DIY VGA to USB Converter

DIY VGA to USB Converter
Image Credit: Suwat Rujimethakul/iStock/GettyImages

A Video Graphics Array (VGA) connector is an indispensable element of modern computer hardware. The chances are good that you have used a VGA connector at some point to connect a monitor to a computer. VGA connectivity is responsible for ensuring that data transmitted by a computer's graphics card is properly interpreted and represented on a monitor. This type of connector differs significantly from a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector. Although you can't create your own VGA-to-USB converter, you can benefit greatly from learning more about how these two data formats differ and how a store-bought adapter can help you harness the power of both popular data formats.

Tip

Creating your own VGA-to-USB converter is all but impossible. That said, you can use a VGA-to-USB adapter to facilitate a wide variety of tasks.

About VGA and USB

On a basic level, VGA and USB each represent a different form of data transfer. VGA connectors rely on a 15-pin plug and a cable that exclusively transfers RGBHV video signals. This acronym stands for red, green, blue, and horizontal/vertical sync. Ultimately, the VGA cable is responsible for transmitting all elements and information needed to recreate an image on screen accurately.

Following its introduction in 1987, VGA quickly became one of the most popular and ubiquitous forms of video connectivity. In recent years, however, VGA has slowly been replaced by more contemporary formats, including Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and the ever-popular High-Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI.

This does not mean to imply that VGA is no longer used, but only that it is no longer considered an integral component of computer monitors or other large-screen formats. Wherever you are planning on buying a VGA cable, the chances are good that you can expect a similar degree of quality and performance.

Exploring the Fundamentals of USB

Whereas VGA is responsible for transmitting a strict set of data related to video, USB is a broader communication protocol that acts as a standard by which various forms of hardware peripherals, such as keyboards and hard drives, exchange data with each other. A Walmart USB cable should function identically to a USB cable from any tech store.

On its own, USB achieves a broader degree of functionality than a standard VGA cable. It is important to remember that both VGA and USB are not capable of exchanging data with each other unless some form of intermediary is used, which is why it is necessary to use a VGA-to-USB adapter to transfer data correctly.

DIY VGA-to-USB Adapters

Broadly defined, a VGA-to-USB adapter is designed to allow VGA devices to transfer data through a USB port. To accomplish this, the adapter mimics a VGA port and effectively bypasses the incompatibility issues presented by USB. There is likely no DIY method you can use to create your own VGA-to-USB converter. Doing so requires expert-level knowledge of computer technology and processor design. A detailed description of this process can be found at the Cornell University website (see resources). Fortunately, these adapters can be purchased relatively inexpensively through major computer retailers.

After you obtain an adapter, plug the VGA connector into the female end of the adapter and connect the male end to your computer's USB port. If you are using a Windows computer, the chances are good that you need to install a driver at this point. Similar issues may not confront Mac users. When the process is completed successfully, you can use your VGA-to-USB adapter for tasks such as connecting a second computer monitor to your setup.

references & resources