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TV Connectivity Help

This page provides general help for you if you’re having problems connecting your Sky, Virgin, BT Vision or Freeview set-top box to your TV set and video/DVD recorder.

 

First: Try our interactive Setup advisor

The information below, together with our setup advisor should provide general help and advice on getting your TV setup connected. If you need more detailed help, please ask in our forum

What’s a co-ax? Co-ax plugA co-ax plug is the kind you’d expect to find on the end of the wire that comes from your TV aerial. For a selection of co-ax leads, converters and extensions, go to the Maplin website.
What’s a SCART? SCART plugA SCART socket is something you’ll find on most TV sets, video recorders, DVD players and games consoles. They are rectangular connectors with 21 pins, and they carry audio, video, switching commands and an earth.

If you have a lot of video connectors, you may need a SCART switch box, to handle multiple SCART sockets. For a selection of SCART leads and switchers, go to the Maplin website, or see our SCART Switch Box section.

What’s the difference between SCART and Co-ax outputs? Set-top boxes can have two different types of output – SCART sockets and RF/UHF/Co-ax sockets, and there are important differences:

  • SCART: Connecting a set-top box to a TV or recorder using SCART is the preferred route, as u sing SCART gives you better picture quality, widescreen switching and stereo audio from your set-top box. When connected using SCART, the feed from the set-top box doesn’t appear on a TV channel, instead it comes in via the TV or recorder’s AV or Line-In feed.
  • RF/Co-ax: Most set-top boxes have a coax output socket. On many boxes, the co-ax output is just a ‘loopthrough’ which is used to route the aerial feed through the box so that it can be used by a TV or recorder. On some boxes, however, the co-ax output is modulated, which means that when connected to a TV set or recorder, you can tune one of your TV / recorder presets into the channel that the video or set-top box ‘modulates‘ on. Each ordinary TV signal (BBC1, BBC2, etc) is on a dedicated channel (a number between 21 and 68), and you need to tune your TV preset buttons into each channel. If a set-top box or video has a modulated co-ax output, it’s capable of generating its own channel (between 21 and 68), which you have to tune a TV preset into.

    With an RF co-ax connection, picture quality is worse than SCART, and you won’t get stereo sound from your set-top box

What’s an HDMI connector? HDMI plugHDMI stands for “High Definition Media Interface”. This is the connector used to connect most high-definition equipment (such as the Sky+HD , Virgin V+ or BT Vision box) to a hi-def TV set.

If you’re looking for an HDMI cable or converter, try TV Cables or Maplin Electronics. Also, see our HDMI Connector page.

My TV doesn’t have a SCART socket! Most DVD players, video recorders, games consoles and set-top-boxes send their outputs via a SCART socket. So, what do you do if your TV doesn’t have a SCART socket? You have the following options:

  1. You can look for equipment that has an RF modulated output (see our Freeview boxes page for suitable boxes) – this will allow you to use a standard aerial cable to plug into your existing TV co-ax socket. Once connected, you can then tune one of spare channels on your TV into the channel being used (i.e. ‘modulated’) by the Freeview box, in the same way as you would tune in an ordinary TV signal.

    Icecrypt T5000We recommend the Icecrypt T5000 from Amazon.co.uk or Play.com

  2. Connect via something that does support SCART – For example, if you have a video recorder that has a SCART socket, you can connect the equipment into your recorder’s video SCART, switch the recorder to SCART input, and watch on the TV’s video channel.
  3. UHF ModulatorYou can make use of something called a UHF modulator – a box that converts SCART signals to a signal that can connect into your TV’s “aerial in” socket. Plug a SCART socket in one end of the box, and a flylead to your TV in the other, and all should be well. You then tune your TV into the channel that the UHF modulator generates. We use a Universal Modulator (Code VH89W) from Maplin Electronics with excellent results. There’s also one at TVcables.

For more help on connecting to a TV without a SCART, see our TV with no SCART advice page

TV with built-in Freeview A question we’re asked quite often – If you have a TV that has a built-in Freeview receiver, can you still use a set-top box, such as one needed with Freesat, Sky Digital or cable TV?

Yes you can – Even though a TV set has a built-in digital TV receiver, it’s still very straightforward to connect a set-top box to your TV to watch another service.

Line In iconTypically, you’ll connect from your set-top box’s SCART socket into a spare SCART socket on your TV, then switch the TV to the appropriate Line In / AV feed on your TV (typically the button on your TV remote looks like the one pictured to the right. If you’re having a problem getting your TV to tune in to your set-top box, see our FAQ entry.

If you’re looking for information on the digital TV options available to you, see our Going Digital page.

 

I can’t tune my TV or recorder into my set-top box Firstly, you need to understand how you’re connecting your set-top box to the TV or recorder. You’ll either be using SCART or by co-ax aerial cable.

  • Line In iconIf using SCART, it should be a case of switching your TV or recorder to the appropriate AV / Line-in feed (for example, if the set-top box is connected to the SCART socket labeled Av1, then you need to tune in to the Av1 Line In). The remote control on the TV/recorder may have an icon like the one to the right. If in doubt, refer to the manual for details of how to select the AV / Aux / Line-in feed on your TV/recorder.
  • If using co-ax aerial cable, your set-top box must have a modulated output. If it does, it should be a case of setting the set-top box modulator on and setting an RF number (in the range 21-68). Then, on a TV or recorder that has a co-ax cable connection to the set-top box aerial (RF) output, tune a spare channel on the TV (or video) into the channel that the box is modulating on – for example, set a set-top box to channel 35, then on a connected TV, tune in the Channel 6 button to RF channel 35. Note that the range 21-68 contains a lot of TV channels and you need to pick one that’s free.

For more on this topic, see our answer in our Recording Freeview FAQ section.

I’m having problems connecting my set-top box

Connection help: Try our interactive Connection advisor

If you’re looking to connect your Freeview, BT Vision, Virgin Cable or Sky Digital set-top box into your TV, here’s what you need to do:

  • Unplug the aerial lead (the one that runs to your aerial) from the back of your TV or recorder
  • Plug it into the input aerial socket on the set-top box.
  • You’ll now need to connect the output from the set-top box into your TV set – if your set-top box has a SCART socket, plug a SCART lead into this and connect it to your TV’s SCART input. If your TV doesn’t have a SCART socket, and your set-top box has a co-ax aerial socket, then you can plug this into your TV’s aerial socket. This causes the TV to “loop through” the set-top box, meaning you can watch normal TV even with the set-top box switched off.
  • If you want to connect via a video/DVD recorder, follow the same basic procedure, but go from the aerial to the set-top-box, then from the set-top-box to the recorder input, then from the recorder to the TV set.

How to connect

Some things to remember:

  1. Not all set-top boxes have an ‘RF’ output (a co-ax cable socket), some only have SCART. You can get converters (see above). For a list of which Freeview set-top boxes have RF outputs, see our Freeview page
  2. Signals routed through a SCART lead normally come up on a TV or video recorder’s “AV”, “Ext” or “Line in” channel – they don’t appear on a standard tune-able channel.
  3. A set-top box or video recorder that you connect through an RF/co-ax aerial lead normally needs to be tuned in to a channel on your TV. You have to be careful not to tune your set into a channel that’s being used for something else. More details on interference as a result of a wrongly-tuned set-top box.

SCART switchIf you’re running out of SCART sockets, consider a splitter or switch box (pictured)… see our SCART Switcher section for more details.

Can’t watch terrestrial? If you find that, since connecting your set-top box, you can no longer view the terrestrial channels on your TV (channels 1 to 5), then you’ve probably forgotten to connect an aerial lead to your TV set. Normally, you would need to connect an aerial lead from the RF output of your set-top box, as the box loops the TV aerial feed through the box and on to a TV set. Another option is to use an splitter (available from Maplin) to split your incoming TV aerial feed so that it can feed your set-top box as well as other equipment such as a TV or video recorder.
Box generating interference When using a set-top box or a video, it’s not uncommon to find that when it’s switched on, you lose one or more of the channels that you have tuned in on standard TV. A common example would be switching on the video causes you to lose channel 5, or turning on a set-top box means you can’t see the video. This means that your video or set-top box is ‘modulating’ on the same channel number as another channel, and the clash generates interference. This was common with video recorders when Channel 5 started… many video recorders had to be retuned from channel 37, so channel 5 didn’t interfere with the video signal and vice-versa.

If you are experiencing interference because of this, you’ll need to change the channel that the box broadcasts on. You’ll find details of how to do this in the manual (look for RF modulated output channel, or UHF channel – something like that).

Note that this is only a problem if you’re trying to watch via standard TV channels, as opposed to the SCART (which doesn’t use a TV channel). If you try the following, you should see the benefit of SCART.

  1. Switch your TV to line input (the AV switch – Av2 perhaps?). Play a video to make sure you can see the video recorder on the AV channel.
  2. Stop the tape, and change the video input (as if you’re recording a certain channel) into Av2. Your video should now be looking for a signal from the Freeview box. As your video is tuned into Freeview, and your TV can see the video output, you should see Freeview without any interference.
No sound, but video’s fine Most commonly this is caused by a loose SCART plug – the audio pins on a SCART plug are at one end of the SCART connector, and if the plug isn’t in perfectly straight, the audio can get disconnected, but the video doesn’t. Try reconnecting the SCART plug (at both ends) ensuring that the connectors are in correctly and are straight. It’s also worth trying a different SCART cable in case the pins are damaged.

More on our Freeview Help page

No video, but the sound’s fine If you’ve had a connection via SCART, and your sound is working, but there’s a problem with the picture, there are a couple of things it could be:

  1. Leads: You may have a damaged SCART lead. If one of the pins is damaged, or the SCART plug isn’t in correctly, you can lose the video.
  2. Formats: It could be a mismatch in the video formats. Equipment can output video pictures in different formats, and if two bits of equipment don’t talk in the same format, you can get problems.
    Let’s assume you’re having problems getting good video pictures when connecting a set-top box to a DVD recorder. You need to check what format the set-top box is outputting (RGB , Composite/PAL or S-Video), and make sure the Video In setting on the DVD recorder is set to the same format. You can normally find the Video Output and Line Input settings buried in your onscreen setup, configuration or picture menu. You may need to refer to the manual if you’re not sure of how to do this.
Feeding to other rooms It’s possible to feed the output of your set-top box to other rooms. For more on this subject, see our TV in other rooms section.

  • If your box has a modulated output, you can connect the output to your TV and to other sets.
  • If you don’t have a modulated output, you may need to buy a modulator , or go via your video recorder (which has a modulator).

You may need to add a splitter/booster/amplifier, to ensure the signal is strong enough to be distributed. These small boxes are mains-powered devices that you plug your TV download into, and then can connect to one or more TV. Check out the Labgear 2 Set. or Labgear 4 Set. boxes, depending on how many TVs you want to connect to.

Boosters and splitters are available from both Argos and Maplin.

  • Another option worth considering, is a new system called Milestone, from Bluedelta. This supports running video signals over CAT5 network wiring, offering combined video signals, a stable picture, and support for remote controls. More on this novel solution to in-house cabling at Bluedelta’s Milestone page
Too few SCART sockets If you’re trying something complex like trying to connect a DVD, Freeview set-top-box and a video recorder into a TV set with a single SCART socket, you may soon find you’ve run out of sockets – and what you’ll been needing is a SCART switch box.

The Bluedelta Smart-SCART. This allows you to connect four SCART leads to one TV… Unlike many of the SCART switchers on the market, this one is fully automatic – it detects which piece of equipment was just switched on, and makes the SCART socket live – a little red light indicates which SCART is active. There’s also a record loop – so you can get your video or DVD recorder to record from one source, whilst you watch another source.

Bluedelta's Smart-SCAR

The Smart-SCART comes with a mains adapter, and is available directly from the manufacturer Bluedelta, as well as from Maplin (£34.99 – cat number L08BJ)

Splitters, multi-way SCART sockets, SCART leads, adapters, boosters and other connectors are available from Maplin and Argos

Still having problems? Double-check the obvious:

  1. Set-top box switched on (not in standby)?
  2. SCART leads plugged in properly? A common one – remove and re-plug each SCART and make sure they’re firmly in. A SCART lopsided or only half in can result in blank screens or picture with no sound, etc
  3. Damaged SCART lead? – Check each SCART lead’s plug to make sure that none of the pins are bent
  4. Are you connecting things the wrong way? Check our Connection advisor
  5. Are you using the equipment wrongly? Refer to the appropriate manual to make sure you know how to switch to Line I, or to identify which socket does what

Still no joy?

Need more help? The information on this page, together with our Setup Advisor should provide general help and advice on getting your TV setup connected.

If you need more detailed help, or your connectivity problem is a complex one, please ask in our forum, where one of our regular contributors should be able to help – please provide as much detail as possible.

We often find it’s helpful to sketch out a plan of what you’re trying to achieve, so that it’s easier to work out what you want to connect to what. Below is an example of how we do it – the numbers represent the number of SCART sockets:

Connection flow

We regret that we cannot answer individual connectivity questions by email – please use our forum

If you need more detailed help, please ask in our forum, where one of our regular contributors should be able to help – provide as much detail as possible

4 Responses to "TV Connectivity Help"

  1. Ziggi Janiec Says:

    How can I check my internat speed is suitable for Youview to run without any hiccups, and how much signal loss will I expect in a cable run of say 20 metres.
    Would I be better off using the power unit system?

  2. Radio&Telly Says:

    There are several speed checkers out there, including http://www.speedtest.net. A direct cable run is generally a better option (speed-wise) than using a Powerline Adapter, but Powerline Adapters tend to be preferred as an alternative to running cables around a house.

  3. richard Says:

    Hello, I have an old TV with scart connectors and I like to think of a set up which allows my tablet to be used with the TV to watch you tube clips , I assume I need a sort of scart to WiFi adapter to pick up Tue signal or alternatively to look at these smart boxes and plug straight into the scart socket but heard models like view 21 are unreliable and cannot be used to watch you tube . thanks richard

  4. Frank Barton Says:

    Best cable to connect Sky TV to Optoma projector please?

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