Easy On/Easy Off
January 31, 2009 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Can a Staples "Easy" button be used as an on/off switch for a desktop computer? If so, how?
posted by Heatwole to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Probably, but you'd have to do a bit of your own wiring.

The power switch on your computer is wired to a collection of connectors on your motherboard. The disk busy, power led, PC internal speaker, and power switch are generally all in the same group. What you'd have to do is take those connections and hook them up to the Staples gadget.

Two things here. First, I'm not going to draw you a schematic, because I'd probably break your computer. I know what goes where on a superficial level but not with enough sophistication to do something like this.

But second, this is probably a Very Bad Idea, because PC power toggles are designed to be hard to accidentally trip to prevent accidents. A huge, red button lying around connected to your motherboard is a certain recipe for frequent unwanted power cycling.
posted by valkyryn at 11:36 AM on January 31, 2009

Are you looking to perform the necessary modifications yourself? Whats your background in electrical circuits? Have you ever soldered before? Are you willing to learn?

If you're a complete noob this is an easy project to start on, but that being said, do understand that it will require some patience and commitment.
posted by FusiveResonance at 11:37 AM on January 31, 2009

You could get a cheap USB or PS2 keyboard with a sleep button, and wire up your Easy button to that. That might be easier and less intimidating than digging into the computer itself, and a good warmup if you decide to go ahead with the latter. Of course, it only works if your PC understands the sleep button!
posted by moonmilk at 11:45 AM on January 31, 2009

If your computer has the setting, ese the easy button to mechanically turn on a power strip, and have the computer set to automatically boot on power restoration.
posted by niles at 11:55 AM on January 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Old PCs used a hard power switch that actually controlled the AC going to the power supply. This was changed with the ATX standard. Now PCs have a front panel header, and two of those pins are the power switch. This picture show the wires that go to the motherboard header, and this picture shows the typical motherboard header.

All you have to do is rip the wire off your existing switch, and solder it to the switch contacts on your easy button.

Wow! That was easy :)

You could get a cheap USB or PS2 keyboard with a sleep button, and wire up your Easy button to that. That might be easier and less intimidating than digging into the computer itself,

That would be 10x harder..
posted by Chuckles at 12:42 PM on January 31, 2009

Yes, and fairly easy I imagine.

Basically you'd want to "extend" the sensor that is your computers power button into the easy-button.

One easy way of doing so would be to take apart the easy button, and place your computers power button under it in such a way that when the easy button is pressed, it presses the computer power-button. That of course involves removing the power button switch from your computer case.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 2:25 PM on January 31, 2009

What Chuckles said. Modern machines have soft power switches, meaning the front-of-case pushbutton isn't actually a power switch, it just signals the power supply to toggle between "standby" and "on". Briefly connecting the the ATX connector's /PS_ON line to ground (the connector's ground, COMMON, not some other ground) through the Easy button's switch will turn the machine on (see here). Turning it off seems to require pulling /PS_ON to +5 briefly. It might be better to attach the button in place of the front-panel button, which will cause the motherboard to turn the PSU on and off according t the same behavior you expect from the power button, including perhaps doing a clean shutdown of the machine.
posted by hattifattener at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2009

Here are the instructions for ripping apart/wiring up the easy button for that side of things.
posted by azlondon at 5:42 PM on January 31, 2009

There are many cheap ATX power switches out there. Buy one with a long enough cable and fix it inside the easy button. Booyah.

One Caveat - Chuckle's picture of the ATX pwr header and connector are dead on for form-factor compliant ATX, but many machines made by big providers like Dell, HP, etc ARE NOT like that. They use proprietary headers for front panel buttons. Frequently they bundle connectors into a single big header cable (like this - this is USB but you get the idea). This makes production and repairs easier, but would mean your hack would preclude the use of the other buttons :(.

In short - make sure your mobo looks like Chuckle's pictures before you dive in :).
posted by datacenter refugee at 4:47 PM on February 1, 2009

On a generic PSU, the PS_ON line is Green on the bundle of wires running to the motherboard. You can splice into this line and a ground line on your psu (just strip off a bit of insulation if you're willing, solder, and liquid electrical tape). Then run the wires to the easy button. You need a momentary switch, so when you push, it connects the circuit, when you let go, it disconnects. I'm not sure if the easy button has this type of switch.. but if I had to guess, I would say yes.
posted by defcom1 at 5:00 PM on February 1, 2009

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