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What to do with your old Tivo

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by mr.unnatural, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    For those of you wondering what to do with your old Tivo, here's one that's been re-purposed and put to good use:

    http://www.missingremote.com/blog/tivo-goes-htpc

    It's been converted to an HTPC using a mini-ITX motherboard. Add a USB tuner or two or a networked tuner, like the SiliconDust HDHomeRun, and you've got yourself a new DVR with no paid subscription required. Make it a cablecard tuner and you only pay for the cablecard rental, plus whatever digital TV service you're already subscribed to.

    The article uses a series 1 standalone chassis but I see no reason why you couldn't use any later model chassis instead. OTOH, the S1 SA chassis has lots of room and supports two internal hard drives. The main thing to be aware of is whether the motherboard will interfere with the hard drive location. I haven't compared measurements but I'd wager than a mini-ITX motherboard is slightly smaller than most Tivo mainboards.

    You can power the beast using a pico USB power supply like the one mentioned in the article. Get a small SSD for the OS and an external drive for recording (or keep it internal if using the S1 case or a dual-drive adapter for an S2). An external powered USB hub would be a good choice to attach your peripherals. The new Lenovo 5902 mini-keyboard remote with backlighting and a touchpad sensor works great for controlling an HTPC, but there are other small remote keyboards to suit different tastes. A USB DVD drive can be added for as little as $30 or less (I picked up a refurbed drive for about $10).
     
  2. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    semi-coastal NC
    Technically that's what to do with your old TiVo chassis.

    Unless I saw an earlier version of this project, I think I saw another one about a year or 3 ago.

    Now if he'd retained the original power supply and added the necessary circuitry to come up with the required outputs besides 3.3, 5 and 12, that would have been impressive.

    There are a couple of people, one in England, one stateside, that have put LCD displays on the front of their S1s, hooking into the serial port and adding some software to make it display time, channel, show title, stuff like that.
     
  3. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I remember seeing the LCD project years ago over at DDB. The HTPC in a Tivo chassis isn't new, but the older project you mentioned used a micro-ATX board. I don't recall what kind of power supply was used but I don't think it was from the Tivo. The new mini-ITX motherboards are tailor made for a project such as this using the pico-PSU power supply.

    Anyone that's looked at DIY HTPC's knows that custom HTPC enclosures can get a bit pricey. Using an old Tivo chassis not only cuts costs considerably but also allows the HTPC to blend into any equipment rack unobtrusively. I just thought some of the rank and file would get a kick out of seeing an old Tivo being reborn as a different DVR.
     
  4. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Man, you ain't just whistlin' it. Those things start at expensive and zoom for the stars.

    I kind of wish you hadn't posted this, cause I've got a spare S2 DT with a non-working motherboard...

    ...and I'm having trouble keeping from reaching for the tape measure.

    newegg's got this mini-ITX mobo on sale for just $15 after rebate and free shipping...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500045

    I think I need to go lie down until the urge passes.
     
  5. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Awwww crap! You had to post that link, didn't you? Now I'm the one that needs to fight the urge. Did you see the Apex enclosure at the bottom of the page? It's a mini-ITX enclosure with a 250-watt PSU for only $35. An enclosure with PSU and motherboard for only $50 after MIR is a huge deal.
     
  6. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    3,625
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    In the ATL
    Forgive me but I'm not getting the excitement here - VGA out only with no PCI-E video slot? Yeah, the Nvidia 6100 will work for full HD if you have a TV that supports it but I'd want HDMI nowadays. Plus no optical audio out. What am I missing, just use it as a server-only build or something?

    Great price on a mini-ITX build though, $50 is outstanding for a barebones kit.
     
  7. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I forgot to check the video output on the board. You're absolutely right. VGA only isn't going to cut it for HTPC use. Mini-ITX boards rarely have more than one PCI-E slot, simply because there isn't any room for them. If the board has onboard audio and video there's no need for any slots. Peripherals are usually added vis e-SATA or USB ports. In any case, here's a mini-ITX board for $55 plus $5 shipping with an HDMI output that supports an 1155 Intel SandyBridge CPU with integrated HD audio and video:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813186211

    The Zotac board referenced by unitron would make for a great little desktop PC for the kids or just one for surfing the web.
     
  8. shwru980r

    shwru980r Active Member

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    There are many TVs with RGB inputs, but you'd need a cable.
     
  9. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    True, but for the best picture and sound it's better to have an HDMI output. Any of the Intel socket 1155 or 1156 motherboards can deliver both HD audio and video via HDMI without the need for a separate graphics or sound card.
     
  10. unitron

    unitron Active Member

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    Just tell yourself you still need a CPU and fan for it and pretend that's another $1000.
     
  11. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    I passed on the motherboard but decided to pick up the Apex case. I've been considering a mini-ITX project for a while now but most of the cases I saw were too pricey. I figure I'll wait for an H67 motherboard to go on sale and pick one up.

    On another note, Newegg's got the Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCI-E cablecard tuner on sale for $219.
     
  12. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    In the ATL
    Wow, that's the lowest price I've seen on the Ceton so far. Looks like they are trying to compete with the recent price drop on the SD HDHomerun Prime ($177 shipped from the egg). I bought a Prime and a couple of cheap Xboxes with the BF sales on them.
     
  13. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Ontario Canada.
    I am going to mention what I have, which is an Asrock E350M1, board, which includes the AMD Fusion E350 APU (dual core 1.6 Ghz, Radeon 6310 graphics, video coprocessor for HS playback), and the Hudson M1 I/O controller, codenamed "Zacate". It has a PCI-X4 slot, 5.1 analog, optical, HDMI, DVI, VGA, plenty of USB. The chip supports 6 SATA 6Gbs connectors. This board has 4 inside, one eSATA, and an IR receiver connector for WMC. Some Zacate boards have USB3.0 and mini PCI-E.

    I was going to get one and put that into a TiVo or other case, but ended up getting it as an assembled system from my local computer store. There may be better newer AMD Fusion models.

    This board sells for around $120. The other boards mentioned require a separate CPU, although the are more capable.
     
  14. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    Nice. Can it output HD audio? I can't seem to find any info about whether it supports it or not. How does it handle Blu-Ray playback?
     
  15. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Ontario Canada.
    I think it is supposed to, with the pay version of the Blu-ay app. It supposedly plays BluRay HD. I have no surroud receiver at all or BD-reader, so cannot say my self how well it does for either.
     
  16. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    San...
    Yes, but I have yet to find a motherboard with embedded video that has decent video performance. Some do a modestly good job of rendering MPEG2 video at 1080i, and a few are OK on 1080p, but I have yet to try one that's worth a crap at even 1080i or 720P with h.264 coding and any significant compression. Most suffer resolution compatibility issues, as well.
     
  17. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Active Member

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    Ellicott...
    The GPU is embedded in the CPU and not the motherboard for the Intel Clarkdale or SandyBridge CPUs. I'm currently using a Clarkdale CORE i5-660 CPU in an ASRock motherboard and I can't tell the difference between the embedded HD graphics and any standalone graphics card I had been using previously (I've used various ATI and Nvidia cards with HDMI out and HD audio support). The Intels also support HD audio so there's no need for a separate graphics card that supports HD audio or an additional sound card.
     

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