What male do I seek?
June 7, 2008 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I have a mystery wall socket. What can I do with it?

There are two, one in the bedroom one in the living room. I'm in Australia. The multimeter doesn't help (no voltage, resistance of '1', no amperage). The only thing I can think of is either a very old phone system, or maybe an antenna connection to some sort of common external antenna (apartment building, 9 high)? Any insight?
posted by defcom1 to Technology (13 answers total)
Best answer: Looks like an antenna connection to me. The "1" on resistance scale just means that it's off-scale, i.e. practically open-circuit.

It could also be a speaker connection, except that it's so old. Are the two sockets (bedroom and living room) connected to each other? Intercom?
posted by polyglot at 6:24 AM on June 7, 2008

Seconding polyglot. I don't know from antipodean sockets, but my first thought, given that it's bedroom/livingroom, was that perhaps it was to allow you to put a stack of LPs on the living room turntable and then casually move the action from the bear rug to the waterbed without missing a beat. What would you say the vintage of the apartment is?
posted by mumkin at 6:37 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: good one flashman!

I don't think it's an intercom, or even a speaker connection, this building is not that swanky, and the bedroom and living room share a common wall. It's a 70's building, filled mostly with retirees.
posted by defcom1 at 6:46 AM on June 7, 2008

Hmmmm. Are those screw holes on either side of the socket (the left one being paint-filled), like you'd use to securely connect a VGA cable head, or can you tell? Threads visible?
posted by mumkin at 6:58 AM on June 7, 2008

mumkin: Those are most likely rivets, securing the connector in place.

Maybe use a utility knife to cut the paint, then unscrew it and give us a look at the cable connection on the plate. Might give some clues.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:24 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: I have one of those about three feet from where I'm sitting. It allows televisions and radios to be connected to the roof antenna.
posted by majick at 7:30 AM on June 7, 2008

In which case, you might want to duplicate the tags from this post, defcon1, so we can begin to slowly amass a collection of antennaplug-filter answers.
posted by mumkin at 7:50 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: I recall one of those being behind the TV back in the day and would second what Majick says. I vaguely remember a cord that had a coaxial fitting on one end and one of those on the other. Fifteen minutes later we got cable.

That being said, if I had a dollar for every time someone did something non-standard and really dumb with something that conducts electricity I'd be a rich, rich man, so don't do anything that might resemble betting your life on that being an antenna connection.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:41 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: In the house I grew up in we had the exact same connector. It was for the OTA roof antenna. If the multimeter isnt detecting voltage then that's probably a safe bet.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:58 AM on June 7, 2008

Best answer: Agreeing: it looks like it would connect to the (now pretty old-fashioned) 300-ohm twin lead from an antenna. In fact, googling on that turns up this Yahoo! answers question very similar to yours (with photo). The particular plug style must be an Australian thing.

If you're really interested look at this PDF: Clipsal MATV Master Antenna Television System and on p.27 you'll see their 300-ohm wall socket (model 31VTVA) which looks pretty similar to what you've got but not identical.
posted by hattifattener at 12:37 PM on June 7, 2008

"What can I do with it?"

Hmmm... if it is an antenna socket, could get yourself an RF modulator (like this, though you may have to account for whether you use NTSC or some other video standard) and possibly then connect it to a dvd player and then the wall...

If it all works right, anytime someone using those antenna jacks for their TVs tunes to channel 3 (or 4), whatever you've got in the DVD player will show up. All sorts of hijinks are possible. You could put a Benny Hill dvd on repeat and give your building a Benny Hill channel. You could burn DVDs of music videos and have an MTV-like channel that doesn't suck (from your point of view). You could connect a live camcorder feed of the sidewalk below, or the sky above. You could connect an old game console and treat everyone to an epic broadcast of you playing Zelda from start to finish.

You know what might be fun... find out if channel 3 ever has a news program. Record a weeks worth. Then play them back during the news programs regularly scheduled broadcast a few months later. It's old news!

Of course, it may be somewhat illegal where you are and you shouldn't do this unless you're certain of the connector's use.
posted by terpia at 2:19 PM on June 7, 2008

What can I do with it?

You could use it as, or replace it with, a wall-socket safe.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:41 PM on June 7, 2008

get yourself an RF modulator

Hell, you could start your own cable network (gratuitous self link, but modulators are better if they are agile).
posted by Chuckles at 11:28 AM on June 8, 2008

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