Sunday, April 11, 2010

Integrating game consoles, computers: go RCA cable

I love the 70 year old RCA connector.

It was the perfect invention, but the internet does not know who the inventor was. Those were the days when "RCA" was as Apple is now, but companies got credit rather than people. (RCA died in 1986, the name is just a trademark now.)

I renewed my RCA connector appreciation when I decided to move the kids Wii console from the basement to the family room. Downstairs we plugged the Wii into my 1986 stereo receiver, but upstairs we didn't have anything. Somewhat impulsively [1], I bought a Logitech z313 computer stereo to share between the iMac and the Wii.

Since my sound system knowledge ended in 1976 this "sharing" took a bit of figuring. There's no "receiver" to manage the different audio sources; the amplifier function is built into the computer speakers. There's also some mystery about how to connect things; my iMac and the z313 use 3.5 mm stereo connectors, the Wii uses RCA.

The answer is to covert the 3.5 mm connections to RCA, then use a simple RCA A/V switch. Instead of pushing buttons on a complex receiver you need to use a much simpler analog AV switch (I'm not sure this is progress actually).

A prior post reviews the cable connections. You use some mixture of "Y" RCA stereo cables with either male or female 3.5 mm plugs (and an optional 3.5 mm plug join) to convert the 3.5 mm stuff to a nice RCA connector standard.

For a switch you can use something like the RCA VH911 Video Switch Box or the SONY Game and Video Selector (#1 in "selector boxes" - see[2]).

Once you know the above, the rest is easy.

See alo:
[1] I violated Gordon's Laws of acquisition. I could have made this work with a battery powered speaker I already own. I did penance by reorganizing the computer area, donating several items, and tossing more things out. The Logitech sounds much better than I'd expected; for this result I should have paid more to get something that might last longer. It's much better sound that what my old stereo produces at reasonable volumes.

[2] Amazon doesn't have a consistent classification (ontology) for these devices. If you start with this list the "what do customers buy" section should provide good coverage:

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