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RCASwitchBox

Summary

RCA switchbox 011.jpg


Most people only utilize the Video input on the front of their TV’s for video game systems. Even if you utilize the inputs on the back you are still limited to probably 3 inputs total. This switch box allows you to plug in 4 RCA devices at once using only one input on your TV. A turn knob allows you to toggle between the 4 devices easily without unplugging devices.

Motivation

I have no motivation.....but..My set up consists of an Xbox, PS2, DVD player, Media center PC, Sega, NES. Needless to say I am always fumbling with RCA cables and which ones go where. I also have been using this RCA to CAT5 connection to move my game systems away from the TV. With the extension I only have one RCA input at the end of the cat5 cord. So I figured this would allow me to plug all 4 platforms to a single input and not have to worry about cables again. I’ll just have to turn a knob.

Introduction

The design goes hand in hand with the RCA to CAT5 converter . The basic idea hinges on the switch knob. I’ve wanted to do this type of project for awhile and finally found one of the switched I needed. It’s a turn knob switch with 3 groups of 4 separate conductors. The yellow, white and red connectors are the 3 groups. Each group has 4 conductors so therefore you can switch between 4 sets of RCA groups. Since there are 2 connections per RCA jack (a live and ground connection) we will only run the live connection through the switch. The ground connections will be wired directly to the output RCA jacks for all 4 sets. I really don’t know if that is a big deal or not, but when I tested it, it worked perfectly.

What you'll need

It's nice to have the parts list in a table like this:

Part Cost/Unit QTY Total Link
3 group 4 set knob switch ~ $5 1 $5 --
RCA jack $0.60 15 $9 --
8 conductor 22 gage wire $0.50 per ft 4 ft $2 --
Knob $0.75 1 $0.75 --
Wire strippers -- 1 -- --
Soldering iron $25 1 $25 --
Project box $7 1 $7 --
Solder -- as needed -- --
Tape -- as needed -- --
Pliers -- 1 -- --
Epoxy $5 1 $5 --
Dremel -- 1 -- --
Screw driver -- 1 -- --
Tooth pick -- as needed -- --
Total -- -- -- --

Steps

1. Holes in the project box – the fist thing I did was lay out where the RCA input and output jacks would be located. Make sure to space them apart to allow for connectors to fit. Any layout you like is fine. I clumped the inputs on one face of the box and the outputs on another for simplicity. Next you have to mark the hole for the switch knob. It can be anywhere you like - I put it on top. Do not forget the small positioning notch as well. Try to keep room between the jacks and the switch so you don’t run into shorting of connections down the road. Once all the holes are marked use a Dremel tool to cut the holes out (you can also use a drill, which ever you feel more comfortable with). Be careful not to crack the project box with too much downward pressure.

RCA switchbox 001.jpg


2. Cut the wires – you will need to cut the 8 conductor insulated bundle into separate wires. You’ll need 27 conductors each around 3 to 4 inches long. This may sound long, but it will be easy to work with, you have plenty of room in the project box so you might as well give yourself plenty of extra just to be safe. Strip the tips of each wire a few millimeters.


3. Solder the RCA jacks - Solder a wire to the live connection and a different on to the ground connections on 12 jacks (these will be the inputs). It will be easier in the long run to color code each connection, you might also write these down. Solder a wire to the live connection of 3 different jacks (these will be the outputs).


4. Mount the input jacks – Unscrew the nuts on the 12 input jacks and take of the ground connection washer. Mount the jacks on the project box. Thread on the ground washers and nut. Tighten the nuts down very securely, using the pliers and wrench. Make sure that the ground washers do not interfere with ones around them.

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5. Mount the output jacks / Solder the ground connections – Unscrew the nuts and remove the ground washer from the output jacks. Thread the wires through the output holes. Solder the ground connections from all four yellow RCA inputs to one output ground washer. Repeat the soldering with the other 3 groups of RCA jacks. Thread the ground washers on the wires to the output jacks. Thread the nuts on and tighten them down securely.


6. Solder everything to the switch – Solder one of the live wires from the output jack to one of the three center posts of the switch. Solder the 4 live connections to the 4 outer posts on the switch that correspond to the inner post connected to the output jack. Repeat this step for all 3 groups. Make sure to keep the same order of connections for each group. When hteknob is turned 3 connections are made, make sure that the right connectors are soldered. All the yellow RCA jacks should go through the same group, the same goes for the white and red jacks.

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7. Mount the switch – Take of the washer and nut from the switch post. Put the switch post up through the bottom of the hole in the project box. Put the washer on and thread the nut on tightening it securely.

RCA switchbox 009.jpg


8. Put on the knob – Put the knob on the end of the switch rod and screw in the small locking screw. Make sure the knob is in the desired position prior to locking into position.

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9. Test all connections – Test all your connections to make sure they are correct. Make sure the switch is working as desired. If there are problems go back and unsolder and re-solder as needed

RCA switchbox 008.jpg


10. Epoxy if desired – I recommend epoxying all the jacks into position to ensure they do not come loose.

Sources and inspiration

Further Ideas

Make sure to check out the RCA to CAT5 converter so that you can put all your media components as far as you want from your TV for cheap!

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