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zander21510

Interesting N64 video output problem

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I have an old Nintendo 64 that my wife enjoys playing. It's a good party console because everybody remembers it and can have a little nostalgia, so I have it hooked up to my big screen HDTV. Recently I got a new Vizio TV, and started to have problems.

 

My Vizio is one of those TVs that only have Component (Y/Pb/Pr) jacks, with the green jack (Y) doubling as the Composite jack (Sucker has 5 HDMI ports...seems a shame I cant take advantage of it since my A/V receiver has 6...).

 

So, plugging the N64 in, I can't get a picture to show up, with most cartridges, in most situations. Audio comes in fine, so I know the console is running, and it works on one of my older TVs just fine. I read online sometimes those expansion paks go bad, thinking that was the problem, I was about to spring for a new one...except the audio worked so I was stumped.

 

So I try different cartridges, and I get the weirdest results from Star Wars Episode I Racer. It's one of those that can take advantage of the Expansion Pak's extra memory thru a menu option, but it's not required for playing. So the N64 would start, I could hear the audio but no picture. Then suddenly, the menu demo video shows up! I hit a button, and as soon as it goes back to the main menu, no picture again. I start hitting buttons blindly, and get farther into the race, when the race starts video shows up again and I can race!

 

So I'm thinking, I'll turn off the hi-res graphics to see if it affects anything, I did, same results. So now I'm searching the internet, letting it cycle from black screen to video, then suddenly I see the main menu, only it's in black and white. And then, when it cuts to the menu demo video, it remains in black and white, along with the rest of the game till a reset. If I leave it long enough, it will revert from black menu screen/full color video, to black & white menu screen/black & white video.

 

None of my other games show up at all, no matter how blindly far I can get thru the menus. I know about all the video signal stuff, how component has luminance on the green channel and putting a composite input on it will show black & white like that, but if it shares jacks, why isn't my TV smart enough to to figure it out (or just give me the option to choose...). My gamecube renders perfectly with no issues on the composite cable.

 

So my ideas...perhaps the signal from the N64 is too weak and the TV thinks it's actually a component signal? Anything I can do to fix it? Or maybe something actually is bad with the console?

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I would think the problem lies in the TV itself. I've owned a couple of Vizio TV's in fact I'm using one for a monitor right now. Vizio TV's tend to have strange quirks I know this one and the others I've owned sure have but most of the time you can't beat the price. I've got an Insignia plasma which has the combined composite/component input & I find what helps with that when using composite is to fire up the system such as the N64 & cycle through the inputs sometimes the TV needs to switch out and back in on that input to realize what you're feeding it.

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if the video is coming in B/W, odds are you don't have the proper input select settings. first verify that you put the yellow cable in the yellow port on the back of your TVs component video input. these ports are labeled Y/V (yellow), Pb/Cb (blue), Pr/Cr (red) and L and R audio (white/red).

 

then, when you select Input, do not select Component, it will assume you have your video split into 3 inputs, instead of a composite video input. instead, make sure to select Video or Composite or might be called AV.

Edited by CapitanClassic

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I have an old Nintendo 64 that my wife enjoys playing. It's a good party console because everybody remembers it and can have a little nostalgia, so I have it hooked up to my big screen HDTV.

 

CRT for anything PlayStation 2 and earlier as a rule of thumb. You shouldn't be using an HDTV to play N64 stuff - tried playing Ocarina of Time and Banjo Kazooie one time on a fancy 32 inch LCD sylvania, and it was even worse with PlayStation 1 stuff.

 

Just my opinion.

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Thanks for the tips. Upon further research...it seems that the TV isn't able to recognize the signal is composite and not component because of signal strength....

 

Component is normally a weaker signal, and the TV receives a weak N64 signal, so it interprets it as only luminance information and only displays in B&W (try only plugging in the green wire on a DVD player with component, same effect).

 

If it does detect it as composite, for whatever reason some of the static scenes are just not detected and are too weak (come in as No Signal), and the videos on the Star Wars cartridge somehow push out a strong enough signal to get displayed correctly...

 

So moral of the story is that I need some sort of amplifier to boost the signal if I wanna use it with this TV. For now I just have it routed through a capture card on my HTPC...a few more steps to get it going but still good for parties! :)

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Late to the reply party on this one... Yeah the N64 video output is notoriously weak. I would highly recommend building an amplifier for the video signal. RetroRGB has a pretty good RGB mod and amplifier plan: http://retrorgb.com/n64rgbmod.html

 

I hit similar issues on my Samsung LCD as well before getting my console all properly modded up

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