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Re: pictures distorted play/record mode
Run the diagnostic software by unplugging the unit. Hold the Play while reinserting the power cord. Continue holding the Play until the diagnostic program is displays NUC XXXX where XXXX is a series of numbers. Once the diagnostics is finished it will pass or fail. To return to normal operation unplug the unit and reinsert the power cord after 15 seconds or so.
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Check all your connections and configuration between decoder to DVR and TV. I find it is more practical to use the DMI connectors for this purpose. Between my LG TV, LG DVR, LG Blue Ray Player and Decoder I use 3 DMI connector cables. Ideal for me because my TV has 3 DMI points, I just connect each of 3 items to TV via a DMI cable. Now connect decoder to DVR via video-audio cable (red-white-blue). This setup allows each unit to be used individually (i.e. tv viewing, recording, blue ray playing and when recording live TV the TV can be switched off while recording. Just remember to select the appropriate DMI connected unit on your TV remote (on "input" button).
You can try this: Connect your DirecTv to VCR with Red/White/Yellow cables. Then the VCR to your TV with the same type of cables. Make sure the VCR is set to the video input, not the tuner. Turn your TV to the correct video input. Get the program ready on the DVR as if you were going to watch it. Press record on the VCR and then play on the DVR. At the end of the program, press stop on both. You may have a problem with the video recording properly. Some stations broadcast with copyright protection.
What brand of DVD recorder? On my Panasonic, I use RCA cables to connect my camcorder to the yellow and white inputs on the front of the DVR. I have to press "input select" on the remote a few times until I get to L2, I think. This is a "line in" sort of setting and it directs the DVR to get its input from the RCA-style cables. Have your camcorder playing something you've recorded in its Video mode. If your TV is on the correct input (mine is called "Video 2", I think), you should see the camcorder image on your TV screen. Now, just rewind to the beginning of your camcorder tape. Insert a DVD-R disk (that's what mine takes) in your DVR. Hit Play on your camcorder and quickly press REC on the DVR remote. Let me know if this doesn't work.
leave coaxcil cable on dvr ;unplug the colored wires from the dvr output and plug them into the output of the recorder;plug a second set of colored wires into output of dvr and into input of recorder;be sure to set recorder input to proper setting on recorder (input one or two) now you should be able to record what your dvr plays or just use it as a dvd player ; you will need to have all three on to watch tv though.
When I hooked up my HD cable box using an HDMI cable, I had to go into the cable screen menus and select HDMI output. You may have to do something similar when using an S-video cable. Your DVD recorder doesn't seem to have an HDMI input, so you'll have to use the S-video or (worst case) composite video (red, white, yellow cords). Your cable box may also be scrambling the signal so that you can't record. That may be why you can record by bypassing the cable box.