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Dongles to Fake Presence of a Keyboard? 123

An anonymous reader asks: "I have a Compaq IPAQ desktop system (legacy free) that will not boot headless. (Yes I did try to tell the BIOS to not generate a no keyboard error, but there is no such setting for the BIOS of this system.) Since I would like to use it such and don't wish to waste a keyboard just to keep it from complaining, I'd like to come up with a small dongle that would fake the system into thinking that there is a keyboard attached. This is the same basic thing that KVM's do, so the circuit shouldn't be that difficult to find. Has anyone heard of such a thing? Can anyone provide or point to somewhere where I can find the basic circuit for this?" How hard would it be to take the connector part from a old non-working keyboard and wiring something like this up?
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Dongles to Fake Presence of a Keyboard?

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  • by iMMersE ( 226214 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:34AM (#9684234) Homepage
    I can't imagine such a dongle could be cheaper than picking up a really cheap and nasty keyboard. Here in the UK, you can regularly get keyboards for 2GBP at computer fairs.

    You'll also have the added advantage of having a keyboard attached to machine, just in case.

    • by fuzzybunny ( 112938 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:53AM (#9684292) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, but with the flight ticket to the UK and all the travel expenses it'd still come out to a pretty hefty price, no?
    • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @07:23AM (#9684379)
      In the U.S. I've seen new keyboards for as little as $10.00 (I think I've seen them for $5.00, but that might have been for a cheap mouse.)

      I checked online (imagine that -- using Google instead of "Ask Slashdot"), and found this link [pcpartsleader.com] to PCParts Leader for a list of keyboards, including a THREE DOLLAR keyboard. Even after paying shipping, you're still paying almost nothing.

      Do you really think, by the time you pay for the PS2 connector (assuming it's that recent, or the older connector if it isn't), and any pieces that you'll spend less than $5-$10?

      If you can't afford an el-cheapo keyboard, then how are you going to buy the connector and whatever else you need?

      Sheesh. An "Ask Slashdot" to replace a $3 item with something else so you don't waste that $3 item? Now I see why so many people think it's become "Ask Slashgoogle."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I can't imagine such a dongle could be cheaper than picking up a really cheap and nasty keyboard.

      We had the misfortune of buying about 20 similar systems (they have PS/2 ports) that are workstation class motherboards in rackmount cases and they will not boot without a keyboard attached. Since all we want is serial console access to them (we rarely even visit the site where they're installed) we don't want to waste a couple of KVMs hooking them up nor the rack space and clutter for keyboards. Seriously,

      • There's no two wires you can just connect on a ps2 plug to create a "loopback" that would work. The ps2 protocol is a two way protocol that involves the transfer of data back and forth. It doesn't simply detect a keyboard by seeing if a circuit is completed; in fact, the computer doesn't even generate the clock for the ps2 device. They keyboard itself is generating the clock.

        Here is my recommendation if you are sending the keyboard to be colo'd or something. Do what I do. Take apart a real keyboard, dremel
        • Keyboards don't really use the PS2 protocol though. They use pretty much the same thing they did back before the PS2 came out when they had full size 5 pin DIN plugs. That's why you can interchange them with the proper (completely passive) adapter and sometimes even hot swap.

          Now that spawn of Satan, the PS2 mouse, on the other hand...

    • Go to your local thrift store - get a used keyboard for $1.
    • I can't imagine such a dongle could be cheaper than picking up a really cheap and nasty keyboard. Here in the UK, you can regularly get keyboards for 2GBP

      And if you STILL don't want a keyboard I'm sure you could figure out how to make your own "dongle" by hacking off the ps/2 connector from the keyboard and shorting out the wires. That way when the BIOS tests it, it sees something there.

      I'd test this by plugging a mouse into the keyboard port and seeing is it still boots. If so just build your own. Th

      • The keyboard is a serial device, and the BIOS sends commands to it to set key repeat rate and other default settings. When the BIOS see's no reply, it assumes the keyboard is not there.

        Crossing wires in a PS2 cable will no more fool this than shorting wires on your serial port will make the computer see a modem reply to an AT command.
        • Crossing wires in a PS2 cable will no more fool this than shorting wires on your serial port will make the computer see a modem reply to an AT command.

          Then why does it work?
          • > Then why does it work?

            Seeing as AT and PS2 are serial ports, and crossing wires, without a resister will short the power lead to ground and fry something, and with a resisitor would simply register as zeros with no clock signal, I can safely say it does not work.

            When you send binary data down a serial line, and the other end of the line is shorted out, you will Not get a reply back. Its as simple as that.
          • Then why does it work?

            With most RS232 (and even RS422) serial ports, if you short the tx and rx pins, you wind up with a loop-back, where you receive a copy of every byte you transmit.

            The parent poster wrote: Crossing wires in a PS2 cable will no more fool this than shorting wires on your serial port will make the computer see a modem reply to an AT command

            This is true for two reasons:

            1. Simply providing a loopback will not convince the computer that a modem is there, because a modem should reply with
    • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @12:58PM (#9687859)
      Our local Portland Oregon USA computer recycler FreeGeek is selling used PS2 keyboards for about a dollar each.

      However that doesn't really address the issue of avoiding having to have a keyboard inserted to boot the PC. I have been looking into this issue recently and found that an inexpensive microcontroller can reproduce keyboard signals quite easily. The Atmel AVR Tiny11 sells at DigiKey for $0.41 each in quantity 25 and $0.56 in quantity one. It's an 8 pin DIP that runs at 1 MHz with no external parts. Its Flash memory holds 512 instructions and it has 32 registers. The companion chip, the AVR Tiny 12, sells for $1.10 quantity 25 and can be programmed directly from the PC parallel port. The PIC controllers from Microchip Inc. have devices in the same price/performance range, but they are more difficult to develop software for and they need external programmers to write the code into their Flash memory.

      It's necessary to know what bytes the PC sends to the keyboard on power-up and what the keyboard sends back to the PC. Then these bytes can be formatted by the dongle and sent to the PC to mimic a keyboard.

      The PC keyboard has weird programming. Each key sends at least one byte when pressed and some send two or more. When released the same byte set is resent preceeded by the byte 0xf0.

      Now any Slashdotter, when given the job of encoding a keyboard with less than 128 individual keys, would assign a 7-bit scan code to each key with the high bit either set or clear depending on whether the key was pressed or released. Simple and elegant. But the standard PC keyboard has this strange multibyte configuration that makes it difficult to decode the keypresses. Not to mention that there is no way to turn off the auto-repeat for the entire keyboard.

      Nevertheless, the keyboard scancodes are standardized throughout the world. And there are hundreds of millions of keyboards out there. The newer ones only use about 13 milliAmps of power.

      I developed an AVR program to take the PS2 keypresses and mimic a MIDI keyboard by sending note on/off messages according to the keypresses. I'm surprised at how well it works. Except for a few key combinations that don't register together, the PS2 keyboard can function like a MIDI music keyboard (without velocity and aftertouch detection, of course). For a few dollars, I have a small light portable keyboard that plugs into a tone module and adds hundreds of musical instrument sounds to small music group jams. This application is posted on www.avrfreaks.org in the user projects section of the Academy forum.
    • Having a keyboard attached to a system is not always an advantage. In fact, for a HEADLESS system, which is what the article writer wants, having a keyboard attached is a huge liability with zero benefits.

      The point is not to be cheap. The point is to prevent local access.

  • by The Flying Guy ( 528591 ) <ikarus@i[ ]us.ath.cx ['kar' in gap]> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:35AM (#9684238) Homepage
    The keyboard has a small microcontroller and the protocol the keyboard uses with the PC is quite tricky and usually the check to see if a keyboard is plugged in (PS/2 and AT) includes protocol checks
    so you might aswell solder the chip free from a keyboard and stick it with a plug in a housing. BTW, if you are asking this correctly the system is NOT legacy-free, legacy-free would mean no PS/2 plugs.
    • not true too much.
      he never specified that there was PS2 is on a system. the bios will check even for usb keyboards and complain of one not being there. the fact that he says it's an old IPAQ is enough for me to believe in common sence that there are ps2 ports and no usb.

      but that's just be being a nit-pick.

      just take an old keyboard and take out everything and leave the circuitry encased in a RadioShack platic box (very small, palm sized) and leave it in the back of the computer.

  • Too simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:37AM (#9684243) Homepage
    Open old KB. Cut away everything except the controller chip and the traces between it and where the cable enters.
    • Re:Too simple (Score:5, Informative)

      by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @08:20AM (#9684665)

      Let me expand on this -- since I've investigated keyboards for a related project.

      If you take apart a keyboard, there is usually a small circuitboard/chip in the upper right/middle of the keyboard, near where the cable comes in. This is the keyboard encoder. Its roughly, oh, say about 2"x1".

      The rest of the keyboard is the casing and a few plastic membranes with traces for the keys. The keys on a keyboard form a matrix or grid, with, say, 13 inputs on each side. The top of the grid may be inputs A-M, and the side of the grid may be inputs 1-13. When a key is pressed, the two membranes meet at a junction of the grid, bridging the inputs. So pressing the 'b' key might bridge F-2, pressinig 'o' might bridge A-12. Rather nifty.

      The encoder transates the grid junctions (A-12, F2, whatever) into key codes for the computer. When no keys are pressed, there are no grid junctions (ergo, none of the inputs are bridged/closed)

      Therefore, to make a home-made dongle, take apart the keyboard, throw away the plastic membranes and casing, and put the circuit-board and most of the cord in a project-box from radioshack. Ergo, one keyboard dongle, no soldering.

      If you are feeling adventurous, cut the cable down to 2" or so and resolder the keyboard.

      If you have more money then time, why not google for "keyboard encoder". The KE18 model is $45 dollars, and is about 3"x2".

  • It exists (Score:5, Informative)

    by bwulf ( 325 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:37AM (#9684246)
    http://www.danbit.dk/produkter/1614.phtml [danbit.dk]

    (link in Danish. Product #2.

  • by DrFatal ( 587634 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @06:42AM (#9684256)
    • And behold, I made an ass out of myself by not even bothering to read the whole story.
    • Yeah, it's informative, but geez! $39 for that thing. That's exactly what he's looking for, but is it in his price range? I think he'd rather do the cutting apart a keyboard project. I guess this does fall into the more money than time category.

      I've found this to be the case with unusual items. If there's some obscure thing you want, odds are there is some place that sells exactly what you're looking for, but the price will be about 5 times what you feel it's worth.
  • RTFI (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDan ( 90353 )
    Read The Fucking Internet? Have you actually done some research before coming and asking us here? Or is slashdot just some general first-line helpdesk for your computer needs?

    • Re:RTFI (Score:3, Funny)

      by LordLucless ( 582312 )
      Right - get back to me when you finish it.
      • by arb ( 452787 )
        Right - get back to me when you finish it.

        I took me a while, but I finally worked my way to the end. [1112.net] Can I go outside now?
    • depends whether you're one of Cliff's mates i suppose...
    • The funniest thing is about the time to get an answer. Even if say I phrased my search term wrong, I know in seconds that I'm not getting what I was looking for. So I can adjust it to get what I am looking for. Then Google also won't give me advice about parenting, etc. It'll just give me the answer. Maybe the editors can just let Ask Slashdot submissions be handled by sending the submitter to Google.

      Which isn't to say there isn't good Ask Slashdot's, they are just so few and far between these days.
  • Replace the BIOS with Linux BIOS or with Open BIOS. There might even be an update from Compaq/HP.
    • While it's nice to say that, it's generally not doable.

      LinuxBIOS has one Compaq machine in their list. Not only is it not the one that the person posting has (it's an Alpha), it's also unsupported.

      OpenBIOS's main page includes the following quote: "Jens Axboe wrote an IDE driver for OpenBIOS. This will help OpenBIOS to boot on real hardware soon."
      That's from January of this year, so I wouldn't hold your breath.
  • If your time is worth anything, you are better off just buying a cheap keyboard than trying to make something. Is $4 (plus $5 shipping) [newegg.com] too much to spend on a keyboard? Otherwise, find one of those computer shows [supercomputersale.com] that comes into town periodically and pick up a used one.

    I'm usually one of the first in line when it comes time to try and make something, but this request seems like too much bother compared to the alternatives.

    • Here's another suggestion. Check out some garage sales. This is summer, so they'll be going on every weekend. Just check your local paper. Probably about half the garage sales I've been to have some computer parts there--mouse for a buck, keyboard for a buck, etc. I just ran a fundraising garage sale at our church this past weekend. There were several mice, computer speakers, monitors, joystick, Gravis gamepad. I sold a whole computer I was downgrading because of a better one I got.
      My cool story on t
  • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @07:57AM (#9684507)

    I have run into the no-keyboard-present error when trying to convert an old desktop machine into a headless file server.

    A bios upgrade gave me the ability to ignore the keyboard error.

    Perhaps you should investigate that first.

  • by Vilim ( 615798 ) <ryan@@@jabberwock...ca> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @07:58AM (#9684510) Homepage

    I had a similar problem when I was given a computer, although it had to have a mouse also. Nevermind the fact that I was putting OpenBSD on the machine to be a dedicated web/mail server and didn't have any plans to install anything that needed a mouse

    What I ended up doing was just getting a cheap mouse, coiling it up around itself, and throwing it behind the tower

  • Simple Circuit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ratbert42 ( 452340 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @08:17AM (#9684631)
    I've had this bit of text sitting around for years but never bothered to try it (bought some KVMs instead). Buyer beware.
    • Most systems detect a keyboard connection by monitoring the current flow through the connector. To trick it, simple wire a 10K ohm resistor between GND (pin 4) and +5V (pin 5). This is on a standard PC/AT style connector (the larger 5 pin one). If you have a PS/2 keyboard, you can either use an adapter to change it to an AT connector, or use the resistor between pins 3 and 4 of the PS/2 adapter. Note that the pinout isn't simply clockwise or counter clockwise:
    • PC/AT:
      1 3
      4 5

      5 6
      3 4
      1 2
      as viewed looking into the connector on the keyboard, not the PC. where 'n' is the notch in the shield.
    • I doubt this will work. The PC "Keyboard BIOS" is really a small microcontroller (some 8XXX CPU, embedded into the chipset in "modern" machines), that communicates with another microcontroller inside the keyboard (often also an 8XXX or 6502, or a special chip in "modern" keyboards). Both microcontrollers use a crude semi-bidirectional serial protocol with a clock and a data line (For the ugly details, ask IBM or Google).

      +5V is usually supplied to the keyboard trough a fuse (rated with up to 2A, often using

    • I saw this post and thought "Hey! I could use one of these" and a 6 post mini din with a 10k resistor is less than 3 bucks.

      I stopped by Frys on the way home and picked up a baggy of 10k's and a pair of 6 pin mini dins and gave it a shot. I made two of them (just in case I flubbed the soldering in my excitement for cheap keyboard fakers). Neither one worked on systems that I turned on the 'halt on all errors' option in the bios. I tried turning off the 'turn on numlock on boot' options and this didn't m
  • Using old parts ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tux2000 ( 523259 ) <alexander&slashdot,foken,de> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @08:19AM (#9684657) Homepage Journal

    Way 1:

    Get a working receiver for a cordless keyboard. You do not need the actual keyboard, or a mouse. It also does not matter wheater it works with infrared or radio. Plug it into the computer. Finished. (If you are paranoid, you wrap a radio receiver into grounded tin foil to build a faraday cage, thus eleminating all incoming transmissions from wireless keyboards around. For infrared, some layers of duct tape across the infrared receiver should be sufficient, but tin foil will also do the job.)

    Way 2:

    Get a really, really, really cheep, but working keyboard (at least one key should work as expected). Open the case. Use brute force if needed. You should find a small printed circuit board (PCB) with one chip and three (or more) LEDs, it should be connected to a keyboard matrix made mostly of transparent foil. Rip off the keyboard matrix, throw away everything except the PCB and the keyboard cable. Place the PCB in a small case, or wrap it into duct tape. Connect the keyboard cable to the computer. Finished.

    (Note: If you are really out of luck, the entire keyboard IS a PCB, or even worse, the entire keyboard is made of plastic foil, including the part carrying the chip and LEDs. In this case, getting another keyboard is the easiest way.)


  • simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    1. Plug in any old keyboard.
    2. Boot computer
    3. Whip out keyboard
    4. Don't turn computer off
  • Howabout flashing with a new bios ?


    That might be a fun thing to do ...

  • by stevef ( 5539 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @08:41AM (#9684863)
    How can I spend more money and time to fabricate a fake keyboard dongle rather than "waste" a $5 USB keyboard bought on ebay? What a geek. And I mean that in the best sense of the word :)
    • You may realize this already and just be karmawhoring (and i mean this in the best sense of the word ;) ) but in all seriousness, a dongle like this is kind of useful for those of us trying to turn an old less-than-useful computer with a sketchy bios into a router or single-purpose server. nothing's worse than having to have a keyboard plugged in to your home-entertainment system (when you use such a computer for an mp3 server) just because the bios sucks.
  • There are several open source BIOSs floating around now (Google returns a plethora). If there is no BIOS upgrade for your system, you might try finding an open one which works with your system.

    Personally I've never tried it, so I'd like to hear how it goes.
  • Get one of these super cheap keyboards [computernyc.com]. A few screws hold this together and the intenals are just printed on plastic sheets. The PCB with the controller is about 2" x 3". Wrap it in electrical tape and just stick it to the back ot the case (or hide it inside). One warning, these keyboards suck, so don't try to actually type on them.

  • You can get a small microcontroller (such as an 8-pin AVR AT90S2323) and create a firmware that speaks enough of the PS/2 protocol to be recognized as a keyboard. The parts count should be fairly low, probably just the PS/2 plug, the microcontroller, and a ceramic resonator. The micrcontroller I mentioned has an internal I/O pullups.

    You're likely to end up with a spare I/O port on that 8-pin microcontroller, so you could expand the design to include a button that sends ctrl+alt+del (or, for linux, alt+sy
  • Strip a keyboard (Score:2, Informative)

    by peu ( 163472 )
    Look for the cheapest keyboard around or use one with malfunctioning keys and strip the controller board, toss away the keys and voila!

    Just a little cable hanging in the back of the pc.
  • I was thinking about a similiar idea, that involves USB. I've been looking for information on how the computer recognizes USB devices. Is there a circuit in there that sends some unique identifier to the system? Where is it, and what do the strings look like that it sends to the computer? Does anyone have any information on this sort of thing? I have tried google searches BTW, but I can't find anything specific regarding to the identification of USB hardware.

  • bios patch (Score:2, Informative)

    There is a bios patch called no_f1 that compaq put out for some of their systems to allow for headless operation, I've used it on some of my older machines. google it and good luck!
    • Re:bios patch (Score:4, Informative)

      by The_Candyman ( 463167 ) <the_candyman@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @12:12PM (#9687198)
      OK, I went a step further, I scoured the internet and found a link to the file that you need.

      I found this on the ipcop website.

      ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/softpaq/sp0501-1000/sp0 66 7.zip

      "Some Compaq machines allow the user to select this mode of operation by selecting "Network Server" mode in their setup program. For those that do not have this option, NO_F1.COM is a DOS based program that is run one time which sets a bit in CMOS that instructs the BIOS not to wait for a keystroke after displaying the "Press [F1] to continue" message."

      "May the schwartz be with you!"
      • Right, this tool sometimes works. Especially if you own an ancient 386 or 486 Compaq that does not offer the user interface to set the network server mode flag. But it won't help you with modern Compaqs, they lack the matching BIOS. Quoting the embedded documentation:

        SP0667.EXE - NO_F1.COM

        Patch Instructions

        All Compaq 386 and 486 based machines have the ability to run without a
        keyboard attached. Some Compaq machines allow the user to select this mode
        of operation by selecting "Network Server

  • http://www.solutions-cubed.com/solutions%20cube d /M EMKEY2003.htm

    $30. Connect to keyboard port (These are AT, so you may need a $2 PS2->AT adaptor)

    These units are designed to take input from a 4x4 matrix keypad, and you program them to send keycodes. Just skip that step. It will handle pretending to be a keyboard that never sends anything.

    You can also wire up a keypad to perform 'shutdown' 'reboot' etc features if that would be handy and not a security issue for you.
    • http://www.solutions-cubed.com/solutions%20cubed/M EMKEY2003.htm

      $30. Connect to keyboard port (These are AT, so you may need a $2 PS2->AT adaptor)

      These units are designed to take input from a 4x4 matrix keypad, and you program them to send keycodes. Just skip that step. It will handle pretending to be a keyboard that never sends anything.

      You can also wire up a keypad to perform 'shutdown' 'reboot' etc features if that would be handy and not a security issue for you.


      Does that mean tha

  • Several machines around here have the option in the bios to not look for the keyboard on startup.
    Since most rackmount systems now are just ATX boards in a rackmount case I would not think this is all that of an uncommon option. Look and you may have a no charge fix for your problem
  • I think this would be a good idea/product! It could make servers in a public are more secure. Without the keyboard the users can't use that old PC acting as a printserver (or whatever) as a workstation. Even if I booted Knoppix or NT recovery console I wouldn't be able to do anything until I found a keyboard.
    • and it stops people removing it and plugging in a keyboard how? :-P
      • I didn't say it would. It's just a handy tool to get a machine up and running in a confined space without the users having access to a keyboard. It's a bit more secure that way since the hackers have to come prepared. Lets face it, if you have physical access you own the machine. I used to use Network General remote sniffers and they had no attached keyboard or monitor. You attached via an X session. It was cool, no keyboard or cables in the rack taking up space just ethernet and power. I think a keyboard
  • You could probably make one pretty cheap, I was using a KVM on my secondary monitor. Two PCs with two monitors. The problem I had was the KVM didn't have an external power source, it got the power from the keyboard port.

    Get a USB to PS/2 converter and stick a resistor into one or more of the PS/2 holes, that will probably trick the computer into thinking there's a keyboard there. Though I may be totally wrong :)
  • http://www.realweasel.com/intro.html
    Nothing to hang out of the back. Been around for awhile and is well thought of.
  • Many wireless keyboards come with a fully functional PS/2 (or USB) base. Whether the keyboard is present or not, the simple presence of the base is sufficient to get past the BIOS.

    I picked up one from CompUSA a few years ago for about $20. The keyboard has since died, but the base still works fine for my server. Remember, the keyboard quality doesn't matter here. Who cares if the wireless has a range of two feet if you don't want it for its wireless abilities?

    IR has the advantage of allowing keyboard
  • Too bad the person who posted it first was AC and so the answer may never be seen.

    To recap, buy a cheap wireless keyboard. If you do it Eeeeeeeee-bay, watch for shipping charges.

  • I, too, was looking for a keyboard/mouse emulator for a machine that's being housed in a colo facility. I'm using PS2 components, as well, and cringe at the thought of plugging and unplugging PS2 devices into a running machine.

    Then, I strolled into CompUSA and saw this Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo [compusa.com]. The PS2 connectors stay plugged into the machine and the (nice, UFO-shaped, blinking-light) receiver stays duct-taped to the top of the machine.

    All I need to do is remember to take the keyboard and mou

  • That lovely BIOS error message, "Keyboard not found, press [F1] to continue" is sitting in many BIOSes since the PC-XT times up to this day. Perhaps, because it is copyrighted?

  • I'm not sure if this would be practical for you, especially considering that small form-factor cases like the iPaq are hard to manuever inside anyway, but there may be a way to rewire the PS/2 port so that it is shorted into thinking that there is a keyboard there. That may be too permanent for you, but I work on a robotics team, and we have some plugs that we have shorted temporarily with a paperclip. That might look a little weird, and isn't necessarily the best or safest idea, but it is dirt cheap. Fi
  • My god man, a keyboard can be had for less than $5! Do you know how much a similar dongle would cost?!?!?
    • My god man, a keyboard can be had for less than $5! Do you know how much a similar dongle would cost?!?!?

      A couple of times i've just taken a power screwdriver to an old keyboard, pulled out the little circuit board with the LEDs and driver chip (usually these are a bit smaller than a 3x5 index card) sandwiched between two of the aformentioned index cards with a couple of holes for the LEDS, and wrapped the whole sucker in clear packaging tape.

      This gives all of the benefits of a dongle, plus you can

  • Just use a cheap microcontroller, perhaps a PIC. [microchip.com] They are pretty simple to get the hang of, just a handful of RISC instructions, and they're cheap. All the protocol information is available readily [nodak.edu]
  • Some KVM Switches have KVM dungles that you can buy seperately. This [avocent.com] is what we are currently using, and you can get the dungle here [insight.com] . Although the dungles are much more expansive then actual keyboards.

    I also found this [raritan.com.tw] on a good old google search. The APKME adapter seems to be exactly what you are looking for.

    A Desktop KVM switch is a lot cheaper, but it might be a bit unsightly.
  • Buy a PS/2 to AT style keyboard adapter. Take a 10K ohm resistor. Shove it into pin-holes 4 and 5 on the AT side of the connection (these are the two "middle" pins when looking at it vertically). Plug it into the system. Boot.

    Works on most motherboards. Occassionally you'll find one it won't work with, but with the vast majority of them it works fine.
  • Wouldn't a USB to PS2 adaptor (without a keyboard attached to it) be enough to fool the BIOS that there's a keyboard present? Those can be fairly small, not quiet dongle sized, but maybe close enough for you?
  • I learned from "Spies Like Us" :

    Austin Milbarge: Find a rock! Go the the SatScram terminal! Smash that thing!

    [Fitz-Hume smashes terminal]

    Emmitt Fitz-Hume: It's broken.

    Austin Milbarge: Bring it here.
    [Fitz-Hume shrugs and walks towards Milbarge holding rock instead of the terminal]

    Austin Milbarge: Not the rock.
  • So, everybody on here seems to be shouting "just get a cheapo keyboard," and it's true you can find one for 10 bucks or less (USB, remeber the post said "legacy free"). There are keyboard emulators out there for $40-$50, definitely more than even a decent quality keyboard.

    However, there are circumstances where you don't WANT a keyboard hooked up: to prevent keys from being pressed inadvertently or by unauthorized people; to save space; because mgt. won't accept a homebrew project; or maybe to prevent keybo
  • by _mArk ( 153558 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2004 @04:17AM (#9694753)
    Hope this still reaches the original requestor, but...
    There is a hidden setting in most compaq bioses that lets you boot headless.
    Take the following steps:
    - go into the bios
    - set a power-on password
    - a new option will appear, probably "password options"
    - here you can set "Network Server Mode" to enabled
    - reboot, remove keyboard and behold!

    Good luck.
  • Take an old ps/2 mouse and a ps/2 to AT adapter (if you need that type of connector) and attach it to the keyboard port.

    Maybe it's not the answer you were looking for, but at least you get to put that old ball-mouse to use again.
    • Keyboards and mice (mouses?) don't speak the same language even if they do use the same connector so if the computer is expecting to get a reply back (on the data line) "spoken" in "keyboard" when it applies +5V to the appropriate pin on the keyboard socket it will get one "spoken" in "mouse" instead.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"