Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


13W3 to VGA Madness!
July 20, 2006 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience hooking up a regular VGA Monitor to a NeXTStation Color? What's the best way to do it?

I got a sweet old NeXTStation Color recently, but couldn't get the NeXT Megapixel monitor. It has a 13W3 monitor cable connection and you can get 13W3 to VGA cables, but from what I hear many of them vary internally and/or won't work without a sync converter of some sort.

Has anyone else done this and can provide some insight, tell me what I need and/or where to get it?

The monitor I want to hook it up to is a Dell 2005FPW, if it matters. (It has standard VGA in.)

Thanks!
posted by patr1ck to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think NeXT 13W3 was standard. Unlike Sun and SGI 13W3, the middle pins carried non-video signals (audio and kbd?), and you needed a breakout box to get them out.

This could be a fun project, but you would be better served just buying a MacMini. OSX is NeXTSTEP with a different name. You still program it in ObjectiveC, and all the APIs begin with the NS prefix, as they did in NextStep.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:37 PM on July 20, 2006


this link (google cache) has the pinout for the NeXT 13W3 connector as well as the basic sync information for the display it's expecting. if your 2005FPW supports it (res of 1152x870, 63.9kHz vertical sync, etc.), then it should work OK. while it's not specific NeXT experience, I've used the 13W3 adapters to mate some pretty bog-standard Dell monitors to Sun workstations. (I should note, though, that these were CRT monitors and not LCD ones. the LCD display may be more finicky about what it supports - you can pretty much program the CRT display to sync with anything within its limits. LCDs work differently. I've never tried to run an LCD at any sort of weird resolution.)
posted by mrg at 3:38 PM on July 20, 2006


Also, if you must have a NeXT, try to find a mono slab and monitor. The color monitors were notoriously unreliable, so it is unlikely that you will find one today. And the 25 or 33mhz 68040 CPU was just enough to power a grayscale display.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:41 PM on July 20, 2006


for more info: more info about the video stuff in the NeXT boxes.
posted by mrg at 3:44 PM on July 20, 2006


Hm, cool info about the wiring, perhaps I can make my own, and just see how it works.

Also, I already have the machine – cheap buy (~$40) off of craigslist. I own a many of classic macs and do a bit of programming myself, and knowing Mac OS X is based NeXTStep, I want to see how much of it really is similiar.

I'd probably be willing to spend up to ~$100 to get it working, so yeah, if anyone else has suggestions please keep them coming.
posted by patr1ck at 4:29 PM on July 20, 2006


...and knowing Mac OS X is based NeXTStep, I want to see how much of it really is similiar.

In the last days of NeXTSTEP, they had ports to PA-RISC, SPARC, and x86. Universal Binaries date back to pre-OSX too. You may want to try to track down a copy of x86 NeXTSTEP.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:11 PM on July 20, 2006


In college I tried to use a 13w3 to vga converter that worked on my old Sparcs with a NeXT box. It didn't work. Neither did my 20" Sun monitor, but that may have been because of all the sync-on-green wackiness that goes along with those old Sun CRTs.
posted by joegester at 5:46 PM on July 20, 2006


I've got a color slab that I seldom use. A 13w3 to vga adapter in combination with a multisync monitor worked just fine for me.

You can get a reasonably priced NeXT Megapixel monitor at Black Hole Incorporated.
posted by elmwood at 6:01 PM on July 20, 2006


FWIW, those Dell monitors tend to work on Suns because *they're Sonys*, and that's what Sun used. The top end Dells are, anyway; the 19 and 21 inchers that weigh a metric tonne.
posted by baylink at 6:20 PM on July 20, 2006


PC CRTs will generally work in more places than workstation CRTs because they have autosync logic. The Sony GDM-1662* was a 16" Trinitron CRT that would only sync at 1192x882 (or whatever the 1MP cgsix resolutoin was), but the versions packaged by Nokia, Sony, and others for PC use would sync all over the place, from 320x200 on up to about 1280x1024 (badly).

However, PCs typically had VGA or a set of five coax plus (RGB/HSync/VSync), so you still need to work out the pinout.


*Derail - why do I still remember these part numbers, and how can I clear my memory up for more useful facts?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:33 PM on July 20, 2006


But, as the OP noted; 13W3 to HD15 and 13W3 to 5BNC cables are easy to come by, with 4BNC and the rare (mostly HP) 3BNC still available, if you want to pay enough.
posted by baylink at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2006


Just because a cable goes from 13W3 to VGA or 3BNC or even 5BNC doesn't mean it has any sync logic built in. Be careful before buying anythign, or you could spend a fortune on cables.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:01 PM on July 20, 2006


elmwood: Black Hole Inc sounds great, but I imagine the shipping costs for a heavy, huge, 17 inch CRT to Canada would be prohibitively expensive.

I've investigated some more, and it seems I will need a sync splitter to get over that weird sync-on-green thing, then I think I can use a regular VGA to 13W3 cable to connect it. Luckily, xbox-modders have already written up a page on how to build one of these here.

I guess I'll try this, since other sync separators on the market seem to be damn expensive.
posted by patr1ck at 7:58 PM on July 20, 2006


Not that this is an answer, but I found it fascinating nonetheless. If you're comparing the lineage of OS X, you don't even need to spend the $40.
posted by hoborg at 9:09 PM on July 20, 2006


« Older Metaparenting: How do I stay ...   |  Looking to find a source of a ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.