DTV converter box & VCRs - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I've checked some of the digital to analog converter boxes and they only seem to connect to the antenna and the tv. I'm wondering if I'll be able to use my VCR after the transition? Is there a way to connect it to the box? I assume the VCR also has a receiver, so it would probably have to receive a converted signal, right?
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post #2 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasralph View Post

I've checked some of the digital to analog converter boxes and they only seem to connect to the antenna and the tv. I'm wondering if I'll be able to use my VCR after the transition? Is there a way to connect it to the box? I assume the VCR also has a receiver, so it would probably have to receive a converted signal, right?

To use a converter with an analog VCR you just connect either the RF or composite output of the converter to the inputs on the VCR.

You have to set the channel manually and (usually) shut off the default 4 hour converter shutdown timer in the converter. If you want to watch one channel on an analog TV while recording another, you need a second converter. If you don't need to watch one program while recording another, you can use one converter for both a VCR and a analog TV.

There is one converter (Echostar TR-40) that isn't availabile yet that has "VCR timer" in it's discription. No one seems to know exactly what this means.
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post #3 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasralph View Post

I've checked some of the digital to analog converter boxes and they only seem to connect to the antenna and the tv. I'm wondering if I'll be able to use my VCR after the transition? Is there a way to connect it to the box? I assume the VCR also has a receiver, so it would probably have to receive a converted signal, right?


You should be able to connect the rf modulator output to the vcr's antenna input (channel 3/4). If your vcr accepts line input, the yellow composite output and red/white audio can connect to the same connectors on vcr; tune vcr to line or input #1.

The problem is that the vcr probably can't control the tuner in the converter. You'll have to leave the converter on, set to the right channel, then program vcr to record at right time the converted program on line (or channel 3/4) depending on how you input.

I do this now with a POS (yes, that's a quality term) Mitsubishi box and an analog tv. I plan to buy a new converter and hope it is better than this old (HD) box.
It is my "third program" backup assuming I am watching one on HDTV, recording one on HD DVR, and if there is a third program worth seeing, VCRing it, and watching on old, analog tv.
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post #4 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasralph View Post

I've checked some of the digital to analog converter boxes and they only seem to connect to the antenna and the tv. I'm wondering if I'll be able to use my VCR after the transition? Is there a way to connect it to the box? I assume the VCR also has a receiver, so it would probably have to receive a converted signal, right?

You are correct, it would need a converted signal.

There are many ways to connect the VCR. The simplest method would be to take the antenna cable and connect it to the converter box's RF-in jack, connect the RF-out of the converter box to the VCR's RF-in jack, and then connect the RF-out from the VCR to the RF input of the TV. But this is far short of ideal. For one thing, passing the signal through as RF gives you the least quality picture. Assuming that your VCR and TV both have composite video/audio jacks, you could connect the antenna cable to the converter box's RF-in jack, connect the composite video output of the converter box to the composite input of the VCR and then connect the composite output of the VCR to the composite input of the TV. This will give you a better quality picture.

But now you face another dilemma. The converter box is now your sole tuner and can only tune one channel at a time. Not only that, but most of the converter boxes now available requires user intervention to change channels. So you cannot use this single box to watch one program while recording another. You also cannot record one program on one channel and then record another program at a later time on another channel without manually changing channels in-between.

Personally, I will be purchasing 2 boxes. One for the TV and one for the VCR. I will probably use the Zenith box because I generally do not record but once in a blue moon and then only one program at a time. This is also the reason I won't be springing for a digital recorder. I just can't justify spending any more than necessary for something used so seldom. You might consider the Echostar box, which is due out in June, for the VCR because it is reported to have a built-in VCR timer to change channels unattended.

Good luck.
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post #5 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 08:35 PM
 
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On another note would you also be able to hook up a DVD recorder with built in DVR Hard Drive the same way?
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post #6 of 78 Old 02-24-2008, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bugmenot55 View Post

On another note would you also be able to hook up a DVD recorder with built in DVR Hard Drive the same way?

Yes. If you have a DVD/HDD recorder that only has an analog tuner or no tuner at all you could hook it up to a converter box the same way you would a VCR.

And just like a VCR you would have to manually set the channel on the converter.
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post #7 of 78 Old 02-25-2008, 04:40 AM
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Another thing to consider that I have not seen addressed anywhere, if you are going to use 2 converter boxes. If the boxes are both going to be in the same room, make sure and get the boxes from different manufacturers (not just different brand labels). The reason is that they need to use different remote control codes. It would not be a good thing if you set your VCR box up to record on one channel and then someone used the remote to change channels on the TV box, thereby also changing channels on the VCR box.
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post #8 of 78 Old 02-26-2008, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. As you can tell I'm pretty much old school, but you've given me a lot of information to work with.
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post #9 of 78 Old 02-27-2008, 09:49 AM
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i have a Phillips DVD recorder that has a built in digital tuner. It will record to DVDs from digital OTA. I got it for $169 at Wal Mart. It will record DVD quality widecsreen from OTA HDTV. It will record to rewriteable DVDs also.

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post #10 of 78 Old 02-27-2008, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_R View Post

i have a Phillips DVD recorder that has a built in digital tuner. It will record to DVDs from digital OTA. I got it for $169 at Wal Mart. It will record DVD quality widecsreen from OTA HDTV. It will record to rewriteable DVDs also.

Rick R

I've been interested in learning more about DVD recorders with built-in tuners because they should have closed caption decoders within the recorder. That's the best way to play DVDs at high resolution with captions over HDMI since HDMI doesn't transmit closed caption data.

If I may ask:

Can you use this DVD recorder as a digital-to-analog converter for an analog TV?

How high is the resolution that you can record to DVD?

Does it support digital caption features?
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post #11 of 78 Old 02-28-2008, 02:23 AM
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My understanding is that you can use an ATSC-equipped DVD Recorder to act as a standard definition quality digital TV receiver for your TV. HOWEVER you will only be able to watch the same channel as you are recording if you do this - as the DVD recorder becomes your only ATSC receiver.

You won't get HDTV quality this way - as all current DVD recorders with ATSC tuners only record and output an SD quality downconversion of HD - even when not recording. Any HDMI output at 720p or 1080i content, at 720p or 1080i/p HDMI resolution will have been downconverted to 480i and then upconverted back - so will not be full 720p or 1080i resolution - with current models. (It is hoped next generation ATSC DVD recorders will output HD in Live TV mode and only downconvert to SD for recording to disc)

The recorded quality should be 720x480 or 704x480 (i.e. standard SD DVD resolution) at the higher recording qualities (i.e. the ones that record less on each disc) and drop to 352x480 (i.e. half horizontal resolution) for the lower rate modes that record more on a disc. I don't know of any recorders that drop to 352x240 - though it is possible in theory as this is a supported resolution (Neither of my models have this mode, and no other model I have used has).

My understanding is that if the DVD Recorder with a digital OTA receiver in it lets you switch on closed captions when watching live TV, it should also record them "burned in" as open captions on a DVD recording.

I know some DVD Recorders use(d) the subtitles facility of the DVD format to allow you to see the original timecode of DV material pulled in over Firewire, by switching subtitles on and off. I don't know if any current DVD Recorders allow you to burn in closed captions using the subtitles graphics layer - I suspect not - and I suspect they don't convert ATSC subtitles to a format that can be output as closed captions for TV decoding.

In my experience, in the UK, DVD recorders burn in subtitles to the recording, whilst OTA DVRs record the subtitle data stream separately and let you switch subtitles on or off whilst replaying, just as if you were watching live TV. (DVD players decode the digital OTA video, audio and subtitles data when they record, most OTA DVRs don't and instead record these streams as is and decode them on playback - which is why they don't have recording quality settings) I realies OTA DVRs are quite rare in the US and may behave differently - but I suspect they will be similar - though I don't think there will be SD-only models.
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post #12 of 78 Old 02-28-2008, 10:21 AM
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I use an antenna splitter so my DVD recorder can record while I am watching a different program using my other OTA tuner for watching live. The recording is DVD quality which is much better than analog OTA.

Actually my main use of the DVD recorder is to copy HD shows from my DVR to DVD for retention. I use the s-video out of my Dish Network 622 DVR to do the DVD recording. This results in a widescreen commercial DVD quality DVD.

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post #13 of 78 Old 02-28-2008, 11:07 AM
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Be aware that with the ATSC tuners in DVD recorders, you usually can't program out the subchannels. You have to delete the whole channel to get rid of them. So if any subchannels are foriegn language, religious, shopping, children's, etc., if you want the main one, you're stuck with having to scan through all those, too.

This might not be such an issue if you're not using it as your main, viewing tuner. If you have an HD display, you shouldn't really be doing that, anyway.
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post #14 of 78 Old 02-28-2008, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

Be aware that with the ATSC tuners in DVD recorders, you usually can't program out the subchannels. You have to delete the whole channel to get rid of them.

Yes the Philips 3575 acts this way, and IMO it's really short sited. All the EZ Panny DVDR's w/digital tuners lets you delete just one of many sub channels, like most? TV's I would think. Not sure what other brands do about sub channels, but I personally would only want a device that would let me delete specific sub channels. I guess this is a consideration with the new converter boxes. I suppose they could go either way.
I know which way I would want. One more thing to add to my wish list for converter boxes Between that, S-out and VCR type timer I think I've eliminated pretty much every box Time will tell.
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post #15 of 78 Old 02-28-2008, 03:20 PM
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Didn't realize you could do it with the Pannies. That's good to know.

I had heard around here that you couldn't do it with some other recorders either, so I just assumed that it was probably that way with most of them. Maybe not, though.

It was definitely one thing I didn't like about the Philips and Maggie, because there's quite a few here I prefer to block out. Being Chicago naturally there's a lot of ethnic stuff.
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post #16 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 04:58 AM
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Which TV Converter Boxes allow 'mapping' the Digital channels to VHF/UHF channels (not 3/4) to permit scheduling recording of TV programs by time and channel?

I tried this question at ntiadtv.custhelp.com and 1-888-DTV-2009. They are not authorized to provide technical support.

We have an antenna in the attic with Video amplifier in the basement feeding two analog VCR-TVs and one analog DVR-TV. Of the converter boxes I have heard about, only a handful allow 'passthrough'. I need a lot more than that!

Help Please!
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post #17 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by cia_viewer View Post

Which TV Converter Boxes allow 'mapping' the Digital channels to VHF/UHF channels (not 3/4) to permit scheduling recording of TV programs by time and channel?

None do. That would require a separate tuner and RF modulator for each channel.
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post #18 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 06:14 AM
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About the best you can do is get a CECB that has "VCR Timers" to auto-change channels. So far is is exactly ONE that has been advertised with that feature, and it's not shipping until late May / June (the Echostar / Sling Media TR40).

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #19 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by madlobster View Post

None do. That would require a separate tuner and RF modulator for each channel.

This hurts! That is millions of VCRs and DVRs to the dump!

Are there any specs out on the Echostar / Sling Media TR40?
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post #20 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 08:14 AM
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Why do they need to go to the dump ? All you need is a CECB (see www.dtv2009.gov for details) and your VCR will continue to record. You would use the CECB as your tuner instead of the built in NTSC (analog) one.

Also - they are perfectly usable with most cable systems that still have analog cable programming. Which covers about 85% of the American public.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #21 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cia_viewer View Post

This hurts! That is millions of VCRs and DVRs to the dump!

Are there any specs out on the Echostar / Sling Media TR40?

On the other hand, there is no technical reason why a non-CECB converter box couldn't have a programmable timer and IR blaster built in so it could control an analog recorder.

As to whether any company will apply the necessary resources to do it remains to be seen. Actually I think an old Vic 20 has all the processing power needed to do the programming and running two IR blasters to control both a CECB and and analog recorder.

I wonder if there's some cheap hardware that can be reprogrammed to do the job.

Hmmm, what kind of hardware would Myth need to just run the programming and IR parts? MythPuppy perhaps?
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post #22 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cia_viewer View Post

Which TV Converter Boxes allow 'mapping' the Digital channels to VHF/UHF channels (not 3/4) to permit scheduling recording of TV programs by time and channel?

I tried this question at ntiadtv.custhelp.com and 1-888-DTV-2009. They are not authorized to provide technical support.

We have an antenna in the attic with Video amplifier in the basement feeding two analog VCR-TVs and one analog DVR-TV. Of the converter boxes I have heard about, only a handful allow 'passthrough'. I need a lot more than that!

Help Please!

There does (or did) exist boxes for apartment buildings that allow security cameras to be feed out as multiple UHF channels on the main antenna feed. HOWEVER, buy the time you add the cost of this box PLUS the cost of all the converters required, it not cost effective for home use. Boxes for; ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, One Other Independent Station, (6 total) would be $50 x 6 = $300, plus about another $300 for the 6 video input --> 6 UHF output box. So about $600 or so.

The best bet is to get one box for each device. It would be ideal to have one antenna for each device but if the signal strength of the stations is strong enough, a splitter can be used.

If you want to record multiple things over time, you might be able to get your VCR to switch between Channel 3 and Video1, but that would take 2 boxes. Some VCRs have 2 inputs; Video1 and Video2, so you could switch between 3 boxes. (Video1, Video2, and Channel3)

I've never tried this, but an antenna splitter should be able to work backwards. That is the outputs of two boxes (One box on channel 3 and the other on channel 4) go to the inputs of the splitter. Then, the input of the splitter goes to RF In on the TV. Thus, if it works and I'm not 100% sure it will, you should be able to select between channel 3 and 4 for the different stations.

As soon I I get my coupons, I'll get a second box and try it....


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post #23 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 12:28 PM
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Doing a channel 3/4 combining doesn't work very well without one of these http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=40-SC4 or the channel 3 version of it.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #24 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooper View Post

Why do they need to go to the dump ? All you need is a CECB and your VCR will continue to record. You would use the CECB as your tuner instead of the built in NTSC (analog) one.

Also - they are perfectly usable with most cable systems that still have analog cable programming. Which covers about 85% of the American public.

My biggest concern is our analog DVR (TiVo) that I have been hoping to use as a backup recorder by specifying the channel and time.

We are strictly OTA Antenna in the attic. (NO RECURRING COST). Our lifetime TiVo service was a gift and has been a real pleasure. I did buy a HDTV and Digital TiVo box. My wife was surprised at the prices.
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post #25 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 01:03 PM
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Then you need to find a CECB that your Tivo can change the channels on. Just like using a TIVO with a DBS receiver, or cable box.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #26 of 78 Old 02-29-2008, 04:26 PM
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cia_viewer - what you are suggesting IS possible, but you're not going to like the price.

Let's say you want a "turnkey" system that will convert 7 channels digital to analog, where you can tune any of them from any location. 7 channels = ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, My, and PBS .

Start off with 7 of the CECB boxes - most of them are running $50-$60 each full price. Then you need one of these http://www.smarthome.com/7780s.html for each channel (total of 7 @ $65 each) . Now, you need a distribution amp from your antenna to each of the CECB's, and another one after you combine the outputs of the 7 modulators into 1 output to be distributed to all the other TV receivers (such as your TIVO, etc.) Keep in mind that each system needs to be kept isolated from the other.

I'm sure you can see that this is not generally a very good idea unless you've got an ungodly number of analog TVs - (I'm thinking this kind of rig MIGHT be practical for a MDU type setup - but this doesn't get HDTV anywhere yet).

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #27 of 78 Old 03-01-2008, 03:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cia_viewer View Post

My biggest concern is our analog DVR (TiVo) that I have been hoping to use as a backup recorder by specifying the channel and time.

We are strictly OTA Antenna in the attic. (NO RECURRING COST). Our lifetime TiVo service was a gift and has been a real pleasure. I did buy a HDTV and Digital TiVo box. My wife was surprised at the prices.

Maybe try the Digital Stream from Radio Shack. If it's anything like the last Digital Stream HD ATSC model that was out, it can be controlled by an IR blaster with a Pioneer cable box code. Can't change it to subchannels, though. I don't think the TiVo can do that with any box. I could be wrong, though.

No guarantee it's going to use a Pioneer code still - but RS takes returns.
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post #28 of 78 Old 01-02-2009, 01:06 PM
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I don't watch tv but to use my playstation and VCR and DVD. do i need a box?
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post #29 of 78 Old 01-02-2009, 01:23 PM
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I don't watch tv but to use my playstation and VCR and DVD. do i need a box?

all those devices will continue to work just as always (until they eventually break down of their own accord). you only need a converter box if you watch tv in the usa and use an antenna to supply your signal.
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post #30 of 78 Old 01-02-2009, 01:38 PM
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I have basic cable and am confused when they say if you have cable (or satelite) you need do nothing. So, if my old tv in back room is plugged into cable wall outlet (WITH NO SET-TOP BOX) will it still work after Feb. conversion?

Thanks,
Randy
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