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Old 08-22-2013, 03:52 PM   #1
Chesterton
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Freeze question

Does a TIVO access the disk if it's disconnected from the antenna? Here's why I want to know.

I recently purchased my first TIVO - an upgraded Series 3 HD Lifetime. I use it with an outdoor antenna - no cable. The previous owner had no issues with it. But it is freezing on me - won't respond to the remote, and leaves the screen frozen with whatever picture frame was there at the time of the freeze. I must unplug to fix it. It does this on both strong and weak signals.

I would like to isolate the cause. My thought is that it's not the too-weak or too-strong signal cause, or fluctuating power since it fails on all types of signals strengths, and it's on a dedicated UPS plugged directly into the wall.

I'd like to determine if it's the disk. I ran the KickStart code 54 and it passed, then code 57. It still froze afterward. But perhaps the disk still has some issue that these tests didn't detect.

The one condition where it has not failed is when no signal is connected to the input, so that it is always searching for a signal. If it doesn't access the disk when disconnected from the antenna (nothing of value to record, so don't do it), then that would support this conclusion.

Thanks in advance for responding to my initial question, or any other suggestions for finding the root cause.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:58 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chesterton View Post
Does a TIVO access the disk if it's disconnected from the antenna? Here's why I want to know.

I recently purchased my first TIVO - an upgraded Series 3 HD Lifetime. I use it with an outdoor antenna - no cable. The previous owner had no issues with it. But it is freezing on me - won't respond to the remote, and leaves the screen frozen with whatever picture frame was there at the time of the freeze. I must unplug to fix it. It does this on both strong and weak signals.

I would like to isolate the cause. My thought is that it's not the too-weak or too-strong signal cause, or fluctuating power since it fails on all types of signals strengths, and it's on a dedicated UPS plugged directly into the wall.

I'd like to determine if it's the disk. I ran the KickStart code 54 and it passed, then code 57. It still froze afterward. But perhaps the disk still has some issue that these tests didn't detect.

The one condition where it has not failed is when no signal is connected to the input, so that it is always searching for a signal. If it doesn't access the disk when disconnected from the antenna (nothing of value to record, so don't do it), then that would support this conclusion.

Thanks in advance for responding to my initial question, or any other suggestions for finding the root cause.
If tuned to a channel that's not there, supposedly it uses slightly less electricity, and TiVos with power supply problems have worked with one cable card in but not with the added load of 2, or worked without a cable card but not with the added load of 1, so maybe when yours tries to use the extra little bit of power to process a received signal, that's enough to be too much, because your power supply has developed a problem.

All of the Series 3s and Series 2s are at risk for what's known as "capacitor plague".

That's where what are supposed to be high quality capacitors used for filtering in the switching parts of the power supply aren't as high quality as they claim to be, either because they were made with an incomplete stolen electrolyte formula (industrial espionage), or because they're out and out counterfeit.

There are several threads here at TCF about the problem, and Wikipedia has a good article about it (it's not just TiVo power supplies that are affected, not by a long shot), and badcaps.net has lots of info as well.

The good news is you can probably spot the cap or caps going bad and if you can solder you can replace them yourself for under $10 in parts.

You need to be sure to get the right parts, though, and not just whatever's in the drawer at Radio Shack.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:12 AM   #3
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Unitron,

Thank you for responding. I should have mentioned that the previous owner did replace the power supply with a kit he purchased at Weaknees. You make a good point that removing the antenna could reduce the power consumption, though, making it less clear if the issue is the incoming power or the disk, or something else. So if it doesn't fail, I still won't know if the root cause is a power supply or a disk issue. I'm trying a new test - keeping the antenna disconnected, but playing a previously recorded newscast. If I can get it to fail, then it may let me rule out an issue with the incoming antenna signal, at least.

I'm still interested to know if the unit is accessing the disk if there's no signal on the antenna.
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:03 AM   #4
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It is always writing to the disc. No matter what.

I suggest independently testing the disc and the PS. Your attempts are interesting, but since there is such an overlap in symptoms it will not be definitive.

With most tivos you can guess 80/20 HDD/PS, but with the older S3s its more like 50/50 or even 40/60...
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:48 AM   #5
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What are your signal strengths? Are some of them at least 80?

Here is what the bulging caps look like:

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...94#post8750894

Any bulge that is at all detectable means it is failing and must be replaced, or get a new power supply (only source is weaknees.com, $100).
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:27 AM   #6
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Unitron,

Thank you for responding. I should have mentioned that the previous owner did replace the power supply with a kit he purchased at Weaknees. You make a good point that removing the antenna could reduce the power consumption, though, making it less clear if the issue is the incoming power or the disk, or something else. So if it doesn't fail, I still won't know if the root cause is a power supply or a disk issue. I'm trying a new test - keeping the antenna disconnected, but playing a previously recorded newscast. If I can get it to fail, then it may let me rule out an issue with the incoming antenna signal, at least.

I'm still interested to know if the unit is accessing the disk if there's no signal on the antenna.

It's quite possible that the weaknees power supplies also have those bad caps which will go bad after a while.
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Old 08-23-2013, 04:44 PM   #7
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It's quite possible that the weaknees power supplies also have those bad caps which will go bad after a while.
And for the 648 tivo's you have to give Weaknees $200 initially and you get $100 back after you ship them your old PSU (at your expense).

It would be interesting to know whether even the "brand new" supplies use caps that are known to be immune to the disease. They could have been assembled long ago with bad caps. I suspect weaknees' answer to that question would be "you get 90 days warranty".
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:14 PM   #8
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And for the 648 tivo's you have to give Weaknees $200 initially and you get $100 back after you ship them your old PSU (at your expense).

It would be interesting to know whether even the "brand new" supplies use caps that are known to be immune to the disease. They could have been assembled long ago with bad caps. I suspect weaknees' answer to that question would be "you get 90 days warranty".

Brand new in this context does not mean that there's still a factory churning out 648 power supplies, just that it's New Old Stock (NOS) rather than used or "reconditioned".

In other words, just as much chance of bogus caps as any other 648 supply that came down the assembly line.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:48 AM   #9
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I've had experience with replacing blown caps. I successfully found, removed, and soldered on new caps for a DVD player a few years ago. So I opened up my unit and checked the Weaknees supply. All of the caps looked fine - concave, not convex, and no discoloration.

At the advice of TIVO support, to try to debug the issue, I then lowered the antenna and bypassed the preamp up there. Even though I'm in a fringe area, TIVO support thought that this might be the reason for the lockup. Not surprisingly, I lost reception for many stations. Well, that wasn't the problem because the unit froze again this morning.

So it's doesn't appear to be a"too strong signal". And since the caps look fine on the recently replace power supply and its power is connected to a filtered UPS, I don't suspect that it's a power supply issue. The only time it has not frozen was when I disconnected the antenna. I'm guessing that it bangs the disk a lot less when there's no signal.

So I think I want to maybe reimage the 1000 GB disk to try to see if that helps. I don't mind losing my recordings. Any suggestions on the easiest way to do that? I have a notebook PC, and I'm willing to get a SATA to USB adapter.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #10
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I've had experience with replacing blown caps. I successfully found, removed, and soldered on new caps for a DVD player a few years ago. So I opened up my unit and checked the Weaknees supply. All of the caps looked fine - concave, not convex, and no discoloration.

At the advice of TIVO support, to try to debug the issue, I then lowered the antenna and bypassed the preamp up there. Even though I'm in a fringe area, TIVO support thought that this might be the reason for the lockup. Not surprisingly, I lost reception for many stations. Well, that wasn't the problem because the unit froze again this morning.

So it's doesn't appear to be a"too strong signal". And since the caps look fine on the recently replace power supply and its power is connected to a filtered UPS, I don't suspect that it's a power supply issue. The only time it has not frozen was when I disconnected the antenna. I'm guessing that it bangs the disk a lot less when there's no signal.

So I think I want to maybe reimage the 1000 GB disk to try to see if that helps. I don't mind losing my recordings. Any suggestions on the easiest way to do that? I have a notebook PC, and I'm willing to get a SATA to USB adapter.
The tops of the caps aren't supposed to be either convex or concave, they're supposed to be absolutely flat.

Did you check the +5 and the +12 with a meter while you had it opened?

And you should probably pull the drive and run the manufacturer's long test diagnostic on it.

And if it's a Caviar Green, did you ever disable Intellipark?
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
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It's quite possible that the weaknees power supplies also have those bad caps which will go bad after a while.
I always wondered about this too and why I have never gotten one from them. I am thinking they could basically be taking currently working S3 power supplies and simply just pass them off as "refurbished" products for sale.

I have a working lifetime Series 3 (OLED) that I had a cap replaced by a local shop. I also wound up putting it on a UPS and hope this helps for the long term as well.
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Old 09-21-2013, 04:13 PM   #12
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Thumbs up Somewhat Happy Ending

Well, I tried the many things suggested in this and other threads, and never had success. For the benefit of others, here's what I did to come out without too much of a loss:
  1. Purchased a used Tivo Series 3 with recently replaced power supply, fan, upgraded 1 TB disk, and wireless G adapter.
  2. Hit the "freeze after a day" issue - previous owner claims he never had this problem. Note that he only tried it with cable, and I don't have cable - just an OTA antenna.
  3. Used Tivo Kick Start codes to test the disk. Tests passed.
  4. Disconnected the antenna. The TiVo did NOT fail, but wasn't very useful that way
  5. Bought a UPS and plugged it directly into the wall and Tivo into it. No change.
  6. Bought a Torx T10 screwdriver to open the cover, and inspected the power supply caps. They all had flat tops with no bulging or discoloration. (Earlier when I said they were concave, I meant the creases on the tops that form a cross were indented as they should be. The top itself was flat.)
  7. Tried reducing the incoming signal by removing the preamp, per Tivo support's suggestion that the signal might be too strong. No change. Then put the preamp back in and forced the two tuners to always use just the strongest stations, per Tivo support's suggestion. No change.
  8. Took the Tivo to a different location. I had been in a rural fringe spot and took it to a suburban house. No change.
  9. Meanwhile the Roamio came out so I ordered one, and got the $100 discount off the lifetime since this Series 3 has lifetime. Verified with support that if I sell the Series 3, the new owner can also get the $100 off of a new unit's lifetime. The Roamio has worked flawlessly plugged into the same UPS and under the same fringe antenna conditions.
  10. Opened the Series 3, and checked the power supply voltages with the power cables still plugged into the TiVo under load. All looked fine (Red: +5.1, Orange: +3.5, Grey: +12.5).
  11. Bought a SATA to USB converter, saved a minimal disk image with WINMFS, and ran all of the disk manufacturer's Seatools diagnostics, including the destructive write ones that also repair any bad spots found. The disk passed all of the tests. Restored the disk image.
  12. Completely reset the TiVo with the "Clear and Delete Everything" reset command.
  13. Tried it out and it still behaved the same.
  14. Sold it on ebay for $150, free shipping, as a buyer beware unit that freezes but seems to have a good disk, good wireless G converter, good Weaknees power supply, and may or may not freeze for cable reception.

So I came out about $50 in the hole - not too bad given I see that I purchased a $275 lemon. Ignoring the Torx screwdriver and USB to SATA items, which I'll likely use again, and the UPS that I was going the purchase anyway:
  • Costs: $300: Paid $275 on Craig's List, and about $25 via eBay to ship it to the new owner (these Series 3 are big and heavy!)
  • Gains: $250: Got $100 credit off Roamio lifetime subscription, and $150 selling the Series 3 on eBay for parts
Lesson: If you buy a TiVo lifetime unit, even if it's not functional, it still has a lot of inherent value with the $100 lifetime discount and its parts.
I'm really happy with the Roamio, which I purchased directly from TiV!
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:39 PM   #13
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...[*]Opened the Series 3, and checked the power supply voltages with the power cables still plugged into the TiVo under load. All looked fine (Red: +5.1, Orange: +3.5, Grey: +12.5)....

The gray wire, which is for the OLED display, should be around 8 or 9 Volts.

But it's not the one likely to have a cap gone bad.

The yellow wire is the +12V, the red the +5, and the orange the +3.3

The 5 and the 12 are where the real current use is, and it's the caps on those outputs that are almost certain to be the ones to go bad if any do.
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