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Even with the TV in the wrong mode, you should be able to see some channels lower than 12. Try that first and report here what you see. If you can get a few in that range (2-12) but nothing else, then the TV is in broadcast mode not cable. You will need to change it to cable mode to get the remaining channels. You should be able to locate a universal remote for $5 or so that will allow you to get into the menus.
check for a resistor rated around 220kohms somewhere around the flyback area. i have never worked on this model tv before so i cant give you an exact part number on the board but had the same problem with sharp tvs
Check the tuner input mode it has (air, cable,hrc,irc) with new stations updating to HDTV the demodulation at the tv sometimes looses the color burst sync. I have seen this with more and more tv's with pip tuners , it resets to the default of air ( rabbit ears ) at 75ohms and the low band snow, when you go to the high band (56+) it finds the color sync and resets the vestigial sideband offset, it happens more often if the SAP or CC is also trying to aquire the proper offset. good luck.
before putting unit into the service mode, check that customer adjustments are in the normal mode. use the reset function in the video adjust menu to ensure customer controls are in thier proper(reset)position.
2.service number selection
once in the service mode, press the channel up or channel down button on the remote transmitter or at the set . the service adjustment number will vary in increments of one,from "S01"~"S19" to "M05". select the item you wish to adjust.
3.data number selection
press the volume up or down button to adjust the data number.
to enter the service mode.
while pressing the vol-up and ch-up buttons at once, plug the ac cord into the wall socket and switch on the main power. now the TV set is switched on and enters the service mode. to exit the service mode, shut the television off by pressing the power button.
*The brightness control setting determines how bright your picture will be.
*The contrast control sets the gain of the video circuit. This determines the difference between dark and light scenes. Low contrast settings make the picture "hazy". High contrast settings make the picture more distinction between dark and light scenes.
*The sharpness control determine the frequency
response of the video circiut. High sharpness settings give better resolution but also shows
more noise in your picture. Lower sharpness settings smoothe out the picture removing noise but also fine detail. It needs to be set for the best all around picture.
*Picture Enhancement is pre-set adjustments which give you
different picture qualities. You just select the one you like.
You got the right idea,use the ext.imput on you tv and use the vcr to change the channels,you can check the solder conections in the tuner ,ussually the ground gets loose after a while but if you are not too familiar with tv service and dont want put any money in this set use your vcr.If the quality of the picture is still good then is worth keeping it.Let Us know if you need more information.
I think the solution to your problem is adjustment, not of the brightness but either the `contrast' which is probably too high, or the `sharpening' if your set has this function.
Too much sharpness will cause a shimmering effect, especially where you see an edge between colours.(due to ringing at a very high video frequency).
Too much contrast can start to turn the video signal upside down, causing noise on the peak white in the picture.
Another cause is if the RF signal into the aerial socket is too large,
This can be corrected by an attenuator, costing about £2.
6dB or 10dB can be tried.