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Q: home theater setup for vcr, dvd, sat. ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: home theater setup for vcr, dvd, sat.
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: mathowie-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 03 Nov 2002 23:19 PST
Expires: 03 Dec 2002 23:19 PST
Question ID: 97963
I recently bought and installed a home theater system (RCA RT2500R),
and am currently having problems interacting with the VCR. I cannot
seem to record any source, and can only play tapes when an S-video
cable leading to
the tv is removed. I'm guessing the problem is either in the VCR's
configuration or it may not be possible, but to solve this, I'll
explain the entire setup. This may get tedious as I explain the entire
setup, but hopefully it's enough detail to solve the problem.

First off, the manual for the home theater unit (here on out, I'll
just call it "receiver") is here: Page 7 of the
pdf shows the back of the unit. The following is a list of components
and how they are attached.

Components, and how they connect to the Home Theater receiver (view
pdf while reading):
- 1 general electric VCR with RCA in/out (2 sets total) connected to
the receiver's provided RCA jacks (2 sets) as directed in the
receiver's manual (rca out from VCR hooked to the "play" ports, rca in
from VCR hooked to the "rec" ports).

- 1 panasonic DVD player, connected to the receiver's DVD s-video
jack, audio connected to optical 2 port via optical digital cable.

- 1 DirecTivo (combo DirecTv satellite receiver and TiVo recorder)
unit connected to receiver's SAT s-video jack, audio connected to
optical 1 port via optical digital cable.

- 1 Mitsubishi 27" TV (about 4 years old, don't know the model
number), that has two sets of RCA ports and a s-video input on the
back. Currently connected to the receiver via both the s-video and a
single rca video cable. All audio is handled by the home theater.

Typical use of the system:
I watch satellite tv, either live or recorded shows on the tivo combo
unit, most of the time. It works perfectly with the sound playing
through the theater system (set to SAT as input) and the picture clear
and crisp via the s-video connections. Occasionaly I watch DVDs, and
simply switching
the receiver over to the DVD input on the remote plays movies
beautifully. The
problem arises when I want to watch a VCR tape and less
frequently, record something from the satellite television signal.

The VCR Playback Problem:
At first, I only had the s-video cable running between the TV and the
receiver, figuring all inputs into the receiver could be output via
that single cable, but when I set the receiver to "VCR1" and played a
tape in the VCR, I could not see any video (audio played through the
receiver fine). I only got a picture on my TV when I attached the rca
video out cable from the receiver to the TV and disconnected the
s-video from the back of the TV (The TV can't seem to figure out which
cable is the one carrying signal and switch itself, I have to
physically do it by hand). That's a minor pain, but I can still watch
tapes occasionally and deal with it.

The VCR Record Problem:
I can't seem to record anything, period, and this is the reason for
this question. Since the s-video/rca problem exists, if I plug both
the s-video and rca cables from the receiver to the TV, and play
television from the sat dish, hitting record on the VCR, then stopping
it, taking out the s-video to watch it and switching the receiver to
VCR reveals that it tapes nothing at all. If
I disconnect the s-video cable while the sat dish is the input, I can
hear sound but see no picture, and when I record with the VCR I also
get nothing.

Ideally, I'd like to tape things from the sat dish, but it doesn't
seem possible with the current setup. How can I set things up so this
works? Is my TV the limitation? Is the home theater system the
bottleneck? Image quality and sound quality are a priority, so I would
not like to daisy-chain the devices together, but if that's the only
way for the VCR to see the sat signal, I will do it for special cases
(when I really, really have to tape something).

Any ideas?
Subject: Re: home theater setup for vcr, dvd, sat.
Answered By: alexander-ga on 04 Nov 2002 01:45 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
The crux of the problem appears to be that your receiver does not
transcode s-video to composite video (single yellow RCA cable) and
vice versa. This, combined with your TV not knowing how to
automatically switch between s-video and composite video inputs, makes
your setup a bit more confusing, but does not make it impossible to do
everything you want without getting up from the couch.

The VCR playback problem is tricky to solve in detail with the
information you've given. It would be useful to know 1) exactly what
inputs are on the back of the TV, and 2) how you switch between them.
Because you said that the TV has two sets of RCA inputs, I'm going to
assume that there is a way of remotely switching between them. When an
s-video input is available, it is often considered "part" of one of
the inputs. For example, there would be one group of inputs (audio
left/right, composite video, and s-video) and then a second set of
inputs without an s-video jack (i.e. just audio left/right and
composite video). I would suggest moving the composite video
connection you have now to the TV to the other composite in, and then
switching the TV between inputs using the remote when you want to
watch a tape.

To enable you to record from satellite, I'm going to make the
assumption that what's currently showing from the DirecTiVo box is the
only thing you will ever want to record on the VCR. If this is the
case, this solution is easy -- simply connect the VCR inputs directly
to the appropriate outputs on the DirecTiVo. You have more than enough
outputs on the DirecTiVo, which are all always active, to do this.
Make sure your VCR input is set to the aux-in or "video" channel, and
in VCR mode, and you should be able to see what's showing on the
DirecTiVo when you have your receiver and TV set to watch the VCR and
there's no tape in it. Then when you hit record, that's recorded.
(Regardless of the settings on the receiver and TV.)

If you're having difficulty setting up the system in this way, or
don't understand something I said, please post a request for
clarification and I'll be glad to help further.

Request for Answer Clarification by mathowie-ga on 04 Nov 2002 08:59 PST
The composite connections on the back of the TV are marked input and
output, and I can't get video if I move the composite connection to
the output connection, I only see a picture when the input composite
connection is used.

While I noticed the composite outputs on the back of the dtivo, I
couldn't find my manuals that came with it, nor could I find them
online. I couldn't even find a detailed photograph of the back of a
directivo unit, or any explanation of the composite outputs.

I'd only like to tape thinks off the dtivo, so a connection from the
dtivo to the vcr sounds like it would work and solve that problem, I
just want to make sure I get the connections right. They'd be from one
of the composite output set on the dtivo to the input set on the vcr,

Clarification of Answer by alexander-ga on 04 Nov 2002 13:36 PST
Ok, you're right -- if you only have one input, that idea won't work.
You could make all composite connections to the receiver and TV to
avoid the problem, but then you don't get the better video quality of

If your receiver can switch between three s-video sources, which from
the manual I saw I don't think it can, you could buy a composite to
s-video transcoder, which effectively converts composite video to
s-video. This probably wouldn't be very cost effective, though, as
they usually run around $200.
mathowie-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
A lot of this confirms some of my suspicions, and I eventually got the
vcr to record tivo shows, by connecting from the tivo out to the vcr
in, and viewing the vcr.

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