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I've been thinking about getting a Commodore 64 machine. However, I realise there's obviously no video cables I have that will work. But when I looked online there are many people using S-Video to VGA and stuff like that. My TV is quite old and has an aerial (RF antenna) port in the back but I'm not sure if that would work. Other than that I can't find the S-Video to C64 cable that all these videos show. (They then put it into an S-Video to VGA converter)

Am I able to use the aerial cable to run the C64 and if not, how do I find a C64 out to S-Video cable? I don't feel comfortable making one.

  • 6
    If you'd list the input options supported by your intended Monitor/TV we could help much better. The TV modulator should really be the absolute last option because of its poor quality. – tofro Jan 15 '17 at 14:33
  • Would you happen to have a link to the videos that show this cable? – Greenonline May 14 at 5:51
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The VIC-II chip inside the C64 computer outputs a S-Video signal, which is mixed and modulated into the matal box that contains the UHF modulator circuit. Earlier models made composite video available on the A/V DIN connector. Later models also made separate componentes (luminance and chrominance) available as well.

For the sake of image quality, and as you say you want to use your C64 in a modern TV, it's better to forget about the UHF output.

Most modern TVs still have a composite video input (yellow, white and red RCA connectors at the back). If yours doesn't have it, it may have it in form of a TRRS output and you will need a cheap TRRS -> RCA converter. Others have it embbeded into the SCART connector. Others share the composite video connector with the YPbPr (video component) connector (actually using the Y connector (green) for both luminance and composite video). So, your first and more succesful option would be to get a composite video signal and audio signal from the C64 A/V DIN connector and feed with it your TV.

However, if you find your TV supports S-Video (normally, a 4 pole mini-DIN connector) and your C64 is a later model that outputs S-Video, then you can try it as well, for a slighly better video output.

So your first (and cheaper) options are first to find an A/V cable for your C64, such as this one:

A/V cable

Or this one, if you can confirm your TV supports S-Video input and your C64 can output it as well. Note that this cable can also be used with older C64 computers / TVs which supports only composite video.

S-Video cable

If (and only if) your target monitor doesn't accept either composite video or S-Video, then you can try a converter box. This one I bought some time ago can accept both composite and S-Video inputs.

Video converter box

This is the device, once unboxed and connected to a composite video source and to a TFT VGA display:

Converter unboxed

This is how I see a C64 computer in my TFT monitor. Its monitor OSD shows me which VGA output resolution I'm using. Although it is using the composite output from the C64, I think it gives a very decent image.

Converter output

There are several resolutions and refresh rates availables:

Available resolution menu

The converter brings its own OSD menu, from which we can adjust many parameters. This is just one of the sections:

OSD

This particular VGA converter box allows a VGA source too, so you can share your mnitor with your PC and your C64 without the tedious connector unpluging and pluging. Just pressing a button. You can even have a PIP (picture in picture) output.

PIP

Of course, you can go for a composite-to-HDMI, or S-Video-to-HDMI converter box, if you are willing to use a monitor/TV without VGA input. Amazon sells them with different prices and options. These HDMI converters usually convert the audio signal also, so you have a true HDMI audio/video signal. I have one such converter, but I haven't tried it yet with a C64.

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    I just bought one of those Video Converters and I cannot get a decent picture from my C64 or Amiga. It's completely fuzzy and the colours are wrong. Did you have to do anything special to set this up? – Robin Elvin Jan 16 '17 at 14:58
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    Sounds like the mode (PAL or NTSC) was not configured correctly. First, make sure your computer outputs a correct video signal so there is no damage in the computer itself. Try with various resolution settings on your converter, to be able to choose the one that best fits for your monitor (some are a little picky about the resolutions/refresh rates they can support) – mcleod_ideafix Jan 16 '17 at 15:08
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    I've used 2 computers and 2 monitors that I know work. Your converter looks the same physically as mine but the menus are different. There is no way I can see to set NTSC/PAL. In fact I can't get off the first menu page. I've mentioned this in case the OP buys one and finds it as useless as mine. – Robin Elvin Jan 16 '17 at 16:32
  • The converter looks different from what's pictured on the box.. – snips-n-snails Jan 16 '17 at 19:06
  • I tried an s-video cable with scart on Sony Bravia but the colors are all super bleedy with either s-video hooked to scart or composite only. I wonder if my TV doesn't support the C64 signal or what. Many people suggest Framemeister but looks like none of the answers here recommend it. I guess because of the price? – Nurpax May 14 '18 at 7:24
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You can use the aerial port on your TV, but you probably need a switch box for that to work. Every C64 came with the cable and switch box in the box but they are infrequently used today because the picture quality is the lowest.

The C64-to-S-Video adapters are available on eBay. You need a C64 monitor cable to plug into it.

Converting composite or S-Video to VGA is more complicated but there are devices which can do it. There is a popular one called the GBS-8220, also available on eBay, that can convert composite/YUV and CGA/EGA/RGB to VGA.

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    The GBS-8220 cannot be used with the C64 because it cannot accept composite video or S-Video as input (these are the only video output options available at the A/V DIN connector) – mcleod_ideafix Jan 15 '17 at 14:12
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    Instead of using a switch box, get an RCA to coax adapter. Most switch boxes were crummy back in the day, and the contacts have not improved with time. US televisions today still support analog RF inputs, and cable converter boxes are still being installed that require them (my parents just got basic cable in December 2016, and the cable boxes, which seem fairly new, have analog RF as the only outputs!). – supercat Jan 15 '17 at 21:55
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    A switch box won't be necessary unless a person wants to use another RF source on the television, such as an antenna, cable tuner box or VCR that uses RF output. If the computer is the only RF source, no switchbox is required, and the RF modulator is already built-in. All that is needed is a piece of coax cable that has an RCA mail plug on one and and a male F connector on the other. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 11 '18 at 22:21
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I don't know what your budget is, but if you can afford it then consider a C128 and old RGBI-compatible monitor instead. It will still "look cool" and allow you to "program with limitations". You will gain a crisp 80-column display, ability to program for both the 6502 and z-80 CPUs, and a much better built-in BASIC.

BTW, RGBi stands for Red, Green, Blue, intensity. It was a digital signal providing for 16 sharp colors, 4 bits for each pixel. They were black (no bits set), light grey (R+G+B bits set), red, green, blue, cyan (B+G), magenta (R+B), and yellow (G+R). Each of those base 8 colors had an enhanced intensity when the i-bit was set. Among everything else, this turned light-grey to white, and black to dark-grey.

I used my C128 with a Sears Total Video System. It combined a TV and monitor modes for monochrome, composite, and RGBI. This was perfect for the C128 because the composite worked with C64 mode and the RGBI worked with the C128 modes. (Plus it was my TV.) Here is a 1985 article which includes descriptions of the Sears TVS as well as other flexible monitors of the period.

If you wish to avoid buying an old separate monitor/TV, see this article for building an RGBI to VGA converter. Sigh, it looks like your TV doesn't have VGA either. However, this should hook up to just about any computer monitor you happen to have.

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    An RGBI monitor will only be usable with C128 software which is designed to use the "80-column" video chip. Using any C64 software will require the use of a composite or S-video monitor or a television receiver. Back in the day, many Commodore owners used the 1902 monitor which includes a switch to select between RGBI and S-video inputs. – supercat Jan 15 '17 at 21:57
  • @supercat thank you for the clarification and additional monitor option. – RichF Jan 15 '17 at 22:44
  • @supercat The 1084 monitors had a switch for both too and worked well for that. For a more modern option a RGBI -> Component converter hooked to a smaller LCD TV with both Component and Composite inputs does the trick well. – mnem Jan 16 '17 at 1:54
2

I use a pre-July2005 Dell 2001FP and it works really well. S-video input, 4:3 aspect ratio, and best of all integrated amplified audio speakers.

Dell 2001FP flat-panel

The integrated soundbar (optional) has a 3.5mm jack, so you'll need to adapt the C64 8-pin DIN mono audio-out to that jack.

Rear has onboard power for the soundbar

I like integrated speakers so there's less clutter on the desk. And since the C64 has such great games, the audio has to be good quality. With onboard power, there's even less clutter (no AC-DC power adapter to plug into the wall and sit on the desk).

2001FP ports

A lot of Dell monitors look like the 2001FP, but most do not have all the ports of the 2001FP. 2x USB-A, 1x USB-B, 12V DC out for soundbar, analog VGA, digital DVI, S-Video, Composite. The right-most port is power-in to power the 2001FP.

I wrote an article about it with more details http://donnlee.com/2018/05/05/monitor-for-c64-s-video-in-43-ratio-soundbar/

  • Could you provide a little more information in this answer (or at least a picture)? Currently it just looks like an advert for your blog, which I appreciate it wasn't meant to be. (Side note: you might be interested in writing a guest post for our blog.) – wizzwizz4 May 11 '18 at 17:33
  • Added photos, captions, soundbar, onboard power, and port info. – Donn Lee May 11 '18 at 19:45

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