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It seems to me that you have only got one set of RCA Cablec between the TV and VCR ( from VCR Video out to TV Video In), as such the VCR only works in playback mode, you need a second set of RCA cables (from TV Video Out to VCR Video In) then select the appropriate input (Video) for the VCR. make sure to follow the colour coding on the RCA plug / socket arrangement
RCA Universal Remote Control Programming Codes
The remote may already be set up to operate your brand of TV, VCR, or Cable Box. It is pre-programmed with following codes:
AUX is programmed with VCR code 037
Programming a Device using Code Search:
Manually turn ON your device (TV, VCR, Cable Box)
Press and "HOLD" CODE SEARCH
Press and release the device button you want to set up (TV, VCR, Cable Box) However, if you are using AUX for a device, press and release AUX first and then the device button for the type of device to be programmed (TV, VCR, or Cable). The selected device button will flash once.
Release CODE SEARCH.
Press OFF/ON repeatedly until the device turns off (you may have to press up to 100 times at a rate of once per second).
Once the device turns off, press and release ENTER.
With the device on, press any other button. If the device responds, no further programming is required. If the device does not respond, repeat steps 1-6.
Programming a device using the Code Lists:
Find codes for device and brand below.
Press and "HOLD" CODE SEARCH.
Press and release the TV, VCR or Cable button you want to set up. If programming AUX for a device, press and release AUX first and then the device to be programmed (TV, VCR or Cable). When the selected device button flashes proceed to the next step.
Enter the three digit code from the TV, VCR or Cable Box code lists.
Release CODE SEARCH.
With the device on, press another button, for example CHANNEL UP. If the device responds, no further programming is required. If the device does not respond, repeat steps 1-5 using another code number from the lists.
RCA Codes for VCR
RCA plugs (the yellow, red, and white outlets you speak of) consist of a video plug (yellow) and stereo plugs for audio (red and white). Just match the colors from the DVD RCA colors to the RCA hook-ups on the TV (ex. Yellow the Yellow, White to White).
You don't need to worry about the red one, it just makes the DVD player play stereo audio. Instead, you'll have mono, which is fine, and most modern players can detect mono and switch it for you so don't worry about changing settings and what not (unless you're missing sound on one side.)
I assume your plasma set has one or more auxillary (component) inputs, and to one of these is where you should hook in the VCR. You will have a video input jack, and a set of audio input jacks (probably 2 for stereo) for each of these aux. input sets.
While exact setups differ, depending on your cable box(es), DVD players, and whatever other equip., a likely hookup is from the VCR video & audio outputs to one set of the aux. inputs on the plasma set. When you want to use the VCR for playback, you must select that particular aux. input with the plasma remote.
Some of the hookups these days get complicated by all the equip. some have, but the above is at least a start.