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A very memorable experience from my high school years consisted of having several friends over my house after wandering aimlessly for several hours, and wanting to play on my Nintendo Gamecube. Alas, the composite cable for it was missing—I think it had been left at another friend’s house or something, doesn’t matter. Out of sheer despair, we slipped the composite cable for my Playstation 2 into the Gamecube’s composite cable slot.

To our shock, we got video. It was in black and white, and there was no sound, but we could play the game we’d wanted to play.

The two connectors are wildly different on the ends that plug into the actual consoles:

Gamecube

Gamecube composite cable

Gamecube rear panel with composite cable outlet

Playstation 2

Playstation 2 composite cable connectors

As you can see, the chip with the pins for the Gamecube is a “tongue” that sticks into the middle of the plug. There are pins on both top and bottom of this tongue. The PS2 outlet is also kind of a tongue, but only barely above the bottom of the outlet, and only has pins on top. When put into the Gamecube, the PS2 plug sits entirely on top of the tongue, and the only reason that the pins contact is because of the slight cutout in the bottom of the PS2’s metal wrapper.

Actual question:

How was this possible? Was it just pure, ridiculous, coincidence that enough of the pins would line up that we could get as much as we did? Or are there some reasons why—even though they each had totally different, proprietary connectors—there would be enough similarities to make this less unlikely?

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It was pure coincidence that the connector even fitted enough and that composite video pin and one of the ground pins, maybe through metal shield, happened to match.

Worst thing that could have happened is that power supply pin had shorted to ground or some other important video/audio pin and damaging the console and/or TV in the process.

The Composite video pin for the yellow RCA connector on the Playstation connector is approximately in the middle of the connector, pin 6 of 12 pins. More specifically, the pin is just slightly left from the center of the connector.

If managed to shove into GameCube in correct orientation so that the PS connector pin 6 is on top side of GC connector, it contacts a pin approximately in the middle, slightly left from the center of the connector, pin 7 of GC, and that is the Luma pin of S-video, which will only carry a black&white signal.

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  • @KRyan It's not the cables that supply power. The consoles do provide supply voltages on the connectors if an adapter cable requires power. And you can see for yourself the pinouts as they were already posted in the comments, I used that link. The point is, you used wrong cable, managed to shove it in, and you saw picture, so the connections did match. What other proof you need to back your own findings up?
    – Justme
    Jan 29, 2023 at 16:05
  • @KRyan - how can the claim of 'pure coincidence' be backed up, since it amounts to the total absence of documentation of design intent? (I believe 'pure coincidence' myself, since I can't see anyone intnetionally designing the ability to jam in the wrong connector and have it half-work).
    – dave
    Jan 29, 2023 at 16:53
  • @Justme What link? Jan 29, 2023 at 16:57
  • @another-dave The thought was something like “there is nothing in the physical or standardized structure of composite cables that would cause Nintendo and Sony to lay their pins out similarly.” Anyway, I’ll accept “they both happened to put video in a central location, so there’s contact for luminance,” as both explaining what happened, and describing what level of coincidence is involved—for video to be “central” seems sort of sensible, even if there is no particular reason either had to do it that way, so seems like “slightly better than sheer chance, but only just” to me.
    – KRyan
    Jan 29, 2023 at 17:42

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