Apple TV and Old TVs – A Possible Hack

56 Comments

Apple TV + Adapters?The new Apple TV is shipping and you really, really want one. You think this is perfect for your old television, but then you realize you don’t have an HDMI or component input. But you really, really want one. How do you make this work?

Fear not, trusty readers. I have a theoretical solution.

If you’ve got standard composite inputs (the yellow, red and white ones) you can pick up a male HDMI to female DVI adapter for about $30 at Ram Electronics. Then you can get an Apple DVI to Video Adapter for another $20 from the Apple online store. The Apple DVI to Video Adapter works with Mac minis, so maybe it will work with the Apple TV.

Then you get yourself some composite cable — attach your HDMI to DVI adapter to your Apple TV, then attach your Apple DVI to Video adapter to that, attach a video cable to your DVI to Video adapter. Then hook up the audio to the audio jacks and you should be all set. If you’ve got a super-old television without composite inputs, you could pick up an RF modulator for about $20 at Radio Shack.

Does this actually work?  I don’t know because I don’t have an AppleTV.  Anyone want to try this?

56 Comments

Jeff B.

I want to connect my Apple TV to my HDTV in my home theater using HDMI as well as to my whole-home distribution system by converting component video into composite video.

For this to work, am I going to have to set my Apple TV to 480i, thereby losing quality on my the HD connection in my home theater?

In other words, can an Apple TV output both an HDTV signal and a signal convertable to 480i at once?

Dave Hairs

I have just enabled colour composite output on an Apple TV with software version 1.0.

1) Get Maplin part numbers N23CJ and L53BT

2) The two parts are initially slightly incompatible. Modify part L53BT by breaking off the long horizontal tab and the 4 small tabs around it (on the DVI side). This is obvious when you see it. Ensure that any bits left over are not touching each other and shorting out. I did this with a pair of long nosed pliers and a very thin screwdriver.

3) Connect these two together. You now have your dongle.

4) Connect Apple TV to your TV by connecting the green RCA socket on the apple to a composite TV connection on your TV (usually using a yellow RCA connector to a SCART). This will give a black & white picture

5) Go to the main menu screen in Apple TV. You may need to go through some network setup

6) Go to settings, tv resolution and make sure that 480i is selected

7) Move cursor over 480p but DON’T select it yet

8) On back of Apple TV, disconnect the yellow plug from the green socket

9) Put the dongle into the hmdi socket

6) Press play on the remote

10) When the led on the front of Apple TV turns orange, disconnect the dongle

11) Reconnect the yellow plug to the green socket

12) The screen may take a few seconds to come back but it should be in colour

13) If all OK, press Menu to take you back to the main menu

14) If it doesn’t work, repeat from (7), slightly varying the amount of time between the light turning amber and disconnecting the adaptor

I hope this helps someone. I spent ages and ages working this out and hope it helps someone.

If anyone does that successfully on more recent Apple TV firmware (I’m using 1.0) then please post on here. I do not dare to upgrade in case this hack stops working!

Dave

Bryan

I just bought an converter from svideo.com that takes the component video and converts it to composite (and S-Video). It arrived in 2 days with free shipping and worked perfectly. You can get one here: http://www.svideo.com/appletv2tv.html

Oh, one thing… I had to reset the Apple TV (hold Menu + Minus buttons for 6 seconds) because it was set to a higher resolution when I was testing it on a friends HTDV. Make sure it’s set to 480i (60Hz for NTSC) or you’ll get a bunch of lines on your screen. After I did that, it worked great.

BTW – You can get a black and white picture from the Y (Green) plug. But, that’s no fun ;-)

This converter will probably come in handy for other things in the future too. It’s really well built thanks to the guys at svideo.com! Thanks guys!

espen

Just got problem solved with the following set-up : HDMI to DVI cable into a DVI-splitter. From one of outputs of the splitter a standard DVI cable into BeoVision (GREAT picture quality). From other output a DVI-cable into a DVI-VGA converter, and then feed the signal into a VGA-Video converter into the composite video Beolink input. Of course not HDTV quality on the link TVs after all this conversion, but not too bad. And great to be able to access everything on the Apple TV from every TV in the house, and do so on the native B&O remote.

espen

Also struggling with this to get the at the same time best possible feed into a Beovision 7-40 AND a feed into the Beolink system which only accepts composite video for distribution (the perferse thing is that at the other end of the link there is anothe B&O lcd tv). What will happen with the following hack : use a composite-dvi that feeds into a dvi splitter. out of the DVI splitter one DVI cable in as main feed to the main TV, and the apple DVI to video adapter fed into the videoinput for the beolink. Will the Apple DVI-video adapter work when fed an analog component signal through the DVI plug ??

ETLN

I have brought the AppleTV converter and can tell you it is not a scam. It works brilliantly its not quite full s-video quality but very very close. Although I am not using a good quality cable so they is probably why. NTSC is fine its PAL im having trouble with. It keeps chopping off the top of the image and making a large black bar appear at the bottom of the page.

RAMIR KASOFF

so does this “svideo.com” stuff works? is it safe to pay the $119 dlls. or is it a scam?

AppleTV 2 Standard TV Convertor

I got the AppleTV Converter (it converts the component to s-video or composite video) at http://www.svideo.com/appletv2tv.html with the their composite video option and hooked up the AppleTV to my old TV and it worked great. I also connected the converter to an RF modulator and was able to get the video/audio into a TV that just has an RF Coax input. I then connected their converter to a “Video to VGA Converter” that I had purchased before also at http://svideo.com/video2vga.html and was able to hook up the AppleTV to a VGA monitor and to my LCD that only has VGA inputs. Good Job svideo.com

AppleTV 2 Standard TV Convertor

Comment 19 is wrong…there’s no such thing as DVD Recorder with Component Video Input. There’s plenty with composite video input and that also have S-Video output, however. Thus a DVD Recorder will not work with the AppleTV to convert Component Video to S-Video. If you want to convert the Component Video ouput on the AppleTV consider the converter at http://www.svideo.com/appletv2tv.html

Jared

This will not work because HDMI is digital only the HDMI TO DVI will keep it digital the DVI TO Composite is a DVI-A to Composite not digital to composite. There for you have no signal.

nic

wall mart has a hdd dvd recorder with component in and svideo out, composite to. not only will this convert for you and play,or it will record to hard drive or to dvd real time record and makeing of dvd. the hard drive is 80 gig not bad make sure you get the right one panasonic $200 works perfect

Sonburn

If someone can figure out a way to do this on the cheap, it really opens the floodgates on aTV capabilities. For example, I am thinking of getting the Pioneer AVIC-D3 double-din head unit which has a composite a/v input. If aTV could connect to this, and the picture was sufficient, why not throw one of these under the seat of the car? Now you’re car is connected to your wireless network and media library!

Pip Gardner

Thought of this also and the male HDMI to female DVI adapter to Apple composite adapter does NOT work. Waiting for the component video parts in the mail, but I doubt this will work also. The green component output delivered a color signal to the composite TV port for a brief period than went BW. Guessing this is an engineered limitation and waiting to hear from the experts.

Kelan

I think its important to re-emphasize that Grover is right. The Apple DVI->Video adapter basically ignores the DVI output an uses a different signal provided by extra pins integrated into the DVI port on the back of the Mac mini. The fact that is plugs into the DVI is just a coincidence.

Eytan

Grover has it right – the DVI connector standard supports both Digital and analog signals in the pins. The Apple adapter uses the analog pins to send signal to the Composite and S-Video ports. The AppleTV will only output digital signal through the HDMI connector to the DVI to video adaptor, and you will get no signal out of the analog ports.

Grover Saunders

You solution will NOT work. No if, buts, or maybes about it. A lot of misunderstanding going on here.

The Apple adapter you’re talking about does no conversion whatsoever. There are no electronics in it at all. The DVI port on the mini has some extra pins in it that carry a composite video signal. You’ll note that the adapter in question has an extra notch in it so that you can not connect it to a regular DVI connector. The adapter simply uses the correct pins and pushes the single from those pins out to the S-Video and composite connections on the other end.

If you have an SD TV with component cables, it is very likely (though not certain) that this will not work either. It would only work if the Apple TV will push out a 480i signal, which it likely will not (if it would, there would be an S-Video connection on there somewhere).

Rafa

I thinks that won’t work. If the Apple TV outputs 720p or 1080i, there’s no way to get a standard TV to play that, no matter what adapter you use. It’s like trying to play an HD TV channel in a normal television, it won’t tune.

On the other hand, if the Apple TV is able to send a 480i or 480p feed, that’s a different story.

MacBooker

Ok, now I’m confused. I have a 4:3 SDTV with component in, but since SDTV only supports 480i, not 480p, I assumed Apple TV just wouldn’t work at all-not because of cabling, but because of resolution. Are you claiming its just a cabling issue?

Stacey Abshire

re: vl-tone

Do you have the DVI to composite out adapter? I do, and it does more than 640×480, just so you know. Granted, high resolutions flicker like a mad-man, but you can do much higher than 640×480, so this *could* work.. Doubtful it would look very good, but if I could try it without losing any money, I’d give it a whirl.

bilogic

Your soluton will not work. The cheapest soluton is around USD 60,- for a component to s-video/vga convertor box… availble on the above mentioned RAM electronics website…

Look on wikipedia for HDMI, Scart, DVI and s-video (composite)

Rinke

But… I’m at a loss here, doesn’t the Apple TV have component output? And your old TV a SCART port (really common in Europe, don’t know about the US). A Component RGB SCART cable is just 10 euros or so.

And if you don’t have SCART, couldn’t you use S-Video?

VL-Tone

I doubt that using a HDMI to DVI + a DVI to Composite adaptor would work…

The DVI to video adaptor works because when it’s connected to a Mac mini, it tells the video card to produce a 640×480 60Hz NTSC formated signal. What the chip in the adaptor does it take the RGB signal and convert it into a composite luminosity/hue signal.

Now, IF the Apple TV had a DVI connector, it could be theoretically possible to use this adaptor, but only if the Apple TV could switch to the 640×480 60Hz NTSC mode, but I doubt it would…

But anyway the Apple TV doesn’t have DVI and what’s the main problem is that the HDMI to DVI adaptor wont make the Apple TV produce an NTSC signal just because you plug a DVI adaptor in it that request an NTSC signal.

So to conclude, it wont work, I’m 99.9% sure.

There are Component to Composite adaptors, but they’re the price of a small HD TV ($500).

Matt

If it does work, I expect the video would look sqished. AppleTV is only designed to work with 16×9 display and any TV without a component input is almost certainly 4×3. This would drive me crazy to see everything squeezed in. 4×3 video would probably still be squeezed and there would be black “pillar boxes” on the left & right side of the image.

Evan

Great idea. Another option for those who have a component connection but it is used by your DVD player–get a component video switch or a home theater reciever with component video switching. You can pick up a low end HT receiver for around $225.

Just wanted to let your readers know that our site http://www.hungryflix.com provides indie films and videos that are compatible with Apple TV.

We are really excited that independent filmmakers and producers now have a direct path from web distribution directly to the family room. Very cool.

Honza

Yes it will probably work, but boy those adapters are expensive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some serious loss in quality using that lot.

Surely Apple will make a HDMI version of its Video adapter soon, if not already?

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