Maker Pro
Maker Pro

"Faithful" Analog Video -> HDMI converter


Mar 7, 2011
Mar 7, 2011

My electronics experience is limited to building a couple of TV antennas ... I've tried to solder wire twice and succeeded once. So this isn't a post about a project I'm going to make myself, since I won't be able to, but rather a starting point to gather information for an idea I have.

The idea is an analog to digital video conversion box that does faithful scaling. I say "faithful" to differentiate it from the boxes that are available by the hundreds on eBay for $30 or so. The converter would primarily benefit gamers, but it could possibly have other applications.

Currently, the only readily-available way to connect an analog source to an HDTV is by upscaling it. Whether you connect it directly to the tv, or have a converter or a/v receiver inbetween, something is taking a 480i/p image and scaling it up to the higher resolution of the TV. On a 1080p set for instance, this causes two problems:

* Since 480 does not go into 1080 evenly, a complicated conversion has to take place, where one pixel is mapped to a 2.25px * 2.25px area. This conversion takes time and introduces lag into the display process.
* Because the pixel grid of the source doesn't match the pixel grid of the output, the image loses sharpness.

My idea is for a converter that simply doubles the resolution of the source image and converts it to a digital signal. Each pixel in the source becomes a 2x2 pixel in the output. Because the conversion is so much simpler, lag should be minimized. Also, no sharpness would be lost.

A 640x480 image would become 1280x960. The image would fill about 90% of the screen vertically (and horizontally if the source is widescreen), with the other 10% being black bars.

Eliminating lag and preserving sharpness would definitely be worth losing a little screen real estate. This would be of great value to gamers looking to use older consoles (or the Wii) on newer televisions ... the lag in current solutions is a deal-breaker.

A few other thoughts:
* The converter would need to patch audio into the HDMI from stereo RCA jacks.
* It really should have a switch to go between a black frame and a lighter grey frame, for users with sets susceptible to burn-in.
* Ideally, it would have inputs for composite and S-video, but component is the primary one.

All I'm really hoping to find out now is how complicated this would have to be, and how difficult it would be to build. Beyond that, it would be great if someone agreed with me that it was a good idea, and decided to make these to sell--I'd be happy just to be able to buy one.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you have!