Setting Up a rack of VHS decks for recording

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June 15, 2009 at 05:33:07
Specs: no OS needed
hello all:

i basically want to set up a VHS dub rack in my home. not sure if this is the right forum for that or not but from what i've briefly read on here, everyone seems so helpful so i thought i'd try. this is kind of long, but i appreciate your patience.

i think i have most of the details worked out, but i'd love to have someone check it over, and i'm looking for guidance on types/quality of coax cables, power supplies, shielding against interference with all the various cables, etc.

keep in mind, i'm aware that i'm talking about standard def analog cable and recording on VHS (and not DVD or DVR), but working within these limitations, i'd still like to maximize the picture quality of the recordings. i'm not concerned about the picture quality of monitoring off the decks, i just need to be able to quickly check and make sure that what i intended to record actually ended up on each tape.

this is what i'm proposing:

[1] coax coming through the wall (analog basic cable / no cable box)

[2] coax into an amplifier/splitter. i found one at Fry's for $45: Channel Master 3418. 1 x COAX IN / 4dB signal gain / 8 x COAX OUT is this one the best choice / good quality? it seems that the quality of the splitter is going to dictate the quality of my cable signal on my main TV as well as the quality of all the VHS recordings.

[3] from output #1, run COAX OUT of the splitter to my living room to get the cable signal to my main television.

[4] from output #2, run COAX OUT of the splitter to the COAX IN on a 2nd smaller TV to see cable directly on that TV (without running it through any of the decks).

[5] from outputs 3-8, run COAX OUT of the splitter to the COAX IN on 6 separate VCRs in a rack or shelving unit.

[6] each VCR has a built-in tuner & timer, so i can record any cable channel to any of the 6 decks.

[7] from each of the 6 VCRs, run composite RCA cables from the RCA OUT on each deck into a large A/B switch. i found one at Fry's for $30: Vanco AVS1 6 x inputs and 1 x output, all RCA

[8] from the output of the A/B switch, run RCA OUT to the RCA IN on the small TV.

if i do all of this i should be able to:

[A] watch cable in my living room and the only thing that the cable will run through will be the amplifier.

[B] watch cable on the 2nd smaller TV through its COAX IN jack, and the only thing the cable will run through will be the amplifier.

[C] record up to 6 different programs simultaneously on VHS decks at the best possible quality through the COAX IN on each deck, and the only thing the cable will run through will be the amplifier.

[D] monitor the output of any of the 6 VHS decks during or after recording, via the RCA OUT of each deck to the A/B switch, which then goes to the RCA IN on the small TV.

so far so good?

POWER: i'm going to need to plug in 6 VHS and 1 small TV and i'm guessing possibly the amplifier all in the same general vicinity? would i get UPS for this (i don't really know anything about UPS), and if so, how do i handle the 8 plugs? any suggestions on which unit to purchase? or just do it with 2 power strips with surge protection?

COAX CABLING: i already have two pieces of cable from the cable company, with a connector between them. i'm going to remove the connector and that's where the amplifier will go, so i don't need any coax to get to my main TV. and i already have another short piece i can use to go from the amplifier to the small TV. but i want to make sure that i use the best quality i can going from the amplifier to the 6 VHS decks. any suggestions? i don't know what all the different types are: RG-6, RG-59, etc, nickel connectors, gold connectors, different manufacturers, different lengths.

i assume i should keep the length on each of the 6 the shorter the better. i can probably use 6' for all of them.

RCA CABLING: i'll need 7 sets of RCA cables, 6 from decks to the A/B switch and 1 from the A/B switch to the small TV.

SHIELDING: is there slip-on foam shielding or insulation or something similar that i could or should use whenever i have cables near or actually touching each other? i don't know how i'm going to keep all those coax, RCA and power cables from touching each other, but i want to do whatever i need to in order to minimize interference, get the best picture and sound quality onto the VHS tapes, and not create a fire hazard.

AMPLIFIER / SPLITTER: does this need to be mounted onto something? i'm thinking that for the most stable arrangement so that nothing moves around, i should plan to mount the splitter to the side or back of the rack or shelving unit (haven't decided what to get yet - i need to see what's available inexpensively).

MISC: lots of cable ties and cable labels for each end of each cable.

thanks so much for reading this. i'm looking forward to everyone's input (no pun intended).

tammy a.

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June 15, 2009 at 20:57:43
Should work fine. Use good cables. You may need more gain
on the preamp 4db is only little more than 2x. Plan on replacing
the tape machines with DVD recorders. My system now has 3
dvd machines and 2 occasionally used tape machines. Heads
wear out. Also new tuners can do digital channels. Tapes are
getting more costly.

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