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Issue Getting VHS onto Media Center PC

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,485
216
106
Hello All,

Short version. Whenever I try to have the PC view a video playing on the VHS player, all I see is snow.

The story: A bit late to the Media Center (MC) fun, but got an older Dell XPS One (Windows Vista) and gave it to my parents for recording their favorite shows. My mother mentioned having old family videos they would like to have on DVD. Since the Dell has a TV tuner, I did some experimenting with this.

I plugged the Coax cable from the VCR output to the Tuner card. I pulled up the channel on MC, and all I get is snow. So I looked around and tried http://www.virtualdub.org/. I selected the tuner card, and all I get is snow, EXCEPT when I am first plugging the cable into the VCR. I see the video for a split second. So I plugged the VCR into another TV, and the same video plays perfectly fine. The cable I used plays TV through MC perfectly fine.

So I am not quite sure what the problem is. Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

SOFTengCOMPelec

Platinum Member
May 9, 2013
2,415
73
91
Can you plug it more directly into the tuner card by using s-video or composite ?

Does it need fine tuning (or turning on or off the AFC, automatic frequency control in the MC, if available), to the exact channel number (would be around 36 in the UK) ?

In a worst case scenario, there is usually a tiny screw adjustment, near the coax cable out of the VCR, which lets you change the exact output channel frequency (best left alone).

You might be able to turn on a test signal, on the VCR, which may help tune it in. It would typically show black and white vertical rectangles.

I've NOT dealt with tuner cards in a very long time (10+ years), so take the above advice with a pinch of salt.
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,485
216
106
Unfortunately, the built-in tuner card is very limited in its connection options. We had a short visit this time, so I will do some more looking and try it again next time.

Appreciate the input.
 

SOFTengCOMPelec

Platinum Member
May 9, 2013
2,415
73
91
Unfortunately, the built-in tuner card is very limited in its connection options. We had a short visit this time, so I will do some more looking and try it again next time.

Appreciate the input.
Also, hopefully you did try the "manual tune" option (if applicable), rather than just flip through pre-programmed ones, which may not have included the channel that your video was on.

The fact that you saw a brief flash of it working (when first plugged in), is a very good sign. It's as if the tuning is just a bit (or more) out.
 

Ketchup

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
14,485
216
106
Also, hopefully you did try the "manual tune" option (if applicable), rather than just flip through pre-programmed ones, which may not have included the channel that your video was on.

The fact that you saw a brief flash of it working (when first plugged in), is a very good sign. It's as if the tuning is just a bit (or more) out.
Yeah, I didn't spend too long with Media Center, as I would have been surprised if it works. I was a bit surprised when virtualdub didn't work, as it allowed my to select the video that was coming into the tuner card.

I did take another look at the back of the PC, and there is an s-video, and what appeared to be a 3.5 mm audio in (I will have to find the manual again to make sure). So I am wondering if a cable like this may work:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/eforcity-15-ft-4-6-m-s-video-3-5mm-audio-to-3-rca-composite-av-cable-compatible-with-laptop-tv-black/1307195055.p?id=mp1307195055&skuId=1307195055

If the connections are correct, I am going to see if a store nearby has it in stock, for easy return if it does not.
 

SOFTengCOMPelec

Platinum Member
May 9, 2013
2,415
73
91
If your not 100% sure, about the connections. You can get (I have at least one of these, they use to be sold by many places, a while ago) a set of highly versatile leads, which includes converter plug ends. So you can connect to just about any vcr/tv/computer (NOT including specialized computer connectors, specific to that model of laptop etc. I.e. Proprietary connectors), within reason.
They certainly use to be rather cheap (like $9.99 for the entire kit, in a nice plastic pouch). Presumably you can still get them.

Direct connection (especially via S-video), will give you the best quality and NOT need to be tuned in at all. Going through the coax (Arial) connections, distorts the image, a bit, and limits its bandwidth.
Vcrs are not especially great quality anyway, so it does not matter that much.

Don't take the image, I'm showing below, too literally. But it shows a typical (UK) kit. You may need a different one in the US. It is to give you an idea. It saves panicking over exactly what lead(s) to buy, and does not necessarily cost any more. In my case it was a similar price to buying a single set of leads (i.e. 2 or 3 fully priced leads in a shop), give or take a smallish amount.



But because such equipment, is becoming obsolete. Feel free to just buy the leads, but take care. It is VERY easy to buy the wrong one(s).
 
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