3.5: Analog video output

The Raspberry models B have a 3.5mm jack that looks like a regular headphone jack but is actually a 4-pins audio and video jack. When configured correctly, you can use this to connect to an older tv without needing HDMI converter boxes. This analog video signal is also known as composite or s-video.

Here follow the steps to get this working. You'll need a 4-pins a/v cable, which usually came (or still come) with DSLRs or video cameras.

Edit the boot config

The easiest way to enable this is to edit the file /boot/config.txt. You can even do this before installing your Pi by editing the file on the SD-card.

First, disable HDMI output by commenting or removing this line:


and adding this line:


This disables the HDMI output. Then find the following and uncomment it to enable analog video output:


Set its value to one of the following:

  • 0 - NTSC
  • 1 - Japanese NTSC
  • 2 - PAL
  • 3 - Brazilian PAL

Save the file, and reboot your Pi to see the effects!

During boot

There's another way that I weirdly never got to work (simply nothing happened). According to this source (amongst others), you can boot the Pi while holding shift, and then press the keys 1-4 to switch outputs.

Toggle output

To toggle HDMI/analog video output on the fly, try the following commands:

Disable HDMI output:

tvservice -o

Enable composite output (example):

tvservice -e "PAL 4:3"


Here are a few things you should know if the screen stays blank:

  • Note that the Pi 3 B(+) does not send an analog video signal over the 4-pins a/v jack. I have not found a clear source on this other than some forum posts and the fact that I could not get it to work on my Pi 3B+. Allegedly the new 4 does send analog video over the jack again.
  • If you followed the steps above but your TV doesn't show anything, try reducing the output resolution using the sudo raspi-config tool. I've seen the video bug out on large resolutions and work correctly on 1024x720, even though that resolution is still larger than what both PAL and NTSC support.
  • As of July 2019, there are issues that break analog video output. I've had success simply running rpi-update, however, if you're running RetroPie, that command will break the emulationstation! So if the instructions above are not working on your Retropie, downgrade your kernel like so: sudo ~/RetroPie-Setup/retropie_packages.sh raspbiantools install_firmware 1.20190401-1
  • Check your cable. Different cables are connected differently. While usually the yellow tulip connects the video, and the white and red ones are left and right audio channels; you might also have a cable where red is the video channel. So make sure to try each tulip!

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