How to Connect Digital Cable to a TV With an RF Modulator

You can connect any old TV with an RF modulator

Audio and Video Cables
Audio/Video Inputs. Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

Maybe this scenario sounds painfully familiar to you: You need to hook up your TV to digital cable, a DVD player, and a VCR but your TV is an older set with only one cable hook up. You have an RF modulator with multiple hookups but no instructions on how to do it.

This is a surprisingly common situation, one for which we have a solution. We will address the problem assuming you have an RF modulator. We will also assume your DVD player is not a combo unit with the VCR, and that you want to record TV on your VCR

How to Connect Digital Cable to a TV With an RF Modulator

After you connect everything, you'll notice working with an RF modulator is just like working without one, except you'll have an extra device connected between the video signal and the television.

Here's how to set it up:

  1. Connect the coaxial cable coming out of the wall to your digital cable box in the Video In slot. It might also be labeled Antenna In or Cable In.

  2. From the cable box, connect a coaxial or composite (yellow video cable) and stereo (red-white) RCA audio cables to the Video In terminal on your VCR.

  3. Connect a coaxial cable from the Video Out port on the VCR to one of the In ports on the RF modulator.

  4. Connect your DVD player to the RF Modulator by using the yellow-red-white composite/RCA cables from the Video Out port on the DVD player to an In port on the RF modulator.

    If your DVD player is a combo unit with the VCR, you can skip this step, as the connection will be included in the VCR set up.

  5. Connect the RF modulator to your TV using a coaxial cable. The cord will run from the Video Out port of the RF modulator to the Video In, Cable, or Antenna In port of your television.

That should be all you need to get started watching your digital television. To summarize, here's a basic rundown of the connections:

  • Coaxial from wall to cable box
  • Cable box to VCR
  • VCR to RF modulator
  • DVD player to RF Modulator
  • RF modulator to TV

You will only be able to record what is on channel three because the digital cable will require you be on channel three. As for future connections to the RF modulator, just plug your viewing device into it and hit the button activating the video signal for the device you want to view. As long as it is connected to the television and the TV is on channel three, you should be able to see your video signal.