Wanted: Clever minds for solving an annoying transcoding puzzle

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by od1n, May 6, 2005.

  1. od1n

    od1n
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    Hi everyone.

    As you might deduct, this is my first post so first off, a little praise.
    You see, I've been lurking on this forum for a while, and in that short time I've already benefitted greatly from others' knowledge of home cinema setups. This is truly THE place to be if you're passionate about tinkering with these things. General tone is extremely friendly and helpful, which is no small feat when you consider the amount of users. Kudos to all of you.

    That out of the way, I apologize for the vague header, but my question isn't excactly easy to sum up in one line, so bear with me.

    Before I pose it, I'd like to sum up my setup since the problem lies herein:

    In my combined livingroom/entertainment room, I have a huge amount of consoles and a DVD-player. For display I have a Panasonic PT-AE500 projector and a 32" 16:9 standard CRT TV.
    Several of my entertainment sources have component out, which I have hooked up to my projector via a component switch.

    But here comes the problem: Whenever I feel like playing i.e. Xbox, GameCube, PS2 on the TV instead of the projector, I'll have to change cables to SCART or S-video since these are the only signals my TV can handle. This was fun for a while, but since the back of my room has gone extremely messy with cables, this has really come to suck all the fun out of my entertainment rig.

    Plan 1:
    -------
    Recently I've come up with a plan to get a component switch with two outputs (like the Zektor HDS4.2), hook up all my component units and run one component output directly to my projector and the other one into a component to SCART RGB transcoder, which in turn would be plugged into my TV. With this matrix-setup, I'd be able to select my input source and display device without the discomfort of removing and inserting new cables.

    I searched high and low for a component to SCART RGB transcoder, and finally found the APTUS2 from Keene Electronics. Sadly, a short mail exchange with them revealed that the APTUS2 would only transcode component signals conforming to PAL or NTSC standards (not a showstopper, though - I'd just have to not select 720P or 1080i on the consoles for the games that support it), but what's worse - it outputs progressive scan if the input is progressive scan.
    That's no good. S-video or SCART RGB-only units like my TV cannot handle progressive scan, which was the whole point to begin with, so that solution isn't really feasible.
    What I need is a component to SCART RGB or S-video transcoder able to output interlace, even if the input is progressive. Such a device, apparantly, is hard to come by.

    Plan 2:
    -------
    So I quickly went into the DVDO iScan HD / HD+ territory. Seeing as I've dreamt of this scaler from day one, I thought that if it handled the needed transcoding operation too, then I'd perhaps bite the bullet and invest earlier, even though I can't really afford it. But then I noticed the outputs on them. No SCART (to be expected of US device) but also no S-video. Bummer. The only outputs are VGA and DVI. So this device is not the solution I am looking for either.

    Plan 3:
    -------
    After hitting the brick wall with the iScan HDs, in my search for a useful component to RGB trancoder I came across a lot of devices able to transcode component into VGA. Then I found a bunch of devices able to turn VGA into SCART RGB or S-video. A solution formed in my mind:

    Consoles -> Zektor HDS4.2 -> component to VGA transcoder -> VGA to SCART RGB transcoder -> TV.

    ...But when I look at it, it looks really messy and I'm quite concerned that I'll be loosing a lot of quality on the way, since the final result on the TV will only be as good as the weakest link in the chain.


    So there. I'm all out of ideas. My hair is turning grey with pondering, and thus I throw myself at the mercy of you guys:
    How, oh HOW can this puzzle be solved? Any and all help or directions to devices will be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Anders Petersen (od1n)
     
  2. Carl Ed

    Carl Ed
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    Your TV takes RGBS (RGB with composite sync), so you only need a transcoder that can convert from YPbPr to RGBS to get that to work. The transcoder should (I assume) work with progressive signals as well (of course your TV will display it as interlaced). You can get transcoders that support HD signals, but as your TV doesn't support them there really is no point.

    If you really want a scaler, then get one I say. :D This'll be a good excuse to let your wife let you get one! Get a scaler which can output both RGBHV on DVI for your projector and RGBS on D-sub/4x BNC for your TV and then use a simple D-sub/4xBNC to Scart breakout cable to connect it up. That way it'll do your switching for you.
     
  3. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Anders

    i bet it would be cheaper to buy another ps2/gc/ps2 , and a decent rgb scart switch, and dedicate them to your CRT.

    Then leave your existing setup wired to the projector with the consoles running in component.

    :)
     
  4. od1n

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    Hi Carl. Thanks for the swift reply.

    Ok, correct me if I'm way off track, but what I can read out of the above tells me that RGBS == SCART RGB. Is that right?
    I'm very sure my TV does not take progressive signals under any circumstances, though. (Is there an easy way to test this?)

    Nevertheless, a transcoder with HD support and the ability to transcode YPbPr to RGBS would still make sense to me, provided I get a standard NTSC or PAL interlaced signal out of it. You see, both the Xbox and PS2 are able to ouput HD signals, and having the transcoder support them would allow me to leave the consoles on the 720P setting, getting a great image on my projector while still being able to see it on my TV without changing anything.

    But as I said earlier, it's not crucial. A YPbPr transcoder able to take 576i/p or 480i/p signals and output SCART RGB or Y/C would suffice.

    thanks for the advice. ^_^ - I will get one at one point, but if it's not needed for this little project, I'd rather push the purchase closer to later this year.

    But from what I can tell, the iScans do not output interlaced PAL/NTSC signals. Only progressive (which of course makes sense, since the devices were mainly made for upscaling content to HD displays).
     
  5. od1n

    od1n
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    Oh, but you're forgetting The Wife Factor.
    Adding more consoles to my already filled rack would not be a popular marital move.

    The other thing you're forgetting is that savegames are placed on the harddrive with the Xbox, so just turning on the other one to continue where I left off in a given game wouldn't work. Of course, there are memorycards for the system, but more often than not the games use savegame files so large, the memorycards aren't supported.

    Apart from that though, you're probably right. It may turn out to be just as cheap/expensive. I'm just not up for more units and clutter to achieve it.
     
  6. Carl Ed

    Carl Ed
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    That's right. Scart carries RGB with composite sync (scart is just a cable format, not a signal format, you see).

    I guess your first stop would be to ring up the company who made your TV, try and got hold of some of their high-level customer support, and ask them.

    There are transcoders that support HD out there if that's what you decide to do. They just cost more.

    You can actually get cheap[ish] dongles that convert from YPbPr to Y/C. They don't exactly offer the best quality known to man, but they'll give you a serviceable picture and aren't too expensive, if that's your thing.

    They can output 1080i, but not 480i/576i.
     
  7. od1n

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    Yep, I knew that much. I just didn't know what the proper term for the RGB signal coming through the SCART cable was. But now I do. Thanks.


    I've now spent a couple of hours searching for both, but the only thing I keep bumping into is the APTUS2 (which, as stated earlier, I cannot use due to the fact that it doesn't scan-convert and I need interlace at all times).

    If you've come across anything, by all means let me know. An URL or even a vague pointer would be greatly appreciated. Either way, you've been a great help already.
     
  8. Carl Ed

    Carl Ed
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    I can't think of any off hand, but you hear them discussed over at AVS forum from time to time. Prehaps do a search over there...
     
  9. SeanT

    SeanT
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    I think you should get a progressive enabled TV with component inputs....
     
  10. Piers

    Piers
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    or take a look at the Lumagen scalers. Even the entry level DVI model should do what you want.
     
  11. NonPayingMember

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    An upscaling solution such as a Lumagen is the opposite of what's needed!!

    For this setup you require a signal processor that will also downscale and interlace to RGBcvS for your TV. These are quite common for PC signals, but much less so for downscaling HD component signals. The only one I know is an Extron signal processor that takes in component, RGB, svhs or composite, and outputs any of these (progressive or interlace where possible). But for the cost of the thing you could buy an XGA res 42" plasma screen and have some change!!

    Unfortunately what you want to do simply cannot be done on a budget without jeopardising image quality with poor downconversion. And the kind of budget that is required is quite unjustifiable. Disabling progressive scan on the console each time you are to use the TV will enable a setup with a YUV-RGBcvS converter from a secondary output on the Zektor, but I can imagine this is going to be almost as much a pain as switching the cables over! So all in all perhaps replace the TV for a 26" or 32" LCD TV with prog scan inputs...
     
  12. Carl Ed

    Carl Ed
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    I think getting a new TV would probably be the most sensible option, too.
     
  13. od1n

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    Exactly. I had a look at the Lumagen scaler, and it does in fact not downscale and output interlace signals.

    And that's actually the head on the nail right there. My problem seems to be so obscure that there's really no market for a clean solution.

    Now this solution has come up a number of times, and I agree it almost looks as the most feasible one, but there is a couple of large catches to this.

    First off, I think I briefly mentioned that I had a lot of consoles, but I don't think I mentioned how bad my situation really is. So here it is: I own 20 of them. Yes, you can start pointing fingers now. ^_^
    Anyway, this wouldn't make for a problem was it not for the many peripherals I have for each of them. Many of them are scanline-dependent, and while I will refrain from mentioning the most obscure of them, I can reveal that I own light guns and a huge amount of supported games for at least 8 of my consoles. A majority of them are so old, 100Hz light guns were never produced for them (naturally, since 100Hz TVs didn't exist back then). Therefore I'm very much dependent on having a 50Hz CRT set, and television sets with component in and progressive scan support are very high-end here in Denmark and naturally come with native 100Hz scanrates.

    Then there's the price connected to these component-enabled sets. I know they're dirt cheap in the US - heck you can buy HDTV CRT sets for a fraction of the price on a Danish standard-def set. Here in Denmark they cost both an arm and a leg. Somewhere in the area of $1800-$2200 is the norm for one of the Panasonic sets that has what I need. And even if I decided to pay that, I'd still miss the support for my 50Hz-dependent console-peripherals.

    I wish my issue wasn't complicated by my dependancy on old CRT-technology, but unfortunately my console collection is a treasured passion of mine, and was really hoping there'd be a standalone solution for my setup. I really appreciate everyone's help so far, though.
     

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