My analog TV tuner doesn't see my VCR

I have an ATI TV Wonder 650 card, which is a combo digital/analog TV tuner card. I want to digitize some old VHS tapes. I cable it up to the output on my VCR using co-ax. I open the software (Media Catalyst, which shipped with the card) and scan for channels on the analog input, antenna. The VCR is configured to output on Channel 3, and is playing back a tape while I’m doing this. No channels are found.

Then I switch to Nero Home software to try to do the same thing. It didn’t find my VCR on channel 3 but oddly found some channels (shown as MHz1-5, which are dead, plus a few others that are just noise), even though the only thing plugged in is the VCR (there is also an S-video input, currently unused).

Any ideas how I can view/capture the output from the VCR?

Do the VHS tapes have Macrovision on them (most commercially produced tapes would)? That could explain the problem, as the ATI tuner will either give a distorted picture or won’t show anything for such a tape.

It should have seen the VHS machine, though, on channel 3.

The switch on the VCR is 3/4 make sure the switch is not on 4. Having said this wouldn’t it make more sense quality wise to take the line audio and video outputs vs the antenna RF output?

These are home videos.

Precisely.

It’s on 3, but even if it were on 4 the scanner should have picked it up. There are line audio and video outputs (RCA plugs) on the VCR but the card has only co-ax and S-video. No composite, no separate audio.

When you hook up the VCR via coax to your TV do you get channels? If that works then it’s something on the ATI card that’s not working or set up right. Or you can try another VCR that has S-Video output. Are you sure the ATI card does not have audio RCA inputs? How else can it receive audio if its S-Video input is used?

It works fine with an analog TV, connected via coax.

It has a jack for a stereo mini-plug for audio. I don’t have a single device in the house with S-video output.

Here is the card.

The card also does a good job of taking the signal from the coax from my Verizon FiOS and picking up the channels that are allowed to go through off raw coax without going through a set-top box. That includes all analog and HD channels from local broadcast, and a bunch of other channels. It also has an FM radio tuner, which works great.

Now that there are no longer any analog TV broadcasts, I don’t have an alternate way of giving it an analog TV signal to check whether it works well for that at all.

When you connect to the video card are you using the same coax cable or a different one? It’s possible you may have a bad coax cable.

Do you have some other RF source (cable/satellite receiver, rabbit ears, etc) that you could hook up to your card and see if it finds any signal?

Are you sure you have the VCR hooked up to the NTSC tuner input rather than the ATSC input? It sounds like your FiOS stuff would be using the QAM tuner which would be the same input as the ATSC input.

Well, I guess it is possible if it’s been abused, though I’ve never seen one go bad. I’ll try a different cable that I know is working.

I do have one FiOS set-top box for analog TV that has a channel 3/4 output, I can schlep that in here and try it.

Apparently the card detects what kind of signal is coming through. The software allows you to select analog TV (cable), analog TV (antenna), digital TV (ATSC cable), digital TV (ATSC antenna), composite, S-video. There is only one coax input and one S-video input. (Oddly there is no composite video input; if there were, that would largely solve my problem.) As I mentioned upthread, the card is reading the QAM input just dandy.

You could get one of these, or use another VCR with Svideo and a Y-cable that converts RCA to mini plug. I used the USB device and it even converted my Macrovision tapes.

Some VCRS have a output menu choice switch that switches output between line out and channel 3. In those units RF out is killed if line out is selected.

On your unit be sure you’re not using the FM inputwhich looks identical to the NTSC input.

If you suspect the VCR output you can typically pick up perfectly good VCRs for 5-10 dollars at you local thrift.

OK, the VCR works fine with the same cable connected to another PC that has an analog-only TV tuner. That’s my backup plan but my wife uses that PC (and the same monitor & keyboard via a KVM switch for her work laptop) so I will have to negotiate availability.

My suspicion all along is that the tuner card doesn’t process analog TV input as advertised, or I have something screwed up in the configuration. ATI’s support knowledgebase doesn’t seem to have anything that remotely addresses this.

We have a winner!

I am forever indebted to you. Please allow me to buy you a drink when you’re in the DC area.