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  1. My technologically-challenged mother in law's VCR recently broke. She tapes her soap operas daily while she's at work, and has been strenuously resisting any attempt to bring her up to date with new equipment for nearly a decade now, and this leaves me in something of a pickle.

    I have a perfectly good spare DVD-R deck and a stack of discs to take the place of the old VCR. But I come to find out on inspection that her TV is not only analog, it doesn't even have the 2 or 3 RCA plugs in the back. Just a single coax jack. O_o She's been running the analog cable from the wall, to the VCR, then back into the TV through another coax. No digital cable box either, of course. *sigh*

    The DVD-R, of course, has HDMI and the usual slew of RCA connectors but no I/O coax jacks like the old VCR. Nor should it, the thing was made in the last 15 years... *double sigh*

    Anyway, does anybody have an idea what the cheapest possible solution to make it so this woman can record her soap operas using this perfectly good DVD-R box? As I said, she's clueless and highly stubborn and thus will likely curse me for my incompetence and go buy another VCR on Ebay if I tell her she needs a new TV.

    Relations with wife will suffer, couch sleeping potential will increase, etc.
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  2. Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fullerton, CA, USA
    Search Comp PM
    The DVD-R must have a coax input, or you're not going to be able to record anything she's receiving. But you're right, the coax output (if present) would only be an antenna pass-though -- it wouldn't carry the playback signal. So you're looking at at least an RF modulator to take the composite output of the DVD-R deck and put it on analog channel 3 or 4, and two position coax switch so she can watch the DVD-R deck or straight broadcast.

    But why are you fighting the customer? She wants the simplicity of a VCR. A DVD deck is not as simple to use because of finishing/not finishing a disc when removed and figuring out by eyeball if there's enough space left for one more recording. And you're adding a switch she doesn't have to deal with now.

    Why not let her have what she wants? The local Goodwill store is full of VCRs going for a pittance. Buy two or three in order to have a spare(s) to swap in when the next one goes casters up. If she doesn't want "new", she's not going to thank you for making her learn "new".
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  3. Originally Posted by jf998247 View Post
    The DVD-R, of course, has HDMI and the usual slew of RCA connectors but no I/O coax jacks like the old VCR. Nor should it, the thing was made in the last 15 years... *double sigh*

    Anyway, does anybody have an idea what the cheapest possible solution to make it so this woman can record her soap operas using this perfectly good DVD-R box?
    If the DVD recorder doesn't have an analog cable tuner it's going to be a big pain. You'll need an external tuner box on the input side, and an RF modulator on the output side. Programming will be a pain since your mother in law will have to program both the tuner (to switch to the right channel) and the DVD recorder (to record) for each recording. She'll also have to learn how to use the tuner box to change channels, rather than the TV. Give up now.
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  4. Member bendixG15's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
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    United States
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    prouton is giving you great advice ... give her what she wants .... good luck
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  5. Thanks to all for your replies. I've now got a good idea of the technical end of it, but prouton's advice to simply spend $7 and get her another VCR is probably what I'm going with.

    Perusing the manual on the DVD-R, it finally occurred to me that if it takes ME 15 minutes of study to get a good feel for features and operation, it would surely befuddle/terrify my mother in law and prompt her to simply not use the thing at all. Feel kind of silly for neglecting to consider that end of things.

    Thanks again guys.
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  6. Banned
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    Oct 2004
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    New York, US
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    I know that situation. Two years ago we finally bought my father-in-law a "simple" Panasonic HDTV after his 1976 SONY CRT died (that's right, folks, 1976!). And was still using a roof antenna -- could only pick up 3 channels and two colors (gray and purple). No special features, just a decent HDTV and basic cable service (the antenna had lost 7 of its 32 spikes).

    He still doesn't understand why he couldn't use channel 3 for his VCR, doesn't know what "channel" the DVD player is on, doesn't know what an"input source" is, keeps zooming the cable box picture until he can't read the floating weather broadcast banners at the bottom of the screen (which now floats below the bottom), keeps finding "extra wires" behind the tv that he keeps pulling out of their sockets (like, for instance, the audio from the cable box), and on, and on, and on......

    This is frightening: he's a retired aircraft maintenance mechanic. I'll never fly again.
    Last edited by sanlyn; 25th Mar 2014 at 02:04.
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  7. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
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    Oct 2001
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    Deep in the Heart of Texas
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    Going out on a limb...
    I would suggest a cable box (with you setting up Fav channels) that also incorporates a dvr, hooked via hdmi to a new tv. Then program both remotes to a universal (and lock out certain options) that allows relabeling. Or don't even get a tv, just get an hdmi monitor (with speakers).
    More expensive? Sure. But if you can give the quality and just remove most of the daunting options, it could still be workable.

    Actually, what about a Boxee box w/cablecard? Then, hack the GUI to only offer "old school" features...hmmm...somebody could get a good business going with that market...

    Scott
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