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TiVo Series 3 died -- can I move the hard drive to another Series 3?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by ac3dd, May 24, 2014.

  1. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    I thought the problem was the power supply, as it has some bulging capacitors, so I bought a replacement from Weaknees. But it still won't boot up, so either it's the hard drive or the motherboard. I'll remove the hard drive and test it later.

    If the hard drive is good, and I bought a used Series 3 with lifetime and put the hard drive in it, would I be able to watch the recordings? I have over 100 hrs of recordings and I'd hate to lose them.
     
  2. Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Active Member

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    Apr 27, 2002
    AR
    No, placing the hard drive in a different TiVo will not provide access to the recordings on the drive, all recordings will be erased when the hard drive is installed in the TiVo. Assuming the hard drive is OK, repair of that TiVo with the hard drive is the way to access the recordings.
     
  3. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    If the motherboard is bad then it's practically beyond repair, right? I certainly don't have the knowledge and tools to repair the motherboard; the best I could do is sell it to somebody who can.
     
  4. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    That is correct. However, motherboard failures are pretty rare.
    It is not surprising to me that your hard drive went bad along with the power supply failure.
    The bad news is, either way your recordings are most likely lost.
     
  5. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    This unit is about 7 and a half years old, but the hard drive is only 16 months old.

    When I plug it in, either nothing happens (blank TV screen, no lights) except that the fan spins and the hard drive hums, or I get 5 lights on the front -- 2 red on the left, one red one blue on the right, and a yellow TiVo logo in the middle. But in either case the TV screen remains blank.

    If it's a hard drive problem and the motherboard is good, wouldn't I get at least a "powering up" message on the TV screen or the front of the TiVo?
     
  6. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    semi-coastal NC
    How is the TiVo connected to the TV?

    From your description it sounds like you have the original S3, the TCD648250, rather than the later TCD652160.

    Is this unit lifetimed?

    If so, you could trick another 648 board (and the servers at TiVo, Inc.) into thinking it's that one by moving the crypto chip (the 648 was the last TiVo model on which this is possible), but that's something that would have to be done by someone experienced with unsoldering and resoldering Surface Mount Devices, so that's sort of a last resort after establishing that the motherboard has gone bad.


    Connect the TiVo's composite video output--the yellow RCA jack--to a TV or other video display device with a composite input, disconnect the TiVo's hard drive, remove any cable cards, and power up the TiVo and see if you get the Welcome screen.

    If so, then the problem is almost certainly not the motherboard.

    There's no law of physics that says that the power supply you bought can't have also gone bad, and not every capacitor that goes bad shows visual signs of having done so, although if it does show the signs--bulging and/or leakage, you can be sure it's bad.


    The crypto chip is where the TiVo finds out what it's TiVo Service Number is, and it's the TSN to which the lifetime sub is tied, and it's the TSN which is the unique hex number/character string which the TiVo uses to tie the recordings to that particular TiVo, which is why they won't play back on a different TiVo of the same model.

    Do you happen to have an at least temporarily spare SATA hard drive at least as big as 250GB?
     
  7. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    TCD648250B, to be exact.

    Yes it is!

    That worked! With the hard drive taken out and connecting via composite I got the Welcome screen. So it looks like the culprit is the hard drive (although the old power supply needed to be replaced anyway due to the bulging capacitors), which can be replaced for under $100, or for free if it's still under warranty.
     
  8. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    It turns out that the hard drive is nearly 3 years old, not 16 months as I was thinking. I installed it in the TiVo about 17 months ago, but I actually purchased it in 2011 and was using it for backing up my computer until the TiVo started giving problems. Then I later bought another 1.5 TB hard drive to use for backups again.

    Since both drives are 1.5TB, and the drive that was in the TiVo seems to be able to read data using dd in Linux, I may be able to rescue the recordings by using dd to clone the whole disk.
     
  9. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Suggest either

    dd_rescue

    which is on the MFS Live cd v1.4, or

    ddrescue

    which is available on the Ultimate Boot CD, or on the jmfs cd v1.04, instead of straight

    dd

    because the other two utilities are better able to copy from drives with "problems".


    The problem might still be the power supply and not the drive, however, because the new old stock and working pulls weaKnees sells were made at the same time as the ones they replace, so they have the same excellent chances of having "capacitor plague" capacitors having been installed on the assembly line.

    Do you happen to have or have access to a voltmeter?

    You can check that the DC ouputs are close to what they're supposed to be, and then you can plug in a drive and make sure the outputs are still reading just about the same, indicating whether the power supply can handle a reasonable increase in load without it pulling down one or more of the outputs.

    The caps don't have to be visibly bad to be bad.
     
  10. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Cox Cable...
    @Unitron:

    In the power supply related threads, or other threads where the power supply gets brought into focus, you seem to be forgetting that pre-Premiere TiVo model power supplies have an adjustable potentiometer, which can help bring the voltages up, which just happens to have the greatest effect on the 5V rail.

    I've seen factory-new TiVo HDs that were >20% low, and needed it adjusted.

    The general allowable differential on the outputs is +/- %20, with a bit high being better than a bit low. When the Premiere came out, they even labeled the 5V rail 5.1V, which is exactly what I like any 5V rail to be at, as long as any adjustment doesn't make the other voltages >20% on the high side, or >10%, if you want to be really conservative.

    The Premiere eliminated the potentiometer, in favor of auto regulation, still only sensing and regulating the 5.1V rail (primarily).

    Just something I recently thought of, and realized how often it hasn't come up. In some cases, this can fix those random and unpredictable glitches in operation. Yes, it often can mean some component is borderline. At the same time, a lower voltage will require greater amperage, to drive the same circuit, or component, while a higher voltage lowers the amperage (sometimes critical in high-draw startup conditions).

    You do a great job helping in the threads I often don't have time to get to, since I don't own older equipment anymore. So, please don't feel like I'm always waiting for you to miss something, or make a mistake (although, I bet it can seem that way, sometimes). ;)
     
  11. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    More evidence that the hard drive is the source of the problem. I ran the Western Digital diagnostics tool, and it failed the quick test (see attached screenshot).
     

    Attached Files:

  12. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    semi-coastal NC
    Some, perhaps most, but not all, have a trimmer pot (I think the S2 DT supply is one that doesn't), which is really there more for an initial adjustment than later compensation for aging components, but the problem on S2 and S3 power supplies is so very likely to be caps that were flawed to begin with because of the stolen incomplete formula that I think it usually better to just replace the usual suspects and be done with it, especially if you're advising people on line instead of in person and those people have no previous electronic servicing experience whatsoever, since even someone who knows what they're doing needs to keep one eye on the meter use the other to watch that your screwdriver doesn't slip while you turn the trimmer ever so slowly and carefully, and chances are the neophytes aren't going to have a non-metallic screwdriver/adjustment tool in the first place.

    Re-capping, on the other hand, is simple single layer board solder melting.

    I thought I remembered from playing with that pot on an S1 supply that the +5V line stayed about the same and the +12 was the one that varied most, but it's been a few years and my memory wasn't all that fabulous even when I was younger and riding my dinosaur down to use the drugstore tube tester.

    For someone who already knows what they're doing that adjustment can be helpful in troubleshooting, but that's not most of the people who we wind up advising here.


    As always, I look forward to our continuing to keep each other on our respective toes.

    ;)
     
  13. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow TiVo User Since 2007

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    Cox Cable...
    What I meant was in the case that somebody replaced all the caps (the output-side ones), and bothered to check the voltages, it would be logical to re-adjust if the voltages were off. Checking the voltages is also a step I've seen missing from much of the recent advice. Most of the advice has been just replace the caps, and if the TiVo powers-up, check the power supply off the list as being bad, or as being part of the problem.

    I never meant it to come across as something to do as an alternative to replacing the caps, or as an alternative for doing something properly.

    In all my experience with many TiVo HD power supplies, including new ones, when the voltages were low, it was not even possible for me to raise the voltages to levels that would hurt anything. I did see a few where one rail could wind up higher than +20%, but not by enough that I'd fear for the health/longevity of the PS or the rest of the TiVo. I think this is by design (it can only be adjusted so far).
     
  14. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy New Member

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    I had a similar incident with an identical lifetimed series 3 (TCD648250). Basically, I thought it was bad caps and had them replaced by a local shop. Didn't help. I replaced the hard drive from another identical working Series 3. Still didn't help. Even swapped the working series 3 power supply into this non-working S3. No luck & it was still in a reboot loop so I figured it must be the motherboard.

    I finally gave TiVo a call and after running through some tests with their tech department, they determined it was bad. Then they offered me a refurb 2-tuner Premiere for $80 and transferred the lifetime from this S3 for free. I decided to jump on it & take it on the spot as you never know if you call back and another rep won't offer this.

    Now, I think they offered the free lifetime transfer only because it had been on this S3 for about 7 months before I started having problems & hadn't been connected to the tivo servers in months either. They said since the lifetime was purchased under a year, they could do this. I had to also give a $99 deposit that was later fully refunded when I shipped them back the broken S3 (you can also have the option of just shipping it to them and then they will ship the new unit to you). Not sure if this was a factor either, but I had about 5 other tivos on my account as well so maybe they saw how I was a loyal customer of some kind.

    Just thought I would mention this & it might be worth giving them a call as you never know what they will offer you. I later had another similar incident and I think they offered the Premiere for $150 so it could be customer service roulette when calling.
     
  15. squint

    squint New Member

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    I've been doing some reading and I now think it's possible but difficult.
     
  16. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    semi-coastal NC
    You think what, exactly, is possible?

    You can move an original S3's hard drive to another original S3, provided you move the crypto chip as well, otherwise I'd think a lot of hex editing would be involved in salvaging the shows.

    That's assuming a bad motherboard is the problem.
     
  17. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    I used GNU ddrescue to do a raw copy of the entire contents to another hard drive of the same size. Ddrescue reported no errors.

    It booted to the "Welcome, powering up" and eventually made it to the THX logo, but then it blanked out and was unresponsive.

    A few minutes later it spontaneously rebooted, and the same thing happened. The four front lights are on (two red on the left, a red and a blue on the right).

    UPDATE: I plugged it out, plugged it in again, this time it got all the way to the main menu and I was able to scroll through the recordings and play one! Hopefully it keeps working!
     
  18. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    Could be the original drive had some scrambled software which needed to be dealt with but also had some places going bad that interfered with that process and by moving to drive without problems the TiVo was able to sort out the software problem.

    Take the original drive, hook to PC and boot with cd containing manufacturer's diagnostic software and run long test.
     
  19. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    Running it now on another computer, some 14 hours left.

    As I mentioned in post #11, it already failed the short test, so this is mainly for curiosity's sake.
     
  20. ac3dd

    ac3dd New Member

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    Mar 2, 2002
    Oddly enough, the old drive passed the extended test, and it passed the short test when I ran it again.

    Anyway, the TiVo seems to be still working, which is the ultimate goal. Now I need to return the old power supply to Weaknees to get back $100.
     

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