Updated January 2017

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, home computers didn’t use dedicated monitors to display operating systems, applications, and games.

In those days, things were much easier. Instead of paying extra for a monitor, most home computer and console owners were happy to use their TVs. It may seem strange now, but 30 years ago people hardly thought of ignoring TV programs to play video games.

For some, the situation has not changed much: game consoles are often connected to family television. But when it comes to computers, the dedicated monitor PC model eventually caught on. It would be unusual to see a home PC connected to a TV, even if it’s not impossible.

If you think about it, the ability to connect to different types of displays is pretty flexible. This must have been in the minds of the Raspberry Pi developers when they were deciding how their users might use the computer.

Despite its modest size, the Raspberry Pi supports 5 hardware output methods, enough to cover just about any output device you can think of.

What the creators say…

When I spoke to Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Eben Upton after the Pi launched, he explained that the stripped-down computer was built in the spirit of the 8-bit era.

«It’s a very cheap Linux PC, a 1980s-inspired device, a device that turns your TV into a computer, connects to the TV, plugs in a mouse and keyboard, gives it some power and some memory, an operating system, and you have a computer. «

Several different connections are supported from the Raspberry Pi. The original device has HDMI and RCA, while the most recent model, the Raspberry Pi 3, only has HDMI and a magical 3.5mm media port.

So how do you use these connectors to connect your Raspberry Pi to a monitor or TV?

It’s got HDMI!

One of the most interesting things about the Raspberry Pi is that every version comes with an HDMI connector, which means that anyone with an HDMI-compatible TV (which is most people in North America and Europe) can easily connect the device to their living room TV.

Along with the SD card and power supply, the HDMI cable is one of the most important pieces of equipment. , you can use it with a Raspberry Pi, meaning you could theoretically connect it to a wide variety of TVs and even modern desktops. monitors.

HDMI is ubiquitous, available on the original Raspberry Pi, Model B revisions, Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3 It is also present on the Pi Zero. although you will need a mini HDMI adapter to use HDMI here.

Unfortunately, not all TVs and monitors have HDMI connectors.

Using an HDMI to VGA adapter

If the display you choose doesn’t have an HDMI connector, the first thing you need to do is check if it has a VGA connector — the D-shaped connector that’s been commonly seen on computer monitors for the past 20 years. odd years If your monitor is VGA compatible, you only need an HDMI to VGA adapter to use your Raspberry Pi with this device or cable.

You will also need to make small changes to the file config.txt which the Raspberry Pi uses when booting.

Using a card reader on your desktop computer, insert your Raspberry Pi SD card and open the config.txt file with your preferred text editor.

Look for the following lines:

#hdmi_force_hotplug=1 #hdmi_drive=2 

Both options must be enabled, which can be done by removing the hash symbol and saving. These options enable VGA output via an HDMI adapter and set the screen resolution to a low 640 x 480.

If you want a higher resolution, remove the hash characters from the following lines:

 #hdmi_group=1 #hdmi_mode= 4 

You also need to edit these two lines by changing hdmi_group on the 2 and hdmi_mode on the 16 . Don’t forget to save your changes before safely removing and replacing your Raspberry Pi.

Display output via RCA

On the original Raspberry Pis A and B, up to Model B+ (2014), there is a third output display option, the RCA connector. This is on the opposite side of the device to the HDMI port, next to the audio port.

5 Ways to Display Your Raspberry Pi on a Monitor or TV

Using a standard RCA composite cable, you can connect your Raspberry Pi to any compatible TV (if it doesn’t have HDMI, it almost certainly has a yellow RCA or SCART socket) and enjoy the video output. Note that once the HDMI cable is connected, the Pi will switch to this output. RCA can also be switched to SCART with a suitable adapter, which is useful if your display does not have any RCA, VGA or HDMI connectors.

Depending on your screen resolution, you may need to change how windows are displayed on your Raspberry Pi. This will affect you if the monitor has a low resolution, but by changing the overscan settings in config.txt you can adjust the video output to match your monitor.

No options? Try a TRRS 3.5mm jack

Finally, the Raspberry Pi has a barely used secret. Starting with the Raspberry Pi Model B+, it comes equipped with an almost magical 3.5mm media port. Capable of handling both video and audio, you can use the patch cable in the TRRS port to connect to standard RCA jacks. You’ll find one of these on ModMyPi or Amazon for just a few dollars.

TRRS is a cheaper and more power efficient port than the old standard RCA connector, which is why it can now be found on Raspberry Pi Model B boards. Don’t miss this option!

Display DSI ribbon connector

Raspberry Pi devices from model A to Raspberry Pi 3 model B have a ribbon connector, a Display DSI port. This is designed to connect to a dedicated Raspberry Pi display, both standard and touch.

Take a look at our tutorial how to make the best use of this port on the official touchscreen, or just watch the video.

The Raspberry Pi continues to be an amazingly flexible device (start with our unofficial guide unofficial guide unofficial guide), surprising users in many different ways. Do you have a unique way to connect to a display?

Image credit: ABB Photo via Shutterstock.com

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