So I finally hacked my Tivo.

TivoYeah, I know – about time. :P My used Series 2 has been pretty good to me for about a year now. Just before Christmas we lost power in the middle of some heavy Tivo usage and she didn’t boot right back up. I was sitting at the ‘just a few minutes’ screen for more then a few minutes. I tried hitting the enter key on the remote. I’m still not 100% sure what that’s supposed to do. :| After some time and a reboot – it came back up.

It was a three days before our New Years WRC Party and Christine calls me from home. “The TV is black and the Tivo guy won’t come up.” I have her pull the plug and ‘reboot’ it. Tivo comes back up, but not for long. The morning of the party it takes a black screen nap again. Now I’m worried. I can’t stand just pulling the plug to turn it off, so I reach down and power cycle the UPS.

I know the Tivo is a Linux PC and I know it could be giving me WAY more information then: “Almost there! Just a few minutes…” I think the drive is probably beat, and it’s about time to crack the case anyway. I print out the Hinsdale Guide and download the MFS Tools Boot CD. As long as you can master / slave drives and type – you too can handle this.

The first task was to get the Tivo apart and get an image backup. It took some time to prepare a fat32 drive for where the image would transfer to. I forgot how long it takes a 40GB drive to format in DOS. :D Once the image was transferred, I copied it onto my new Western Digital 160GB. Unfortunately the max drive size the ‘stock’ Tivo can see is 137GB, but at $1.75 a gigabyte it’s not too much of a loss. Plus no drive really formats out to it’s ‘listed’ size, as I have several 112GB “120’s” kicking around.

So now I’m rocking a 136 hour Tivo! :D I removed the /tvbin/modemtest file so it shouldn’t hang at boot anymore, plus I don’t use the modem to connect to the Tivo service. Having a fresh drive to store 5.6 days of programming should make me stop worrying when either Christine or myself decide to grab 2 seasons of something. The next step is to load telnet and some other utilities so that I can monitor drive space and get into some other fun Tivo hacks.

Oh, and one final note: The Speed Channel can suck it. They have no plans to carry WRC this year. This is THE main reason I pay $28 a month for digital cable. I hope OLN can pick up the pace – but I’m not paying $300 a year to watch one week of Dakar… :(

About The Author


Hardware hacker, technology integrator, and maker. He enjoys staring blankly at code, voiding the warranty, and touching things in the back. When not doing that he is building and racing a rally car.

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01 2006

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  1. 1

    The Speed Channel CAN suck it, over not having WRC but also for their Crappy (with a capital C) coverage of motorcycle racing!

    They should just rename the damn thing what it is…the NASCAR channel.

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