How to Make a VGA to RCA Cable

A VGA to RCA cable is not a common need but it serves a variety of useful purposes.
Image Credit: nikkytok/iStock/GettyImages

A VGA to RCA cable is not a common need but it serves a variety of useful purposes. While you can wire a custom cable to make the conversion possible, using a preexisting cable is much easier and more effective. If wiring your own is strongly desired, however, making the connection is a relatively simple project with basic electrical tools.

VGA and RCA Functions

The VGA and RCA cable connections are both used for media display and audio purposes. The VGA specifically stands for Video Graphics Array and the connection is common on home computers, laptops, televisions and even some gaming consoles. The purpose of this 15 pin style connection is bridging video and audio output from one machine to an outside display.

For example, connecting a VGA to your computer and to a television set makes it possible to convert the television into a giant monitor. It will display the same screen as your computer and you can even set the television settings to act like a second monitor where you can drag and drop windows off the computer. The uses for this setup are endless and it works well for projecting video to a big television or even as a giant display for business and school presentations.

The RCA connection is also used for video and audio transmission. It essentially serves the same purpose as a VGA connector with a different hardware setup. The RCA setup is color-coded with a red, white and yellow cable that corresponds with color matching jacks on the device.

Reasons for VGA to RCA

The specific need for a VGA to AV (RCA) cable adapter is not common. The adapter is most useful when one device is set up for a VGA connection and another is wired for RCA. Many modern televisions and monitors are excluding the VGA connectors but the RCA remains prevalent across the board.

This means a computer will often have the VGA connection but the television or monitor for the extension does not and an adapter cable is required to bridge the mismatched pattern in connection types. In many cases, the primary function of the adapter cable is linking an older computer to a newer television.

The other common need for this adapter is a projector setup. The computer will likely use a VGA connection while a new monitor relies on RCA connectors. The adapter cable will solve this dilemma and make a connection possible without requiring the purchase of a new computer or an older model projector.

Finding Adapter Cables

Making your own cable adapter is possible but purchasing a new adapter is much easier. The only reason for building your own involves cost savings because you have old cables readily available for the work. Otherwise, jump online or visit a local electronics store to easily acquire a cable that will function immediately.

The best method of building your own cable is through a detailed wiring diagram. You will need wire cutters to cut and strip sections off each cable. After making the cuts, pairing and splicing the correct wires is the next step. This step is crucial as the video and sound wiring must match to transmit audio and video between the cables.

The issue with building your own converter and sometimes with using an off-the-shelf model involves video card compatibility. Transmitting to a simple television or monitor is common and often works without issue but transmitting to a different computer or device with an incompatible video card will often make it difficult or impossible to receive and process the sound and audio correctly.