How to Record Cable TV With a VCR

Follow these basic steps to record digital TV on an old VCR

VHS video cassette tape and VCR

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Using an antenna to record broadcast TV on a VCR is virtually the same process for a high definition television (HDTV) as with an analog TV. That's because the TV tuner inside the VCR drives the recording process; it does not work with digital TV.

If you want to record cable TV with an old VCR, you will need a DTV converter box. In contrast, with analog TV, you could record broadcast TV without a DTV converter box because the VCR has a built-in analog TV tuner.

Still, there are a lot of people that own an HDTV and would like to use a VCR to record broadcast digital TV. The goal here is to use a VCR to watch one channel while recording another.

This information applies to televisions from a variety of manufacturers including, but not limited to, those made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

What You Need to Record Digital TV on a VCR

Make sure you have the following before proceeding:

  • Antenna
  • Two-way splitter
  • DTV converter box
  • VCR
  • Digital or high definition television
  • Coaxial cable
  • RCA video and audio cables (yellow-red-white cables)

Get Everything Connected

The connection process is fairly simple if you follow these instructions:

  1. Use a coaxial cable to connect the antenna output to the two-way splitter input. There is only one coaxial input on the splitter so don't get the input confused with the two outputs.

  2. Connect the other two coaxial cables to the outputs on the two-way splitter. Don't worry about connecting the other ends of the coaxial cable until step 4.

  3. Connect one of the coaxial cables from the splitter to the coaxial input on the DTV converter box. Connect the other coaxial cable from the splitter to the antenna input on the HDTV.

  4. Connect one end of the RCA video and audio cords to the matching colored outputs on the back of the DTV converter box. Once that is done, connect the other end of the same RCA cables to the same colored inputs on the back of the VCR.

  5. Get the other RCA video and audio cables and connect one end to the same colored output on the VCR. Next, connect the other end of the same RCA cable to the same colored inputs on the back of the HDTV.

Use a VCR to Watch One Channel and Record Another

This process is much easier with an HDTV than with an analog TV.

First, you'll want to read about how to use a DTV converter box with a VCR. Once you learn about that process, then it's time to learn how to toggle back and forth between the VCR and your antenna signal.

All you have to do to toggle between the VCR and antenna signal is to switch the video input on the HDTV. You're probably familiar with this "switching of video inputs" on an HDTV. If not, consult your TV's user manual to learn how to change your video input.

You could also look on your remote for a button labeled, "Source," "Input," or "Video." Press it to open an input source menu or to toggle to a different input source. Do so until you get to the antenna or the VCR input.

When you want broadcast TV in high definition, switch to the antenna input. When you want to record or watch a video on VHS then switch to the VCR's video input.