Alternative Switches

 

This page shows you how to use switches other than SCART for your RGB setup. I need to start out by saying this isn't an easy thing to do and not something a beginner should handle on their own. If you're using eight or less RGB consoles (or don't mind swapping cables now and then), using a SCART switch (or daisy-chaining a few together) would be a much easier choice and I recommend you check out the SCART Switch page for all the info you'd need.

If you'd like an alternate solution (or your setup requires VGA as well as RGB), please read on.

Almost any passive switch can be used, (provided you made your own custom cables), but I wanted to focus on finding a switch that's easy to find cables for, offers many inputs, includes audio ports and has excellent video quality. As a result, I found two options that seem to be the best choices: high-end VGA and BNC switches.

All of the options listed here require that your RGB systems are outputting csync and not using composite video as sync.  I have a page dedicated to how to get csync from each console if you're interested: Getting csync from each console

 

BNC / RGBHV Switches / Extron Crosspoint

If you have the space for a very large device, a great option would be to get an RGBHV switch with BNC connectors.  A common and excellent switch to buy is the Extron Crosspoint series of switches.  Most of them include multiple matrix outputs, as well as audio ports (always check to make sure your model has audio support).  Unfortunately, most of the switches come with missing audio connectors, but you can easily find replacements by checking eBay (links to the right) or even by checking Extron's website and then searching around for the corresponding part number (or description).  Also, Extron makes an "RCA Phoenix connector", but please check first to make sure it's compatible with your switch: http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=csr6&s=4

Before connecting your consoles, you'll need to determine a few things:

- Does the switch require csync (all Crosspoints do), or can it accept composite video and luma as sync?

- What size BNC switch are you using?  Larger switches require cables that have longer BNC ends, in order to fit all the way across all the ports.

The best solution for crosspoints is getting cables that connect driectly from the console to the switch.  Retro Console Accessories is now offering direct console-to-BNC cables and if you need a longer BNC end, just let them know when purchasing.  Another (possibly more expensive) alternative would be using your existing RGB SCART cables with adapter cables for each console.  You can even get a version with a built-in sync stripper, which might be the best solution for PS1, PS2 and possibly even N64 (depending on the mod).

For VGA cables with longer ends, try searching for "Extron SYM BNCM" cables.  They come in sizes ranging from 6 inches all the way to 75 feet!  Below is an example of VGA to BNC cables who's ends are too short for the larger Extron switches (left picture), as well as the SYM BNCM with the longer connectors on the right:

Provided you have the modding skills, another alternative would be to add a custom RGB output to your systems and use a VGA to BNC cable, such as the "BNCM" cable pictured above.  This is covered in detail in the Custom RGB Connector page.  In this scenario, for audio, I just use the console's standard A/V out cables and cut the RCA connectors off, allowing the exposed audio cable to fit directly into the audio screw connector.  Check the links on the right for good Crosspoint switches --->


VGA Switches

A few years ago, I decided to use a VGA switch for my setup, since I had limited space and wanted a small solution. A BNC switch (shown above) is probably a better choice, but I needed something as small as possible. I found a company called Aten that offered a 16-port VGA switch (Model# VS1601), which worked very well.

There are too many VGA switches available to review, but I'll offer some basic VGA switch advice: Many VGA switches were built for KVM use in a server room. They offer many ports and options, however they were designed for ease-of-use, not video quality. If you need to use a VGA switch, first make sure it supports audio (or plan on buying an audio switch as well).  Next, try to google reviews and buy from a place that accepts returns, in case it doesn't work as expected (or in the rare circumstance that it doesn't support 15Khz RGB signals). 

If you use a VGA switch, you have a few cable choices:

You could buy RGB SCART cables and change the heads from SCART to VGA using this diagram (just separate audio and cover any remaining cables so they don't cause a short).  Alternatively, you can contact Retro Gaming Cables or Retro Accessories and ask them to make you a cable with a VGA connector on the end, instead of SCART. I purchased custom cables from both suppliers and although both came out fine, it was very hard to get: Neither seller likes making custom solutions and would rather stick to products they offer standard (I don't blame them).

Provided you have the modding skills, another option would be to add a custom RGB output to the consoles that don't already have an output (Atari 2600, TG-16, etc) and use a standard VGA cable.  This is covered in detail in the Custom RGB Connector page.  In this scenario, for audio, I just use the console's standard A/V out cables and use a Y adapter (links to the right) to connect them to a switch.  Also, here's some cheap VGA Cables from Amazon that I've tested and work great:
Thick VGA Cable:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DIG9W4I
Thin VGA Cable:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087OV77G 


 

I hope this page had everything you needed, but feel free to contact me if I missed anything. If you came here while reading the RGB Guide (or are interested in RGB mods), please head over to: Getting RGB From Each System.