While the RF adapter for my new TurboGrafx-16 put out a clear enough picture, I could see a few muddy spots when I upscaled it to my recording hardware and the most important thing is that RF modulation doesn’t output in stereo. Having found these issues grind on me a bit, I took it upon myself to see what options I have to bring this classic hardware into a clearer view.
Originally, I was finding ways to do this as an actual mod without having to open the console or buy a Turbo Booster. Having to open the case of the system isn’t anything new to me but if I didn’t have to do it, I was thinking that I may be able to do it easier. After a TON of digging, I found a DIY cable found on Classic Gaming Quarterly. FINALLY! An external sourced AV “mod”!
Going out to my local electronics “shack”, I originally found a DB25 Crimp setup for roughly $5 and a spool of wire (way more than what I would ever need) for $12. Not being happy with the amount I would be spending, I found a set of kit jumpers from Schmartboard (7″ female jumpers) for $6 and that is all I would need! I already had the stereo AV cable, silver solder, soldering iron, heat gun and shrink tubing so this makes the project build incredibly cheap with minimal lefovers!
- I started by cutting the AV cable in half then strip the cut end down to the wires and twisted them all down.
- I also twisted all the outside (ground) wires together and made them all common grounds.
- Taking 2 of the Schmartboard wires, I cut them in half and strip them down and twist each wire to the Left, Right, Video and Ground.
- Since this project was about doing it as cheaply as possible, all my crimp wires were the same color of blue. The remedy was to use red, yellow, white and black nail polish to designate which signal goes to which wire.
- Soldered all the twisted pairs together and sleeved them with shrink tubing.
(All 4 sleeved with 3.5mm tubing and the transition between the individual strands to the raw end of the AV cable is sleeved with 7mm shrink tube.)
All that’s left is to plug it in.
Using the pinout found on http://www.gamesx.com/misctech/pcebp.php, I just had to decide on where I wanted to push the ground onto.
After connecting R to C1, L to A1, V to A22… I chose to use the C20 lead on the right side to balance out the distribution of connections for the ground signal.
After test fitting the stock dust cover on the back of the system, I connect it to the AV ports on the my setup and try some games out.
IT LOOKS GREAT!
Alien Crush seems to be the best example (in my tiny library) since it has them most little baubles and doo dads on the screen that can show off the bleed/clean up between RF and Composite. Only one thing that I noticed, and this could be that RF is pushing all noises out of all channels, is that RF gives the illusion of being louder. This became evident when I played Sidearms. The music phased differently from left and right channels and the overall composition seemed like it was slightly muted. Again, this could be how RF is carrying all sound through all the audio channels. Nothing a volume knob can’t fix! One other thing that I noticed is that the folks at Classic Gaming Quarterly noted that you can’t put the original dust cover back on with this cable in place. I’m not sure if the issue is from the DB25 crimp pins being too long, but I have no issues with the clearance on the pins. The thickness of the cable makes it a tight fit when routing both the power and AV cable through the supplied hole, but it’s not impossible. My TurboGrafx-16 looks like stock with the addition of an extra set of cabling in the back.
So overall, this little project was at minimal cost and took less than an hour to complete. (This includes assembly and the time to test the system.) Even though I was complaining about having overhead, it was about the sheer amount of it I would have had once I complete a single cable. I have a minimal amount to overhead with a little room to create a few more cables, if need be.
Now I just need to clean up… :/