NOTE: Following the following instructions will probably render tech support useless.
ANOTHER NOTE: OK, so I lied. There's one thing you need that you may not have: a video card with an S-Video Out.

The following knowledge has been time-tested and is unbelievably stable (not!). If you follow the following instructions, you should be able to hook your TV up to your computer, and your VCR, too. There are many reasons you may want to do this, but the main ones are:

Now, this is all cool, except for one problem: the equipment. You don't want to go out and buy expensive converter thingies or giant boxes or anything. You want to do this with the common household technology that you already have (you cheapo, you!). There's nothing to fear, a solution is here! And here it is.

Stuff You'll Need:

  • Compatible External Speaker: To be compatible, the speaker must come from a set of two speakers in which one speaker plugs into the computer, and the other speaker into the first speaker. The compatible speaker is the one that plugs into the computer, if the other speaker can be disconnected from it, that is. After removing the second speaker, there should be an RCA Audio Out available on the compatible speaker.
  • Mono-to-Stereo Splitter: (optional) This splitter will take the audio from the speaker which is on one wire, and split it into two wires, a Left and a Right. This is an optional component. If you don't have this, then the sound will sound like it's all coming from one place, but that's OK.
  • Compatible PC: A compatible PC is any PC that is compatible with a compatible video card.
  • Compatible PC Monitor: Your PC monitor is probably compatible. To be compatible, it must be compatible with a compatible video card, and the screen resolution must not be too high for the television. Technically, if the system (by some miracle) works without any configuration, you won't need a monitor, but this is very unlikely.
  • RCA Cables: These cables are almost always black. The ends of the cables are either yellow, red, white, or black. They may come in a triplet with yellow, red, and black or white, or in a pair with red and black or white. The yellow cable is video, and the red, black, and white are audio. You can plug them into the wrong places and they will work, but you shouldn't.
  • S-Video Cable: An S-Video cable is what you probably use to plug your DVD or laserdisc player into your television, so you can use that cable for this.
  • Compatible Television: (optional) A compatible television will have an S-Video In for plugging a S-Video cable into it. You do not need a television if you only want to record things to a tape, and never to watch them on a television.
  • VCR: (optional) You won't be able to use a very old VCR, since these only support coaxial cable and not RCA cable, but your VCR should work. You do not need a VCR if you only plan to show stuff on the television, but never to record what is being shown onto a tape.
  • Compatible Video Card: A compatible video card is one that has an S-Video Out. This means that you can plug an S-Video cable into the back of the video card.
  • Video Tape: (optional) Preferably a blank video tape. You will be using this to record stuff onto. You do not need a video tape if you don't plan to record anything.

Now that you've gathered all the stuff (hopefully), you should seriously consider the following before going farther: What you are about to use the preceding materials for is totally what the manafacturers of the products you are using don't intend for their customers to do. It is unlikely that there will be any bodily harm to you or your equipment, but if there is, I'm not responsible. Also, as mentioned before, if it doesn't work, there is absolutely no way tech support will help you, because you're doing things all wrong.

NOTE: For the purposes of this writeup, it is assumed that you want to record things to a video tape and show them on a television.

Let's start by plugging the television into the computer. This is a pretty easy step. Take that S-Video cable and plug it into the S-Video Out on the back of your video card (it should be labeled). Plug it into the S-Video In of your TV (this should be labeled, too). Turn on your TV. You probably won't see anything. If you don't, then grab your video card instruction manual, and find out and do what you have to do on your computer to get this link to work. Then use your INPUT or TV/VIDEO button to switch to the S-Video input on your TV. When it works, it should look something like this:

*---------* |====|           |=============|
|   The   |_| -- |  S-Video  |    Exact    |
| Monitor | | PC |}---------{|   Copy of   | « The TV
*---------* |*** |   Cable   | The Monitor |
   /___\    |====|           |=============|

You're probably thinking, if it's this simple, why did he even warn me? Foo, it ain't done yet! Turn on the TV and play something. Hear any sound coming out of the TV? Didn't think so! This is where it gets complicated. We're going to have to get sound to the TV. But, since we're going to hook up a VCR, it will be pretty easy to do this through the VCR, so let's hook the VCR up. First, plug the VCR into the wall for power. Then, get a triplet RCA cable (yellow-red-black or white are triplets) and a single RCA cable. Plug the triplet into the corresponding RCA Outs on the VCR and Ins on the TV. It is absolutely essential that you plug the triplet RCA cable into the Video 1 inputs of the TV. Then plug the Monitor Video Out of the TV into the Video In of the VCR. It should look somewhat like this:

The VCR:                        The TV:
VIDEO OUT }--Yellow RCA Cable--{ VIDEO 1 IN
L AUDIO OUT }--White RCA cable--{ L AUDIO 1 IN
R AUDIO OUT }--Red RCA Cable--{ R AUDIO 1 IN

If you know how, you should be able to use coaxial cable, but I don't know if it will work for what we're trying to do, so stick to RCA. Now, turn on your VCR and put in a tape with something on it. Play the tape. Switch inputs using your INPUT or TV/VIDEO button until you see what's on the tape that's playing. This is the VCR's input, so remember it.

Now, for the sound. This is the outrageous part that absolutely should not work but still does. Plug the speaker into the Line Out or Speaker Out of your sound card. Plug an RCA cable into the place where the second speaker used to be plugged into this speaker. Plug the other end of the RCA cable into the Audio In of the VCR. If you have a Mono-to-Stereo splitter, plug the other end of the RCA cable into the Mono-to-Stereo splitter, and the Mono-to-Stereo splitter into the VCR's Audio Ins. It should look something like this if you don't have a Mono-to-Stereo splitter:

+--------+   ++++
|  CARD  |   |  |
+--------+   ====
Assuming your sound card and the speaker both work, you should now have video and sound in the S-Video input on your TV. As an added bonus, this strange setup allows you to control the volume of the TV using the volume knob on the speaker. But to record to a tape, a few steps remain: Insert the tape. Hit the RECORD button on the VCR. Play the movie file you want to record and/or show, using your media application, prefrerably in full-screen mode. Once you're done, hit STOP on the VCR, and your tape should be recorded.

Though may infer that I came up with this set up all by myself, I did not.
It could not have been done without the help of Mr. Josh Wood.
Thanks Mr. Wood!