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Connecting a VCR, DVD Recorder, and Analog TV Using One DTV Converter Box

DTV Transition Survival Tip - Using Your Analog TV, VCR, and DVD Recorder


The end of analog TV broadcasting not only affects the future of analog analog televisions use, your VCR or DVD recorder may be affected as well.

If your TV, VCR, or DVD recorder only have analog NTSC tuners, and you receive your programs with an antenna, ordinarily you would need a separate DTV converter for each of them in order to continue recording TV broadcasts on those devices now that the DTV Transition has taken effect. However, there is a way you can use just one DTV converter for all of them, provided your DVD recorder has an RF input - and there is additional catch as well that will be explained at the end.

The following steps will illustrate how you can use just one DTV converter box for your Analog TV, VCR, and/or DVD recorder:

1. Connect your Antenna cable to the to antenna input on the DTV converter box.

2. Split the RF output of the DTV converter box into two separate feeds using a Two-Way CABLE SPLITTER.

3. Send one RF feed from the splitter to the antenna/cable input on the VCR and the other RF feed from the splitter to the antenna/cable input on the DVD recorder.

SPECIAL NOTATION: However, if you are using a DVD recorder that does not have an RF input, then dispense with cable splitter and send the RF output of the DTV converter box to the VCR and the AV outputs of the DTV converter box to the AV inputs on the DVD recorder.

4. Connect the RF output feed from the VCR to the RF input connection on an RF MODULATOR.

5. Connect the AV outputs (Red/White/Yellow) of the DVD recorder to the AV inputs of the RF Modulator.

6. Connect the RF output of the RF modulator to the Ant/Cable input on your TV.

7. Connect the AV outputs (Red/White/Yellow) of the VCR to one of the AV input sets on your DVD recorder.

8. OPTIONAL: If your analog TV has a set of AV inputs (yellow, red, white) in addition to an RF input, you can connect the AV outputs (Red, White, and Yellow) of the DTV converter Box to the AV input jacks on your TV. If your TV only has one audio input jack, use a "Y" adapter to combine the Red and White connections into a single audio input connection. NOTE: This option is available only if you are not already using the DTV converter's AV outputs connected to the AV inputs of the DVD recorder.

With this setup - you will be able to do the following:

1. Receive and Watch converted DTV channels on your TV either via accessing channel 3 or 4 on your TV or (if you also chose step 8) by using the AV inputs of your TV. The picture quality will be slightly better from the DTV converter using the AV input option, but this your choice.

2. Record converted DTV channels on your VCR or DVD recorder.

THE CATCH: You cannot record two different channels at the same time, nor can you watch one channel and record another at the same time. For this, your TV, VCR, and DVD recorder would need their own dedicated DTV converter boxes or you would have to buy a new TV or DVD recorder with its own built-in DTV (ATSC) tuner.

In addition, when using an external DTV converter box, in order to do a timer recording on your DVD recorder or VCR, you must set the DVD recorder or VCR to record on Channel 3 or 4 at the time you want, and then make sure that the DTV converter box is set to the actual channel you intend to record. Leave the DTV converter box TURNED ON.

3. Record from the VCR to the DVD recorder by accessing the DVD recorder's line input.

NOTE: Keep in mind that you can only copy home recorded videos, you cannot make copies of most commercial VHS movies as they are copy protected. For more details on video copy-protection, check out my article: Video Copy Protection and DVD Recording.

Also, for further reference, check out photos of a Two-Way Cable Splitter and RF Modulator Connections.

Eliminating The Need For A DTV Converter Box(es)

If this setup seems complicated, it just means that may be trying to connect too many components to your old analog TV, given the DTV transition requirements. Ideally, you either need to have a TV with more input options and separate DTV converters for the TV, VCR, and DVD recorder to get the maximum flexibility for both viewing and recording Television programs, or just buy a new DTV or HDTV and DVD recorder/VCR combo unit with an ATSC tuner already built-in.

If you have a DVD recorder/VCR combo and either a DTV or HDTV with their own ATSC tuners, all you would have to do is split the antenna feed without having to go through a separate DTV converter box first. Then you would be able to receive and record TV programs and channels independently on either the DVD recorder/VCR combo or HDTV. In addition, since all DTVs and HDTVs have both AV and RF input options, you may not need an additional RF Modulator either.

Final Take

If you have an HDTV and a VCR and DVD recorder with only analog tuners, also check out my article: What To Do If You Have an HDTV and an Analog VCR and/or DVD Recorder

For an additional look on recording on a VCR using a DTV converter box, check out Using A VCR and DTV Converter Box from About.com TV/Video.

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