Using a VCR to Record From a DTV Converter Box

Getting Along in the Digital World With Analog Equipment

Hand putting VHS tape in a VCR
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Although the days of analog televisions and video cassette recorders (VCRs) are about over, some people still own analog TVs. They use digital TV (DTV) converter boxes to watch digital signals on their analog TVs. The problem comes when they want to record a show. That's where VCRs come in handy.

VCR to the Rescue

Stipulations for using a VCR to record from a DTV converter box include:

  • The VCR should be tuned to record on channel 3.
  • The VCR connects to the output signal of the DTV converter box. In other words, the converter box must be connected between the antenna and the VCR. So, the likely configuration you use with a coaxial cable is an antenna to DTV converter to VCR to TV.
  • Connect the DTV converter to the channel you want to record before recording. The VCR won't be able to change channels on the DTV converter.

You are able to use the timed record function on the VCR if you adhere to these stipulations.

If this sounds freakishly familiar to recording on a digital cable or satellite set-top box, you are right. It is exactly like recording a signal from a digital cable box or satellite receiver. While it may be somewhat inconvenient, at least the option exists to record on a VCR while using a DTV converter box.

The Disadvantage of Using a DTV Converter

You lose the ability to watch one program and record another with the DTV converter.

The reason is the tuner. The VCR tuner is useless with digital channels except for recognizing channel 3. The digital converter is a single tuner item so it only receives one station at a time.

About Subchannels

A single broadcast station can send out multiple signals in their digital band. These are called subchannels. Typically, you gain recording access to these subchannels when using the DTV converter box with an antenna.

Subchannels appear something like 42.1, 42.2, 42.3, and so on. For example, in one area, the ABC affiliate might send out the ABC feed on subchannel 24.1 and a weather-only signal on 24.2.

This is one of the advantages of digital television that carries over to the analog world with a DTV converter box.