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Thread: RF cables

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    RF cables

    I was just rummaging though some old computer stuff and came across my Atari 2600.

    But this got me thinking. The broadcasting industry is a long way into the move from analogue to digital, and the digital broadcasting switchover in the UK and US, and probably many other countries has begun. Soon there will come a point where new TVs will not be sold with analogue TV tuners or the original RF connector.

    When this happens, what will become of all our old beloved retro computers and consoles that only have an RF input? The Atari 2600 for example has an RF cable hardwired into it's case and no other output. And many other early 8-bit systems only had this connection type too.

    So what can be done to prolong their life? Make them compatible with newer standards like composite?

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    If the TV only has a digital tuner but has a composite input, you would need an external TV tuner which has a composite output. I can't see any reason why that would be too hard to make.

    If the TV has no analogue inputs and only has RGB or HDMI, then you would need a converter, which is likely to get expensive.

    It will probably be a long time before there are no TVs avaliable with analogue tuners. Since alot of products are sold in several countries, it would probably be best for manufacturers to keep putting both in, so that countries that still have analogue systems can use the TVs as well.

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    But the analogue circuits inside any hardware these days is normally just a standalone module connected to the main circuit board. For example when I opened up a DVD Recorder recently the RF part was a separate sealed unit with Philips written on it, even though the main unit was from LiteOn.

    What I'm trying to get at is that most parts are now off the shelf and manufacturers of TV sets and any other technology can just add or remove components based on the end market. Most electronics we already get in the UK for example have an E after the model number. This denotes that it is a version of the product specifically for the UK market. Normally some things have been removed, other added or altered etc...

    The only thing is. Freeview works by being connected to a standard aerial, as used by analogue TV. So does that mean the same circuits are actually still being used?

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    No, it will require different circuits as the freeview signals are still in the UHF band (analogue frequencies may be different to digital, but are still in the same band, which is why the arial should be compatible, but some people might need new ones), but are transmitted differently.

    Just having higher or lower frequencies might mean that similar circuits could be used, with just different values of components for detecting the different frequencies. But freeview is transmitted differently to analogue television. Freeview uses QAM. On an analogue transmision, the picture is an AM signal, whereas the sound is an FM signal. This is again, different to the old 405 line system, where both the picture and sound were AM (as far as I'm aware).

    The same arial should be usable because the arial *should* be able to cope with the frequencies of both analogue and Freeview.

    Then of course the signal that has been decoded from the transmission is obviously a 1 or a 0, instead of picture, colour and sound, so the digital signal has to be processed in some way or other.

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    At the moment you can hook up a freeview box via an aerial rf socket from a freeview box to a TV. I wonder if that will be kept in the future.

    And I actually still have a perfectly working 14" TV that only has an RF socket. Not even a scart socket! Would be a shame to not be able to use that if needed in the future. Although I suppose I could keep it with the Atari 2600!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harrison View Post
    At the moment you can hook up a freeview box via an aerial rf socket from a freeview box to a TV. I wonder if that will be kept in the future.
    If you are refering to the pass through, it woul dbe silly to not include one. What if you had a freeview box for watching digital television on an old analogue TV, and a video recorder with freeview? Both would still need an arial. You just wouldn't have any need to connect the arial to the TV.

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    I'm not 100% sure, but I reckon you could modify the Atari 2600 to output composite instead of RF. I know this is doable with the Spectrum, so I reckon it'll be doable with other machines.

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    Lets face it we will not see the end of the RF input for at least 20 years. Most people still use and will still use for years to come their VCR. Plus if in 20 years time you have an old computer or console that requires a RF cable then you'll no doubt have a working vintage TV to use it on.
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    And that raises a question. In years to come will we see retro TV sites and communities pop up in a similar way to the current retro gaming and retro system sites and communities? Can you imagine it? Discussions about remote control hacks to get the most from your 2002 Sony 24" CRT. And imagine all the hardware pr0n of the insides of TV sets. Zetr0 would go blind!

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    'Old' analogue TVs will become as collectable as vintage computers and other vintage electronica; although their joints do tend to dry out so I guess it will help to be handy with a soldering iron!

    If only somebody made modern flat-wide-screen TVs in the same presentational style as the old TVs with the wooden (teak?) casing. So stylish, and very much in keeping with the old Atari 2600s.

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