Need help/advice converting an RF signal (Atari 7800 &Turbografx 16) into composite - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-18-2012, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I am building a "retro rack" of older systems. I purchased an 8 way composite switch so that I could simplify any switching process...I intend to run the composite cables from the SNES, Genesis, etc right into the switch, and to run the switch out into my A/V receiver. 8 systems at the press of a button (assuming the AV receiver is on the right in, natch)

My problem comes in converting the coaxial RF signal of the Atari 7800 and the Turbografx 16 into composite so I can plug them into the 8 way composite switch.

My plan was to use the old fashioned VCR trick. I figured on running the two systems coaxial signals into a 2-into-1 line combiner (the systems will never be on at the same time so I figured why bother with an A/B switcher, plus I want to keep the switching process between systems as minimal as possible) and then running that single coax into a VCR which will demodulate (I think that is the right term) the rf signal into the red, white and yellow composites.

Thing is, I don't have a VCR anymore. Don't have any tapes, and don't intend to start watching tapes again. So unless I hit upon one at the recycling center (read: local dump) I am gonna be dropping some small amount of cash on getting one, and I'll NEVER be watching tapes on it.

So is there any other way I can do this process semi-economically?

I looked up RF DE-modulators which seem to do the job but didn't find any sub 80$. Which is more than I am inclined to pay since that is more than I paid for BOTH systems combined that I am trying to convert! Are there cheaper units out there I am missing?

Would a stand alone TV tuner with an RF in and composite outs do the same job? These seem to be far easier to find and far cheaper than a de-modulator.

(My TV DOES have an RF in that I could run a long coax cable directly too, I simply don't want to have to handle these two systems differently than the other six. The whole point is a clean, uniform installation with common sense operation--not "oh these 6 work that way but these 2 work THIS way". Plus in that case, the systems sound would be coming from my TV speakers and not through the receiver, and then I'd have to futz with my TV volume and input too.)

(I am aware of the Turbo Booster AV add on for the TG-16 which converts that system's signal into composite BUT I am not a picture purist when it comes to these things so a slightly less sharp RF picture is OK by me--and the Atari 7800 is RF/coaxial or nothing so I have to deal with this issue one way or the other. EDIT: before someone points out the composite-out mod for the 7800, I am aware of that too. But it's beyond my tech level and nearly as expensive as a de-modulator.)

ANY help or advice is MUCH appreciated! If I am explaining something poorly or am confused on how these signals work please let me know...the last time I hooked these things up...the TV had screws on the back!
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-21-2012, 06:40 PM
 
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A busted VCR is the cheapest way to do this. The $86 demodulator off of Amazon is the best way to do it. There aren't really many other options that I can find after a quick search.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-22-2012, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenWheels View Post

and the Atari 7800 is RF/coaxial or nothing so I have to deal with this issue one way or the other. EDIT: before someone points out the composite-out mod for the 7800, I am aware of that too. But it's beyond my tech level and nearly as expensive as a de-modulator.)

There are people that will do it for you. I have two S-Video modified Atari 7800's (Which also do composite), both of which were video boards I didn't design or produce and also didn't install. One uses an 8 Bit Domain board and was installed by a company called Old School Gamer up in Canada that I've never been pleased with. And another was done by someone at AtariAge whose name I forget (Healso made an excellent Atari 2600 s-video mod that I love) that has been perfect.

For under $100, you can get a great image out of your 7800 and leave RF behind. Sounds like more than you're willing to spend, but worth mentioning in case someone else ever stumbled across this wondering if there was something they could do to a classic system to get improved video quality.

Other than some dedicated Pong style units from the 1970's, my Intellivison, and my Oydessy 2, I've left the world of RF behind and haven't looked back. Barely even have any composite consoles any longer (Just my NES, my Coleco ADAM computer, and some modern plug and plays like my C64 DTV). Everything else has been modified to do at least S-Video.

Never ventured into the world of RGB and don't intend to. That's where things start to become pricey with classic consoles and complicated.
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-03-2012, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. i picked up, gratis, a used Daewoo VCR at the dump. Works fine if not great...I forgot how wavy RF can be. May try another VCR when I get a chance.

I think once I have the rack built and I get bored without something to tinker on I may look to upgrade the 7800 to composite.

Another dumb Q maybe....As I said I want to run the two rfs into a combiner so it is as one line going into the VCR. Can I just flip a $5 Radio Shack splitter around and use the in as an out and the outs as two ins? Or do I actually need a unit labelled "splitter/combiner"?
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-03-2012, 12:44 PM
 
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Can you not daisy chain them? I seem to remember both my NES and 2600 having RF packs that had an input for the antenna on the other end that you could just hook another RF pack to.
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-06-2012, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

Can you not daisy chain them? I seem to remember both my NES and 2600 having RF packs that had an input for the antenna on the other end that you could just hook another RF pack to.

Ha! I'll be damned, didn't even think of that. In 1986 or 2012!

The 7800 one is not a box RF unit (just the composite cord with the little rf adapter on the end) so there is no "in" to use but the TG-16 one is a box unit with an "ant" in. I can run the 7800 through that. I'm a little embarrassed I didn't think of that but thanks man! As these are likely the only two rf systems I'll EVER have hooked up this solves my problem.
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