Turning on the PC using a remote control.

There are several ways to connect a remote control in a PC. I will not debate if it is right or wrong still using an infra red controller to control devices. The main objective of this post is to show that it is possible to install a remote control able to turn the PC ON (since an ATX or compatible power source is available).

Anyone like me, uses a PC as a media center, probably miss an option to turn the media center on without leaving the front of a tv. It is important to point out that TURNING OFF the PC via remote control or an APP in the smartphone or via some other method is basically easy. Once on, the computer may be turned off via software, indeed this is what happens today when we choose to turn off the computer. It is also not of my interest suspending the computer in order to use the wake-on-lan facility, I really would like to turn off the computer.

Thinking on how to turn on the computer, a former co-worker, sent me a link to this controller (the seller is not selling it anymore, this is why there is no link):

Remote receiver

An interesting feature is that besides the media player functions (play, stop, pause, etc), there is a power button in this remote control.

How does this work ? Just like many other remote controllers made for computers, this one has an usb cable and and infra-red receiver that as soon as its drivers are loaded, its commands are translated automatically to the media center  (in Kodi it owrks out of the box). The main advantage is a second usb cable that has only a connector to connect the i.r. sensor, the other end of this cable has 4 wires: 2 wires should be connected in each power button’s connector (in the motherboard)

Motherboard’s power supply connector

and the other 2 wires are one connected in the “live” connector of the ATX power supply (connector that always provides 5v even when the computer is turned off, a.k.a. purple wire) and the other are connected in any one of the several ground connectors (the black ones).

It is important to point out that this task gets really easy if a combination of a standard PC’s  mother board and an ATX PSU are available, because in this case you just have to connect the purple (or the one that provides +5VSB) and black wires as told.

In the following image, there is a pin-out of the connector and a real image of one (the purple and black wires are easy to find).

ATX Connector pinout and cable

Once done all these connections, it gets really easy to imagine how this device works: when the computer is turned off, the i.r. receiver keeps on due the usb connected in the live (5vSB) wire of the ATX PSU. When the power button is pressed the i.r. receiver simulates a press in the computer’s power button, via short circuit in the motherboard using the 2 wires in the power button’s connector. From this step the computer is on and the remote controller is managed by the real USB cable as an ordinary remote controller.

Now I will show how I adapted this remote controller to my portable computer that I use as a media center, it is an Acer Revo configured as a media center.

Acer Aspire Revo – AR3610


Even if a real ATX PSU is not available, I knew the even turned off, somewhere in this motherboard there are 5 volts available, the question is just about finding it. Using a multimeter I started measuring the voltage in the usb connectors and, in my first try, I found the 5V.

Looking for 5v on the motherboard


After finding the correct voltage, the remaining task was to connect the other 2 terminals to the “power” button, tight all with hot glue, open a hole big enough to pass the USB cable and reassemble the case. The final result can be seen on the next image:

I.R. receiver installed