How to Connect an Interactive Whiteboard to a Computer

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Interactive whiteboards need a computer to function. You may find yourself in a room having an interactive whiteboard installed without a computer attached. Older whiteboards used serial ports to connect to computers. Since many computers no longer come with serial ports, newer whiteboards often use USB connections. USB cables are limited in length, so companies like Smart will include a Cat5-to-USB extender so the signal is carried via Ethernet across the distance of the room. This example presumes you are connecting a laptop to a permanent interactive whiteboard installation through a computer station.

Things You'll Need

  • Installed whiteboard
  • Installed ceiling-mounted projector
  • Installed computer station with faceplate
  • Laptop
  • Male-to-male VGA cable
  • A/B USB cable
  • Ethernet patch cable
  • Cat5-to-USB extender
  • Power up your laptop and the projector. Make sure the interactive whiteboard is plugged in.

  • Attach a male-to-male VGA cable from your laptop to the VGA connection on the faceplate at the computer station.

  • Attach an A/B USB cable from your laptop to the Cat5-to-USB extender. The extender will accept a Type B plug, which is the square connection. The other end, going into your laptop, will need to be a Type A plug, which is the flat connection.

  • Attach one end of an Ethernet patch cable to the Cat5-to-USB extender. Attach the other end to the Ethernet jack in the faceplate.

  • Set your laptop to video out mode. On many laptops, this involves holding down the "Function" key, then pressing "F5." If you are uncertain which "F" key to hold down, look for a small icon featuring a monitor. Generally, that will be the VGA out key. Toggle video out by continuing to press the function key until you see the image on both your laptop screen and on the interactive whiteboard.

Tips & Warnings

  • If using a desktop computer instead of a laptop, consider plugging the VGA cable into an external VGA signal splitter/multiplier. Then, plug in a second VGA cable from the splitter back to your monitor. Finally, plug the video out cable from the splitter into the faceplate VGA port. These three connections will allow you to view computer activities from both the desktop monitor and the interactive whiteboard.
  • Software specific for the interactive whiteboard will allow you greater functionality, including screen captures, magnification of details onscreen, and event recordings. Install this software before connecting your computer to the whiteboard for best results.

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