Remote Work and Studying from Home. How to Organize a Wireless Workplace Using Windows Wireless Display Adapter and a Laptop?

I will share how I managed to organize cheap computer workplaces for my children. I believe many will be interested in this.

Remote work and study

Because of COVID-19 my wife and I work remotely. My children also 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. I work on my laptop. The children learn by using their smartphones. I believe it is harmful to their eyes that they stare at small screens for prolonged times. But from time to time, my children have to use a computer for some important lessons. At those times, we allocated one of our work computers for them. Since it was very uncomfortable for one of us, 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 wondered when is it time to buy a new computer? It looks like now is the right moment to buy it. But since remote work is a temporary phenomenon caused by the pandemic, I wanted to find a temporary solution to this problem within a small budget.

Finding an economic solution

I thought about buying a new computer. After a while, I realized that one computer would not be enough. It was 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 again. It was better to buy new computers. Well. How much is a computer now? The average pc cost is around 700~1000 USD. If you buy 2 new ones – it will be about 1500 USD. Too expensive! My budget is less than 700 USD. Therefore, I started brainstorming ideas.

Second-hand computer?

I didn’t want to mess around with second-hand. But I found quite good and cheap second-hand monitors. 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 was 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. Should I switch to Linux? Oh, I didn’t really like that prospect either. I didn’t want to learn and 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 on different operating systems given that conflicts may occur. For instance, the program is available on school computers under Windows, but not at home under Linux. We needed new Windows computers.

TV as an alternative to a new monitor?

As another idea to save money, I could use televisions instead of monitors. Yes, the screen is too big. Although this is convenient for video conferences. And the format of remote studying is mainly group video calls. I found on youtube how to connect pc to a TV via HDMI. Nevertheless, the problem is that I didn’t want to move our TV from the living room to the children’s room. In general, I liked the idea of connecting a computer to a TV HDMI in order to view what I want from the Internet. But now I was facing another problem…

Server and multiple clients model?

I came up with this idea out of desperation. The idea was to upgrade the old computer, and install Windows Server on it and buy cheap computers like thin clients for the children. The price for Windows Server license + 2 Windows licenses is high. Plus, you need to deploy the local network, make network optimization and administer it. Not an option, I thought. However, I continued my 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 was 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 for it to work. The same could be done with my laptop. We should buy additional hardware and 2 ASTER Home licenses. As a result we would get 2 additional workplaces! I decided to use my mother’s work PC to create a learning space for my daughter in one room and my laptop to create my son’s study space in another one.

Workplace for my daughter

I downloaded the trial version of ASTER from the site ibiksoft.com. I found a video on YouTube about how to launch ASTER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LTKw5YfkNo. Firstly, I immediately tested the bottleneck of the whole idea – our weak computer. I bought a video card with 2 active video outputs, a monitor and an HDMI cable.

I used the DVI port for my mother’s monitor and the HDMI port for my daughter’s monitor. I knew how to connect 2 monitors to a PC as I had investigated connecting a laptop to a TV. 

Fortunately, our old PC worked well with ASTER and 2 workplaces!

connect HDMI
How to connect 2 monitors to a PC
This is my wife’s workplace
This is my wife’s workplace
This is my daughter’s workplace.
This is my daughter’s workplace.

Let me show you my expenses for organizing the workplace of my daughter:

  • 45 USD: video card Palit GeForce GT 710 Silent 2GB
  • 5 USD: 1 HDMI cable HDMI ATCOM 3 m
  • 26 USD: second-hand monitor 
  • 18 USD: Bluetooth Kit Mouse + Keyboard Logitech Wireless Combo
  • 16 USD: Bluetooth headset with microphone
  • 12 USD: ASTER Home license

Total: 122 USD

Not bad. Is it?

These are both workplaces and just 1 PC!
These are both workplaces and just 1 PC!
Windows Display Adapter!

My ACER NITRO 5 laptop supports connecting to a wireless display. I was looking for a way to transfer a video signal from my laptop to my son’s monitor remotely.

Luckily, I found a Windows display adapter! 

I was already aware of how to connect a PC to a TV. I had to connect The adapter to the display via the HDMI port and cable. Therefore, we needed a monitor with an HDMI port. My son will have a wireless workplace! Wow!

My ACER NITRO 5 laptop
My ACER NITRO 5 laptop
Windows display adapter
Windows display adapter
Workplace for my son

I only doubted that all wireless technologies would work simultaneously and well in my son’s workplace. I installed another ASTER trial on my laptop and tested it.

This is my laptop and my son’s workplace
This is my laptop and my son’s workplace

This is my laptop which I could move to my cabinet and my son’s workplace without a PC!
The video was transmitted from my laptop to the monitor by the adapter surprisingly well, even through a wall. The Bluetooth mouse and keyboard worked normally over the wall. Yet there were problems with the headset. The sound was bad. I was walking around with my laptop in order to understand the best location for the Bluetooth transmitter. Fortunately, I found out where the signal transmitter should be located for the perfect sound quality. Then I bought a USB extension cable to put the transmitter into the proper location.

This is the workplace for my son.
This is the workplace for my son.

Expenses for my son’s workplace were:

  • 26 USD: second-hand monitor
  • 18 USD: Bluetooth kit mouse + keyboard
  • 16 USD: bluetooth headset with microphone
  • 57 USD: Windows display adapter
  • 4 USD: USB extension cable
  • 12 USD: ASTER Home license

Total: 133 USD

As a result, my expenses for creating both additional workplaces were just 255 USD! Amazing! The savings on the purchase of 2 cheap desktop PCs were around 1000 USD!

Result

These are quite cheap computers for kids. We got the best computers for our children to study! The solution was implemented within a week by myself. There was no discomfort associated with the wiring. The children are happy, they study, do homework, and play without interfering with our work. Everything works fine! If the remote work and study were to be over, all the equipment we purchased could be used for additional training and entertainment. If we decide to buy a computer for our teenagers, we just would need to buy desktops. And in this case, one ASTER license and the Windows adapter could be connected to our TV. And the second ASTER license could be used to create a learning and playing space for our youngest son! Thanks to the ASTER program and Microsoft technologies! 

2021