Skulls in the Stars

Connecting a PS2 to an HDMI TV


This past week I had an incredible urge to play the original Katamari Damacy videogame on my old Playstation 2. Unfortunately, the PS2 does not play well with modern HD TVs, as the allowable video modes for the PS2 are often not supported.  If you try and plug in a PS2 to a new TV, even using the more advanced component cables, you probably won’t get anything.

Fortunately, you can buy a cool PS2 to HDMI converter these days, such as the one shown below, for only about $16.

Unfortunately, the instructions that come with the converter are a little misleading and incomplete, and there doesn’t seem to be an online resource that includes all the info you need to set it up properly. Even though it isn’t hard, there are a few pitfalls: it took me a few tries to figure out exactly what I needed to do in order to get it to work.

I thought I would post the instructions here, both for anyone who wants a one stop explainer as well as for myself, so I don’t forget!

So, the device itself is simplicity itself: one end plugs directly into the PS2, the other end has an output for an HDMI cable. You can run the cable to an available TV port.

Pitfall 1: if you skim the advertisements for the converter, it says the following: “Hassle free! No power adapter, no messy cords, just one HDMI cable. Plug and play as you go.”

Makes it sound like it doesn’t need power, right? Well, it actually needs USB power, and it comes with a short USB cord.

Pitfall 2: if you’ve never actually used it, like me, you might not realize that the PS2 has a pair of USB ports which you can use to provide power to the converter. (I was plugging it into a USB power outlet cube on my first try.) So you can plug it right in, and the whole arrangement looks as follows.

The converter, with USB power connected. Controllers and PS2 power plugs left out so the connections are clear.

Pitfall 3: Okay, you’ve plugged it in, turned it on, turned on the TV, switched to the proper HDMI port and… nothing.

The problem is that the PS2 has two video output modes: composite video (red/white audio, yellow video cables) and YPBPR component video (red, green and blue cables). The converter is designed to function only in the YPBPR component mode, but apparently defaults to composite video, so you need to switch it. But how do you change the video mode without seeing it?

Via knowledge of the unseen menus. As described on this Overclock help page, from the point where you turn on the PS2, perform the following steps on the PS2 controller:

wait like 10 seconds – 20 seconds

push [down] [X] (this brings you to system settings)

[down] [down] [down] [X] (this brings you to component video selection)

push [right] then [X]

(Left, right, up, down are on the D-pad on the left of the controller.)

If you’ve done all of this correctly, it should in principle work like a charm!  The picture quality is pretty good, considering it is an 18 year old video game console.

One caveat: it may not work properly with all televisions. I have a Samsung, and it is working like a charm for me; other people online have reported various issues. But for $16, it may be worth the risk to you!