Connecting Your Atari to a VCR
AIthough the Atari computer can be connected to a video cassette recorder through the antenna input (just like a television set), much better quality will result from using the VCR's video and audio inputs. This is the same as connecting an Atari to a monitor.
The monitor jack on the Atari is called a 5-pin DIN. It's a round plug with (not surprisingly) five contacts. You will need a cable that comes with a 5-pin DIN plug on one end and four RCA plugs (used by most VCRs) on the other end. Fortunately, this is a pretty common and inexpensive cable-Antic uses a lot of them for monitor connections. The cables should cost about $10 for a six-foot length and are available at most electronics stores and some computer stores. (However, Radio Shack no longer seems to carry them.) If you can't find the cables, you could build one from the diagram in Figure 1.
Now that you have the cable, how do you use it? After all, it comes with four RCA plugs and the VCR has only two input jacks. Well, you'll generally need to experiment-unless the four plugs are clearly labeled (usually they're just color-coded or numbered).
Whenever I get a new cable, I usually just try all the plug combinations until the sound and the picture both work right. You can't hurt anything by plugging into the wrong holes. When you do identify the correct plugs, label them clearly for future reconnections.
The purposes of the four RCA plugs are as follows:
1. Audio: Plug it into the audio input of the VCR. If you want to run a stereo VCR, you can use a "Y" connector.
2. Video: Plug it into the video input of the VCR. This plug has an industry-standard NTSC composite video signal.
3. Luminance: Let this plug dangle. It is a black and white video signal carrier used with monochrome monitors. As it happens, it is also the "Y" of the YC standard for the new Super VHS video recorders. The YC standard is the old separated video which many Atari owners have used for years with the Commodore 1702 monitor (and a few others). Yes, the Atari can produce this superior picture and take full advantage of the "new" technology.
4. Chrominance: Let it dangle too. This is the color part of the video picture. It is the "C" in Super VHS YC. The 800XL does not produce this signal. But you can substitute the NTSC composite signal (2 above) for good results with Super VHS.