Q. How do you connect a VCR to a high-definition television to view VHS cassettes?
— Jack Calvé, of Granite City
A. If the back of your television looks anything like my 60-inch Panasonic, the task may seem intimidating.
You probably see a mind-numbing array of input ports that take various kinds of cables. On my own set, I have enough ports to hook up eight different electronic gizmos at the same time, including DVD players, satellite dishes and a computer.
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It’s enough to make you wish for an old 19-inch black-and-white, where the most complicated buttons were the vertical and horizontal hold controls (and you didn’t even need those when you watched “The Outer Limits”). Well, I’m here to tell you that if your set is like mine, you can be watching your old cassettes in no time because the connections are almost exactly like your old analog set. Here’s what you do:
Find or buy yourself an inexpensive set of RCA plugs with three connectors on each end. Generally, these connectors are yellow, red and white. They come in various lengths, so buy a set long enough to do the job without having several feet just dangling around.
On the front or back of your VCR (sometimes both) you’ll find video and audio input and output ports. Insert the yellow plug into the video output, the red plug into the left audio output and the white plug into the right audio output.
You’re almost half-finished already. On either the front or back of your TV, you should see a series of similar input ports. (Mine are underneath a port called “s-video.” More on that in a minute.) Again, insert the remaining yellow plug into the video input, the red plug into the left audio input and the white plug into the right audio input. Now, you’re ready.
Turn on your TV. On your remote, you should have a button to control what input you want to see. Mine says “TV/Video.” If I press it, a menu pops up on my screen that lists nine possible inputs (including the TV). By pressing my up and down keys, I can make my way through the list until I find the one I’ve labeled VCR1. Now, I’m all set to fire up the VCR. Right now, in fact, I have a DVR and two old VCRs hooked to my TV. (Don’t ask me why.) That’s all there is to it. Sit back and enjoy.
A few helpful hints: After hooking up all the plugs, you might want to immediately pop in a VHS cassette and start playing it before turning on the TV. This will make finding the right input easier as you navigate your way up and down that menu on the screen for the first time.
Remember, the picture you’ll see will be substantially inferior to what you’ve become used to because of the nature of the VCR’s analog output. The picture also likely will show up in the old 4:3 aspect ratio with large, black boxes on each side. However, again if your set is like mine, your remote will have an “Aspect” button that you can press to fill the screen in various ways depending on your taste.
This may be getting too complicated for you so feel free to ignore it, but if your VCR has an S-video port, you might consider using it for slightly better picture quality. If you do it this way, go to an electronics store and ask for a cable with S-video plugs on each end; plug one into the VCR output and the other into the TV input. Then, you need only red and white RCA plugs for the audio. (When all else fails, show the store clerk this column and let him figure out what you need.)
Remember, too, that you will not be able to record shows from your TV. Your VCR would need a digital tuner (which I’m sure it doesn’t have) or you’d have to hook up a digital converter to it, which is really complicated. If you want to save your shows to disc, I recommend a DVR (digital video recorder) instead. I have one and I love it (when I remember to program it, of course).
Legends return: Speaking of programming your DVR, you might want to do that next week when KETC-TV rebroadcasts “The Legend of Stan the Man Musial” at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Narrated by the late Hall of Fame Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck, the program will look at Musial’s early life in Donora, Pa., meeting his beloved wife, Lillian, and making his way from the minors to the majors. Among those interviewed are author James Michener, broadcasters Harry Caray and Jay Randolph, baseball executive Branch Rickey and players Terry Moore and Enos Slaughter.
The show was broadcast only once in 1990, but the Musial family recently found the master copy and offered it to the Nine Network of Public Media for a re-airing. Channel 9 will repeat the show at 7 p.m. June 15.
Warning: Now that the IRS has been hacked again and at least 100,000 tax records stolen, scammers likely will be out in force, trying to convince you that they are from the tax agency and need your personal information to make sure that your information was not compromised.
Please remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request information. If you receive a suspicious letter, phone call, text or email, call 1-800-366-4484 or 1-800-829-1040 to verify and report it. For more information, go to www.treasury.gov/tigta/press/press_tigta-2015-01.htm
What motto was placed on the United States’ first copper penny?
Answer to Thursday’s trivia: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue with just three small ships. When he set out again on Sept. 24, 1493, he led a small navy of 17 ships and 1,200 men, including priests, farmers and soldiers to start colonizing the New World. They wound up starting La Isabela in what today is the Dominican Republic, but the settlement was short-lived. Before he died in 1506, he would make a third voyage in 1498 with six ships and a fourth in 1502 with just four. He died at a relatively young 54 after contracting what may have been Reiter’s syndrome from perhaps eating tainted food on his historic first voyage. After that, he suffered through 14 years of sometimes severe arthritis and other symptoms.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.