A little over a year ago, we built a new computer to use as a home theater PC (HTPC) in our family room.  The PC runs Gentoo linux, with the MythTV front end  – we use it as a DVR.  We’ve made a couple of improvements since we initially built the computer to set it up with a wireless-N ethernet bridge for streaming content from a server and to set up an RF remote control so we don’t have to use the keyboard for navigation.

One way in which our MythTV setup wasn’t quite ideal yet, though, was that we still needed to open the TV cabinet to turn the HTPC on and off separately from the TV.  We’ve done some reading on how to set the system up to power up/shut down based on key presses from the RF remote control, but it’s a rather complex setup.  Tonight while we were walking through Sears, though, we saw this Craftsman Automatic Power Switch that is intended for use with power tools and we got the idea to give it a try with our MythTV system in the family room.

Automatic Power Switch

Automatic Power Switch

We have the TV plugged in to the outlet labeled “Power Tool” and the ethernet bridge & HTPC plugged into the two “Accessory” outlets. After updating the BIOS settings on the PC to have it boot on power, the computer now starts booting as soon as the TV turns on.  When we turn the TV off, we also cut power to the PC and the ethernet bridge to avoid any parasite draw from those devices.  I suppose it works similarly to a stereo receiver with plugs on the back for other components to turn on and off at the same time, but since we don’t have a receiver in the family room, the power switch does the trick.

We were a little concerned that using a device intended for power tools wouldn’t work correctly for a television because the TV might either not pull enough power when the it was on or the it might pull too much power when it was off.  Luckily, though, that turned out to not be the case.  The whole television set-up is a lot more user-friendly now that we don’t have to separately turn on and shut down the PC and we like the fact that it’s a lot greener solution than what we had before because it eliminates any power draw from the ethernet bridge and HTPC when they’re not in use.  For about $20, we think it was a good buy.

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