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I have Dish Network and a DVR and I do not know what I would do without it. I can record 2 shows at once and watch to 2 recorded programs while recording two shows. But getting to your problem... It sounds like the vcr cannot process the digital signal. You could try hooking up the vcr to the rca inputs from the cable box but you will only be able to record whatever channel the cable box is on. Any way you hook them up the programming of the vcr to change channels at different times for different programs probably won't work now. It sounds like Direct TV with two DVRs will solve your recording needs.
How to set the DVD Recorder+VCR’s RF output channel
Turn off the DVD Recorder+VCR, then press and hold
CH (v/V) on the front panel for about five
seconds to change the RF output channel (CH 03 or
CH 04). “RF 03” or “RF 04” appears on the front panel display.
Cable Service With Cable Box
If a cable box is required in your cable system, follow the
instructions shown below. This hookup permits both TV and
DVD Recorder+VCR operation.
To view or record a CATV channel:
1 Tune the TV to the correct video input channel.
2 Set the DVD Recorder+VCR to the output channel of the
cable box using the CH (v / V) or the 0-9 keys on your DVD
Recorder+VCR (e.g., CH3).
3 Select the channel you wish to view on the cable box.
Connect your Direct TV to the Ant. In connection on your VCR. When you want to watch TV, just tune the TV to channel 3 (or whatever channel the Receiver is set for). When you wish to record, set your VCR to that same channel and set your TV to the channel that your VCR outputs to. For simplicity sake, I would suggest setting both systems to channel 3 and just watching your program through the VCR. If you are still using an "off air" antenna, then connect that antenna to the ANT. IN connection on your Direct TV receiver and when you turn off the dish, it will pass the signal through just like the VCR would.
connect the yellow, white, and red cables from your cable box (output) to the (input 1) connector on the dvd recorder. Then connect the yellow, white, and red cables from your dvd recorder (output) to a (input) on your tv (make a note as to which input on the tv you use). then turn on your tv (set your tv by pressing input, line, or channel down from channel 2 until you see the input you connected your dvd recorder to). then power your dvd recorder on (you should see it on your tv screen), then change the input on your dvd recorder to input 1 (or which ever one you connected your cable box to). Then power on your cable box (now you should see your cable programming on your tv, passing through your dvd recorder). Now you should be all set to watch, and record what ever you want, (however most dvd recorders will not record copyrighted materal, their is a signal transmited ny the owner of the movie, or other content.)
Connect your TV to AV1 and you SAT/Cable Decoder to AV2. on the video select the AV2 channel and it will record whatever is connected to AV2. The AV channel selected it is the input the one not selected is the output. Some PPV Movie channels are copy protected with some service providers. But most channels are recordable. The aerial lead coming in your house connects to the SAT/Cable Decoder 1st, then connect the output socket on that to the Video/DVD then the output on that to the TV. As long as the leads you use have different ends on you CANNOT plug them into the wrong socket. As the the aerial passes through each device, the device adds its own RF channel to the feed, so you should be able to tune both a SAT/Cable and a Video/DVD channel onto the TV set aside from using AV/Scart.
If your plan is to copy a VHS movie to a blank VHS tape, the connections would require a 3 wire RCA connector/cable. The unit where the original movie will be played will be the player. Connect the yellow video RCA cable to the VIDEO OUT, the red & white to the AUDIO L/R OUT. On the 2nd unit designated as recorder, slip in the blank VHS tape. Connect the other end of the RCA 3 wire cable to yellow VIDEO IN, the red & white to the AUDIO L/R IN. Connect the RF OUT of the 2nd unit (recorder to the ANT IN of a TV set. Set the TV to either Channel 3 or 4 as the case may be.
If the recorder has a manual selector or via remote, pls verify that it is set to Video and not tuner (or channels) input.
Press Record on the recorder (2nd unit), press play on the 1st unit (player). The TV will serve as monitor to your copying progress.
Hope that this be of some help/idea. Pls post back how things turned out or shoould you need additional information.
1) Obvious, but I assume that you subscribe to these services, because otherwise it could be the encryption.
2) Make sure that you have the set-top box connected directly to the TV, and not through an external recorder (VCR, DVD etc)
This would be a problem if the services were copy protected in the same way DVDs are.
You could also check the settings on the set-topbox. Make sure the video output is set to RGB.