Just needs some love, and repair. I came home from work last week on Friday, and my circa January 2008 purchased TiVo HD was stuck on the “Powering On” screen. I searched for the serial console information, and then proceeded to open the TiVo with a #10 torx bit.
I like that there is a small industry around keeping these devices alive. It’s a testament to TiVo’s product line and hardware quality.
I’m not thrilled mine seems dead. They charged me for lifetime service on the box just over a year ago in January, after I had already paid for three years upfront. Anyway. Time to bite the bullet, repair it with a $40/drive, and still save bundles of money over using a Cox Communications rented high definition cable box each month.
I opened the box, grabbed my handy Prolific USB-to-serial adapter, and my serial 5V TTL converter out of their storage boxes, and got this lovely console information using one of my favorite GNU screen commands.
$ screen /dev/tty.PL* 115200
It would be much nicer if TiVo didn’t boot lock the hell out of their devices in addition to being so friendly at boot time.
Case in point.
HELLO! CPU-REV 0x74010021 C1 USING SCHMOO-LIB C1 SHMOO read C1=00000003 write C1=00000012 read C2=00000018 write C2= 0000003a First Read Center =0000000d First Write Center =00000026 read C3=0000000d write C3= 00000012 read C4=0000000d write C4= 0000003a New Write Center = 00000026 read C5=00000003 write C5= 00000026 read C6=00000018 write C6=00000026 New Read Center = 0000000d read_width =00000015 write_width =00000028 starting to load uncached text loaded uncached text verified uncached text loaded zimage verified zimage inflating zimage (40002 bytes) inflated zimage (92432 bytes) flushed cache data expanded bss flushed cache bss checked sha ide_read_sector got error 4 autoboot failed to read boot sector Service number is 652000180379B84. What is password?
Without an impossible to determine password, all I can do is download the latest mfslive iso from mfslive.org, boot it up, and run their tool against the drive. I wish I had a spare computer and did not have to use my home server for this task.
With the still on-going hard drive shortage, I decided to use a 2.5″ laptop size hard drive, the most economical choice was 250GB in size, and to get a refurbished drive. I wasn’t able to find a slower spinning hard drive than 5900 RPM, although I would have liked to find a 5200, or 4k or slower. Which was another reason to go with the laptop size drive to compensate for added heat dissipation inside the TiVo case. I will probably update this post later this week after getting the new-to-me hardware.
So I got the laptop HDD, and I did not do enough research before ordering materials. I needed a SATA II drive, and could have used a very certain USB to SATA adapter instead of just any old one that I purchased while shopping at Frys in-store. So it also would instead seem that the drive is a SATA 300, which is the 1.0 spec, not the 2.0 which the TiVo HD requires. Oh well, fortunately I also received some newish hardware which I could procure for it. I must say, it’s a bit of a pain trying to get the TiVo working again. I tried to restore using the original 160GB mostly dead drive, the restore process failed, and just seemed to copy over the bad data again which was preventing the boot. Restoring the repair cd worked to the new backup, backup drive, 160GB 3.5″ SATA refurbished drive from another purchase.
And so I lost about more than 100 season pass entries, my viewing habits are basically going to change dramatically. TiVo knows about them, but for whatever reason they never made it a feature to give this data back should a user reset their TiVo unit, or the unit needs a repair, and they charge you for lifetime service $400 just a year previously. Yet another pain in the butt due to poor design, by design I am sure. They have the ability to move season passes between machines on the web interface, but due to a lack of creating a dummy interface, there is no way to save them.
As you can see the drive looks pretty bad(TM). I probably did not need to waste 4 hours doing it all, especially since the first error was quite near the beginning and I saw the SATA bus resets.
With the backup, backup, drive in place, I started up the unit, and began guided setup. CableCARD does not work immediately, the Tuning Adapter just sits there, it doesn’t even flash anymore on remote key press. I’ve been here before. If I call Cox now, they will only make things worse and break the pairing, and then they would blame their failed customer support and encryption device on TiVo being repaired.
I left the unit on, and forced it to “Call Home” several more times to make it sure it had the most recent software installed. During one of the callbacks around 2:30 AM, the TiVo HD suddenly rebooted. I checked the version number after, it did not change. Not sure what really happened, so I forced it again. I think 2:30 AM is just a standard reboot time for the device, but it usually shows a message on-screen. No biggie. Forced it to connect two more times, then in the System Information window it finally had restart pending. I restarted the device, and went to bed.
I left the unit on all day. After getting mild progress in programming the channel list from hell. The majority of the cableCARD channels I pay for, are now there from what I can ascertain. Cool, much better than coming home to a dead TiVo.(See beginning of this article.) It’s seriously a
fucking headache deprogramming 1000′s of essentially duplicate channels because Cox Communications likes to waste their own bandwidth and force customers to pay for it’s gross wastefulness, and like it because they claim to be your friend in the digital age. For example, they have Analog 71 as Cartoon Network, Digital 1071 is the HD version of Cartoon Network. If you watch the analog version, Cox sends a letterbox HD version. So customers who only pay for and receive analog service are now actually getting less defined imagery, not to mention the crap analog signal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFsBd0_tHio
What channels that I pay for am I actually capable of receiving? I still have no clue. Cox won’t tell me. I have to manually check 2000 channels. Then de-check the ones I don’t want to ever watch, and dislike paying for immensely as opposed to other people’s health care via taxes, not CEO salaries.[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/px/status/210934728373710849"]
2000 channels and nothing good is ever on.
So I don’t watch or want perhaps 80% of what Cox sells. I cannot get Hulu now to save money and drop cable, because they changed the policy as of a few weeks ago to require a cable subscription for service. My TiVo HD supports Hulu, so does my Samsung TV.
Additionally, the basic channels being “protected” by the CableCARD are available as analog and decrypted. Forcing encryption and worthless adapters on customers is wrong. I just want the freely available broadcast channels, not 2000. KCBS, KNBC, KTLA, KOCE, KTLA, KDOC, KTTV, KPBS, etc. Yet Cox has no basic over the air package for customers to purchase and save money every month over the cable company, oops. Can the cable monopoly be out cable companied?
The TiVo also did not store the Netflix credentials either. But the Netflix activation is basically cake. Visit http://netflix.com/activate , then enter in the 6 character code, and wait for the success screen.
My few rules for people doing their own TiVo repair.
- Buy a #10 Torx driver bit, and a size #8. You will mostly use the #10 bit. It should also be at least three inches long to reach the deep spots.
- Wear a grounded static strap while working with your electronics. The smaller our electronics get, the more susceptible to static damage they become as the pathways signals travel get closer.
- Have a known working backup, backup, drive to use. Being able to use another albeit smaller, but working drive is allowing me to begin watching the television I pay for again.
- Be prepared to lose your Season Passes. All of them. No chance of recovery.
- CableCARDS are a worthless device only meant to infuriate those consumers who decide to stray away from the badly designed menu systems, and hardware cable monopoly owned devices they would rather you lease from them each month. Once you’ve passed the guided setup, just give it a day.
- Save your Shows!!! Before you even begin powering on the repaired system, and perform the guided setup, do visit the Season Pass Manager online, and File->Save As to save the HTML page, that’s your shows backup, save it someone safe!!! You will then get to do many manual searches and re-adding shows. I did not do this part, but I was lucky enough to have done it within the last year. 2012.07.17 specifically. *phew* better than nothing.