Bluetooth-to-Serial (was: Re: Colo Vending Machine)

+1 on the suggestion for a SpiderDuo as portable KVM+your own laptop. Solves the problem and leverages the hardware you already have. Works great!

Anyway: Bluetooth-to-Serial has been around for years; I did a review of several of them a while ago, even connecting with a Nokia phone (this was before iPhone/iPad existed) in a little Interop video piece in Network World.

The IOGear BT-to-Serial is the most common nowadays; it is inexpensive and works pretty well and it is specifically designed for this kind of console environment. It draws 9V, so you can make a 9V battery-to-device adapter for about $2 with parts you get at Digikey if you want total portability.

There are also more 'industrial' versions which are designed for longer-term use. My favorite is the BluePortXP, which has an integrated rechargeable battery, a nice little antenna, and can be externally powered if needed. That's pricey, closer to $200 as I remember, but it is designed for longer-term use in a single location. There are others along this line, a quick Google search will find them, mostly in the industrial PC-type businesses.

The one I actually use almost every day is called a BlueConsole. These, unfortunately, are not available anymore. A Cisco engineer in Florida (I think) made them as a "Garagatronics" project years ago. It is a lovely piece of work, available with either a DB9 OR a RJ45 male on it, a 9V battery connector on the other end, and also powered from the serial port if available. You can dangle the RJ45 one from a Cisco router literally forever without a battery and it will BT-to-serial for 20 or 30 feet. If you can find one, buy it as it's the perfect compromise between the BluePort and the IOGear.