Saturday, November 14, 2009

Upgraded TiVo

Our TiVo started skipping when I was out of town last week, so I ordered a new drive this week. I used, who I'd ordered an upgrade from in the past. They make it easy to add space or switch out your TiVo drive. Being a computer guy, I should be able to do it easily, and I've learned a few things.

One is that the firmware is onboard, not on the drive. When I put the new drive in, the OS noted on screen that it was formatting the new drive. So I wonder if a plain new SATA drive would work? A lot of places say not, but I wonder. I guess there could be a partition on the drive that has Linux, but I didn't want to mess with it and find out. It's a tool that works for me, so I'm happy to just buy a new drive. I bought a larger drive, a 750GB one fro $200. That compares with $70 from NewEgg for a very similar drive. Seems like a lot for someone to install stuff on there, but it's time I don't have, and a skill I don't need to develop.


It took a couple days for my drive to arrive, and Thur I decided to fix things, just in time for Thur night TV. I disconnected my TiVo, let it sit for about 20 minutes for capacitors to discharge, and then took everything downstairs.


The first thing I did was unpack the stuff from Weaknees and read the instructions. It was a simple drive replacement, though there was an addendum that my TiVo would need an adapter for the SATA drive I've gotten to get it back to IDE. OK, I thought and put the adapter (above on the drive). This turned out to be a mistake, so don't do this if you have a newer series 3 TiVo.


The TiVo case is held on with TORX screws, which are annoying. They don't easily come out and I cursed the engineers that designed this more than a few times as I tried to use the included TORX wrenches. They kept slipping, so I went out to my shop and found my own TORX screwdrivers. I removed 4 of the 5 (why 5?) screws, but the last one was stripped out from the DirecTV factory. The TORX edges are just too small. Fortunately I had another idea; back to the shop.


Yep, vice grips. The pulled the screw out and I threw that one away so I wouldn't put it back in. No point, and I'm not shipping the unit around, so I actually didn't put any screws in. Once I had the case off, I could see the insides.


I'm pointing to the hard drive here, a 5.25" SATA drive. That's why I didn't need the adapter. My motherboard has SATA built in. There isn't much else to see as most things are built into the motherboard, not like a normal PC. I went to unscrew the drive, and there was one screw visible on the motherboard.


I got that one out, but then couldn't get the drive loose. Nothing below, so as I suspected, they were in front. I had to pull the front down, which is held on with about 10 tabs. It was a challenge getting them all loose and open without breaking anything, but I managed.


I unscrewed the drive, replaced it in the cage with the new one, and screwed everything back, except the case screws. I thought everything was tight, but I needed to bring it upstairs and test it. I plugged it in, and turned it on, seeing the POST messages, including a "formatting storage device" message, and about 15 minutes it was back on.

All our recorded content was gone, of course, and none of our programs were set up, so perhaps there is a separate Linux partition. In any case, it's working, no more stuttering, and I've slowly been setting things back up to record. It's worked great the last couple days and I'm happy with my efforts.

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