Intro: Reusing an Old Power Center
Under the monitor power centers were extremely popular in the 1980s. They’d typically have switches labeled Computer, Monitor, Printer, and Aux. They fell out of favor when computers started to use ‘soft switches’. You’ve probably got one in some junk box gathering dust.
I repurpose them as general purpose household power controls. One’s used in the kitchen for small appliances (make sure not to overload the power center’s ratings), in the workroom on the tool bench, in the bedroom to shut off lamps and assorted wall-warts (like the cell phone charger), and even in the computer room (of all places). The computer room power center is used only to control various accessories – not the main computer and monitor.
The general rule is to only use the power center with devices with hard power switches (a physical on-off switch) or something which is always on whenever it’s plugged in (like a wall-wart cell phone charger). Do not use a power center with something which needs power (anything with a clock) or something which can be turned on and off with an infrared remote control – items like that always have to have power.
Step 1: Reusing Power Centers
A typical power center has four to six outlets with the switches on the front of the unit. In some cases there are extra outlets which are always powered (non-switched outlets).
My computer room power center is the most versatile one in my place. I’ve placed the two wall-warts on the opposite sides so they don’t interfere with any of the other items. Ordinary power cords are used for the other outlets.
Step 2: More Wall-warts
It’s possible to squeeze in another wall-wart by using a 3-1 power “cube” as a spacer so that wall-wart doesn’t interfere with the other cables.
Step 3: My Setup
From left to right this power center controls an external hard drive, a free-standing floor lamp on the opposite side of the room through an extension cord, a small desk fan, a power strip, and a flatbed scanner. Instead of putting the power center under the monitor (which is probably too heavy for the power center anyway) I’ve put it on the side where it can be reached without getting out of my chair.
I use the power strip for testing various temporary items before they become part of my permanent computer setup. It’s convenient to have switchable outlets near my desk for experiments.
With this setup the flatbed scanner and external hard drive only draw power when they’re actually on, the free-standing lamp is easy to control from my chair, and I can have a nice breeze when it’s too hot.
An optional final step would be to print new labels to identify each of the switches, but I didn’t think that was necessary, my brain quickly remembered each switch’s purpose.
Note - the author's website, Neat Information , has many other DIY projects and activities.