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Rod, TV & Communications Sys Repair
Category: TV
Satisfied Customers: 4501
Experience:  FCC Commercial License, Previous owner of Electronics Repair shop, 40+ years in electronic systems.
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Is it possible to still use my old VCRs to record TV I have

Resolved Question:

Is it possible to still use my old VCRs to record TV? I have both a new
digital TV (no converter box) and an old Sony (with converter box). I have
tried everything I can think of, have even had a couple of "gurus" try to
help. Maybe it's not possible.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: TV
Expert:  Rod replied 7 years ago.

Yes, its possible, if your TVs have analog video and audio outputs and the VCR has these inputs. These are the connections that are colored Yellow-video, Red & White - audio. (Do not confuse these with the connections that are Component, with Red, Green, Blue - Video, and Red & White- audio).

You will need to set the VCR to record on "Line-In", sometimes labeled L1, or L2, etc. If using your new TV you will need to have the TV on and watching the channel you want to record. Same for your old TV, but you can connect the converter box directly to the VCR with the A/V cables and then program the VCR to record at a certain time on "Line-In"; however, you will need to have the converter box on and set to the channel you want to record.

Some VCRs have video "pass-through" which means that you can connect the converter box to the VCR "first" and then the VCR A/V outputs to the TV (if it has A/V inputs) and watch the program (or check it) at the same time.

Your VCR does not have a digital tuner, and cannot tune the new digital channels, that's why you get the weak/no signal.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I can't find in my VCR manual whether it has a video "pass-through"'s a Panasonic
PV-V4020. On the back it has: in from ant, out to TV, 2 white audio connections
and 2 yellow ones. That's all. The analog TV has S-video in, and yellow, white and red
connections under both In and Out.

I want to be able to watch one program on the new set and tape something else, so
that's not doable for me.

I just tried setting the VCR to record on L...same results.
Expert:  Rod replied 7 years ago.

I have a copy of the manual and its not clear if the Audio/Video (A/V) inputs/outputs are passthrough. You can test this on the older TV and converter box, if the older TV has A/V inputs. First connect the converter box to the TV's A/V inputs and select the TV's source input to the A/V. Turn on the converter box and find a channel. Then remove the A/V cables from the converter box to the TV and connect them to the A/V inputs of the VCR. I've included a drawing below (this VCR will not use the red audio cable as it is not stereo).


Connect cables from the VCR A/V outputs to the A/V inputs of the TV (use the white audio cable). With the VCR powered off (in standby mode), if there is pass through, with the TV on and selected to the A/V inputs you should see the picture and sound from the converter box. If not, there will probably be a recording passthrough, meaning, while you are recording something you will see what is recording.

You are correct, with this VCR, you cannot record one program and watch another with the new TV as this VCR does not have a digital tuner for the new signals. They do make them (combination VCR and DVD recorders) - alternatively, you can purchase a converter box for the VCR, but the expense for a converter box for this VCR may be out of the question.

A combination VCR/DVD recorder with ATSC (new digital signals) is available here as an example.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Rod -- I am still struggling with this. As you can tell, I am not a techie...none of this is
intuitive to me. Right now, I am trying to follow some instructions I printed out from the
FCC. I've got antenna, converter box, vcr and tv piggybacked, using coaxial wire/
connections. The dilemma now is that the instructions said to "leave your connection
from the VCR to the TV as is (either AV cable or coax). In moving the system to another room, everything got unplugged. This wouldn't be so bad, but they have the TV connection on the back of their diagram labeled: Antenna In (Cable In) (RF In). On the back of my Sony Trinitron KV-32V36, the 3 coax connections are labeled AUX, To Converter and VHF/UHF. There are all sorts of other connections (S Video, S link,
two sections - one IN (Video 1, Video 3) and OUT (TV, Monitor, Audio - var fixed).
I have no clue.
In hooking up, TV & converter work on AUX. Like I said, VCR works, but shows no picture. The FCC even shows how to set this up with 2 converter boxes, so I am pretty sure I am not chasing a dream. I just have this "operator issue" to overcome. I really
didn't understand your last response to me...but I don't want to give up.
Expert:  Rod replied 7 years ago.

If you are using coax (antenna cable) connections, connect the converter box to the TV Antenna "in" (VHF/UHF) and then the TV out of the VCR to the TV's VHF/UHF input. Both the VCR and the TV must be tuned to the same channel as the Converter channel output that is selected (Channel 3 or 4). Also, ensure the VCRs output is also selected to the same channel.

As I mentioned previously, you still will only be able to record what you are watching, as the converter box is now the tuner for the TV and the VCR. If you are only using the coax (antenna cable) you do not need to use or worry about the other inputs on the TV.

Ask if you need any further information.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
With the coax connections set up as I mentioned above, making the only change to
plug into VHF/UHF on the back of my TV, I get no picture at all...just snowy
black. Plugged back into AUX, I get the picture. OMG. IT WORKED. It appears
the TV has to be on??? Which, unless I put the on a timer, won't work very well unless
I am here to start it.

Any suggestions about that?
Expert:  Rod replied 7 years ago.

If I understand what you are saying correctly, the converter box should go into the VCR first (the antenna in), then the antenna out of the VCR to the TV UHF/VHF input - the TV will need to be set to the channel output of both the VCR and converter box (channel 3 or 4 - and ensure the VCR output is set for the same). With the VCR powered off, the signal from the converter box will pass through the VCR to the TV. With the VCR on, you will get the signal from the VCR.

Rod and 3 other TV Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.'s going into the TV AUX...otherwise I don't get a picture. But all is well. I just
tried to record with the TV off and it worked. So right now I'm a happy camper.

Thanx for your efforts. I don't know if I can hit both Reply and Accept, but I will accept
after you've gotten my response.

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