Additional PC for Remote Studying in Russia

I would like to tell you my story of how I successfully organized a cheap computer workplace for my daughter just for $100! I believe many will be interested in this.

Remote work and study

Because of COVID-19 my wife and I had to work remotely. My children also need to study remotely. I have two teenagers and a small son who goes to kindergarten. Studying and working from home is a challenge for our big family. My wife uses our old computer for her work and I work on my laptop. Children use their smartphones for studying through video conference call programs. They stare at small screens. I think it is bad for their eyes. But from time to time, my children have to use a computer at home for studying and for some important lessons. At those times, we allocate one of our work computers to the children which mean one of us cannot work. I thought about how to organize remote learning for children so that our remote work does not suffer.

How to work from home with kids so that they don’t interrupt our work? I remember that I thought about when to buy a new computer for the education of my kids. I thought about buying just one children’s desktop computer. But now, I need to buy 2 computers for distance learning for both of my children. Remote work and study is a temporary phenomenon by the end of the pandemic. So I wanted to find a temporary solution to this problem within a small budget. What is a good computer for a child to study at home?

Finding economic solution

I thought about buying a new computer. After a while, I realized that one computer would not be enough. It is necessary to buy 2 cheap computers for our teenagers. Unfortunately, there was not enough money for this. I could forget about upgrading my old computer — there’s not enough money, I thought. It is better to buy new computers. Well. How much is a computer now? The average PC cost is $700~$1000. If you buy 2 new ones — it will be about $1500. Expensive! My budget is less than $500. I started brainstorming ideas of getting the best computer for kids in school within my budget.

Second-hand computer?

I didn’t want to mess with second-hand. But I found quite good second-hand monitors and quite cheap. Then I asked myself — how much does a PC cost? Weak computers, such as thin clients, will not execute well group video conferences used frequently in school. No problem, I will build myself 2 cheap computers and save on this. I looked at the prices for components and gasped. The prices of components are also high. I realized that this is also not an option for me.

Linux as an alternative to Windows license?

When I thought that I would have to pay for 2 Windows licenses, I felt uneasy. Switch to Linux? Oh, I didn’t really like that prospect either. I didn’t want to understand Linux myself. And then teach everyone else! No! Moreover, the best computers for school are cheap Windows computers. It will be inconvenient for children to learn about different operating systems. Conflicts may occur. As the program is available on school computers under Windows, but not at home under Linux. We need Windows computers for school work.

TV as an alternative to a new monitor?

As another idea to save money, there was an idea to use televisions instead of monitors. Yes, the screen is too big. But this is convenient for video conferences. And the format of the studying is mainly group video calls. I found on YouTube how to connect a PC to a TV via HDMI. In general, I liked the idea of connecting the computer to the TV HDMI to watch movies which I want from the Internet. I decided that I would use one of our TV sets as a display for my daughter’s computer.

Server and multiple clients model?

I came up with this idea out of desperation. The idea is to upgrade the old computer, to install a Windows Server on it and buy cheap computers like thin clients for children. The price for the Windows Server license is high + 2 Windows licenses. Plus, you need to deploy the local network, make network optimization and administer it. Not an option, I thought. But I continued to search, keeping this idea in mind.

ASTER!

I searched for cheap PC setup schemes like multiseat solutions and found an ASTER program. This wonderful program allows you to create 2 workplaces based on one computer. It is necessary to insert a video card with 2 active video outputs into our old PC, connect an additional monitor, a headset, a keyboard, and a mouse. We can do the same with my laptop. We should buy additional hardware and 2 ASTER Home licenses. As a result, we would get the best computer for elementary distance learning! I decided to use my wife’s work PC to create a learning space for my daughter in one room.

Classroom for my daughter

I started implementing my home classroom ideas. I downloaded a trial version of ASTER from the site ibiksoft.com. I found a video on YouTube about how to launch ASTER:

Firstly, I immediately tested the bottleneck of the whole idea — our weak computer. I bought a video card with 2 active video outputs DVI and HDMI, an HDMI cable, and a set of wireless mouse and keyboards.

I used a DVI port for my wife’s monitor and HDMI for connecting one of our TV sets.
I found a movie about connecting a laptop to a TV set on YouTube and did the same. The distance learning classroom equipment also includes a web camera and speaker phones for video conferences. ASTER allows assigning web cameras, microphones and speakers to different ASTER workplaces.

Fortunately, our old PC worked well with ASTER and 2 workplaces! The fast test was successful. Our daughter got the best computer for children’s homework

This is my wife’s workplace
This is my wife’s workplace
This is my daughter’s workplace.
This is my daughter’s workplace.

My expenses for organizing the workplace of my daughter are below:

  • $45: video card Palit GeForce GT 710 Silent 2 GB
  • $5: 1 HDMI cable HDMI ATCOM 3 m
  • $18: Bluetooth Kit Mouse + Keyboard Logitech Wireless Combo
  • $16: Bluetooth speakerphones
  • $12: Web camera
  • $12: ASTER Home license

Total: $108

Not bad. Is it?

These are both workplaces and just 1 PC!

Result

As a result, my expenses for creating the additional workplace were just $108! Amazing! Savings on the purchase of a cheap desktop PC were around $500! I realized that we could organize good and cheap computers for kids within my budget. What we got is even better than the best computer for children to study because it is cheaper! The solution was implemented within a week. There is no discomfort associated with the wiring. My daughter is happy. She got a good computer for school and gaming. She does homework, plays games, watches movies, chats with her friends, and does not interfere with us. If the remote work and study are over.

Then all the equipment that we purchased we could use for additional training and entertainment. If we decide to buy computers for our teenagers, then we just would need to buy desktops. And even in this case, the ASTER license we could use to make Smart TV from our ordinary TV set. You could say that I forgot to tell you about how I organized a computer environment to study for my son. This is an even more interesting story. I decided to write a separate article about this. Read my next article about organizing a wireless computer place for my son. These 2 articles represent how I created 2 cheap computers for kids. So, the best desktop computer for online school is the computer which allows you to add ASTER workplaces. I also realized that the best computer to buy is a computer which you don’t need to buy!

Thanks to the ASTER program!

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