How to Build a VGA Cable out of Household Items

(or "30 cent Russian VGA cable")

After finding out most VGA cables around here (Brisbane, Australia) only sell for $15 or higher (actually, I couldn't even find one for less than $25), I refused to buy any. I didn't want to wait 2 months for one to come from China either. Using my amateur electronics engineering knowledge, I forged one out of an extension cord and packaging tape.

So here is how you build your own VGA cable.

Required Materials:

Extension cord (or anything with wires inside it) (our conductor!)
Packaging tape (or any kind of tape...) (our insulator!)

It is also really nice to have a dental kit on hand for the flexible mirror tool and a pair of tweezers to handle the tiny wires. Oh, and scissors to cut things.

Ooou. Spooky.

The Steps:

Step 1: Review the VGA connector.

Step 2: Get out your cheap dollar store extension cord.

Step 3: Cut off the ends. If you're feeling really frugal save them so you can wire them back up together at the end.

You see the male and female ends? Yeah, those need to go.

Step 4: Take a flat, sharp object (I used a butcher knife), and carefully cut around the wire about 3-5 inches from one end of the wire. You may have to slowly slice into it. Imagine trying to peel an orange without cutting through the flesh. Now remove the plastic bit with your fingers or the knife, but avoid cutting the wires inside! We are stripping the wire to expose the tinier wires.

An example of what you want to see.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 until you think you have enough wire.

Step 6: Cut off the long, recently exposed wire. Lay out one long strand of packaging tape on the non-adhesive side. Take 6 wires and put them on the adhesive side. Make sure they don't overlap! Finally put another strand of tape over the wires. You now should have a wire sandwich. We've essentially made a ribbon cable.

But ours probably looks way worse than this.

Step 7: Now cut your wires out of the tape. Go very slow, you don't want to cut them in half while trying to separate them. We are doing this to get individual, insulated wires!

Step 8: You'll now have to expose the ends of the wires. You can use a sharp object again for this. Be careful and take it slow. You'll need about 3 inches of wire exposed on each end for the next step. Do this for all your wires.

Yeah this is what your wires should start looking like by now.

Step 9: Fold all the 3 inches of exposed wire in half. We do this so when you fit the wire into the VGA connector, they will fit snuggly!

Text art example:

3 inches

1.5 inches

The wires will now act as a spring to hold themselves in-place.

Ok now you have some real manly wires! Time to use them. This is the easiest part in my opinion.

Step 10: Review Step 1 again. Or just look at this diagram.

We will be connecting the Red (1), Green (2), Blue (3), Red Ground (6), and Horizontal (13) and Vertical (14) Sync pins. Why only one ground? Well the grounds are internally connected. So we don't need to worry about them all. If you don't connect ground, the quality of the image gets really bad. I highly recommend you plug it in.

Step 11: Hook up your wires.

It may look like you're going to fry your computer, but don't worry (ok maybe a little).

Doing the monitor was much harder.

An objective look at it all.

Yay! It works!

Step 12: Watch a movie.

Plate popcorn. No comment.

And that's it! I've heard other stories of people using nails and wire to create serial cables. Jeez people are crazy. Shout-out to ##electronics on freenode!


  1. VGA is the oldest standard of the three, having been introduced in 1987. VGA handles video only and not sound, contains no security or digital rights management, and is an analog signal, meaning the quality of the cable, the quality of the pins, and the distance from the PC to the monitor can all have an effect on video quality. If your connector has little thumbscrews next to the cable, and looks like the left graphic, it’s VGA.

  2. A fiber-optic system is similar to the copper wire system that fiber-optics is replacing. The difference is that fiber-optics use light pulses to transmit information down fiber lines instead of using electronic pulses to transmit information down copper lines. Looking at the components in a fiber-optic chain will give a better understanding of how the system works in conjunction with wire based systems.At one end of the system is a transmitter. This is the place of origin for information coming on to fiber-optic lines. The transmitter accepts coded electronic pulse information coming from copper wire. It then processes and translates that information into equivalently coded light pulses.Think of a VGA Cable in terms of very long cardboard roll (from the inside roll of paper towel) that is coated with a mirror on the inside.If you shine a flashlight in one end you can see light come out at the far end - even if it's been bent around a corner.


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