Converting analog to digital and vice versa

A few years down the road we may find ourselves in a situation where:

  • some of the computers on-campus will only have a VGA port
  • some of the computers on-campus will only have a DisplayPort (likely these will be Dell computers)
  • some of the computers on-campus will only have a Mini DisplayPort (all Mac computers distributed after January 1, 2009)

Thus, any new and existing smart classrooms will need to be reconfigured to support the three kinds of ports.

New and newly upgraded classrooms
In new or newly upgraded classrooms we will have the opportunity (and budget money!) to rebuild the system to support the new situation. In each classroom, we will have to replace a variety of switchers, adapters, projectors, and last, but not least, we’ll need to run one or two additional cables. As silly as it sounds, replacing the switchers, adapters and projectors will be straightforward. However, replacing the cables will not be as easy, depending on the classroom. There are two ways of replacing the cables:

  • Option A: Each classroom could have three cables: a VGA cable (for older Apple and Dell computers), a DisplayPort cable (for newer Dell computers) and a Mini DisplayPort cable (for newer Apple computers).
  • Option B: Each classroom could have two types of cables (a VGA cable and an HDMI cable). New Dell computers will be distributed with a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. Mac computers will be distributed with a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

At this point, option A seems like the ideal option, however, in some classrooms the existing cable conduits will not fit the two additional cables, thus Option B will be the only working approach. To implement Option B, Media Services would need to work closely with the Helpdesk and Library Circulation to purchase and distributed the necessary adapters.

Old smart classrooms that are not yet scheduled for a complete upgrade
Ideally we’d have the money and the time to upgrade all of the smart classrooms. However, that’s not likely going to be the case. We will need to implement a version of cabling Option B here. In some classrooms, a HDMI to VGA converter will be sufficient, in other classrooms we may need to also add a new switcher.

Equipment Needed

  1. Switcher: Extron MPS409. This switcher will convert DVI, VGA, component, S-Video, and audio to HDMI and vice versa. Yup, this switcher just made my day. It ROCKS!
  2. HDMI to VGA converter options: HDFury2
  3. Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter
  4. Moshi Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter
  5. Startech DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

A few classrooms are also used for overflow. If we come to a situation where the cameras used for overflow or the switchers used in overflow only have HDMI ports, we can use an HDMI CAT-5 (ethernet) balust (one model that would work: Niles C5-HDMI).

In a few classrooms we need to project the same video to two different projectors, or to a monitor and a projector. For such situations we’d need a distribution amplifier (DA), such as the Kramer VM-2HxI.