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FAQ about Fortraflex

Fortraflex FAQ (even though nobody knew about it and therefore we haven’t had a single question to date.)

I’m about to hate myself for writing a brand name over and over like a regular corporate shill.

What is Fortraflex?

 Individually shielded flexible cabling!

 It’s our answer to cheaper cabling offered as an alternative to coax. We mainly took inspiration from official Scart and component cabling, (we used Nintendo and Microsoft cables to run comparisons) which actually use the same method of individual shielded lines with almost as much shielding as coax: but are not coax.

 The one problem with coax is it cannot be made as flexible as the consumer solutions provided by Nintendo, Microsoft etc. The internal wires are made of polyethylene vs pvc. If you need total flexibility, Fortraflex is the solution. This cabling line has as much shielding as an official cable, but is actually more flexible - we tested this against official console scarts.

 It is easier to wire and cheaper to source vs coax, therefore can be sold at a lower price. We wanted to counteract the recent criticism that we are expensive - anyone can make a cheaper grade at a cheaper price. 

 

What’s the difference between fortraflex and 75 ohm mini coax?

 Fortraflex is very flexible! Each line is individually shielded to protect against internal coupling (jailbars, audio buzz) and ESD infiltration from outside sources via the individual, wrapped copper shield. 

 Mini coax does all that (albeit is not very flexible), and:

 Coax lines are individually insulated against each other, with special attention paid to the chemical properties of dielectrics (the plastic surrounding the conductor) as well as the distance of the shielding from the central conductor. The internal impedance of the entire run is kept to as near as possible 75 ohms. What this means is a form of insurance against signal degradation via reflections. Only coax and impedance correct equipment (extron, professional monitors, BNC connectors) provide this. To put it simply: at any point in the line, or in your equipment itself, wherever there is an impedance mismatch a signal reflection can occur. You see this as ghosting or colour degradation. Impedance correct setups insure against this. Cabling is the point that the signal travels for the longest distance, therefore in setups with lots of cabling going into and out of devices, we still recommend coax. In non impedance rated cable like consumer scarts, official cabling from games companies, fortraflex, and scarts offered by our competitors, the signal degrades incrementally as soon as it leaves the console, and continues to degrade the longer the signal travels. We see a lot of “can you see this with your eyes” - in many cases and at the length that console manufacturers offer (usually 6 foot maximum) - the answer is mostly no. Coax, and impedance correct equipment however allow you to send the signal over much longer distances sans degradation: at the point that mini coax is rated to (between 30-60ft depending on resolution) you shouldn’t see issues: a 10 foot coax cable going into an extron and another 10 foot at the other side gives you fundamentally the same results as a 2 foot direct from source to destination cable. 

 We actually introduced proper 75 ohm coax because we were hearing reports of issues that could only have come from an impedance mismatch from our customers. These were colour artifacts that we found it difficult to pin down, difficult to replicate without buying a lot of equipment, and difficult to troubleshoot what appeared to be perfectly working returned cables. These reports were not too common but caused a lot of time in customer service: and our customer service email time went WAY down after we introduced 75 ohm coax. 

 We’re pretty confident that if people understand the best case scenarios for coax and Fortraflex, that we won’t be hearing about these issues again, nevertheless.

 

Why are you effectively bashing your own product?

 I’m not. I’m just giving the facts. People wanted cheaper individually shielded cable and they wanted flexible cable, so we are providing it. It’s not a bad solution, nor is it a wrong solution, and it’s perfectly fine for shorter runs (we’ve even stated this about the competition on previous coax articles), it just doesn’t have the protection of being impedance correct. No cabling that fails to insulate individual shields against each other is impedance correct, because maintaining impedance is a fine balancing of distance of a signal from its individual radial shield: jam your shielding all together and you lose this property. You similarly lose this property based on the chemical construct of the dielectric. Real impedance rated coax is not made with pvc dielectrics.

 The way that non coax individual shield protects your signal is to defend it from outer interference (ESD) and from internal signal coupling (the buzz you hear when the rgb couples into audio on bright screens, the jailbars you see when composite video chroma  couples into rgb.) Non coax, individually shielded cable does this perfectly well. Coax does this as well as being impedance correct. Coax also offers more protection against internal coupling merely from the fact of having more shielding than non coax individual shield typically offers.

 

Is Fortraflex cabling better or worse than the type used in another seller’s equivalent?

 It has more shielding. It’s thicker. 7mm diameter to be precise: we were inspired by official Nintendo and Microsoft cabling, hence we used the same amount of shielding and roughly the same outer diameter of those cables. Therefore the ESD and internal coupling protection should be better. If you want still thinner cabling, other options still exist. We think however, that people will be pleased with the flexibility of our cable.

 

Isn’t it fine to use this cheaper individually shielded cable in a direct run?

 Sure. We’ve never said otherwise: we used the official cabling we based this on in fact for years.

 

Isn’t Fortraflex great for things like patch cables and adaptors?

 Yep, in fact that’s pretty much best case scenario for using it, and somebody asking about this caused us to bring the release date for the mini DIN models forward.

 

Will you be making other cabling aside from mini din out of Fortraflex?

 Absolutely. We need to redesign a lot of hoods however.

 

Do other manufacturers’ cables use 75 ohm coax?

 For rgb: No. People have wondered about this, but you can tell it’s not from the construction of it (no individual insulations.)

For YPbPr: Only HD Retrovision cables do to our knowledge. Yes we own their cabling, and use it as an option for 480p PS2 output. We believe that Insurrection Industries forthcoming Gamecube cables will also be, but as those have not yet come to market we cannot say that as a fact yet.

For vga type cabling: This is available, but tends to be a bit of a scam, we’ve found cabling labelled as 75 ohms that can’t possibly be given the physical properties of the cable.

 

Can you make BNC cabling out of Fortraflex?

 No. It’s doing a disservice to what people expect from more professional setups for one, and for two, the individual BNC breakouts have to be insulated, ie they need that plastic outer coating to preserve the internal lines. Making BNCs or component cables out of non insulated individually shielded lines requires adding a plastic sheath, like heatshrink to each line at the breakout, or splicing coax lines to the breakout - which frankly is silly.

 

Why doesn’t your Fortraflex cable have Fortraflex printed all over it? Isn’t this some generic cable?

 No. It was custom made.

 I’ve had it sitting in stock in copious volume and undergoing testing for 4 months. I didn’t come up with the name til recently.

 Also I don’t really see the point of branding beyond “this is good, people swear by it, here is a name you can remember it by.” I’m not a fan of buzzwords, or even the usual debunkable cabling claims like “O.F.C. copper is better” or “you need gold plated connectors.”* We designed the coax cabling, it’s custom and the lines are strategically placed. It’s still mini coax, so calling it something other than “75 ohm mini coax” is a bit daft. We designed the *concept* of Fortraflex to use individual shields, be as thick as official cabling *and* be flexible, but we based it on the fact that Tasker of Italy can already produce cabling similar to this, ergo what’s printed all down it is “Tasker” and “made in Italy” and “individually shielded cable.” It’s still custom, we gave them the specs and asked them to make it, but as yet we don’t have branding on it.

 *gold plated connectors solder more easily so actually it’d be pretty cool if this lie had stuck.

Aren’t you just copying ****apunch? (Censored because I don’t want to be dishonest and make his search results point to my website.)

 You mean the version of it released in late 2017? Well, when we were trying to come up with a replacement for our older coax, we actually considered using this type of cabling. There’s no patent on it. It’s a thing that’s existed for years. Because official cables use it, we’d seen it in X-box cabling that we deconstructed first of all, then found it in other manufacturer’s cables. But people kept asking for better coax, plus you can’t (shouldn’t) make BNCs out of non coax, so we opted for simply improving our coax at no increased cost. After a while (discounts offered from the competitor after the launch of our 75 ohm coax) people started to call us expensive, because of the belief that coax was a direct equivalent to the alternative. So to counteract that and make a point, I’m offering both options.

 So if anyone wants to criticize on this point: note this. It’s to counteract the fact that we are now described as “expensive.” That implies we are charging too much for the work: we aren’t. I’m not reducing the price of coax, because I literally can’t.

 We needed a replacement for our regular shielded anyway. We apologize for the increase in price, but the extra shielding requires it.

 

What does Fortraflex mean anyway?

 It means “every combination of shield and flex was annoyingly taken by some other brand name so I used the word fortress instead.” I’m trying to be descriptive in the naming in other words.

 

Can I exchange my coax cables for Fortraflex, Fortraflex is cheaper?

 Only if they’re recently bought (past two months) and look visibly like they did when you got them. We’ll sell the returns at a small discount if this occurs.

How to check attenuation in CMVS setups without an oscilloscope.

We’ve recently had a lot of questions about making cables for MVS setups like CBOX or “insert setup here” scenarios where we just don’t know if the mod is reliably set up for proper compatibility with a TV/other TV tech like scalers, line doublers, switch boxes etc.

We don’t know what’s in your system and we can’t reliably provide cables that won’t result in a disasterous scenario if your setup is not attenuated. Nor can we provide cables that are guaranteed to work if you don’t know what’s in your actual console. We can be confident of certain MVS builds from some manufacturers but not others. Already we know that earlier CBOXs not attenuated, later ones are. So in these cases it’s really up to you to find out.

First off, checking csync *under load* ie either connected via a throughport Bnc from a PVM, or hooked to a plugged in SCART cable, or simply via a 75 ohm terminated hookup into your scope will give you about 1.75Vpp from an UNATTENUATED MVS. We’ve confirmed this.

When you don’t have a scope, things get a little more tricky but you can still find out! I’d use a cheap multimeter to check things for certain in this case. To that end here is a guide to finding out what’s in your CMVS.

This requires taking your system apart and checking it for resistors. We’re not responsible for any damage you do in this scenario so please be careful and follow correct practices! If you don’t know what you’re doing here it doesn’t come recommended but the alternative might be breaking your OSSC or G-Scart with the wrong cable and we really don’t want that scenario either.

There actually is an attenuating resistor on the MVS board, but it’s not high value  enough.

R51 is the series resistor on csync in an unmodded MVS board. It is very difficult to see as it’s a super tiny SMD but it should have “101” written on it. This is a 100 ohm resistor. Citrus3000 wrote a post on Twitter about changing this to a 620... now I don’t know if people who make CMVS setups actually do that or whether they attenuate their own additional boards that generate the video output.

So the resistor you are looking for is circled in red. If this says 101 on it (use a magnifying lens or camera to read it unless you have superhero style vision) then this is the stock resistor that these boards had from manufacture. It doesn’t mean your setup is unattenuated for 75 ohm sync, because there may be extra resistors elsewhere.

You can check resistance from the right side of this resistor into where csync connects to your AV port. If you get a straight 100 ohm (or very near it) then this is an unattenuated setup and you need attenuation in the cable.

If you get no results then.... your csync signal may well be going into some video processing somewhere and we just don’t know. Look for things like sync strippers, common buffer ICs, inputs into video amp ICs and check for continuity from R51. You can probably work something out from that if you know what these components commonly output - or send us a photo with descriptions and we might be able to tell.

Here’s another picture from an *unattenuated* CBOX. R51 IS connected directly to the csync in the DIN on this particular system, but you might also see this little red board in these units.

This is the pcb the CBOX uses to generate svideo and composite video. I’m pretty sure this is a generic board normally used for something else because of the way it’s spliced over the pcb underneath it and the unpopulated bit for an IC that looks like a sync stripper would normally go there. Now the bottom solder pad is connected directly to the csync pin in the port. Actually it’s connected to BOTH the csync pin and where composite video would normally be in a Neo Geo. So you can check resistance between this board and the accessible pins on the opposite side of the din to what you see here, but I’d also check from R51.

You can see in the picture that the creator of the CBOX has made some later modification to connect stereo audio to the din.

Perhaps in later units there is a resistor between that bottom pad and csync in the port. You might even be able to physically see a modification. Point is: we don’t know. This is an early CBOX that was loaned to us and there was nothing in this particular unit, no attenuation at all on the output video board.

At any rate I hope this helped! 

Why 75 ohm coax cabling is the best cable for video signals.

I’m going to preface this by stating that I’m not a naturally competitive person and I’d rather our cable sell on its own merits and exist in a niche for people who know why it’s better. But without making some statements about exactly *why* our cable is better than what you can get elsewhere, the bulk of people are going to remain uninformed and also see our higher prices as an attempt to gouge more money.

They aren’t. We actually took a significant pay cut when we introduced higher grade coax. Our coax cabling is already “on sale” and in the current climate, it’s been permanently on sale.

Everybody else is playing this comparison game with photos and stating why their cable is better, so let’s go all out and show you the difference between our coax cable and the current competition for shielded RGB console cabling. Nobody right now can beat us on this *unless* they improve or change the sources of their cabling, and believe me when I say - I’d be perfectly ok with them doing so, ie selling high grade at similar price points to us instead of selling you a cheap lower grade alternative and telling you it’s high grade when it really isn’t.

 

Competitor 1’s full shielded cable:


Competitor 2’s semi shielded cable:


Our 6 core mini coax cable:


We are trying to sell something *different* and higher grade to other sellers as we don’t like going head to head, we don’t want a war because it’s stressful and we’re already frightened of the potential backlash to this very article. But we have to do it because it makes commercial sense to point out the differences when your product is a higher price. We’re the only seller offering console SCART cables made of real coax. We’re the only seller offering proper impedance matched cabling, with an impedance of 75 ohm - if you discount HD Retrovision that is, who don’t sell RGB cabling.

We need to express that our coax cables are not equivalent to those offered by other sellers, because we can’t simply reduce the price - coax cabling is not cheap and we’re trying to place ourselves in the high end of the market. This is not going to work if people don’t understand what true video coax cabling is doing. 

I don’t want people to just take my word for it, so please google around about impedance and why 75 ohm impedance is important in video signals. 

What is impedance?

In short, using cables with a characteristic impedance equal to that of your equipment (and for video signals, this is 75 ohm) prevents portions of your video signal reflecting back along the line.

Impedance is measured in ohms but when you’re talking about cable and connectors this number does not express a load on the signal itself. So you can’t take a 75 ohm cable and remove your 75 ohm resistors from the signal (a good few people have asked us this) - those resistors, that in many cases are missing in your console are needed in the cable to drive the signal and ideally, so is the 75 ohm cable. 75 ohm impedence rated cable means it is characteristically tailored to carry a 75 ohm signal. All non RF video signals (RGB, YPbPr, composite video, s-video) are 75 ohm signals. 

The characteristic impedance of a cable is achieved in the width of the internal conductors, the type of insulator used (chemical properties of the actual plastic), the width of said insulator from the outer shield, amount of shield used, to carry a 75 ohm impedance signal. (We’re at the thinnest mini coax width possible to achieve this - it is physically impossible to go thinner.)

 You can’t achieve this from simple individually shielded cable, and ideally every line should be insulated from adjacent lines, so that each line is individually impedance matched.

 In case anyone is wondering, yes it’s also fine to send analog (and digital) audio through 75 ohm coax and in the interests of keeping this article shorter - I’m talking about video here - please google this and find out why it’s not only fine, but the shielding used is more than adequate to isolate audio from video in a cable bundle.

 Coax cables should have *white* or pale internal insulators because the plastic in proper coax dielectrics is made of polyethylene, a plastic that can’t be dyed easily with vibrant shades (dye also affects the chemical properties and can compromise the characteristic impedence.) You might have seen polyethylene insulation in cheap vga cable where the red, green and blue lines are shielded with a single foil shield and the plastic insulators are dyed, yet muted in colour so much so that the red plastic looks pink. The external insulator (the outer sheath that you see in separated Bnc ends) can be pvc (and usually is) to denote the colour for the signal and also protect the cable from wear and tear, but if the central line is brightly colored, your centre dielectric is also pvc - it does not have the characteristics of true 75 ohm coax.

 What happens when impedance isn’t correctly matched? Well when you don’t match cabling to the source impedance of the electronics in your console, power is lost along the line. The longer your cable is, and the more connections you send it through, the more likely this is to happen. The part of the signal that’s lost has to go somewhere, and what happens is that portions of it reflect back in your circuit and combine with the signal traveling through the cables, which in its best case causes a slight loss of color fidelity and in the worst case can cause ghosting.

We do a lot in our business to cut down on returns and customers who have issues that we simply can’t pinpoint. Before we introduced the higher grade coax, we would have the odd customer reporting issues with ghosting in their setup and we simply couldn’t pinpoint the issue because we couldn’t exactly replicate the equipment. Since we introduced 75 ohm industry standard coax, these reports have entirely dried up.

People care a lot about the quality of connectors, capacitors used, distance of rgb signals from other lines (in mods), use of correct wire in mods and they talk about it a lot. Sometimes it’s frustrating to us to see this talked about at such length, because people are fine tuning their mods to such a high degree and then their customers send it through... a lower grade SCART cable that is marketed as, and accepted by the community as being a high grade cable. So if you wondered why you see people who mod suddenly recommending component cables over RGB, that’s probably got a lot to do with it. It’s not just about the voltages in SCART or the SCART connector being dodgy (RCA plugs are also a consumer compromise - they aren’t used for professional video connectors - 75 ohm BNC plugs are). It’s likely also because most SCART manufacturers are not using ideal cabling. The one seller of high grade component cable *is*.

Nobody talks about the quality and suitability of the cabling used between your console and the final device in the chain. A lot of talk is made about “individually shielded cable” and why it’s important to shield signals from each other to avoid coupling between one signal and another - especially in the case of composite video and audio lines. But this is just the first consideration. Cable that merely shields audio from video is still not really meant for video signals, and can’t hold up over longer distances. Most cabling you buy in this industry is not properly impedance matched. Decades of cheap imported scarts, s-video cabling and rca cabling have seen prices trend downwards in an attempt to attract customers with big bargains and the casualty of this is the loss of the use of proper coax in consumer equipment, plus a complete lack of understanding in the userbase about why the cabling is not ideal. We’ve been guilty of this in the past, using SCART grade coaxes and unshielded lines in our cheaper cable. What we’re offering now in our coax cabling is properly impedance matched cabling. It is not possible to bring the price of it down by very much at all and it’s not equivalent to cheaper “high end” cable.

 

Anyone selling a cable that’s significantly thinner than ours and significantly cheaper than ours is not selling a high end video cable. 

About regular shielded cable.

People have been wondering why the regular budget cable is out of stock on many cable types, there’s a good reason for this (we ran out of the type with multiple ground wires, which we tested as optimal for most consoles, ie the audio buzz caused by rgb/audio coupling is practically gone using our wiring methods and over the shortest possible lengths.)

We are still selling the snes options til they run out, because it used different cable: it did not need as many ground wires, it was playtested fairly recently by a respected content creator  (Bob) and confirmed as better than adequate, and we still have that type of cabling in stock at any rate. Not for long, however.

We are not going to be replacing either *type* of regular cabling, because it’s 1. Not too cheap to replace anyway, it came from an American company - American component and cabling wholesaler/manufacturers aren’t as competitively priced as European equivalents. 2. Even though audio buzz is mostly gone, it attracts negative reviews when people run it through test cartridges, crank the sound all the way up at the highest rgb voltage levels (pure white screen) and make a video about it, accentuating an audio hum that’s normally not noticeable during play. Which is damaging. And you only need one person to do this to end up having an anxiety attack about it. Everyone hates customer complaints and bad reviews, but what people don’t see is what goes on in the background here - these cables are constantly revised. A single customer’s email can make us make hasty improvements to *every* future customer’s cable. Changing your cable *source* though is a slower process.

Yes, we are phasing out regular shielded cable.

As in, we are phasing out how it exists in its current form. We are making improvements to it. I’ve hinted at this before, but we’ve been wanting to drop this type of cable for *years,* you’re not even supposed to use it for video signals (not because it is dangerous, before people panic: but because of quality issues) and it only existed as a legacy of the days when nobody could easily source proper coax. Very few people can still source proper coax, fortunately we’ve had enough clout and bargaining power built up from years of *highly appreciated* customer support to be able to do this. However, the budget option still attracted enough sales and enough customer satisfaction to keep it around. And it’s not possible or practical to sell professional grade coax cheaply, so you can’t offer it as a budget line. It’s also time consuming to wire up and we don’t have time to sell it exclusively. We’re not trying to scam people by hoodwinking them into the higher priced option (it’s much better cable after all), we are just biding time and trying to be responsible with business profits.

Hence the cable *will* be coming back, not in its current form, but in a better shielded form.

We’re sorry about the delay to this as we needed to sell a respectable amount of the coax before investing in more cable. It sucks when all your cable types run out in the same few months, as you need to make two huge investments in a similar time frame. But this is basically what has happened. It’s not that we can’t afford it, it’s just that it’s risky to blow too much of your business funds at once.

We’ve built up enough now that I am about to put the order in to start the process to bring back a new, improved budget option.

 

Why our overseas shipping costs so much (and why Chinese companies can ship for free.)

There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s a cost imposed by USPS, a cost that was already expensive but increased by 50% in 2012 and has been rising steadily ever since.

The charge on US international post subsidies China to ship products to the USA almost for free. Chinese packet post is actually owned and operated by USPS and operates at a huge loss, which is recuperated by massive charges on shipping OUT of the USA. 

Donald Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese importing will do nothing to help US manufacture while Chinese packet post exists. It is hypocritical (no tariff on clothes, his daughter runs a clothing line) vote garnering spin. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/12/the-postal-service-is-losing-millions-a-year-to-help-you-buy-cheap-stuff-from-china/?utm_term=.990db4d1eaf6

If you want to know why this situation continues to exist, it’s tied into international agreements to support developing nations to build on manufacturing industries and exports. Developing nations’ postal systems are already heavily subsided by first world nation postal services. Politicians and manufacturing organizations lobby government every year to disallow China from these agreements, but China is actually subsided more than most other nations. You can lay the blame for the continuing situation almost squarely at the feet of EBay, who have a lot of bargaining power to lobby for this situation to continue, as it lines their pockets. This is no conspiracy theory but a fact that anyone who sold in any great volume on eBay has been aware of since 2012. It’s another big reason for us wanting to get away from eBay.

If you’re a seller in the EU, like most our competitors for hand produced cabling are, you can ship out a single SCART cable via non tracked letter post which maxes out depth wise at 1 inch thick, a limitation that can accommodate a single SCART. We’re well aware of this because we used to ship out of the UK. When I moved to the USA, I was shocked that the limitation on letter post is 2/3rds of an inch. This does not accomodate even one SCART cable. This brings shipping one SCART from about $4 from Europe to about $12 from the USA, tracking is mandatory and we (you) pay for it even if your country lacks internal shipping once the packet hits your country. We can’t possibly compete, and we’re pretty ok with this, the US market has grown in leaps and bounds and is enough to keep us going. We still get the odd customer from outside the USA nevertheless and we actually take it as a huge compliment when we do. Believe me we do see it as a big deal. It’s surprising that anybody would want to support a US company that struggles under such an insane system, and pay over the odds to do so.

Quote from the above linked article:

 ”[3] The funny fact here is that the USPS actually makes an operating profit on this kind of international mail. (That is, it makes more than the marginal cost, but not necessarily the total cost including infrastructure and other operations.) Whatever it loses on underpriced inbound mail, it recoups through what it charges Americans for outbound mail. In a way, those who mail stuff abroad are helping to pay for other Americans to get cheap shipping on purchases from China.”

 

 

Towards a goal of cutting out third world manufacture

I tend to be quite cagey about what I say about our sourcing practices because I don’t want to be accused of being isolationist. I’m definitely not, and I’m not the type to splash an American flag over our products with “proudly made in America” - even though the cables are 100% assembled here in Florida. I think labels like this are somewhat deceitful anyway because your source components usually come from elsewhere. Legally I can slap this label on anything (you only have to declare the source where final assembly was carried out) but it still feels wrong.

A small business like us can’t afford to work with fair trade associations and I don’t think these exist for electronics at any rate, nor does big business exactly adhere to such practices.

I am personally, morally opposed to the hiring practices and quality control practices of countries that most electrical components come from. I’m opposed to western nations and big businesses exploiting third world manufacture. So if we can cut out on the use of parts from these countries and still keep costs affordable we’ll do that. Sometimes you basically have no option, and a lot of our end components like SCART plugs are made in - in that case Taiwan. But when it comes to the crunch, if I can afford to source from a country in the EU with strict employee rights laws and strict manufacturing standards, if the option exists to source from there, I will do so. That is why our new coax cable comes from Italy, because we hit on that option as soon as I found out that Italy actually has a strong history of cable manufacturing, a lot of cable plants around Milan and most importantly - the cabling is actually affordable vs most American solutions for custom cable. In other words, we were quoted a much better price for the same coax grade that one American manufacturer offered, to the point we could stay at our pricing points.

We don’t currently have our business name on this cable even though it was custom manufactured for us. We needed it ASAP and wanted to thoroughly test it, with the option to sell it on if it wasn’t 100% suitable.

Our Italian manufacturer has also offered us high grade metal SCART plugs but these are costly, I would like to gauge interest - these would be an additional $4 on the cost of each cable as an option. If interested please let me know. Our previous option used metal plating on what was already a plastic case and these are currently out of stock.

We also decided to manufacture our Snes plugs ourselves after seeing the quality trend downwards over the years to the point we received a couple of returns for flattened pins - there is low quality control in China *especially for console connectors* (non consumer grade plugs on the other hand usually give you better options within China) and the suppliers were making the pins thinner and thinner to save on metal. We’re currently using very similar connector pins to those used in the official Snes cables. They aren’t too thin, they won’t easily bend or break and don’t have too tight a grip to potentially wear out the pcb in the snes. 

 

Why we changed the brand of our capacitors to Nichicon

We stopped using Panasonic caps earlier this year and started using mainly Nichicon or sometimes Rubycon caps.

The simple reason is that most Panasonic caps don’t have “Panasonic” printed up the side, they instead have an “M” logo for Matsushita. 

This confused some customers who were asking us why we weren’t using the advertised Panasonic capacitors as late as 2017. People were assuming we used off brand capacitors, which is something we stopped doing in 2014. Some people would then go to a forum and state that we still weren’t using Panasonic capacitors. We suspect that this info was relayed to more respected forum members, who repeated it. This is damaging to us, we can’t afford to be spending extra money on well renowned brands only for people to then assume we don’t use them. It costs us sales.

Because Nichicon and Rubycon are equally regarded Japanese manufacturers, we now use their capacitors *purely to avoid controversy because they actually print their name in full up the side of their caps.*

We’ve tested a whole bunch of these capacitors and they perform just as well as the Panasonics.

We do not source our caps from potentially dodgy sources. We buy in bulk from respected US distros, most commonly digikey. This is to avoid getting bootleg caps. If digikey ever end up accidentally sourcing bootlegs (these things can happen), we’re sure we’d hear about it pretty quickly - as opposed to remaining in the dark about it.

We still have Panasonic capacitors in stock however! If you feel you’d prefer them, perhaps because they are a more well known company outside Japan - just ask. Actually we’d be quite happy about this because we ditched an entire reel of thousands of Panasonic caps on seeing this information again repeated on a forum.

Note that we have been covering the caps up with heatshrink of late - purely to isolate the signal from other lines. If you cut this away, and you’re welcome to without losing your guarantee - you’ll see “Nichicon” or “Rubycon” printed up the side. Or for slightly older cables, possibly the Panasonic “M” logo.

We’re going to be changing our methods soon to make these caps more visible, at any rate.

New coax is arriving soon

We still have the older blue coax in stock but it is once again running low and I need to do a stock check. This is the final supply of blue coax. After this runs out. all coax ordered will be made with the custom black coax from Italy which the supplier has apparently almost finished manufacturing. This will be shipped to us via airmail on april 4th.

All orders received that have not been shipped yet can be fulfilled with coax as/when ordered but I will not be restocking coax til possibly Monday depending on how much we have left. I need to measure the reel, and have been running low on time due to issues this week with the 3D printer (this is similarly resolved now.)

Still on track with coax

I’m going to be adding more updates as they come re. availability of coax, and changes to any cabling.

Please note that we will not degrade the quality of any cabling. If cabling changes, it will be improved if possible. The improvement to the new coax is, in my opinion, the fact we managed to get cabling for one way rather than two way SCART. We had other options for two way SCART all along but the majority of it is too thick for our purposes. What we were using - the blue coax was the maximum thickness we felt was reasonable. The one way coax will be slightly thinner overall but the individual coaxes inside it will be thicker. It’s rated for longer distances so we should be able to add more length options.

Here’s how you make your coax slightly thicker while still managing to get the overall cable to be thinner:

There’s always some redundant lines in SCART standard cabling so that “21 pins” can be connected, which is nothing more than a marketing gimmick - 3 of the lines in SCART were never used in any equipment and there’s no reason to have enough wires to connect an additional 3 extra lines for audio and video *output* in a SCART cable designed only for input. Still, if you are purchasing cable that’s designed for SCART, these lines are always present in the cable by default and the only way to jettison these and keep the cable at a lower profile is to get the cable custom made. 

So by sending cable designs to cable production companies, we were able to jettison the three redundant lines that are not used by anything as well as the extra output lines. 

It is possible for cheaper and shorter cable to use cheaper shielding. That’s why we’re changing the regular cable too at some point in the summer for a partial shielded version that isolates audio and should be fine for shorter cable runs. If you’re setting up a room though, with multiple consoles running through switchboxes, going up to ten feet into a switchbox, then through another cable going out of it, and especially if you’re using a BNC setup, running isolated wires into an extron switchbox, coax is the way to go.

Coax is being changed and will be temporarily out of stock.

We have been using SCART compliant mini coax multicore in our cables now for 4 years. It is dark blue in colour, 9mm in diameter and because it is designed for two way SCART, contains some redundant lines for one way console SCART cable.

The problem is, our supplier has ditched most SCART cabling and hookups with no warning. We had a huge order scheduled with them, which they cancelled, leaving us with only 6 weeks left of cable last month. 

On being queried, we were told that SCART is obsolete so their factory is discontinuing it. A little crazy considering the RGB gaming hobby was causing their orders of SCART components to rise exponentially over the past 3 years!

We have already found an alternative for SCART plugs/sockets and have enough stock to last months at any rate, so this was not a concern. We were, however, low on coax cabling. We are low on non coax too but 1. We have more in stock for the time being and 2. It is nowhere near as hard to source and isn’t a concern - we’re changing it anyway, but there was already a plan in place for that.

It is very hard finding suppliers who still stock analogue video compatible cabling in the current climate. We have had to find suppliers that could already manufacture mini coax lines and were also able to bundle these into a multicore cable. Ergo, we had to upload a design for cable to dozens of manufacturers and most of them lacked the equipment for manufacturing mini coax, let alone bundling it together.

We have spent the last few weeks securing new cabling and this ramped up last week as we were sorting out cable design with new manufacturers. If you have sent us recent communication via email and not got a response, we apologise but this is the reason: we prioritized securing a supplier before we could give concrete answers. We have been purposefully accepting less orders via our site and will run out of coax next week, but we are discontinuing website coax orders *now* for a limited time so we can control stock levels better. If you want coax right now, we have some in stock - please contact me. I will agree to sell this off the site til we run out of the majority and will keep some in stock for potential returns.

I have also been quite, quite depressed over the past month, for obvious reasons. For the emergency supply of new coax, the hobby can thank my husband who was able to secure a manufacturer in Europe. The cabling is based on my designs but his efforts in securing it. We are also very grateful to the company who could get this manufactured at relatively short notice. 

I decided to hold off on any announcement until we were positive the cable could be produced. We are now positive, as we’ve been invoiced for it from a company who already produce two way compliant SCART cabling and who agreed to manufacture one way SCART for us based on coax used in their other cables. This is how we were able to have it confirmed at such short notice, the mini coaxes were already being produced and the new cable will bundle these into one new design.

The coax is, however *changing.*

We are getting our cabling made to our spec with 75 ohm compliant professional grade mini coax. This will feature enough lines for *one way* SCART, as used by game consoles. The coaxes themselves will apparently be slightly thicker, but the overall cable slightly thinner in diameter due to no longer featuring redundant lines to hook up two way SCART.

The new cabling will be black, not dark blue.

SCART to SCARTs will be one way only and labelled as such with “input” and “output” designations on the plugs. Nobody in the hobby needs a two way solution as far as I know, but if you do: we will have a new SCART to SCART option that uses thicker cabling.

We have secured a large bulk order from a European manufacturer to make the first batch of new coax cabling, but as it is coming by freight from Europe and also carries a manufacturing time, we are going to be out of coax for a while. As we plan to have the first reel sent via airmail, hopefully this will not be longer than a month but we have been making the best of a bad situation. The previous supplier gave us absolutely no warning of this change so please bear with us and we are also willing to take preorders. We will *definitely* have the cabling in stock.

BNC is similarly affected as we use the same mini coax cabling for that.