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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Video killed the Saturday night
We exchanged contracts yesterday, so we're most of the way to owning a house. As an absolutely essential part of the packing/moving process, we are trying to connect the VCR to an LCD monitor (this is actually sort of essential - we really want to get rid of the space-consuming TV, but might have to settle for getting rid of the VHS videos). This is proving difficult.

So, we have the following devices (described as best I can - I'm not a hardware geek at the best of times, and AV is all Deep Magic):

* HP 1502 LCD monitor with video in cable ending in 15-pin VGA (female) connector

* VCR with the following outputs: RF (m), 2 x 3mm audio out (f), SCART (f)

* a TVBox 1440ex which has the following sockets: 8-pin VGA (f), 3mm audio in (f), 3mm audio out (f), 9-pin (f) MMI-C, antenna in (f)

(The magic TVBox thing lets us connect the PlayStation to the monitor, so it's not a wasted bit of kit even if it doesn't, as I fear, let us connect the VCR to the monitor as well.)

We also have the following cables/adaptors:

* SCART (m) to 5-pin S-video (m)
* SCART (m) to red/white/yellow AV thing (f)
* SCART (m) to SCART (m)
* 3mm jack (m) to 3mm jack (m)
* 14-pin (m) to 8-pin (m), god knows
* PlayStation (f) to red/white/yellow AV thing (m)
* GameCube adaptor, too complicated to describe but probably not relevant

My questions are:

1. Reassure me here, please: it is possible to connect an LCD monitor to a VCR, yes? The internet seems divided between "no you cant but just get a chepa tv lol" and "yeah you need some kinda box you can get it off ebay lol".

2. Assuming it's possible at all, is it possible with some combination of the above kit?

3. If not, what's the cheapest and easiest way of joining the dots which doesn't involve a) having a TV, or b) crimping/soldering? (The ideal answer would be along the lines of "you need an X to Y connector, you can get them from Maplin for £2.99".)

Thank you in advance, and sorry for being such a div when it comes to hardware. :-}

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crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: June 20th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Photos of the connectors would help a lot here. I think what you describe as "3mm audio" is what I think of as a phono or RCA connector; I've no idea what you mean by 8-pin VGA or 9-pin MMIC, but may recognise them on sight.

(How is the PlayStation connected to the TV box? For that matter, how is the monitor connected to the TVbox? It's not clear from your description...)

it is possible to connect an LCD monitor to a VCR, yes? The internet seems divided between "no you cant but just get a chepa tv lol" and "yeah you need some kinda box you can get it off ebay lol".

Possible, yes, anything's possible with the right kit ;-). The real question is whether it's more cost and hassle than just buying a moderately advanced TV with multiple inputs (co-ax, composite video, component video, S-video, HDMI, and there must be a teasmaid interface in here somewhere...)

Alas, the internet has answered this question for you in general; the answers frequently are "just buy a TV" and "buy a converter box". However, your TVbox does sound promising, and with more knowledge of its connectors it may well prove possible to hook it all up.

Edited at 2009-06-20 09:59 pm (UTC)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I will try to do photos today if I get time.

"3mm audio" = like the thing you get on normal headphones...

The monitor only has one connector, the 15-pin male thing, which plugs into the 15-pin thing on the TVBox (gah, sorry, Owen read them all out to me and missed that one, I will ETA it).

I can't remember how we got the PlayStation working but we did, once, so I'm not worried about that. We won't ever need it to be working at the same time as the VCR anyway. :-}

just buy a TV

Nope, sorry, not an option! We don't watch TV, we don't have a TV licence and don't want to start paying for one just to carry on not watching TV, we want to get rid of the crappy old TV we have. If that means we can't watch the videos we already have, then we'll get rid of the videos! :) If alternative solutions are too expensive then, well, shrug, we can't afford it, never mind. :)
crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: June 21st, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
OK. If I've read the tvbox's website correctly, one possible solution would be:
VCR - (Scart to Red+Yellow+White cable) - (Red+Yellow+White to MMIC cable) - TVbox. This may require phono-type gender menders between the two cables. I am however assuming that you have, or can get hold of, a RWY-to-MMIC like the diagram on the tvbox's website; a quick check of Maplin and Farnell doesn't turn up anything.

As others have said, VCR - (coax cable) - TVbox may do the job, as long as the TVbox will do analogue TV (i.e. isn't digital TV only).

(Side note: Despite what the TVL bullies want you to think, it is not a requirement to have a TV license if all you do is watch prerecorded videos.)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seems to be working with the coax thingy, so that's okay! Thank you for all the suggestions. I do wish I understood this stuff more. :-}

Despite what the TVL bullies want you to think, it is not a requirement to have a TV license if all you do is watch prerecorded videos

Oh I know (and to be fair I've never found them bullying -- they have never sent more than one letter to me at the same address, when I get the letter saying "you know, if you have a TV you should have a licence" I ring them up and say "I don't watch TV, so I don't need a licence"). It's just that the TV takes up so much space! The LCD monitor is about a tenth of the thickness/weight and about the same quality (not great, but adequate). :) And it seems silly to buy a top-quality TV when we don't watch TV.

I was briefly tempted by the gazilllion-inch Apple monitor thing but decided that a) we just don't watch enough TV/video/DVD/etc to justify it, & b) it would be really silly to buy something enormous and fragile before moving house. :-}
juggzy From: juggzy Date: June 20th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm probably a bit of a div, here, but it seems to me that the TV box is designed to take an analogue TV signal (you probably need to check that) and turn it into a signal suitable for an LCD monitor.

This is essentially the job that you want to do, so cable endings are a problem to be solved by finding adapters, rather than resigning yourself to be limited to the input/output styles that they have predefined.

I would take pictures of the the TV box video/TV signal inputs (look for audio and video inputs to see if they are separate) and pictures of the possible video outputs, similarly for TV outputs and LCD monitor inputs and take them to Maplins and try to find someone who can talk to you intelligently about input/output converters for the various bits of black box hardware.

They may well say that you may not be able to do it without looking at the functions of the individual pins in which case you can start chasing down instructions as to which pin/connection on which type of cable does what, or bin the lot. Theoretically, though, it should all be possible. This kind of cable chaos makes me cross because it is unecessary. Cables do not involve amplitudes that may damage signals - they're just a case of taking the right bit of information to the right place. The bits of hardware you have are clearly able to accept the signals and do conversions, so the cable confusion is just proprietry nonsense - and not your ignorance, just techy arrogance.

Having said that, you may need another black box between the video output and the TV box input; the video signal may have to be converted into something that a TV understands. So far as I can see, the TV box takes a signal that the TV understands and converts it into a signal that the LCD monitor understands. Most video players, however, output a signal directly into the TV - I don't know if TVs generally contain another set of blackboxes that convert the video signal into a TV signal or if the video output is already TV understandable.

Edited at 2009-06-20 10:03 pm (UTC)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to take pictures of everything today if I can. It could be a fun LJ quiz. :) If imc and truecatachresis's thing below doesn't work, then maybe Mr Maplin will be able to help, but to be honest he wasn't that helpful when I bought the TVBox from him. :-/

If it gets to tracking down functions of individual pins then, to be honest, I think I'm going to admit defeat and just, y'know, replace the videos on DVD or something sensible like that. :-}
imc From: imc Date: June 20th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
If the TV box has an antenna in, couldn't you connect the RF out from the VCR to it?

Otherwise, there might be something in the MMI-C connector, but like the others I have no idea what one of those is.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you and truecatachresis may be converging on a possible solution (or at least something to try). We don't have an RF/antenna cable, but could probably get hold of one...
truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: June 21st, 2009 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
As imc says, I suspect that your RF out will connect to the antenna in. Also, I have a cable combination lying around that I think will connect your video SCART to what is labelled on the product diagram from your link as MMI-C - a yellow AV connector, and red and white audio connectors. (The red and white audio might benefit from being connected separately from the video, I'm not sure.) This is likely to give a slightly better signal than the RF out.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh. I don't suppose you could lend us your cable combination, could you?

We don't have an RF/antenna cable but I'm guessing they're not too expensive...?
From: vatine Date: June 21st, 2009 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
It's (essentially) an RG-63 co-axial with RCA connectors. I believe they're in the £4-$8 range at Maplin.
truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: June 21st, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I'm not using it for anything at the moment. I have a spare RF cable as well, although I'm fairly sure those are dirt cheap.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
addedentry walked round to Maplin & bought one in the end. It was £8.99. Then he found one in the bottom of another box of cables. :-} Sod's law, or something like it. But thank you for working out what we needed!
truecatachresis From: truecatachresis Date: June 22nd, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent, as long as it does the job.
1ngi From: 1ngi Date: June 21st, 2009 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Obviously I'm on the bottom of most people's lists for tec support so it won't surprise you that I'm not about to offer you advice.

What I did want to say was *Congratulations* It's fab you've got all this way with New House - Addentry showed me the pic at your party. Very Exciting. Huge Potential n all that. And Iffley? Just a little bit jealous.

And if you can spare the £150 - pay for packers - seriously. When you are both working full time it really is worth it in reduced stress.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: June 21st, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seconded. I am never putting things in boxes myself again - add it to the mortgage.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

I think the £150 that one set of movers quoted us for packing is a mistake, to be honest; friends of ours paid £200 for packing (same company) and they only had a 2-bedroom flat, with considerably fewer than 3200 books. :-} And packing stuff ourselves would be a huge incentive to rationalise and declutter as we go along. But it is awfully tempting to get it done properly/quickly/by someone else.

"Huge potential" is about right. My fear is that in 10 years' time it'll still have "huge potential" i.e. we won't have done anything to it... :-}
damiancugley From: damiancugley Date: June 21st, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

Jeremy has a box that takes TV signal (as from the VCR) and writes it to memory cards.

I expect the TV box can convert the VCR TV signal to VGA as understood by the monitor—on the other hand, does not the TV Box count as a TV and hence need a TV licence anyway?
damiancugley From: damiancugley Date: June 21st, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

I am imagining SCART to RCA (red-white-yellow trio) using an adapter you don’t have, RCA to S-VIDEO (9-pin VIVO connector) via Mystery Cable #16 then S-VIDEO to the TV-Box then the TV-Box’s VGA to the monitor.

I have an RCA-to-SCART connector that goes between my PowerBook and iPod dock and a SCART input on my steam-powered TV; assuming it works in both directions, you would use it to get from SCART on the VCR to RCA.

There are connector photos on Wikipedia’s list of display interfaces that might help.
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

connector photos

Wow! That's incredibly useful, thank you! I can now start identifying all the mystery cables... 8-)

using an adapter you don't have

That's the story of my hardware life... :-}
j4 From: j4 Date: June 21st, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

Jeremy has a box that takes TV signal (as from the VCR) and writes it to memory cards.

Ah! I have been meaning to investigate those for ages. I think at some point (when Jeremy has unpacked, & probably after we move now to be honest) I may be asking for a loan of it... There are quite a lot of vids though & I suspect it'd take a long time to rip them all.

does not the TV Box count as a TV and hence need a TV licence anyway?

I don't think it counts as a TV - it has no way of receiving TV signal. Anyway, you don't need a TV licence unless you're watching live TV... (I wonder what the TVL people are going to do about iPlayer now that you can watch that live? Can they detect it?)
crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: June 22nd, 2009 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

For the purposes of TVL, the TVbox will count as much as the TV and VCR - i.e. it's capable of picking up the signals, but if it's never actually used as such there is no need for a license. (For this to hold water you must at least not have an aerial hooked up when an inspector calls, and it's probably safest to make sure that none of them are tuned to broadcast stations, the VCR clock isn't set, &c.)
j4 From: j4 Date: June 22nd, 2009 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

Out of curiosity, how would you use the TVbox to get live TV? There's no way to tune it or anything AFAICT...
crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: June 22nd, 2009 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time to digitize your VHS tapes?

Dunno, it's your kit not mine ;-)

According to the website you linked to, "[it] is a standalone, plug-and-play TV box which allows you to watch the terrestrial TV programmes on the LCD monitor". This is backed up by the diagram, which has an antenna input: these don't just magically work by themselves, there has to be some sort of tuning interface somewhere along the line. Indeed, addedentry must have interacted with it somehow if he's successfully brought up the VCR via a coax cable.
imc From: imc Date: June 22nd, 2009 11:14 am (UTC) (Link)
The TV Box is largely irrelevant for the TV Licensing question because the VCR would count as a licensable device (if it were tuned in to broadcast stations and had an antenna connected). However, if it has RF-in then it must have a tuner (does the VCR – TVBox via RF lead combination work, and if so how did you get the TVBox to find the signal?).
addedentry From: addedentry Date: June 22nd, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, the TV box can display a menu on the monitor screen, one option on which automatically scans the channels for a signal.

To be honest, we've no objection to paying for a TV licence - we want the space of a CRT television set and the principle of being able to tell people "actually, we don't own a television" (-:
j4 From: j4 Date: June 22nd, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
we've no objection to paying for a TV licence

Speak for yourself! I have one strong objection to paying to a TV Licence, namely: I don't watch live TV, and I don't see why I should pay for a service I don't use.

I don't object to the idea of paying for those of the BBC's services which I *do* use: if there was a radio licence then I'd pay it, & I would regard a 'BBC tax' (covering TV, radio, and bbc.co.uk) as fair and reasonable in principle.
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