Author Options:

Troubleshooting help for connecting stereo components? Answered


I'm having trouble getting all my stereo/TV components hooked up in the correct sequence so that each component functions as needed. All my components are Sony the cable box is Motorola (DCT700).

TV (Sony KV-27FS13) with 4 input lines (Video 1, 3 & 4 from the back. Video 2 through the front panel.)

Everything was rewired today to include a new cable box (due to the digital conversion) and I can see TV channels okay. 

VCR (Sony SLV-798HF): On Video 1, I can view channels (when VCR is on CH3), and the cable box controls the channel, but I cannot record any other channel but the one controlled by the cable box. I can also view VHS tapes.

DVD Recorder (Sony RDR-HX780): On Video 3, I can view channels controlled by the cable box, but I cannot record any other channel but the one controlled by the cable box. I can also view DVD's.

I have a Sony Multi Channel AV Receiver (Model # STR-DG510). I don't know if that helps with getting this to work or not.

I've included a detailed diagram. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, canucksgirl

Currently the coax goes to the cable box, to the DVD, then to the VCR and then to the TV.
RCA-DVD: from the cable box goes to the DVD player (in). From the RCA out goes to TV RCA in.
RCA-VCR: RCA out on VCR goes to RCA in on TV.


A BIG Thankyou to thegeeke for helping to get things working... and

MANY thanks to bricabracwizard for helping me to figure out that my components are now just large paper weights... :(


Best Answer 6 years ago

OK... not really quite sure exactly what your problem is, but let's just start over and hook everything up step by step. I will assume everything has standard coex connections, so tell me if you don't have the connection described. (Also tell me what you do have.)

Hook up your cable box. Take the coex out connection, run that to your DVR coex in. Take your DVR's coex out, run that to your DVD recorder coex in. Take your DVD recorder's coex out, and run that to your VCR in. Take your VCR out, run that to your TV. From your TV, get a connection (whether it is RCA or 1/8 in.) and run it to an RCA input on your receiver. (I assume you mean a stereo receiver...) Take your CD player, run that to another input on your receiver. Hook up your speakers. In theory, everything should work now... let me know if you need more help.

Thanks for the reply. I'm not too sure where the problem is either, so I shall follow your advice and start over...

I am using only Coax and RCA/AV cables, which should suffice and I did in fact mean stereo receiver. All the cables are new, so I know there's no issue there.

Wish me luck, I'm going to give this a go now and see what happens. (I'll post more details if this doesn't work). ~ Thanks again.

No problem. Also try to test whatever you can each time you connect something. That will help you find where the trouble is. You can also try bypassing different devices to help find the trouble. Make sure that the device you use the most, or are most concerned about is at the beginning of the line (except the TV... obviously). The order I put is the order most people would rank their devices. If there is on that doesn't need the TV feed (such as the VCR) it will help to just eliminate it. It also might help to put a signal amp halfway through your connections. Signal strength normally isn't an issue (especially if your device at the end of the line works, but something in the middle doesn't), but a signal amp can't hurt. Even old cables aren't usually the problem. I'm not saying it never happens, but unless there is significant stress on a cable, it normally doesn't go bad.

Good luck! ;)

I think everything is connected right now, but since activating the cable box, I got nada... *blood pressure rising*. So now I'm in line for online customer support... (I knew there was a reason I procrastinated). :-\

Well, half the battle seems to be won. I have the cable box setup and after some hassle with the cable company, I can now see channels on my TV using the current set up (show in the image above). I've also modified my question, to bring things up to speed.

What I can't do is record an alternate channel to the VCR, and now the DVD recorder will not display anything to the TV (i.e. can't view DVD's, or record).

Any help would be appreciated, as I am thoroughly frustrated now. ;(

Ahh... Thanks for the pic. I am pretty sure I understand your problem now. The RCA inputs do not pass the signal through to the output like coex does. Take your DVD player, and hook that directly into an extra input on the TV. Not sure what you mean about an alternate channel... Could you elaborate a little more please?

Good luck! :)

Thanks again for the reply. What I meant by alternate channel is when I'm watching channel 122 (for example), but there's something I want to record on channel 11, I need a way for this to work. With the current setup, the VCR will only record what I'm watching (not another, or "alternate channel"), and I'm not getting any functionality with the DVD recorder.

Ahh... I understand. The problem is (and I ran into this also when the FCC changed everything over to digital), that the VCR and DVD player both have their own tuner on them. They can record another static feed (like if you plugged a video camera into them), and the converter box is sending it as a static feed. It's not sending multiple channels, at the most, just one. In order to watch say channel 122, and record 11 at the same time (or program the recorder so that it will switch to 11 when it is done with 122), you need a tuner in the recorder. This is probably not going to happen with your current setup since most likely it has an analog tuner in it. Look into a DVD/VCR combo with a digital tuner. That's what I use. You can also look for a DVR with a digital tuner. (That's what my Aunt uses... and I wish I had gotten that... she bought her's after I got mine, and I really like the DVR as opposed to DVD.)

Thanks. I'm only guessing that my DVD recorder has a digital tuner, because its only 2 years old and its not just a DVD player. It was a lot more expensive. It has its own HD that you can record to and it can burn DVD's as well. I can understand if my VCR doesn't have a digital tuner as its about 5 years old.

Well... wish me luck, I'll update you as soon as I get the RCA cables moved.

Ok... I tried it, but no luck. I'm not even sure I connected the RCA cables right and I'm just getting more confused as I go along. (ugh).

So, (if you're still around), can you walk me thru this?

I have RCA outputs on the cable box. Do I use them and if so, where should they go? Then on the VCR and the DVD recorder, I have RCA in and out. Which do I use? On the back of the TV (photo), I have 1, 3 & 4, so I assume the front is RCA 2? I just can't figure out what should go where and if the back of the TV is considered an output RCA or an input (it doesn't say)... and I only have 3 sets of RCA cables, so I'm hoping I don't have to go hunting around the house for more (or worse go buy more)...

~ thoroughly confused. :(

I understand it's confusing... It's hard on both ends trying to explain over the net! ;)

If your DVD recorder does have a digital tuner, then in that case you do want to use a coex splitter, split the coex going into the converter box and send that into the DVD player. (The converter is the only device that alters the signal going over the coex line in some cases) If you have the RCA inputs for it, run everything in RCA as it is better quality. Otherwise, hook the RCA from the two components that you use the most into the TV using RCA. Make sure to remember that you will have to switch the input you are watching on the TV using your remote or the buttons on the TV back and forth. Good luck! Let me know if you need further clarification. :)

I agree, it is a little hard to do this online, but I do very much appreciate your help.

I updated the image (above) and fully diagramed the connections available and have noted the Make/Model of everything I have. I included the information for the Stereo Receiver, in case it can help in getting this working.

Right now I have the following:

Coax: Wall > Cable Box > DVD > VCR > TV
RCA - DVD: Cable Box > DVD > TV input 3
RCA - VCR: RCA out to TV input 1

With this configuration, the TV-cable works, I can see a picture thru the DVD & VCR, but CANNOT record any other channels but the one set by the Cable Box.

Perhaps what I want to do isn't possible. If so, I would appreciate some advice as to what I may need to get or replace. (Incidentally, my B-Day is next week, so I "might" do some shopping).

Right... I understand what you are trying to do now. It's possible if your DVD recorder has a digital tuner. However, you will have to get a coex splitter and split the cable coming out of the wall between the converter box and the DVD in. The RCA connection on the converter box will not do anything unless you have an input on your TV for it, so you could probably take it out.

The coex splitters only cost a few dollars... I have about 500 laying around my house now that everything has gone to HDMI... ;)

Turns out the DVD recorder does NOT have a digital tuner.... so I'm SOL. After less than 2 years, the thing is all but useless. I guess I have to go shopping. :(

Can't say I'm all that surprised. I had the same problem when everything switched over in the US. :(

So what do we send all our electronics "postage due" to the FCC?

What you need is either:

-a VCR with "cable box control" that will let the VCR change channels on the cable box for you while you are away, but you would still only be able to get one static channel from the box.

-a second cable box, either connected to the VCR with the other connected to the TV, or put with a VCR in another room, then just move the tape from that room to your main one.

-a DVR from the cable company

Let me suggest a completely different approach, but something I think will give the best performance with your setup.

Your TV set has an excellent variety of inputs and outputs, so it can perform about 90% of the switching functions of your AV receiver. I'd suggest using the AV receiver only as an amplifier - both analog (two channel stereo) and digital (5.1) where those signals are available.

I'm assuming your diagram shows all of the available jacks on each component.

I'm making the assumption that the coax coming into your house will get the basic analog cable channels without the cable box and the cable box is there to get the extended channels (typically anything above 100ish) and premium channels if any. If this is not the case please tell me.

The coax comes into your house from the cable company. Put a 4-way splitter on it. The four outputs go to the cable box, the DVD recorder, the VCR, and the TV set.

Coax out is the lowest quality of any of the signals involved and because of licensing issues it's normally unavailable in stereo other than the cable box. So I'd suggest avoiding it wherever possible.

The yellow-white-red outputs from the cable box (composite video) are attached to one set of inputs on your DVD recorder with a set of RCA cables.

The red green blue component video jacks and white red audio jacks from the DVD recorder are hooked up to input 4 on your television set. This will give you 480p (progressive scan, non-interlaced) output from your DVD recorder which is a bit better than composite video.

Optional - If your DVD recorder has both sets of output jacks active at the same time you can also hook up a yellow-red-white composite set of cables to the inputs of your VCR. You will need two RCA to RCA splitters since it appears your DVD recorder only has one set of audio outputs. This extra set of cables will give you the capabilities to make VHS recordings from anything on the DVD recorder, I don't know how important it is for you to be able to record VHS anymore.

The VCR's yellow-red-white outputs are connected to input 1 on your television set.

Use a coax cable to go from the cable box's output to an A-B RF switcher to the VCR's coax in. (the other end of the A-B switcher goes to the 4-way splitter). This is optional.

It appears that the red white jacks in the bottom right corner of your TV diagram are audio outputs from the TV. If so, hook them up to the first audio input jacks on the home theater system.

If you've got an orange color-coded RCA to RCA cable hook it up from the digital audio out from your DVD unit to the digital audio input port on your home theater. If you don't have an orange colored cable then check out my instructable on using colored loose leaf labels to color code labels. The color coding isn't absolutely important, but with this many cables it's useful to avoid confusion.

You're all hooked up and hopefully this isn't too confusing.


Here's how to use everything in one very confusing (but hopefully straight forward) tutorial.

DVD recorder usage -

To play a DVD (or watch something on the hard drive) set the TV to input 4. If it's an ordinary DVD then I would just listen through the TV set's speakers. But if it's a concert or an action movie where audio's important you can mute the TV and set the home theater to digital audio in. That will permit the full Dolby THX assorted other buzz words 5.1 surround sound from the DVD to be pipped into your home theater system. It appears that your DVD unit is the only item you have which generates digital audio.

To record DVDs tune your cable box to the appropriate channel and set the DVD recorder to record to the hard drive or direct to the DVD.

The R-F input cable from the 4-way splitter to the DVD recorder isn't actually necessary, but it does give you the capability to record a basic channel without turning on the cable box.

VCR use -

To watch a videotape tune your TV to input 1. If you want to use the home theater then set it to the analog input and mute the TV set's speakers.

To record a VHS from the DVD recorder set your VCR to its line 1 input. (assuming that you connected those cables.)

The following option assumes you put in the optional A-B RF switch and there's a coax cable going from the cable out to the VCR input.
Set the A-B RF switch for the coax coming from the cable box. Set the VCR to channel 3 or 4 (whatever your cable box outputs). Set your cable box to whatever channel you want to watch and set your VCR to record channel 3 or 4.

If you want to record basic cable (bypassing the cable box) then set the coax switch to use the cable from the 4-way splitter. This also applies if you decided not to add the A-B switch with the additional input into the VCR. Your VCR should be able to tune all of the basic cable channels.

You can use the VCR to record a basic cable channel (A-B RF switch set to the direct cable to the 4-way splitter) while the DVD recorder is recording another channel (basic or one which requires the cable box).

TV use -

I've already covered how to watch the VCR and DVDs above so here's the rest.

If you want to watch a basic cable channel then use the TV set's tuner. You can even watch basic channels while the DVD recorder is recording one of the channels which is only available through the cable box. You can use the TV set's speakers or mute them and use the home theater setup set to analog audio in.

If you want to watch the non-basic channels then set the TV to line 4 and use the DVD recorder as a pass-through box. If your cable channels support surround sound you can use the home theater set to digital audio in.

One option -

If you want the capability to transfer your VHSes to DVDs then hook up the output from the VHS recorder to the second set of video inputs on your DVD recorder instead of the TV set. If you do this you will have to use the DVD recorder as a pass through box whenever you want to watch VHSes.

I hope this hasn't been to confusing and my description is clear enough that you can see the extra flexibilities with going with this approach.

Hey! Thanks very much for taking the time to offer up some alternatives. I do understand what you're saying, and I'm going to give this a try real soon. I think I have a 2 way splitter, but I don't think I have a 4way. I'm not so heartbroken about the VCR. Until we were forced to switch over to digital, I was just using it as a means of recording weekly shows that I didn't have time to watch. Then I got the DVD recorder, but never got it set up right, and til now, its always been used as just a player. If I had had it set up right, I'm sure I could have recorded more than a black screen... *sigh* Now, with the conversion, and with the fact the recorder doesn't have a digital tuner, I'm frustrated having no recording functions outside the channel controlled by the cable box; and if I'm already watching the channel, I have no need to record it....

To answer your questions, all the components I've outlined indicate all the available connections, even if I don't have the necessary cables (i.e. HDMI, S-Video). As far as the cable feed, they are real cheapskates here. Channels 3-28 are the analog signals, and everything after that is only available through the cable box. Now I don't know what your channels are like, but there isn't a whole lot of interest coming from these lower channels. Prior to the conversion we had analog to Ch122, but they pulled most of them and now you only see an "order screen".

With the current setup (noted in the question), I'm able to record to the VCR and DVD as long as the devices are on Ch3 and recording the cable box feed. Technically that's fine for when I'm not home (so long as I leave the cable box on). I think my only real option left is to get a PVR. What really bothers me about that, is I could have bought one less than 2 years ago, and looked at them as well as the DVR that I ended up getting. All I can say to that is, hindsight is 20/20, especially when Murphy's Law is involved.

Couple of key questions based on your responses and some assumptions I had made in your setup.

If you hook up a cable directly from the wall jack to your VCR's RF in jack can you view channels 3-28? Are any of those channels useful to you to record (VCR or DVD) or watch in real-time on the TV?

Will your cable company provide you with a second cable box (tell them it's so you can get TV in the bedroom) at a reasonable price? This is needed if you want to make a recording of one show while watching another show.

Are you sure that that's your DVD recorder model? The search I did indicates that it's an European model (Region 2) and has several connectors which are not in your diagram. While it's technically possible to use it in Canada it's not as useful for most purposes.

Are other cable boxes available besides the one you have? Presumably the cable company offers a high def box. It may also have a digital box with component (red green blue + red white) outputs that'll give you a bit better quality on your TV.

I believe, based on your descriptions that you can record DVDs even without a digital tuner. However it will be in NTSC quality and go through a digital to analog to digital conversion (e.g. not as good as theoretically possible as if it was a true digital signal).

Is it okay if your VCR is only used to play videotapes and not record any shows?

Is it valuable to you to have the ability to transfer videotapes on to DVDs? Would you be willing to move a couple of cables temporarily each time you want to transfer VCRs to DVDs?

These questions will help determine the best solution for your particular setup.

Something else to think about. I'm assuming that your cable company also provides digital signals and high def. Are you considering getting a high def TV in the future? That might affect what particular cables you'd want to use now to make the transition smoother in the future.

I haven't tried connecting straight to the VCR to record the analog stations. I'm not sure if that's an ideal solution anyways, because everything is set up on my entertainment center, and making any changes to the wiring is a bit of an ordeal; so I'd like however I have it set up to be a permanent solution.

I'm not sure why you got Region 2 (Europe) for my DVD recorder as I bought it at Best Buy in Canada... then again, it might be why I've never been able to get the thing to record. So far its just been a player and works fine with DVD's (store bought and ripped DVD's).

If I could record only to DVD (and not the VCR), then that would be fine. Its actually the reason I got the DVD in the first place, so I could utilize the HD and then burn DVD's only when needed. I also don't have any need to transfer from VCR to DVD.

Right now, to keep costs down, I don't intend to go for HD TV. I've been monitoring those channels through the guide and I see I'm not missing anything. They also have the next tier of cable designed in such a way that I'd lose some of the channels that I really like and already have and would then have to pay extra for them in separate packages. (Being a single working mom, that's not going to happen)...

Getting another cable box may be an option. I actually have the cable guy coming out today because the bedroom cable box isn't working. So I might also pick his brain on some better options.

The reason I asked you to try connecting the VCR directly to the coax jack in the wall is to verify that you can record analog video on channels 3 to 28. You can accomplish the same thing by connecting a coax (temporarily) directly from the wall to your TV and tuning those channels.

I did some more research on your DVD recorder. It appears that it's primarily Europe and Asia, but has also been sold in Canada (NTSC Region 1) but apparently not in the U.S. from what I can tell.

The only reason I'm suggesting two cable boxes is so you can record one show on the DVD-HDD while at the same time watching a different show on your television set.

Try this out, it'll be part of your permanent setup.

Hook up a yellow red white cable from the cable box's output to the Line 1 input jacks on your DVD-HDD.

Hook up red green blue component video cables plus red white audio cables from the output of your DVD to Input 4 of your television set.

Turn on the TV to Input 4. You should be able to play DVDs normally at this point.

Then use the DVD-HDD remote to select line 1 input. You should see whatever your cable box is tuned to. Select a channel with the cable box.

At this point you should be able to record shows to the hard disk digital recorder and play them back whenever you want. (basically the equivalent of a PVR without a channel guide, but also without a monthly fee from the cable company.)

You should also have the ability to edit shows on the HDD (remove commercials, leave out stuff you don't want) and burn a show from the HDD to a blank DVD-R disk.

You should also have the ability to record directly from the cable in to a DVD-R.

The exception is if the broadcaster or cable company sends out a "do not copy" flag which instructs your unit not to record.

What I described above should make it possible for you to use the DVD recorder - both to burn DVDs and to save stuff on the HDD. Check it out and then we'll proceed with the rest of your setup.

BTW - you did say SINGLE mom - didn't you? ;-)

:) Yes, I said single. I think thegeeke suggested me trying the cable to the VCR/TV separately, but I don't remember what happened, so I'll have to try it tomorrow when I'm more into the idea of moving everything behind the TV. (Just watching a rerun of The Walking Dead). So anyways, I get what you're suggesting. I have another cable box here for the bedroom, so I might try it temporarily to see if it works like you suggested, and if it does, I might ask the cable company for another one. Thankfully we get our cable boxes here for free (no rental), but you have to rent PVR's. (Same thing as a DVR I guess, just different acronym). I also recently found a way with the cable box to set up a recording timer. It doesn't control the VCR or the DVR, but it creates a way to power up the cable box and set the channel for a given day and time. Then with the device I want to use, I also set the day and time, but I just leave the channel on ch3, and the VCR or DVR will then record the channel coming from the cable box with the current setup. That might be the easiest solution, even though I can't view other channels while recording, but at least I don't have to leave the cable box on all the time. If I can get another cable box, then that's a bonus, and I don't have to worry about getting a PVR for awhile. (I'd rather buy one than rent one anyway). ~ Thanks again for your advice. ;)

PVR and DVR have been used interchangeably, but to me there are significant differences.

A DVR is a device which you own. It accepts video-cable inputs and should have some way of obtaining a programming guide (signal which piggybacks the incoming cable signal, direct internet updates, etc.) This includes TiVO, ReplayTV, and stand-alone DVD-hard drive combos like the one you own. Some DVRs follow the rules for shows which you are not allowed to record, allowed to make only one copy of, etc. and I think that includes your DVD-HDD unit.

A PVR is a device which comes from the cable/satellite company. Whether you purchase it or lease it every month is unimportant - they control how it's used. For example, if their software says you can only keep a show for 6 months then the show erases itself after that period. Or if you can only watch it for a specific number of times. Or that you can't mute the commercials or fast forward through them. Or plays back new commercials each time you watch a recorded show. Some of these examples are hypothetical, but they are all technically possible, especially with virtual PVRs where the actual recording is saved on their servers and streamed to you when you watch your recorded shows.

PVRs do have some advantages, in particular some models can playback on all of the TVs in your house. In addition they're available in high def models. As far as I know the only high def stand-alone DVR is TiVO.

Obviously from the above descriptions I am heavily in favor of DVRs. The best solution (IMHO), although it's certainly most complicated, is a dedicated home theater PC. That gives you the maximum flexibility (read: much too complicated unless you're a geek).

Back to your setup ...

Your DVD-HDD unit does not have any program guide, but it does have a funky mode called "syncho record". That automatically records whenever there's a video signal present. Fortunately that works well with the cable box you described.

Use the setup I described previously (cable box to DVD-HDD to TV set) and turn on the syncho record mode on the DVD-HDD unit specifying that it should record from the line 1 input to the hard drive. Whenever you program a show on the cable box it should turn on the cable box and tune to the correct channel and the DVD-HDD should record the show to its hard drive. With syncho record you don't have to program the timers on two boxes (cable box and DVD-HDD).

Never ever use channel 3 to record unless you have to. It's mono (really complicated licensing issues about how MTS stereo audio is generated) and requires two additional conversions (video to RF and then back to video) so it's the lowest quality. Make sure you have a set of composite cables (yellow red white) from the output of the cable box to the input of the DVD-HDD.

The reason I suggested a second cable box is so you can record one show on the DVD-HDD (as described in the previous paragraph) and watch a different show at the same time. Hook up the second cable box to the Input 3 connectors on your television. The only tricky part about this setup is configuring your infrared remotes so when you program one cable box it doesn't also program the second one at the same time. In a couple of rare cases components have the ability to set multiple 'channels' so you can program a separate remote (or separate buttons on a universal remote) for each cable box. The alternative (sloppy) solution is to have the cable boxes facing opposite directions or isolated inside cardboard boxes and literally aim the remote inside the box so its light only hits the correct cable box. (Does that make sense?)

It's unlikely, but if the cable company has different cable boxes, hopefully from different manufacturers, then you could use unlike cable boxes which hopefully will have remotes which won't interfere with each other.

You can even hook up the second cable box to the VCR's inputs to have the ability to record two shows at once (one on the DVD-HDD, one on the VCR).

If it turns out that a direct cable from the wall outlet to your TV set does permit you to watch channels 3-28 then you will need the 4-way R-F splitter. (well actually you only need 3 but they don't make 3-ways - insert your own dirty joke about 3-ways here if you wish.) Hook up the outputs from the 4-way splitter into the two cable boxes and your television set. If your TV doesn't receive 3-28 directly or if those channels are truly useless to you then you can leave that jack empty and just use a 2-way splitter into the two cable boxes.

Thanks again for all your advice. Turns out the cable company won't give me another cable box, and the cable guy just suggested that I buy or rent a PVR...

For now anyways, I will use the current setup. I can record a channel (but not watch another), so it'll be fine for when I'm not home, or when I'm busy doing something else. I also have a few online resources where I can get stuff I missed recording, so one way or another, I'll be ok until I get a PVR.

Thanks again for your help.

BTW, so many jokes... so little time. ;)

Just saw your PM... what can I do to help? :)

Thanks for replying. :) I was messing around with my new cable box remote and happened upon an option for "VCR Timers"... This is with the Motorola DCT700, and I can't seem to find any good info online. I went through the options on the remote, and all I have to do is set the day and time (to record and stop) and then select the channel. There doesn't seem to be a way to select the device, so I don't know if having everything connected in-line will work, if at all.

As I had mentioned before, pulling the entertainment center out to reconnect everything is quite a pain, so any advice on doing this right would be nice, now that it seems there's a way for this to work.

Ironically, I have a cable guy coming out later today, since the cable box in the bedroom doesn't work. (I figured that out after I had sent you the PM), so I will try and pick his brain on how to set all this up, but I'm not sure he'll give me the extra time on the call out because its on the cable company's dime. For whatever reason, the cable box wouldn't communicate with their computers so it wouldn't activate and that's why they are coming out.

Well anyways, in case this guy can't help (or won't), I'd sure appreciate any additional advice you may have.

Sure. I've never seen that feature before, it seems to be an attempt at making it halfway between the cheapest they can buy and a decent converter. It sounds like that setting will change the channel on the converter at a specific time to a specific channel. You would then setup the recording devices to record on the channel that the converter comes in on (if coex to devices, then it would be either ch. 3, or possibly 4... If RCA, then line in 1 or 2 depending on where you plugged it in). Just be sure that both of the clocks are synced. :) That's my guess... Again, I've never seen that setting before, I'm just taking an educated guess because the signal coming out of the converter is analog, and there is no way for it to send information like "start recording" to the recording devices (unless it sent out a IR beam, which wouldn't be reliable, and would have to have a code programmed... So I doubt they used that method), and also I don't think your converter has a recording device in it, so it is relying on a VCR or DVD recorder.

Good luck! Feel free to ask for more help/clarification of you need it! :)

Thanks again. I think I'll have to corner the cable guy and insist he explain how it all works before he goes. There definitely is NO way to record to the cable box, and it does specifically say "VCR timers", so ya, it's probably the cheapest option shy of getting a PVR. (Being that money is tight, I'll try anything for the time being). It would be nice if it would record independently to the VCR and still allow me to watch something else, but I have no idea if I even have the cables set up right for it to work. Since I haven't found any info online (and the manual is useless), I can't figure out if the VCR would have to stay on, or if it even matters if its the VCR. Like why couldn't it push the signal to the DVD recorder if it can magically send the digital feed to the VCR without a tuner... (so confused). :(

Ok, so the cable guy just left. He had no idea how the timer worked, but I tested everything out while he was there and we figured out a few things.

1. The timer function on the cable box will merely wake up the cable box (if its off) and tune to the channel selected for the length of time requested and then shut off.

2. It will not actually send any record functions to the units, so if I want to record to the DVD or VCR I then have to set either of them to record and leave the channel on Ch3.

3. It won't allow me to watch a channel and record another channel.

So, even though its no better than it was before, I can at least record while I'm not home and I don't have to leave the cable box on. So I guess that's a minor bonus.

Thanks again for all your help and advice. ;)

No problem. What you described is what I was thinking. Just to clarify, it's not sending digital signal to anything, it's converting digital signal that it receives to analog that it sends. :)

Honestly, I have no idea. All I know is the cable box timer will turn on the cable box (if its off) and turn to the channel I select at the time I want but won't control anything else. On the VCR or the DVD, I have to also set the timer to the same day and time, and then leave it on Ch3. When the cable box goes to say channel 93, the VCR or the DVD records off Ch3 and picks up the feed from ch93. Whether it converts to analog, I don't know.

Right... I'm saying that it does... I'm not asking. ;) That is the whole purpose of the converter that you got: to convert the new digital signals that your old components don't know how to interpret, and convert it into something they do know (analog). :)

I wasn't sure if what you said was a question or rhetorical. I just assumed the cable box unscrambled the signal that gets blocked when you don't have paid cable (hence the reason why the channels don't all show up without the cable box). But, what you said does make sense, I just didn't know. So thanks for the education. ;) It's not the most ideal situation, but it does give me some alternative over buying more equipment that I can't really afford right now. So again, thanks for the help.

Much better diagram! Run your coax from cable box to TV you should see all your cable channels on channel three as per your previous comments. Connect your RCA cable from the cable box to your DVD, this should be sending the same signal here to your DVD as to your TV. Connect your DVD via RCA to one of your inputs on the TV so that when you play a DVD it will show on that channel. As for your VCR I'm assuming that you only want to record program's to DVD so the VCR is for playing old video tapes so the RCA out can go into your TV input. Your only problem is if you want to record program's while you're away from home the VCR is the only piece of equipment that you have that will do this. The DVD recorder doesn't have a delayed timer does it?

Here's what I have working.

Coax > Cable Box > DVD in - DVD out > VCR in - VCR out > TV coax in.

DVD-RCA: Cable Box RCA out > DVD RCA in > DVD RCA out > TV RCA - Vid 3

VCR-RCA: RCA out > TV RCA in - Vid 1

With that configuration, I can view TV channels through the TV, through the VCR on Ch3 and through the DVD recorder. BUT I cannot record to the VCR or the DVD except when the cable box controls the channel. This is NOT ideal. I would like to be able to watch one channel and record another (like I did before the cable box).

Yes, the DVD recorder has a delayed timer. It also has about 70 hrs of HD space.

I have a Multi Channel AV Receiver (Sony STR-DG510) with Coax and RCA inputs/outputs for other components. Would connecting everything through this make recording work off other channels? (It hasn't been hooked up properly either... there's a 70 page manual for it, that I've barely read yet).

The 'multichannel' just means you can add more equipment which doesn't help you. With the delayed timer on your DVD at least you can record when you're not at home. As far as watching another channel is concerned you still have a problem in that if you're recording cable you can only watch analogue TV, and when you're watching analogue TV you can record digital cable. Your VCR is going to become obsolete because it's an analogue tuner and that means if you want to record a cable program you will have to be there to press the record button, the automatic timer on the VCR is only for the inbuilt analogue tuner. Which is why at some point it needs to be removed from,your chain except for playing old tapes.. You will have no problem recording off your digital TV but manually or possibly with your DVD player. This means that recording direct off your TV it will need to be on all the time which I'm sure you don't want.

That's what I was afraid of... so basically I'm SOL as far as getting things to work the way they use to and again, half my components are basically useless (in that they don't function completely as expected).

I had to do some searching, but I did find out that my DVD recorder does NOT have a digital tuner, so that doesn't help either.

I guess there isn't much else I can do. :(

Thanks for the help though!

You can still use the delayed timer on your DVD though which replaces your VCR, but you will need to leave your cable box on all the time. Like I said previously better to have a cable box with recording facilities then you can record and watch another channel, it's the 'new' VCR - sorry to say the manufacturers want to send you broke so they can stay in business!

I suspect the conspiracy is with the cable companies, because clearly they were "losing money" from all those who stole analog signals... *rolls eyes* Granted I don't care that much about the vcr, its obsolete; but when you spend a few hundred for a DVD recorder that has a large harddrive, you expect it'll last more than 2 years. :( Unless I can figure out a hack for it, it'll probably just end up selling it.

Use your DVD recorder to convert all your old video tapes.......although I hate to say this you're better off connecting your VCR to your computer and downloading the tapes into an editing suite! But that's a story for another time.......

I don't really have any old tapes that I need to save. All I was using the VCR for was to record TV shows.

The reason why in the old days you can record one channel and watch another is that the VCR has a tuner which records the program and the TV has a tuner which allows you to watch TV. Modern set ups don't have this luxury, DVD's generally don't have a built in digital tuner, your TV doesn't have a digital tuner nor does your VCR. So what you really need, I hate to say, is a cable box with a hard drive and timer, then your problems will be solved.

Thanks. I understand what you're saying, but of course, I'm hoping for a work around (if possible), otherwise half my components are all but useless to me.

As I asked (on the other thread), would using a newer Multi Channel AV Receiver make recording possible (like the "old days")?

Multichannel only means you can plug more stuff in, not get more stuff out. Welcome to consumerism, they could have built in better connections so that your old technology would work through it, but where's the profit? The biggest hurdle is that we are going digital so old analogue machines are being given the 'boot' sad to say, I prefer analogue for certain appliances. I'm afraid you're being dragged kicking and screaming and 'penniless' into the 21st century!