Reception Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Tips on learning to program a VCR

There are six ways to learn how to program your VCR.
  1. Read the manual.
  2. Ask someone who knows how, a large percentage of the population does.
  3. Read and follow the on screen menus.
  4. Play around with the VCR and try to figure it out.
  5. Read this and other web sites
  6. Some combination of the above.
The point is that with so many resources there is little excuse for not learning how.

When learning anything it is important to practice, hands on experience, experiment. So practice by recording a minute of any program. Your first few recordings should not be an hour long recordings of something you just have to see. They should be one minute recordings just for practice. Set the VCR to go on a couple of minutes from the time you are programing it and off one minute after that. Make sure you know what you are doing before you do anything important.

After you have mastered recording one program, set the VCR to record a minute of one channel and then a minute later to record a minute of another channel. You may never actually program the VCR to do two timed recordings, but when learning anything it is often a good idea to learn things in a little more depth than you actually plan to use them. This is an interesting way to practice the basics.

You also might want to time yourself, make it a race, by the time you get fast you will know it. I find I can go through all the steps to program a VCR in less than a minute.

Directions for programing a Magnavox VCR

These directions may or may not generalize to other machines. I suspect that many VCR are very similar to this, and much of it would generalize.
  1. First turn on the TV and turn to channel 3 or 4. There is a switch on the VCR which allows you to use either 3 or 4 as the channel that you program on.
  2. Turn on the VCR and put the VCR in VCR mode. You push a button on the remote which I believe is marked VCR/TV or vice versa. Lighted letters which spell VCR should appear just above the channel number on the front of the VCR.
  3. Press the menus button on the remote. A blue screen with a menu on it should appear on the TV screen.
  4. Press 1 on your remote for program, another menu should appear. This menu will give you the options of normal, daily, and weekly programing. Daily means Monday through Friday.
  5. Press 1 for normal, another menu will appear. This menu asks you to choose a number 1 through 8. This is so you can set up eight different programs. Number one could be a program at 6 o'clock, 2 another program at 8 o'clock and so on. For simplicity just press one.
  6. The next menu will ask for a channel number, so put in the channel number.
  7. Next you will have to input the start time, including AM or PM. AM=1, PM=2.
  8. Next you will have to input the time the program ends.
  9. Then you need to input the recording speed. Normally you will want to record programs of less than to hours at the fastest speed because that will provide you with the best quality.
  10. Finally you must input the date you want the program recorded. The default is today. If you want to record something latter on the same day, you can push menu and the programing is finished.
  11. Finally the menu will prompt you to turn off the VCR. The VCR will turn itself on at the proper time and record the program.

Why so difficult?

One of the reasons people find programing a VCR difficult is that you have to give the VCR a fair amount of information. Of course the clock has to be properly set so the VCR knows what time it is and can turn the machine on at the proper time. But even after that is done you need to give the VCR quite a bit of information every time you record a program.

You will need to tell the machine

  1. The channel
  2. The day of the program
  3. The time to start and end, including hour and minute
  4. AM or PM
  5. Which of the three speeds to record at.

So there is a lot of things you have to tell your VCR. As you are dealing with a machine you will need to tell it 05 rather than 5 for five o'clock.

In the future I will be searching the net for good links. I did find one, but can not find it again. Finding these links will be worth while because I am having trouble doing it. What I get are jokes and other stuff that does not answer the question. Of course I have not answered the question either but I am just getting started.

I would like to say a bit to encourage you to learn how to program a VCR. The majority of households get basic cable, and a large minority get at least one pay channel. Basic Cable tends to cost about 30 dollars a month, close to 400 dollars a year, 4 thousand dollars a decade, it adds up. Learning to program you VCR takes a few minutes, one time cost, yet it opens up vast vistas of programing. The 24 hours of the TV schedule open up to you. By using your VCR you can gain greater control over what you watch and when. You, not the programmer, are in charge.

One difficulty with programing your VCR is that all those new opportunities may tempt you to view more, and TV can be a waste of time. Programing your VCR only gives you more control, if you control yourself. But programing your VCR can even help here. For example, you might decide to avoid watching programs live unless they are sporting events or news. If we only watched what we decided to watch 24 hours before hand, we might better manage our TV viewing.

There is a big movement to give up TV. Some people give TV up for a week. Catholics are supposed to give up something or choose some penance on Friday's outside of lent. Giving up TV might be a good choice, you could even record any program that you thought important for later viewing.

Here is my contact information.

Reception Index

Last Updated November 8, 2004

On Site Reception Pages

Reception Index

Perhaps the largest collection of tips on the Internet for home AM radio reception.

Original tips and links for middle wave or AM Radio reception

Links for AM reception in cars, trucks, autos

A page of links and tips on FM radio reception tips

Timed radio recording

Answers to questions on AM radio reception

Tips for improving UHF TV reception

Religious Index Page

Secular Index Page