VGA to RCA Splicing

Written by richard asmus
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VGA to RCA Splicing
When connecting a monitor, it's best to match formats or use a converter. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

For years, the computer and home entertainment industries have been producing and improving various video formats to create higher quality presentations on viewing screens. Users may have equipment with different formats that they want to connect together. Electronic converters can change any format to any other. But attempting to change VGA to a format that uses RCA connectors by splicing signals together offers the least effective results that often don't work at all.


A VGA connection sends five basic signals to a monitor on separate wires. Three signals contain analogue information for the three primary video colours, red, blue and green, and two additional signals for horizontal and vertical synchronisation. It also has four wires for a path to send infromation from the monitor back to the video source for various control functions, depending on the equipment options. VGA was originally designed for computer monitors, but today carries high-resolution signals from DVD players, came consles and cable and satellite receivers to high-definition television sets using a 15-pin trapezoidal "D-sub" connector.

RCA Formats

The two video formats that use RCA connectors are composite and component video. Composite video mixes all colour and synchronisation onto a single cable. Component video uses three cables, with a complex signal that contains all colours, mixed with brightness and synchronisation information on one cable labelled "Y." Two other cables labelled Cr and Cb carry matrixed informaton to pick the red and blue information out of the Y signal and eventually present the signals as three separate colours. Many users confuse these three signals with the pure red, green and blue signals of the VGA format.


Some users splice the colour and horizontal sync signals on a VGA connector together, then connect them to an RCA plug and call it a composite video signal. Others splice the horizontal, vertical or both signals from a VGA connector to with the green signal and connect them to one RCA connector, then connect the red and blue VGA signals to two more RCA connectors and call it component video. Although some monitors may be able to read these signals and present a picture of marginal quality, often they don't work at all.

VGA Conversion

A VGA converter, sometimes called an adaptor, uses an electronic process to read VGA signals and convert the informaton into proper signals for other video formats, includng those that use RCA connectors. Some models convert to only one format and others convert to two or more. They also have options to send necessary information back to a VGA video source. Converters have different resolution options and you should choose one that matches your equipment specifications. Converters can range from less than £65 up to £390 for the most sophisticated models.

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