the splitter then connect the output port to your KVM and the other video output port to your 2nd monitor. It's your choice.  
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:scrathcyboy
ID: 17045479
If you want to display data on 2 monitors (even if not concurrently, but in the same session), you need 2 video outputs concurrently, as the people above have already told you.  You can either get a dual VGA card, or better, since you probably already have an onboard VGA or an AGP VGA, just put in a simple PCI VGA card (when the system is off).  Now put one monitor to each card.  Now reboot.  Windows XP can handle 2 monitors fine.  Some videochipsets have their own built in dual-monitor software, like my NVidia.  If you have this kind of software available with your main VGA adapter, USE IT!!!  It is great.

The switchbox wont work, as I understand your need.
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17045740
This message is for the experts who have addressed this question; Please give me some time to try this solutions, then I will get back to you guys with points.  thanks
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LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:Steve Knight
ID: 17046236
I think I get it, but it sound different slightly to other answers, adding just in case it is this way...

PC 1 has two video cards.
  Video Card1 --> monitor 1 permanently
  Video Card2 --> kvm switch --> monitor2

PC 2 has one video card
  Video Card --> kvm switch

So you can switch between PC#1 and PC#2 on monitor2.
Now I presume you want the keyboard and mouse for PC #1 active while PC#2 is on monitor2.

Solution I see is one KVM routing the video signal between two PC's and a second KVM routing the keyboard and mouse.  Then you can select the PC to control and the video seperately.

steve
       
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LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17046263
On PC1 you have one Monitor directly connected, another monitor connected to a KVM (PC 1 would have TWO video cards)

Bring up what you need to display on the monitor connected directly to PC1.

Switch the KVM over to PC2.

Now you have the data you want on one monitor to enter on the other system.
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17046313
leew and dragon-it (steve) you got the idea.
PC1 will have two video cards.  Both monitors will be in front of me.
I think it will work.  So I need time to try it.
cheers, I'll give the points out after I check it out.
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LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:Steve Knight
ID: 17046334
leew, my point was if he isuing a kvm he can't bring something up on PC2 and copy it to PC1 as the K & M are still on PC2 and switching back to operate PC1 kills the screen, hence suggestion of two KVMs
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17046434
This message is for all experts;
My IT guy here tells me that it will not work, because PC1 with two video cards will pick one and not both.
What I am hoping would happen is that, when I am on PC1, which has my email and expert-exchange info, I would be able to view this information on both monitors.  I need the info on both monitors, because my keyboard is in front of the "main monitor," the other will be off to the side.  Then I would change over to the other system and the "Spare monitor" will not change screen, but the main monitor will see the second system.
The IT guy here tells me it will not work, although "leew" above mentioned that he has done it.
Any comments?
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LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:Steve Knight
ID: 17046468
If you have two video cards you can normally span the desktop across the two cards.  XP supports this better than W2K as far as I remember.
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17046495
dragon-it
I do not need for it to span and I have W2k on my desktop.
All I need is for the screen info, i.e., email and solutions from expert-exchange, to remain on the "Spare monitor" while I work on the second system viewing it via the "main monitor."
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Expert Comment

by:BarryTheobald
ID: 17049530
Could you not connect the 2 PC's together and use VNC on PC2 to view PC1 then you could copy and paste the info ?
Cheaper to by a couple of network cards and a cross-over cable than mess around with video cards etc.
Maybe ?
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LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:Steve Knight
ID: 17049663
I imagine somehow that if there are two PC's it is for a good reason as in they are on networks seperated by firewalls for security etc.
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17052135
The only reason why there are two networks, is that one is the corporate network and the other is where we do our work on.
PC1 which is my desktop, I get important email with changes made to the system we are working on, or I get help from expert-exchange.  Being able to retain these information on PC1's monitor, I can use the main monitor (hooked to the KVM) to make changes to the development system.
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LVL 14

Accepted Solution

by:
Geisrud earned 350 total points
ID: 17054436
Someone mentioned it above - I think a "Y" adapter should do the trick.

                      ____
 ----               |M   |
| M|               |___|
 ----                 |
   |   ______--------
   |  /          | KVM |-----------------------|-----|
   | /            -------                               |PC  |
    Y              |   |                                |      |
     |              |  |                                 |___|
     |              |   ||||||||||||||||||||
     |              |   ||||||KEYBOARD||||
   |-----|        |   ||||||||||||||||||||
   | PC  |        |
   |      |         ||||||||
   |-----|         |Mouse|
                     ||||||||


My first attempt at an ASCII drawing....
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17054468
Geisrud, is a Y adapter an item I can purchase at a Computer store?
I guess I should just call and find out...right.
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Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17054823
Geisrud, I have called around to CompUSA, OfficeMax and Radio Shack, non of them have a Y adapter.  Might you be able to provide more information on the cable?
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:jburgaard
ID: 17057416
search google:
 vga y-splitter
and I am sure someting will come up whereever you live.

eg http://www.nextag.com/vga-splitter/search-html
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LVL 43

Expert Comment

by:Steve Knight
ID: 17057695
I suppose even without the splitter or second VGA you could just have one monitor for each PC and just keyboard and mouse through the switch... not ideal though.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:Geisrud
ID: 17058270
I would be easiest to run an Internet search, if your local stores have none,  as Jburgaard said.  Here's another:  http://www.amamax.com/cbvidb951svgasliter.html
0
 

Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17058909
Found a Y adapter over the internet.  I am currently looking into this possibility.
0
 

Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17075899
I have ordered a cable and will have it by the middle of the week.
0
 

Author Comment

by:chima
ID: 17100400
And the WINNER is!
Thank you for the solution.
The only effect I see, so far, is that the "Caps Lock" does not stay enabled.
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