The Pioneer DVR-220 dates from 2004, which means in electronic years its older than you or me!
As they age, this first generation of DVD recorder can get a bit quirky and act up in ways they didn't when new. I will try to help you get everything going properly, but there is a chance the unit will still malfunction from old age, and it may be time to replace it.
The first thing you need to check is the connection to your TV. On the back panel of the 220, you should have three wires (or a single triple-wire) with color-coded plugs (yellow for video, red for right audio, and white for left audio) plugged into one of the sets of Line Outputs. The other end of these wires should be plugged into matching Line Inputs of your TV. Turn on the 220, insert a DVD you've played before, and start playing it. Using the Input or Source button on your TV remote, cycle thru the TV inputs until you can see the DVD playing: you now have the connection from 220 to TV set up correctly. Remove the test DVD from the 220 and put it away.
Next, you need to connect the same type of wires from the Line Outputs in the back of your VCR to the front panel Line 2 Inputs of the 220 (these are under a little flap). This makes it easy to disconnect the VCR when you aren't using it. If you have a LOT of tapes to copy, and expect to leave the VCR and DVD connected for a long time, you could plug the wires from the VCR into the back panel Line 1 or Line 3 inputs of the 220 (instead of the front panel). Once you have the VCR connected to the 220, turn them both on, turn the TV on, switch the TV to the input that shows the 220, and then play a tape in the VCR. Using the "Input Select" button on the 220 remote, cycle thru the recorder inputs until you can see the tape playing thru the DVD recorder. Everything is now prepared to copy VHS to DVD.
One thing you might want to remember is to match the recording speed of the 220 DVD to the playing speed of the VHS. Look at the VCR display, and as the tape is playing note if it shows as SP, LP, or EP/SLP (2, 4, or 6 hours). The easiest way to copy the tapes is to set a matching record speed on the 220, using the REC MODE button on the remote. Unfortunately, DVD recording at slow speeds is not as "nice" as VHS, so you may be disappointed if you copy a six hour tape to a six hour DVD. In such cases, you might want to instead record the single six-hour tape to three separate two-hour (SP speed) DVDs, to preserve as much of the original picture quality as possible. This would involve you stopping the VCR at the end of each movie or set of TV shows, putting a new disc in the 220, and starting up the tape again. If you don't understand what I mean by all this, have a friend come visit to help you: doing this stuff is easier than reading about it.
Blank DVDs come in different "flavors." The Pioneer DVR-220 is an older unit that was not
designed to record on most of the blank DVDs found in stores today. For best results, try to find Verbatim AZO 16x DVD-R blanks in your local electronics or warehouse store. Examine the package label carefully before buying: it should have a little purple oval with the AZO trademark (do NOT buy any Verbatim discs packaged in white with the name "Life Series" printed on it: these are a poor choice for the 220). Also, be sure to buy DVD-R (minus-R) blanks, the 220 does not like DVD+R (Plus+R) blanks.
After you finish recording a DVD, you should finalize it to make it playable on regular DVD players. With the DVD loaded in your 220, press the STOP button on the remote. Press the HOME MENU button, and use the arrow keys and the ENTER button to select DISC SETUP from the on screen display. Choose FINALIZE, then move to the right column and choose NEXT SCREEN and press ENTER. The next screen will offer you a choice of six menu designs for the DVD: use the arrow keys to choose one you like, and press ENTER. The recorder will begin finalizing the DVD, displaying a progress bar onscreen. Finalizing takes about two minutes, after it finishes it will display "Finalizing Complete." Cleaar the TV screen of recorder messages by pressing the Home Menu key.
This is the most basic set of instructions I can give you, that will help you create simple DVD copies of your tapes that will play on all DVD players. To make the DVDs really
nice requires you study things in more detail, like how to separate entries for each TV episode if you have four on the DVD (so you can choose them individually instead of having to fast forward thru the whole disc like you do with the tape). It is not strictly necessary to make the DVD "perfect," if you are happy with a simplified DVD that works exactly like the tape then you can save yourself some time and trouble and skip setting up the additional features.
Note all of the above applies to tapes you recorded yourself on your VCR. If your primary goal is to make DVD copies of your old commercial Hollywood tapes, my advice is to forget the whole idea, and just slowly buy the commercial DVDs of your old tapes whenever you see a good DVD sale ($3.99-$6.99 apiece) at Best Buy or on Amazon or eBay. Old Hollywood tapes have a copy-prevention signal on them, which activates that "can't record copyrighted material" alert you saw. Getting around this with the old 220 recorder requires buying an accessory Time Base Corrector (TBC) that costs approx. $250. Not only does this complicate the wiring, it is not recommended at all with Pioneer recorder models 210, 310, 510, 220, 225 and 520. These models use an older-generation digitizing circuit which really REALLY doesn't like protected Hollywood tapes: attaching the accessory TBC will clear the warnings and allow the units to record the tapes, but the recordings will be terrible
(trust me on this point, I've owned every Pioneer recorder ever made).
If you don't want to replace your tapes little by little with the commercial Hollywood studio DVDs, you will have to invest a great deal more money upfront to buy a newer DVD recorder and the TBC: we're talking about $500 total, plus your time, stress and effort making the copies. If you shop carefully, you can purchase the nice Hollywood DVD versions of 80-100 movies with $500. I'm 52, and I'm sick of the work required to copy my VHS tapes to digital. Unfortunately, I have thousands of VHS tapes, so it isn't practical or possible for me to buy commercial replacements. But if you're like most people 60 or over, and only own about a hundred VHS movies, believe me when I tell you it is much MUCH less trouble to just buy the studio DVDs instead of copying the tapes, while costing about the same.Edited by CitiBear - 12/31/12 at 11:11am