Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tektronix TDS-420 oscilloscope external video display

A nice feature of the Tektronix TDS series of digital storage oscilloscopes is their external video display capability. Most (if not all) Tektronix scopes in the TDS series have an external video output (including my TDS-420) for hooking up an external display.

The internal display is very nice:

Sometimes it would be nice to have a larger display at my bench level while working...

Unfortunately this external video output is in a 9-pin form, unlike the standard DB15-pin connector we are familiar with on our VGA monitors. Because Tektronix labeled the connector as 'VGA compatible', I assumed it held to the VGA standard, and would be compatible with most modern multisync monitors.

To hook up an external display to your TDS series oscilloscope, you must perform the following. Obtain a standard 15-pin VGA connector cable and remove one end, replacing it with a standard 9-pin connector (preferably a metal connector to help with shielding). Wire the new 9-pin connector to the VGA cable as listed here. The 15-pin connector is on the left with pin assignment to the 9 pin on the right:

VGA DB15-S Female DB9 Female
15-pin, 9-pin
1, 1 Red
2, 2 Green
3, 3 Blue
4, - Monitor ID bit 2
5, - N/C
6, 6 GND
7, 7 GND
8, 8 GND
9, - N/C
10, - GND
11, - Monitor ID bit 0
12, - Minitor ID bit 1
13, 4 Horizontal Sync
14, 5 Vertical Sync
15, - N/C

I tied pin 6 on my 15 pin connector to all three grounds (6,7,8) on the 9 pin connector. After assembly of the connector, I gave it a try with success!

One of my Samsung Syncmaster 151v lcds on my bench sync'd up perfectly along with several other lcd monitors I have around. With the output being 640x480 there is plenty of resolution on the display giving the external monitor a very nice picture.


  1. Thank you! A buddy scored me this o'scope for free, so hooking this up the an external monitor will be nice.

  2. Good day. I used the old cable with broken pins in the connector. I cut away the damaged end, shortened and soldered a male 9-pin by your description. The result is a short 20 cm reduction. Connected to the TDS-420 and CRT monitor Hyundai 17 "multisync. Works immediately. Resulting in a 100%. Thank you. Petr L.