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What is a SCART Connector?

Victoria Blackburn
Victoria Blackburn

A SCART connector is a type of cable used to connect audio visual equipment, such as televisions, DVD players and the like. SCART stands for Syndicat francais des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radio et Television, as the industry standard was set by the original interface produced by Peritel, a French company. The end of the SCART connector has 21 pins, so it is also referred to as a 21-pin EuroSCART connector.

SCART was introduced in 1977 for use with televisions. It works by collecting an analog signal into one type of connector for use with all audio visual equipment. Prior to SCART connectors, an RF antenna was used to providing an analog signal to a television.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

During the 1980s, the SCART connector was upgraded so that it could carry S-video signals as well as analog signals. This meant that it could be used as a bi-directional connector between a television and other audio visual equipment. Current day SCART connectors can carry RGB video, composite, digital, analog, S-video and stereo audio input and output.

A SCART connector provides a physical and electrical connection between two pieces of audio visual equipment. Each piece of equipment has a female 21-pin interface where the cable with the male plugs can attach to the device. The 21st pin is actually not used for transmitting the signals, but as a ground for the contact. It doesn’t matter what end of the SCART connector is connected to what piece of equipment as the pins are the same for the up and down connection.

Not all signals travel in both directions along a SCART cable. Composite video, control signals and stereo audio can travel bi-directionally, while RGB signals travel in an input only direction. Most televisions that use the PAL standard come equipped with a SCART interface, as do all other pieces of audio visual equipment. It is one of the most common connectors for this type of equipment and is used throughout Europe and in other countries.

Although all SCART connectors have 21 pins, not all the pins are used all the time. Depending on what is being connected, there are different combinations of pins in use. Each pin of the 20 pins, not including the ground, has a specific signal affiliated with it. Also, the signal that is being transmitted will affect which pin is used and also the role of the pin. This means that there will be a noticeable difference in the sound and picture displayed on a television depending on the signal being broadcast.

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