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The converter box receives hte digital signals and converts them into either channel 3 or 4, or into direct video (red,white,yel). The output of the converter box must go into the VCR input for recording to work. Before the conversion, the tuner of hte VCR would receive the RF signal the same as the TV. The tuner inside the VCR is an analog tuner not digital, so it needs the conversion too. Most converters will provide both the A/V signal (R/Wh/Y) and RF (coax connector).
Ok first I can save you some money. Take your "HDTV" antenna back. There is nothing different about the antennas needed receive analog and digital signals. If you got reception without your converter box, use the same antenna with your converter box.
Next let's see if there is a problem with the box. Hook up a television with the antenna. How many stations do you get? Now hook up the same television & antenna, but this time put the converter box between the antenna & the TV. Do not turn on the box. Now how many stations do you get? If the number is different, the box is not allowing the antenna signal to pass through. That is bad. You want your signal to pass through the box so you can still pick up stations that don't broadcast digitally. Some areas of the country will not be covered by digital stations from all major broadcasters when the changeover happens in Feb.
My suspicion is either you did not have the antenna hooked up to the converter box when you searched for channels OR you are in an area that is not yet broadcasting digitally.
I hope this helps you solve your problem. Thank you for using FixYa and feel free to add more questions here by using comments.
if you have the coax cable connections correctly connected , coax out to tv from box and antenna hooked to antenna in on the box then you may have to connect the RCA jacks, yellow = video , red = right audio , white = left or mono audio
because on these boxes you can choose in the menu to have the coax ( channel 3 or 4 ) as the output or the rca jacks ( line out )as the output . so the menu may be set for the rca jack connections untill you change it in the menu
Your TV is old enough to have not only screw terminals for the antenna, but it sounds like it has separate UHF and VHF terminals as well. Pick up a 75-ohm to 300-ohm adapter (available at Radio Shack and probably most other places that sell TV's and antennas). This is a small cylinder-shaped part with a threaded antenna connector on one end, and a flat wire with two terminals on the other end. Connect the cable from the converter box to the round connector, hook the two terminals to the VHF antenna screws on your TV, put the TV on channel 3 and you'll be set.
You should also pick up a new antenna designed to work with digital broadcasting. If you use the old rabbit ears you were using before, you will probably not pick up all the channels available in your area.