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Where can one get an RF demodulator?

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Keep an eye out for the Taimerco Color TV Tuner .. made in Texas in the early 1980s. It is built in in a woodgrain veneer cabinet .. has two tuner knobs (VHF & UHF) and pushbutton selectable between computer and TV plus a mute button. RF in, composite/audio in and composite/audio out.

 

Great thing about this TV tuner is that it fits the woodgrain of the era.

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You might get better results in your search if you try different terminology. As others have suggested, you're looking for an analog NTSC TV tuner. The trouble is that unlike audio, the idea of separate television components never took off. And to make matters worse, with the change to digital NTSC broadcasting over the past few years, the focus has been on tuners that can convert a digital RF signal into a composite analog one.

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The Sony TU-1041U should work fine for this. It does output video through a BNC connector as opposed to an RCA jack, but BNC to RCA adapters are cheap and easy to find.

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Another suggestion I might add: Back in the day when cable first came into people's homes, NTSC TVs could only tune 2-6 and7-13 VHF and 14-69 UHF.

Some really old TVs used to tune all the way up to channel 83, but the 70-83 UHF band was axed to make way for 900Mhz analog cellular and cordless phone communication. When cell phones and cordless phones first came out, it was actually possible in certain circumstances to eavesdrop on conversations using a UHF audio tuner! :-o

Back on topic: Because standard TVs could only tune air channels, cable services offered more channel option than existed on air. Early cable boxes could tune from channels 1-99; later models could tune 1-125. Channel 1 is technically below channel 2 on the VHF band but rarely or never used. All of the air UHF channels 14-69 (and 70-83) are present in some form on cable tuners, but the channel numbers are different.

Anyway, all you will ever need to concern yourself with are VHF channels 2, 3, and 4, which make up the bulk of game consoles and other devices. Also try CATV channels 95 and 96 if you plan on hooking a Japanese Famicom system. This corresponds to J-NTSC 1 & 2. Japanese Channels 1, 2, & 3 overlap the US FM radio spectrum (which itself is sandwiched somewhere between VHF 6 and 7, along with air traffic control) and were never used by Cable networks due to potential interference from strong FM stations, but they do exist on the cable boxes.

Anyway, old analog cable tuners are much smaller than VCRs usually, and simply take in any cable channel 1-99 and output channel 3 or 4. Even if the remote is missing, most have some sort of up/down arrow on them to switch channels. Before you buy anything, make sure you can see the back of the cable box to verify that it has the red/white/yellow composite outputs. An old cable tuner box without composite outputs is worthless as a demodulator.

 

Sadly, most of those old cable boxes were probably owned by the company, so they needed to be returned. Old stock was most likely collected and later destroyed or recycled when the cable companies upgraded their equipment, which explains why they are so hard to find now. :(

Edited by stardust4ever
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The Sony TU-1041U should work fine for this. It does output video through a BNC connector as opposed to an RCA jack, but BNC to RCA adapters are cheap and easy to find.

 

Sweet. Didn't know about those. They're all over eBay, and cheap. Gonna pick one up.

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I picked up a Sony TU-1041U Tuner for $25 on eBay. There are stereo and mono versions - I got a stereo one so the audio comes through on both channels (it's still mono sound, since the 2600 won't do true stereo without modifications). There are also some that come with a remote, but since the box is just going to sit there on channel 3, there was no reason to get one.

 

The picture is excellent. It's about as good as you can get short of a video mod. I'd say it's cleaner than going straight into my HDTV's RF connection. Of course if your 2600 has really noisy RF output, the Sony box can't work miracles or restore detail that isn't there, but it's a really good piece of gear, especially if you're looking for something way cooler than just using an old VCR. ;)

 

post-2641-0-48309100-1384498239_thumb.jpg

Edited by Nathan Strum
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There are a pile of these on eBay right now: GE Tuner Adaptor 1cVA900. I picked one up for $3 at Goodwill a while back. It works great.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/GE-GENERAL-ELECTRIC-TUNER-ADAPTOR-1CVA900-USED-w-WARRANTY-/200891336053?_trksid=p2054897.l4276

 

A couple of sales have multiple units. Interestingly, these units are made specifically to stack on top of one another fairly securely. Not sure what they were originally intended for where they'd be stacked up.

Edited by BigO

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I got a Blonder Tongue ZDM-806 and hooked it up. You need 2 coax to female RCA connectors (same used for the console to TV) but it works just fine with a 2600 (assume other systems too). The quality of the picture didn't blow me away, but it was a definite improvement from straight RF. It's got video and audio level adjust knobs on the front that give you essentially another lever to turn when figuring out what you want your TV settings to be. The video one seemed to act like a "contrast" adjuster. It certainly gave me more flexibility when adjusting picture settings which is nice. They were all over ebay a while back and you could get one for about $35 shipped. Down side is it is kinda big.

 

Here is another more expensive option:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/120408195704?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

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Just go to a thrift shop and pick up a VCR. Bulky as hell but they work. Be advised however if your current TV or capture device doesn't like the Atari timings in the RF output, it may not like the demodulated composite, either. My Atari won't work with my Hauppauge USB capture, and that's including using a VCR demodulator. Something about Atari signals is "off" but I don't know what it is...

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Just go to a thrift shop and pick up a VCR. Bulky as hell but they work. Be advised however if your current TV or capture device doesn't like the Atari timings in the RF output, it may not like the demodulated composite, either. My Atari won't work with my Hauppauge USB capture, and that's including using a VCR demodulator. Something about Atari signals is "off" but I don't know what it is...

See that's what I thought, but it's harder to find a VCR at a thrift shop than I wanted it to be. Garage/Yard/Boot sale is probably where you can pick up a VCR cheap. Pawn/thrift shops wanted $40 and $50 for them in my area.

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Pics of the Taimerco Color Tuner .. It is about 12" long and 6" deep .. wooden enclosure. Works great!

 

Apologize for the bump, but I picked this thing up at a garage sale simply because I thought it looked cool. I had no idea what it was, but am happy to see that I might possibly get some use out of the thing. Actual retail price? $1.

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