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How to make your own RCA to USB adapter cables

Updated March 23, 2017

RCA cables are a simple but effective way of delivering audio-video signals between devices. Three RCA cables are used to deliver audio-video signals. Each RCA cable has two wires: one to carry the signal and one to provide grounding. More complex and developed to transfer data and charge electrical devices such as mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, universal serial bus (USB) cables have several more wires than an RCA cable. The complexity and intricacy of wiring a USB cable requires specialist tools. The most cost-effective method to make RCA to USB adaptor cables is to use a USB adaptor to convert the RCA cable into a USB cable.

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RCA adapter cable

  1. Strip 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) of plastic coating from each end of the RCA cable using a small knife or wire strippers. This exposes a red and black wire.

  2. Strip 6 mm (1/4 inch) of the end of each coloured wire using wire strippers or a small knife. Touch each wire with a soldering iron and solder. Let the solder melt so it covers the exposed wire then remove the soldering iron and allow the solder to cool.

  3. Use a red coloured RCA jack and unscrew the cap from the jack. Slide the cover over the cable with the threaded end facing the end of the wire. The RCA jack has two terminals, a central terminal and an outer terminal. Place the red wire on the central terminal then solder the wire to it. Allow to cool, then place the black wire on the outer terminal and solder it on. Allow it to cool, then slide the cap down the cable and screw it on the RCA jack.

  4. Repeat the process using a red coloured RCA jack for the opposite end of the cable. This cable carries the right audio sound.

  5. Use a second RCA cable and repeat the entire process, but use black coloured RCA jacks at each end. This cable delivers left audio sound.

  6. Use a third RCA cable and repeat the process a third time, but use yellow coloured RCA jacks at each end. This cable delivers a video signal. The three cables will be used to connect to the USB converter.

RCA to USB adaptor

  1. Push the red, black and yellow RCA plugs attached to your RCA cable into the corresponding coloured sockets on your audio-video device.

  2. Connect the RCA jacks at the opposite end of the cable into the three coloured sockets on the USB converter. The USB converter has a USB cable attached.

  3. Insert the USB connector attached to the wire that extends from the converter into your device. Turn on both devices and your converter reconfigures RCA signals into USB data signals.

  4. Tip

    RCA to USB adaptors are widely available from your electrical store. The converter will have a small unit on end with three RCA sockets. The unit converts RCA to USB and has a USB cable which is permanently attached to the unit and a USB connector at the other end of the wire. You can purchase an inexpensive RCA cable ready-wired from your electrical store.

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Things You'll Need

  • Six RCA jacks (two red, two black, two yellow)
  • RCA cable
  • RCA to USB converter
  • Small knife
  • Wire strippers
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder

About the Author

Stephen Benham has been writing since 1999. His current articles appear on various websites. Benham has worked as an insurance research writer for Axco Services, producing reports in many countries. He has been an underwriting member at Lloyd's of London and a director of three companies. Benham has a diploma in business studies from South Essex College, U.K.

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