Originally Posted by Sparkles2
This forum somewhere states that no OTA users had this problem. So I guess that I am the first one.
This forum has lots of people who worship the Phillips/Magnavox recorders as a gift from the gods: frank discussion of questionable design errors and glaring engineering flaws is frowned upon (to say the least). Getting truly useful answers on some points can be difficult.
A prime example is tuner issues. These machines have been afflicted since day one by a ridiculously dysfunctional "passive" tuner that is prone to having a meltdown if a broadcaster randomly decides to employ one of several deviations from standard ATSC spec permitted by the FCC. These deviations almost never disturb the tuners built into our televisions, but the Phillips/Magnavox recorders will sometimes react as if they just got run over by a cement truck. When this happens, they either lose that channel, the channel becomes unstable, the channel goes out and takes many others with it, or you can view the channel thru the unit but timer recordings come out blank.
Last week here in NYC, for the umpteenth time, many owners of these recorders lost their signal lock on the local FOX and MyTV affiliates, which triggered a loss of most other channels as well. These two broadcasters tend to make technical decisions together: about once a year, they manage to completely brick a sizable number of Phillips/Magnavox recorders in the area. Complaints to the stations are not taken seriously, as the ONLY tuners affected are those in these recorders (approx. .001 percent of viewers).
Two or three workarounds sometimes succeed in restoring the balky channels. The most reliable trick is to find out what the "actual" channel number is, and manually add it to your channel memory (i.e., in NYC Fox channel 5 is actually channel 44.1, using a broadcast technique casually known as channel spoofing). I've recently heard from over a dozen friends/family who did this, and then all their other channels magically re-appeared without needing to perform a tedious setup/re-scan. Unfortunately the MyTV9 channel still seems lost on both virtual and actual frequencies, so we'll just need to wait and see how that shakes out. Also the "actual channel" trick doesn't always work perfectly: sometimes it will default to a lower-quality, letterboxed backup channel during timer mode.
I got tired of dealing with this issue for my parents, and decided a set-and-forget cure was to connect an old external tuner box (that we all bought back in 2008 during the digital TV transition). This old box reliably tunes the "difficult" channels, so I have it connected to their Magnavox line inputs and I set their timer programs to "line" for those channels (bypassing the built-in tuner altogether). This is practical if you have only one or two problem broadcasters in your area: it sure beats trying to outwit or force the cranky Phillips/Magnavox tuner (which remains usable for most other channels).
Of course, it is also possible your Phillips 3576 is simply beginning to fail because its nine years old (most dvd recorders start getting wonky around their 7th birthday). If you can't get it to re-scan your OTA channels even after you manually enter the problem frequency, try the external tuner trick. If you don't still have an old ATSC CECB adapter box lying around, buy a new $28 Mediasonic Homeworx from Amazon and use that as an outboard tuner (it can also double as a secondary full-HDTV recorder if you plug in a USB hard drive).