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Re: The tape only plays back in black and white.
Normally this would be a tracking error, if you can manually adjust the tracking, this should fix the prob...if there is no way to manually adj the tracking, use a video head cleaner to see if cleaning the heads will help the auto track to function better.
Are you using red white and yellow composite cables from the VCR to the tv or component cables (red, blue and green?). If its the component, check to make sure the blue and green aren't reversed. I've had them switched before cause I had poor lighting when hooking up, and it gave me a B&W picture
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Assuming that you're not playing a B/W tape, perhaps you plugged your AV video cable with a RCA port intended for component. Don't mix the colors... yellow plugs into yellow... not red, not green, not blue.
The recording head, which is to the right of the reading wheel needs cleaning. it's pointless doing it your self you may destroy your machine, pay a proffesional a couple off dollars to remove the 4 screws and clean the head properly.
Yellow: Composite Video
Red: Right Audio Channel
White: Left Audio Channel (mono)
Does your TV have a video & audio OUTPUT on the back of the TV?
If so, will need another set of audio/video cables and you need to connect the yellow cable from the video OUTPUT of the TV to the video INPUT (yellow) of the DVD/VCR and connect the Red cable from the right OUTPUT of the TV to the red INPUT of the DVD/VCR. Then connect the white cable from the left OUTPUT of the TV to the white INPUT of the DVD/VCR. If your TV is not in stereo, just connect up the white cable for mono audio.
If your TV set does NOT have audio/video OUTPUTS, then you will still need another set of audio/video cables and connect the yellow cable from the video OUTPUT of the cable box to the yellow video INPUT of the DVD/VCR and connect either the red or white (or both if possible) to the red or white audio INPUTS of the DVD/VCR.
You need two sets of cables because you want to watch DVD's & tapes on your TV (Path #1) and you want to record the TV channel shows back to your DVD/VCR (Path #2).
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.
Usually when a tape starts to play automatically this means that the tab on the back of tape has been removed to stop others recording over it check the tab little black tab in a recess on back edge of tape if this is missing you can put a bit of sellotape over the whole to blank it off this will tell the video tape is ok to record on. However if the tab is still in place the try putting a small bit of tape over it also to raise the clearence slightly then put back in video and try to record if this still dont work then the mechanism that detects the tab has failed these can be replace but usuall parts are hard to come by now as they no longer make vcrs any more but let me know ok i can assist you further just check tabs in place even try raising it with a bit of card stuck over tab with tape this might make the tab switch work if it has wonr down abit let me know ok. As you look form back of tape the tab is bottom left hand corner check its flush with the tape if not use sellotape to repair let me know the outcome ok
The deck needs a good cleaning. Try using a brand new tape and run it on playback for 20 min or so. You could try using a cleaning tape, but many of them are abrasive. If this doesn't work, you need a deck re-alignment which will cost more than your set is worth.
Based on your post/description, you need to get a multi-system TV to go with your multi system VCR if you are going to playback VHS tapes from different regions.
You are quite correct "Plays NTSC tapes to NTSC,
Will not Play Pal to NTSC" to play PAL (even Secam) you would need a PAL/Secam TV. They have a different system for color and audio. In some cases, you can still play PAL but you get it in black & white and picture squeezed from top & bottom.
Hope this be of some help to you. Good luck and kind regards.
First check how good / bad are your recordings.
Take a current / recent recording done after this problem cropped up, and play it back on another VCR - maybe a friend's.
If the recording plays back badly- showing the symptoms you described, then the problem is still dirty or worn out Video Heads.
If the Recording plays back perfectly on the friend's machine, but plays back badly on your machine, I still suggest that you try cleaning the Heads one more time, and if the problem is not resolved, it is time to trash the VCR.
One last question, you say that you have reset the channels. Are the reception channels' images clear?
I may be able to give some more suggestions, based on this response.