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Help me hook up the VCR to the TV along with our new digital converter box.
May 3, 2008 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Help me hook up the VCR to the TV along with our new digital converter box. I don't care that the VCR can't record or display digital channels - I just want to be able to watch videos and DVDs.

I bought an Insignia NS-DXA1 digital converter box for my TV. Now the VCR-DVD player (a separate unit from the TV) won't work. (I don't have satellite or cable, just broadcast.)

1. I tried running the antenna coax cable from the wall to the IN on the converter box, and another from the OUT on the converter box to the IN on the TV. TV works fine. VCR has the red, white, and yellow composite cables running from the OUT on the VCR to the IN on the TV. TV will not get a video or DVD display or audio from the VCR with the converter box on or off.

2. I tried running the wall cable to the IN on the VCR, another coax from OUT on VCR to IN on converter box, another coax from OUT on converter box to IN on TV. Nothing worked, with all combinations of VCR and converter box on and off.

The TV is old enough that it only has one antenna input and one set of composite inputs, and one set of red-white audio output (which I assume are for external speakers.)

The converter box has one RF output and one red-white-yellow output.

If it helps, I do have an AV source selector box (something like this but most definitely not that model) because on my old TV, I needed it to hook up my multiple gaming consoles. It is currently not hooked up because on this TV, I simply had my PS2 run through the VCR. I unhooked the PS2 before trying to set this all up.

I'm at a loss. I'm NOT paying Geek Squad or the like $150 or more to come out here and hook it up - I can't afford it. I can't afford to buy a DVR either. Any help is appreciated, or I'm just unhooking the converter box and praying I can afford a digital TV by 2009. (With gas and food prices going up, I'm pretty well completely broke.) Please help me figure out what to plug in where!
posted by IndigoRain to Technology (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. I tried running the antenna coax cable from the wall to the IN on the converter box, and another from the OUT on the converter box to the IN on the TV. TV works fine. VCR has the red, white, and yellow composite cables running from the OUT on the VCR to the IN on the TV. TV will not get a video or DVD display or audio from the VCR with the converter box on or off.

This should work. You have to have your TV switched to its auxiliary input setting (sometimes called "Video" or "Aux"). When you switch to the aux input, are you seeing anything? Black screen? Blue screen?

It's possible the composite outputs on the VCR or the composite inputs on the TV are dead. Were you using the composite inputs before the digital cable? Or just the coax/channel 3 approach? You can test the TV by hooking up the PS2 directly, instead of the VCR. That should give you some additional info to troubleshoot with.

2. I tried running the wall cable to the IN on the VCR, another coax from OUT on VCR to IN on converter box, another coax from OUT on converter box to IN on TV. Nothing worked, with all combinations of VCR and converter box on and off.

I wouldn't expect this to work very well. The VCR will quite possibly screw up the digital signal from the cable company, and the converter box will quite possibly not understand the analog signal (on channel 3 typically) from the VCR. I would prefer to use the composite cables as in solution #1, not the RF coax feed.
posted by knave at 10:53 PM on May 3, 2008


Just backing up what knave says: option 1 should be the correct set up, and the problem is likely that you're not switching your TV to the correct input when you want to watch the VCR/DVD.

For example, my TV has 6 inputs. 1 is my satellite receiver. 2 is my XBOX360. 3 is my DVD player. 4&5 are not in use. 6 is my PC.

So I leave it on input 1 most of the time. When I want to watch a DVD I press the input button on my remote two times to go from input 1 to input 3. This may be called "TV/VIDEO" on your remote if you have an older TV.
posted by Justinian at 11:05 PM on May 3, 2008


I think it should work if you hook up the coax cables

antenna to converter box input
converter box output to vcr input
vcr output to tv input

the signal out of the digital converter box is the same format as your gear is used to, so the vcr shouldn't mess it up.

The other solution is to use the composite output of the converter box and hook it up just like it was another game console in your previous setup.
posted by TheJoven at 12:24 AM on May 4, 2008


The RF/Antenna output is definitely the inferior connection. Composite is better.

Plug something else into the TV's Composite (Yellow/Red/White) input - PS2 perhaps, to figure out whether it actually functions properly. If it does, then the VCR should too.

I assume the converter box has Composite out too. In which case, ideally, I'd use the AV switch to select between the Converter and VCR into the TV.

If you use the RF/Antenna out from the VCR you'll need to make sure the TV is tuned into it appropriately (your VCR may also have a switch or menu option to select which channel it uses to 'transmit'). I've never seen or used a digital converter myself, but it's possible that it floods the RF output, and therefor conflicts with the VCR - if that's the case, I'd expect it to work 'upstream' from the VCR, so... Antenna -> Converter -> VCR -> TV
posted by sycophant at 4:06 AM on May 4, 2008


Does the converter box have composite inputs? I know my cable box does.

If it does, you connect to coax from the wall into the converter. Composite out from the converter to the TV. Composite out from the VCR to the composite in of the converter. Then set the TV to the composite inputs, and at that point you should be able to use the controls on the converter to switch inputs.

As knave said, maybe the video in of the TV is broken, or shut off in the settings of the TV. If that's the case AND if the cable box doesn't have functioning composite in connectors, you might have to get an RF switch. They have them at Radio Shack. Plug the out of the cable box and the out of the VCR into it, and then use that to control which device's signal gets sent to the TV.

In theory, using the RF out of the converter to the RF in of the TV is inferior, but I have had setups that worked better this way- the composite in looked washed out and ugly. But that's beside the point. It really should work, as thejoven points out. (Unless the converter box has some kind of "smarts" that prevents it from being connected to a VCR for copy protection purposes.)

Maybe your TV has a setting that automatically switches inputs based on whether the composite device is turned on, and maybe that's not working properly. Some TVs do that as a convenience option so that when you turn on your secondary device the TV pops over to that input. Or maybe your VCR has an option that turns on or off the composite out?

Agreeing with knave, the reason scenario 2 didn't work is that the VCR is probably not able to pass the digital signals to the cable box. Those signals are equivalent to the very high UHF channels (83-108 or so), and VCRs wouldn't be designed to know about signals that high.
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on May 4, 2008




Ugh, it didn't work. I suspect the Composite In ports on the TV are indeed broken. I've tried the other configurations here and I still don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've tried changing the "TV/Video" on the VCR remote, the input select button on the VCR remote (for example, the VCR has to be set to L1 for my Playstation to work, because that's where it's plugged in), and other configurations, and I just can't get it to work. Perhaps when I'm able I'll place an ad on Craigslist for a local geek to hook it up in exchange for some money, or just hang in there until I can afford a digital TV and DVR.

Thank you all for trying, and best answer goes to Argyle for taking the time to draw up a diagram.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:56 PM on May 5, 2008


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