Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

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Matuku
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Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Matuku » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:03 am UTC

So I've recently set up an old PC as a server but of course I don't want it to be on all the time (save the planet! ...and my power bill); unfortunately the PC is so old/basic that the Mobo doesn't support WoL. So I need another way to turn it on at a distance. And I was wondering if the more diy-inclined among you would help.

Basically my main idea consists of using an old phone; you simply text the phone and it'll somehow cause the PC to boot. But here's where I fall apart. My idea seems fairly convoluted; I somehow set up a circuit which detects vibrations of the phone and then uses a depressor or something to physically press the power button... what hardware would I need for this? Where could I purchase it in the UK?

Another thought that someone suggested was to simply hook the wires up; the wires leading into the "vibrating device" of the phone and those connected to the power button on the PC; would this work? Is it even possible? What does a vibrating device look like?

Any input on these ideas (or a superior one) whatsoever would be appreciated.

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Axman
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Axman » Sat Aug 01, 2009 4:35 pm UTC

It's a little weight stuck to a servo, usually built into the battery.

What you'll have to keep in mind is that cell phones alert rarely once. They'll make noises for any God damned reason and you don't want those to toggle your computer on and off at random.

Also, what's cheaper: a cell phone plan or an always-on computer? Although your project has merit, it is original, and cool, don't convince yourself it's not stupid.

But if a girl ever asks you for a file, the payout will be intense. "Hang on honey while I text my computer." Well, it could be intense.

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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby phillipsjk » Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:23 pm UTC

I suppose a lack of WakeOnLAN support implies a lack of WakeOnRing as well.


I think you should look into a remote-controlled power-strip instead. That way, you can use a low-powered device to turn on a high-powered device. This has the advantage of using relays instead of some complicated motor mechanism.

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Matuku
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Matuku » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:23 pm UTC

Axman wrote:It's a little weight stuck to a servo, usually built into the battery.

What you'll have to keep in mind is that cell phones alert rarely once. They'll make noises for any God damned reason and you don't want those to toggle your computer on and off at random.

Also, what's cheaper: a cell phone plan or an always-on computer? Although your project has merit, it is original, and cool, don't convince yourself it's not stupid.

But if a girl ever asks you for a file, the payout will be intense. "Hang on honey while I text my computer." Well, it could be intense.



Usually built into the battery you say... that could make it trickier... I was planning on using a pay-as-you-go phone anyway so there won't be any additional costs past the purchase of the phone (if I can't find my old one) and most providers will often send you a pay-as-you-go SIM card if you just ask for one. I should be able to modify what the PC does when the power button is pressed when it's on and, hopefully, disable it entirely so it can only be shut down by terminal commands.

After thinking on it a bit more I'm not sure simply cutting the vibrator off and soldering the wires that were leading to that to the power leads will work; I assume the power switch simply connects the two wires for a split second and allows a current to flow whereas soldering them to the phone battery will screw that up. Another option is to take the weight off the servo and just have a piece of wire which will rotate and touch both power wires, hence completing the circuit. Or I just need to find a component that could replace the vibrator entirely and produces a motion which can be used to press a button...

Matuku
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Matuku » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:25 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:I suppose a lack of WakeOnLAN support implies a lack of WakeOnRing as well.


I think you should look into a remote-controlled power-strip instead. That way, you can use a low-powered device to turn on a high-powered device. This has the advantage of using relays instead of some complicated motor mechanism.


I did look into that idea briefly but the problem is that just turning the computer on at the plug doesn't cause it to boot; it just means it will do once the power button is pressed.

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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby phillipsjk » Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:39 pm UTC

If it is an ATX motherboard, there is usually a BIOS option for behavior in the event of a power failure.

My server is over 10 years old and supports WOL (Not that I got it working yet). It may be easier to find a better computer in a trash bin.

Is it the OS that doesn't support WOL?
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Matuku
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Matuku » Sun Aug 02, 2009 8:10 pm UTC

phillipsjk wrote:If it is an ATX motherboard, there is usually a BIOS option for behavior in the event of a power failure.

My server is over 10 years old and supports WOL (Not that I got it working yet). It may be easier to find a better computer in a trash bin.

Is it the OS that doesn't support WOL?


No, there just isn't an option in the BIOS for WOL; it's not actually a proper server, just an old desktop. I've only noticed WOL on desktops over the last few years; I assume it's been the staple of proper servers for a while.

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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby phillipsjk » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:43 am UTC

My server is a (probably high-end when new) desktop: Server Spec Fun Time!

The latest version of FreeBSD has a lot more WOL support. However, being a pre-2000 computer, ACPI (mode 3) doesn't work. So, I have to figure out the best way to enable APM for testing. I have already figured out how to get my router to send the magic packet when needed (quick and dirty hack to send one on every DHCP lease renewal).
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby elektricat » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:55 pm UTC

Heres a typical "me" solution to a problem like this. Its convoluted but I think it would work. I wasn't sure how to write it so I drew a diagram to help me explain it. The phone is duct taped to the ceiling. When it vibrates due to you texting it, it causes the slightly weaker blue tack bond with the ball to break, hence allowing it to swing down and hit the on button!!!
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L337R3dN3k
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby L337R3dN3k » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:51 am UTC

Really, there's a pair of pins on the motherboard that the power switch connects to and our challenge is to find a low-power, always-on, remotely activated method for shorting it. Whatever method is used, it is actually ok if it shorts while the server is running (as long as the short does not last longer than 5 seconds -- the typical timeout before the system will shut off).

If you have a land line hooked up that you don't use, you could rig a cable from the phone jack to a telephone relay, setting it to briefly flip the relay to complete a circuit across those two pins.

A better solution, if you can configure individual ports on your switch, would be to use the ethernet's power (it fluctuates between 1.65 - 2.24V to carry a signal; keep in mind this is *not* a steady DC current and may alternate as long as that port on the switch is in duplex mode) to flip the relay. Just hook up one of the active pairs of an ethernet cable to the relay, plug the other end in the switch, and keep that port disabled except briefly to boot the server. This might take slightly more sophisticated electronics, there are 2 challenges:
1. Be sure you're delivering enough voltage to throw the relay. Might need a small transformer or something.
2. Be sure you can fool the switch into thinking your hack is an actual device. This may be easy or completely unneeded, depending on the switch.

stillstanden
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby stillstanden » Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:35 am UTC

I'd suggest you buy a 1 or more channel wireless rf remote control kit if your not experienced with putting circuits together. You can find them on ebay fairly cheap. Most will allow you to set the control to toggle, latched or momentary. This setup will allow you to control from a remote. Now if you want to control your server from a remote location you have to wire up your remote to a microcontroller like an arduino. You can use the arduino to send the remote signals to the receiver connected to your server. You will then need a network module if you don't want to keep your computer on all the time to control the arduino. A couple of option instead of keeping your computer on all the time is to buy a network module, buy a thin client or purchase a ready made x10 kit that will allow you to do all of this.

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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:33 am UTC

An additional complication is that if the power button is pressed during POST, before the OS has loaded, it may just shut off again.

However phillipsjk mentioned the "on power failure" BIOS option. This is different from WOL. You set that to power on after any power failure, and use the remote-controlled power strip to turn it on.
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby schuldkroete » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:46 pm UTC

If you go the "remote controlled power strip" option and your BIOS doesn't have the required option, you can wire a capacitor in parallel to the switch. This works for most mainboards.

The easiest option would probably be to buy a cheap PCI NIC with WOL support. The ones I've seen come with a cable you connect to the motherboard in place of the power switch. If you look around you can find them really cheap, like 3-4€ or something like that. It's not as cool as switching it with a cellphone and some custom circuit, but it's a lot easier, less error-prone and maybe even cheaper.
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Æshættr
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Æshættr » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:03 am UTC

Disclaimer: I may or may not be right. I've really never tried this.

From what others have said, you just need to make a short circuit between the two power pins on the motherboard. The simplest way I can think of doing this is by hooking them up to the two ends of a transistor, and connecting the base of the transistor to something that you can influence remotely.

The easiest way to do this depends upon the resources available to you. You can possibly wire the base of the transistor to something in a cell phone (likely candidate is the speaker) that is only turned on once for a short period of time. The caveat with this method is that you would need to make sure that your ringtone is some sort of short pulse (which is easily created if one is not available to you) and that the ringtone is only played once per SMS/Call/whatever. If you can do that, you're set.

If not, you can always wire a microcontroller like an arduino (I'd suggest the lily or the nano for low-power applications like this) to the transistor, and have that in turn wired to something like an ethernet shield. However, that approach would require writing software to do the power-on task, which is more prone to failure than the single-transistor system.

Like I said, I'm not sure if that would actually work, but it seems like it should.

Mr. Freeman
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Re: Remote PC boot without Wake-On-Lan

Postby Mr. Freeman » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:53 am UTC

In an issue of MAKE magazine (dunno which one) this guy put a computer in his car for whatever reason. He used a pager service (usually cheaper than cell service, look into this if you need to text a mobile computer). This pager activated a power supply that somehow had an option to auto-power down after 2 hours. This allowed him to remotely power up his machine without fear of draining his battery completely.

However, in your situation this is all entirely unnecessary. Your computer is in a house, which has both power and access to the internets. Using an arduino micro controller and the ethernet shield you should be able to make this device check a twitter feed (which are free). (No doubt someone has already written code to do this that is free to use). Hook the arduino up to a relay that switches power to your computer.

When you want the server to turn on, text a twitter feed (free). The arduino will read this when it checks (suggest: every 5 minutes) and then close the relay. Check your computer's bios and set the "on power failure" option to "turn on". With some clever hacking (I'm assuming you're using Linux), you could make your computer send a twitter to the same feed telling the arduino to cut power before the computer powers down.

Now, make sure you set the arduino to wait a few minutes before cutting power after it checks the twitter feed and sees a power off command. This will prevent the computer from twittering the power off command right before the arduino checks the twitter feed and then losing power in the middle of a shutdown.

Advantages of using twitter over a pager/cell phone:
Assuming you use a good password, you don't have to worry about jackasses or telemarketers shutting down your computer by calling it randomly.
Twitter is free.
With more clever programming and circuitry you can make the arduino twitter useful things. i.e. "unexpected main power loss" (Obviously this would happen AFTER the power comes back online).
You can have twitter text your cell phone if something is posted to another feed. The arduino could twitter to this feed things like "Reminder, computer has been on for 3 hours." (Set it to text you at useful times, for example at 3 hours if you usually only use the computer for 2 hours.)

OR, if you have the computer and arduino on a UPS, you rig up something to connect the two and the arduino could shut down the computer cleanly in the event of power loss. (Although, the UPS should already do that.... never mind)


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