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PiKVM - required for unraid MODs that spend time away from home


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-=the business=-


remote access to: hard reset, power ON from OFF, bios


-=my prattling=-

Too many times over the past years I've had to call my significant other and walk her through: server hard reset, CLI (command line interface) commands, and other awful things. The time I spent on the phone was, let's say 10 minutes. But I've been paying for it ever since. Yes: today, unRaid is super stable, we can reset Dockers, it runs in RAM, what could happen? Well sometimes you just need a good ol' fashion Hard Reset. And that most frequently happens at the worst time: when I'm three states away.



I can wake up the screen, but can't type anything into the console. I'm thinking it's a keyboard or motherboard mismatch. The important thing is to be able to turn the thing on and off. If that's ALL it is, $250 is steep for that. I'll report back and update post.



PiKVM github project https://github.com/pikvm

Purchase links https://pikvm.org/buy/

US based https://www.pishop.us/search.php?search_query=pikvm&section=product $250


cribbed from the pikvm.org site

Linus Tech tips review youtube


I found the documentation sorely lacking. Things were relatively straight forward to hook it up.


The package I received



Some miscellaneous ribbon cables for hooking up front panel buttons. Both male and female.



The PiKVM and the breakout board, I'm gonna call it.


I should also mention here: generally each side of the PiKVM box has it's purpose. This side is the HAT side and has the "ATX" ethernet out, that uses ethernet patch cord to connect to the breakout board. The USB takes that USB-C > USB A cable, and plugs into any USB port, where you'd normally plug in a keyboard mouse combo. The HDMI Video In is from the GPU/mobo HDMI to this PiKVM.

The other side of the PiKVM box has the normal RaspberryPi ports on it: power input, also USB-C, and ethernet to your LAN. I have had this working via wifi, but this is all about backup connections here: we want as solid as possible. Plug it in.



This little guy, with the ethernet outlet, is not for ethernet, but uses an ethernet wire to connect to the PiKVM. The PiKVM uses those connections to "push buttons." For those old school computer builders, you CAN "push a button" simply by touching two pins with a metal screwdriver and completing that connection: that's what the button does: touches the two pins. There are four pairs of 2x2 pins. You can see one is marked with a (+), and another with GND=ground.


and what each of the pairs do. I only need the Reset and Power. I grabbed my multimeter to see what was already connected to what. Here's what I figured out:


So it made sense me they pins, as they're pictured above, would be correct when touching horizontally; as the vertical ones are already the same pin. Oh yeah: I can STILL use the existing Power and Reset button: there's room for both. There are big ol' through hold solder pokie things out the bottom: this board can't be kicking around inside the case. I decided to drill, where it said DRILL HERE, and screw it down with some nylon spacers ($13 amazon) and small stainless nut and bolts ($15 amazon) I had from my drone building days.



you can see how much metal there is sticking through that would cause all sorts of havoc uncontrolled in the case.


Here is the breakout board installed, with pins hooked up correctly. You can see the regular case button leads AND the PiKVM leads sharing the pairs.



The board installed into the case



The PiKVM getting ready for it's final resting location



At first I had dreams of putting it inside the case. There is room in there, it's a monster. But then I realized I'd have to route USB-C power IN, and the USB C > USB A male out of the case, then back into the back of the motherboard's usb, and it just seemed silly. In the future, I would like to see some sort of internal setup. Some IN and OUT plugs on a little PCI plate, and the entire PiKVM mounted somewhere inside the actual server. Perhaps in a slot, but just physically holding on there, with no electricity dependence on the board: that's what we're trying to avoid with this remote stuff.


Initially I had also plugged this into my desktop machine, and was able to happily let my buddy dig around in my own bios settings getting the memory settings just right. That was slick.


I ran out a real long ethernet cable, poked a hole in my router firewall, and I'm off to the races.


When I first plugged it into the unRaid box, I couldn't wiggle the mouse, or mash keys enough to wake up the screen.





But, once I did the most recent unRaid upgrade, and did a Shutdown. Time to take the PiKVM for a spin. BOOOOOOMMMMMM




I haven't owned this for several years yet, but I'll keep an eye on this thread and I'm happy to report back, or help other would-be customers. Highly recommend, 5/5.










Edited by dkerlee
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