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Desk Automation

So I got this thing back almost fifteen years ago. It is labeled a "Tripp Lite Command Center CCI Plus", and is a big steel box intended to sit under a CRT monitor, and gives you 6 controllable outlets. One outlet is Unswitched and is always on. The Master/Computer switch turns on power to the other four switches, and directly controls the Computer outlet. The other four switches are labeled Monitor, Printer, Aux. 1, and Aux. 2 and each control a single dedicated outlet. All of the switches have built-in NE-2 neon bulbs, with the Master/Computer one being red and the others being orange. There is also a filter for passing through a 6P6C connection (go go modems, baby!), and the box is nominally a surge protector too though I doubt with its age there is any protection left.

This unit has been just itching for a use case most of my life, but with the switch to thin-panel monitors it has been really hard to work into a modern desk layout; it is just so bulky. It would be really nice to be able to tuck it down onto one of the "computer shelves" on my desk, so I can see the switch statuses but it is out of the way for all the crap I do on my desk.

So! I bought a Sonoff 4CH R2 from the usual scumbags and cracked open the unit. I wanted to preserve the indication on the NE-2 bulbs, though I did not necessarily need the switches to still work. I added the Sonoff into tees on each of the controllable circuits, and made the Master/Computer only control its own outlet directly. Then I flashed the wonderful Tasmota open-source control firmware onto the unit, and connected it to my home automation system.

I connected my two monitors to the Computer outlet on a power splitter. Two of the circuits, Monitor and Printer are connected to the overhead task lights on my desk shelf. Aux. 1 controls my Logitech Z623 speakers, which whine something dreadful when left on and nothing is routed to them (a known defect). Aux. 2 controls a small 4" desk fan, positioned behind my Surface Book for additional cooling when I am runing heavy loads on it.

With the switchbox now controllable over MQTT and home assistant, I can set up rules on my desktop and Surface Book to automate the desk. For example, my desktop will automatically turn on the speakers when their input is selected for sound and there is something playing. My Surface Book will enable the fan when it is on the dock. And I can turn off the task lights from my bed with my phone (using a free Android app called MQTT Dash).