how to hook up and old vcr to new television

My lady friend received a new Westinghouse flat screen tv as a gift. It has 2 video inputs, so hooking her dvd/vcr combo unit to play media works fine
BUT, how to record?
There are HDMI, SPIDIF, and usb connections on the tv, but the vcr ONLY has yellow, white and red RCA video, audio L & R inputs.
My best thought so far is to split the antenna feed and send the other antenna into the old digital tv converter box, and out to the vcr inputs.
Any better thoughts?

I’m confused…why do you need to hook up the old VCR?

The new tv is just a tv. She still wants to record shows, the old time-shifting thing

The VCR doesn’t have an input for cable? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a VCR like that. Weird.

We just recently got my VCR out of storage to use it for a couple weeks iwht our new TV. But it had the input for cable.

If the DVD/VCR doesn’t have a coax input, you’re going to have to run it to the converter box then feed that into the new VCR/DVD, then into the TV. That’s the best I can think of.

I’m confused, too. You record on the VCR based on the signal from your antenna (sounds like you don’t have cable or satellite). That hasn’t changed, has it? Sounds like all that’s changed is hooking up the VCR output to the new TV. . .

My understanding of the question is that before, she had the cable from the antenna going through a converter box, through the VCR then into the old TV. Now she has an HDTV with a built in converter, but still wants to record stuff off the air with the old analog VCR. Is that right?

So she could run the antenna signal through the converter box, through the VCR and then into the TV, but then the signal wouldn’t be all digital and pretty. As near as I can tell, unless the TV has a video signal out, splitting the antenna signal before the converter is the simplest solution.

My better thought was to buy a new computer with TV tuner to record digital broadcasts. Of course, I was about 7 years past due for needing a new computer anyway. Maybe she can just add a TV tuner to her current computer.

I’m confused as well. I’ve seen VCRs that don’t have cable input, I think, but they should all have one for output. However, I don’t see how you can record anything with a VCR and an antenna anymore if you don’t have a converter box.

Depending on how the Lady Friend is receiving her TV service will depend on how you will hook-up the TV.

  1. If she has Cable TV service, you can connect the coax cable to the VCR and its tuner will decode the ANALOG signals the Cable Co has. (Typically ch 2-125). Use the Composite (yellow) plus L+R (red & white) from the VCR to the TV. Depending on the VCR, it may or may not have “signal pass thru” meaning that if you then hook the COAX cable OUT from the VCR to the COAX cable IN on the TV, if it doesn’t, you will have to use a 2-way splitter to split the coax into two lines-one to the VCR, one to the TV. You cannot record DIGITAL stations from your Cable Co this way. If you are recording shows from different channels at different times, this is the way to set it up–the VCR tuner will change the channels when necessary.

  2. If LF has digital cable or an over the air antenna (OTA), you will need a Cable box or an external OTA digital tuner box. Hook up the VCR to the TV the same way as above (yellow, red, white cables), but you will need to hook up a yellow, red, & white from the Cable or OTA box OUT to the VCR Video IN. The VCR cannot change the channels on the box. When the VCR is set to record, you set the Channel recorded as the Video IN, set the time, and make sure your Cable or OTA box is ON and on the channel you want to record.

Easy, huh! Clear as mud, right? AFAIK, there are no VCRs with digital tuners.


I just got a new High def LCD TV and it came with pretty complete instructions on how to do any of those things.

That’s about the way to do it but I wouldn’t split the antenna feed–I’d use a second antenna instead (something cheap should work–even rabbit ears depending on where you live).

Then, as you say, run this second antenna into your digital converter box, input that into the VCR, then run the VCR outs into the TV. Having a second antenna allows you to precisely tune in different channels when you want to record one channel while watching another (if a single antenna orientation doesn’t bring in all channels equally well which is often the case with finicky digital signals).

You shouldn’t even bother recording from the TV’s digital tuner if you have a separate antenna and digital converter box to tune in a separate signal for the VCR. Anyway, you’d only be able to record what you are currently watching, and you’d need to work out some sort of digital to analog conversion.

I am only basing this on what I think your set-up is-- it seems you are receiving OTA signals–not cable. I might have misunderstood something.

Or you know, you could get your lady friend into this decade’s technology and tell her to get a DVR and bypass all this hoopla… :slight_smile:

My friend does not have cable, only rabbit ears antenna. She doesn’t want a DVR, and the dvd/vcr box has a coax input but the new TV doesn’t have a coax output
She wants everything to work the way it used to.
I wondered about another rabbit ears antenna for the digital converter box, instead of trying to split the existing antenna to feed the new TV and the converter box


Yeah… at the risk of being repetitively redundant (get it?) I think that short of scrapping the VCR and doing some sort of DVR thing*, this is your best bet.

If you need any help with the exact things you need to do, just post it here and I (or someone else) can help you out.

*She needn’t pay a subscription fee to TiVo or the like… something relatively inexpensive could be worked out with an existing PC.

if you are using rabbits ears then i would be easy cost wise and space wise to use two of them, one on a tv input and one on converter box input.

I know a couple people who have the same problem and they were able to just split the antenna feed, but getting a second antenna is a good idea too.

Again, help me understand this: The dvd/vcr is in the line after the TV? I would expect your setup to look something like:

[antenna]===>[digital converter box]===>[dvd/vcr]===>TV

You mentioned the TV doesn’t have an output. Does that mean your drying to direct the signal thru the TV to the dvd/vcr? Seems like programming would be kinda tough, if it is receiving a signal from the TV, since there’s then no way of displaying the dvd/vcr menu.:confused:

I don’t think that’s how it’s set up. The TV has it’s own digital tuner so it doesn’t need a converter box. I’m not sure exactly what the current configuration is since I don’t think the VCR is fully in play yet (i.e. it is only playing back tapes but not yet recording anything).

I work in video/film/television so for me it’s easier to break it down into the component parts and think of a “TV” first and foremost as a video monitor. Beyond that you may or may not make use of the self-contained digital over-the-air (OTA) tuner (if you have cable or satellite service, you won’t). Then there are various digital-to-analog (D/A) converters for the inputs/outputs, and maybe even analog-to-digital (A/D) converters (I can’t think of why there would be offhand, but you never know). Functionally, the digital OTA tuner, the D/A converters, and the monitor are separate things even though they’re all contained in one box.

Similarly, a “digital converter box” is actually two different things-- a digital OTA tuner, and a D/A converter (so you can convert digital OTA signals to analog and display or record them on your old analog video monitor [“TV”] or VCR).

So (bear with me here) the set-up in question would look like this:
Antenna #1—> digital OTA tuner #1—> video monitor
Antenna #2—> digital OTA tuner #2—> D/A converter—> analog VCR—> A/D converter—> video monitor**

Everything in red are different components that are all contained in one “black box” called the “TV” or “HDTV”. Everything in green are different components that are all contained in the “black-box” called the digital converter box.

It seems rather complicated when explained this way, but I think by breaking the system down into all the component parts it ultimately makes it easier to understand.

CAVEAT: I am not an electrical or broadcast engineer so I may have left out some details. But I offer this info only as a bit of a primer about basic antenna/recorder/monitor set-ups. For our purposes here, I think the info is accurate enough.