How to Hook Up a DVR With an Antenna

By Chris Moore

Updated September 28, 2017

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Most digital video recorders (DVRs) are designed to work specifically with TV sets hooked up to cable or satellite providers. It is possible, however, to hook up a DVR to a TV with just an antenna and record over-the-air TV stations. Keep in mind that not all DVRs may have the equipment needed to make this work. You will also need a digital TV to simplify things; a digital converter box will be an extra middleman that can interfere with your hookup.

Make sure your DVR has a built-in tuner; this will be necessary to change channels. A Tivo DVR has a built-in tuner, but DirecTV DVRs do not. The DVR also must have an RF coaxial input port.

Attach the antenna to the DVR's RF coaxial input port. Find an appropriate location to mount the antenna for the best reception. The higher you mount the antenna, the better; make sure the antenna is as far from other electronics as possible.

Connect the DVR's output to the TV set. Connect it to one of the TV's auxiliary video channels using either RCA composite (yellow, red and white) or component (red, green and blue video with red and white audio) cables. HDMI could also be an option.

Plug in and turn on all devices. Tune the TV to the input channel that matches the cable connection you used. Use the DVR's tuner to change channels.

Follow your DVR's instructions to record what is broadcasting presently, or preset it to record something in advance.