Question Working from home setup help please - looking for a kvm?

tdoherty

Novice Member
Hi everyone,

I am new here, this is my first post. I am looking for ideas and suggestions to help with my predicament.

I have been working from home in the UK since lockdown (almost 6 months now). I never previously worked from home often enough to require a proper setup. Since lockdown, I have gained a lot of hardware, that I think I need, but maybe not in the most thought through or joined up way, and I now want to reduce clutter on my makeshift office desk/setup.

I have two work laptops that I need to use daily (one with only USB-C ports and one that has 1 USB-C and 1 HDMI) and I have a Raspberry Pi 4 that I preferably want to use as a desktop (I know some people may not think its good enough but I didn't want to spend on a tower PC or laptop for such minimal use).

I got a thinkvision monitor from work with 4 inbuilt normal USB ports (for keyboard, mouse, speakers and webcam, as neither of these are inbuilt in the screen) and the following video input slots - 1 usbc Input, 1 display port, 2 hdmi.

Initially, I had the work computer, that only has USB-C ports only, plugged into the monitor with keyboard etc plugged into the side of the monitor and this worked well.

Then, work needed me to use a second laptop daily. So far, i have figured out that I can:

a) have this second laptop plugged in through HDMI (but the keyboard etc plugged into the monitor don’t seem to work) with additional kboard/mouse, or switch the keyboard/mouse each use, or
b) switch both laptops and plug the second laptop into the USB-C input port and not use the first laptop. The latter was the only advice I could find online about easily switching between two laptops.

I then discovered kvm switches but cannot find any that have USB-C video output to monitor (to allow use of keyboard etc). I could use HDMI out but would then need 4 USBs in the KVM, which I havent been able to find either. The only one I have found with usb video input from laptops only allows 2 computers connected (rather than the three i want to use), and doesn't have enough USB slots for my four devices.

Furthermore, it would be great if my monitor could continue to power the laptop thats in use, or both laptops through KVM, but that’s not a deal breaker, just want to minimise cables as much as poss.

Oh, and the work laptops are restricted and wont allow digital solutions through internet.

So, I just wondered does anyone know of either:
a) a KVM switch that fits that bill that isnt £100+; or
b) a useful suggestion that will mean I don't have to switch cables regularly or use multiple keyboards/mice on my small desk?

Thank you in advance for any assistance, and for taking the time to read this.

Thank you,
Tom
 
Last edited:

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
You don't give the monitor model but if you consult the manual I'd expect the USB port to be able to be used as a normal USB connection in combination with one of the dedicated video inputs and not solely restricted to those laptops supporting a single cable solution. It's just a USB hub, built into the screen for convenience.

The video over USB-C is also standard DisplayPort rather than a USB specific video protocol so cheap adapters are already available.
 

tdoherty

Novice Member
Sorry i’m new to all this and very inexperienced so please forgive my ignorance. Also, I stupidly threw away the box and am not sure of the model number.

So are you saying that the keyboard etc should work with the hdmi connected laptop/pi? because they don't, i did try this already.

Or are you saying that i should get usb c/micro HD to standard usb/display port cables to connect the second laptop/Pi? that would still leave me with not enough shared usb ports unless i connected a hub to the inbuilt hub, could this work?

I will have another play with the setup, and take a look at what adapter cables i already have, and try to find the model and the screens manual online. I know i dont have any other micro HDMI cables other than the one going to normal HDMI so wont be able to test any of this with the Pi as yet.

thanks for the help, i will come back to you on here to let you know how i get on (in case you care =] )

Tom
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Sorry i’m new to all this and very inexperienced so please forgive my ignorance. Also, I stupidly threw away the box and am not sure of the model number.

It's often printed on a label on the back or bottom of the screen.

So are you saying that the keyboard etc should work with the hdmi connected laptop/pi? because they don't, i did try this already.

Not through an HDMI cable alone, that has no ability to carry USB data. But it'd I'd expect it to work if you plug in both a USB cable and an HDMI/DisplayPort cable to the same computer (or the output of the KVM). You may need to change some settings on the monitor as to how the USB port functions.

Or are you saying that i should get usb c/micro HD to standard usb/display port cables to connect the second laptop/Pi? that would still leave me with not enough shared usb ports unless i connected a hub to the inbuilt hub, could this work?

You can have hubs branching off hubs.
 

tdoherty

Novice Member
Ok so i bought usb c to a and usb a to a cables and plugged each of these into the laptop (trying each port) and the hub, and neither worked with the laptop plugged in through HDMI. Any other ideas?
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I know other monitors can definitely do it but it may be that your particular model only makes the hub available to that input.

You may just need to use a separate USB hub. They're cheap enough so it's not a big factor price-wise, just a bit of extra clutter.
 

tdoherty

Novice Member
I found some helpful advice on reddit that basically explained that without using the the usbc upstream video input, the inbuilt usb hub wont work. I have tried plugging a hub into the upstream socket to allow multiple computer connections but this didnt work. It does work as a hub if you plug into usba ports with video through hdmi.

I do find it ridiculous that theres only one upstream but multiple video inputs expected at once (e.g 2HDMI ports). So the inbuilt hub will only ever work with one device at a time (whichever is plugged into usb c video input port).

I was thinking a usb switch might work but i cant find any that do usbc output to monitor, so im basically back to where i was when originally posting - looking for kvm suggestions, but all the ones i can find dont allow different computer inputs (2 usbc and 1 hdmi would be ideal) with three usb for k,m,cam.

For now, I have put kmc and hdmi out into a hub and am switching that hub between the two work laptops when I need to switch. Not a great long term solution as I am not sure how I am going to use the raspberry Pi just yet.
 

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