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BOLT Stock Cooling SUCKS

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by CIR-Engineering, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. CIR-Engineering

    CIR-Engineering Video Calibration & Electronics Repair Engineer

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    I know TiVo claims that the "cool" (pun intended) shape of the BOLT is to aid in cooling. However, if you look at the way the box is designed, the fan exhausts directly under the BOLT allowing the same hot air to be sucked right back in from underneath on the other side.

    For those of you who have been following my hard drive upgrade threads, you know that I have had to replace my drive again. For the couple weeks I waited for a replacement drive I left the entire BOLT cover off. With the cover off, the ODT temperature dropped from 67~69 degrees to a consistent 54 degrees. The hard drive is also running cooler.

    One thought I have is to build a duct under the fan to direct air away from the underside. Another idea is to cut a hole for a 120mm fan right over the heat sink to blow air in. However, that would probably void the warranty on my TiVo if a problem comes up and I'm not sure I want to do that. I've thought about buying a parts BOLT to hack up the case, but they go for over $50 typically and that seems pricey.

    It's too unsightly to leave the cover off on my rack, but I am considering building a custom wall mount to hold the BOLT behind the TV with the cover off (the HIDEit Bolt mount needs the cover on the BOLT). At least that way it will stay cool and be unseen. This seems like the easiest option...

    Another other idea I have is to actually mount the bolt MB inside a Roamio basic case (I have a parts unit that I used to get a cable card socket out of). The two boards have remarkably similar form factors and the Basic could probably be altered to work.

    My other thought is to literally just build a better enclosure from scratch or use an enclosure from an obsolete piece of AV equipment.

    Has anyone done anything like this? Thoughts?

    EDIT: I do like the idea of a new enclosure or behind the TV because than I don't have to look at the stupid bent white box anymore ;-)

    Thanks,
    craigr
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  2. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    I know, right? My Bolt ran 73 degree C right out of the box. People will argue with us, and they already have with me, but I am not a fan of the chassis OR thermal design..

    I am working on the same things you are.... Here's my thread:

    Documenting my Bolt Experiences...

    I am working the problem in stages AS I do my drive upgrades and the like.
    I ordered 2 "broken" Bolts... I have received and resurrected the first one and it is already serviing as my 4TB backup Bolt on a 30-day activation.
    The second one, I will use the case to hack on to put my 8TB 3/5" drive in a temporary external enclosure.

    I don't really give a rat's "4th point of contact" what the final product looks like, because it will be in a wiring/equipment closet, BUT....

    I am going with your last cited option and creating a completely new (or modified off-the-shelf) chassis for the Bolt guts, 3.5" HDD, et al. And I am planning to power it with a linear power supply, preferably internal (for RFI reduction purposes because I am an amateur radio op). I MAY consider putting in a good switching supply if I can successfully shield and ground everything properly in the new chassis design.

    Harkens back to the late 90s/early 2000s when the first case modding/building/hacking/cooling et al stuff began in earnest.

    Look forward to following your developments....
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
    CIR-Engineering likes this.
  3. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Had the exact same concerns when we upgraded from a Premiere to a Bolt+. All of our A/V equipment is in an enclosed cabinet with glass doors. There's a vent on the bottom of the cabinet as well as the one interior shelf. I installed the Bolt+ where the Premiere had been on the upper shelf, directly over the vent. However where the Premiere ran fairly cool, the Bolt+ was instantly hot, the ODT showing 69c to 71c. As we all know, heat is the enemy of electronics.

    To mitigate the heat issue I installed a fan inside the cabinet, directly above the bottom vent. Initially I had the fan pulling hot air from the cabinet. It helped, but not a lot. So I flipped it over so that it was introducing "fresh air" into the cabinet. The fan is aimed at the vent in the shelf above it, blowing air through the upper vent and into the bottom of the Bolt+. I was surprised how well it worked. Now the ODT runs at about 57c to 60c all of the time.

    The fan I purchased is powered by the USB port on the Bolt. The fan has three speeds and I have it set on medium. It's very quiet but I could hear a little "hum" when the TV was off and the room was silent. So I added four little stick-on rubber bumpers and now it's silent inside the cabinet.

    clay.autery, I was reading your other thread and see that you're way down the mod road, so this probably won't apply to you, but it's an inexpensive and easy remedy that worked for me and might be worth a try for others looking for a quick fix.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  4. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    Not a bad design for your particular situation. 120mm fans can move a lot of air, even the ones designed to run quiet. :)

    I see your Bolt runs naturally hot like mine. What's the manufacture date from the bottom label, if you don't mind? Isolation dampers, especially ones made of the right durometer of Sorbothane are like magic bullets for transmitted vibrations.

    I don't think I can apply your solution to my situation right now, as I do not use a cabinet. My equipment is merely stacked on top of the chest of drawers I use to store our DVD collection. And ultimately, it will all be installed in a wiring/equipment closet (converted hall closet). But I suspect my temporary, modded Bolt "Franken-chassis" will at some point have a 120mm mounted to it somehow. ;)

    I think part of the answer IF using the OE chassis, is 2-fold. 1) stop the hot air exit short circuit return to the inlet venting, and 2) provide plenty of fresh air to the limited inlet vents. However, i don't think anything will ever actually overcome the fact that there is very little air being forced to flow over the processor heatsink. The processor is in essentially a passive setup with a marginal heatsink and little room for convection and radiation above and around the heatsink.

    Glad you found a solution for your needs! :)
     
  5. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I know the trend's "smaller is better" but the new design (outside of the quirky look) leaves a lot to be desired. I don't know what the failure rate of the old Vs new design is, but if TiVo only took into account the ROI and not the incredible inconvenience and frustration customers incur when losing hundreds of hours of recordings, there are some bean counters that need to taken out behind a shed.

    Our Bolt's manufacture date is October 10th, 2016.

    Your work reminds me of my first mods back in the day, adding a second hard drive to my Series1. Things were so much simpler then. ;)

    Keep up the good work!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  6. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    Northwest...
    Thanks for the manufacture date... I'm trying to see if there is any correlation between manufacture date vs. "cool" vs "hot" Bolts right out of the box. BoltPime (Nov 17) is HOT. BoltBack (Jul 16) is much cooler. Your Oct '16 Bolt seems to fall in the "Hot" camp.

    RE: "My work..." Well, probably because "I" am from "back in the day". Not from TiVo world, but case, cooling, et al. mods. :D We got pretty inventive back then when off-the-shelf solutions didn't exist.

    I will keep it up until I am finished, it's no longer fun, or some other "shiny" project distracts me. ;)
     
  7. justen_m

    justen_m Cheesehead

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    Mine is steady at 66F. But... I elevated it. I put caps from powerade under each for corners, lifting it up about .5". How do I check manufacturer's date"?
     
  8. BobCamp1

    BobCamp1 Well-Known Member

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    The curve isn't for cooling purposes -- that's just marketing hype. The presence of the fan destroys any benefits the odd shape might have. Plus the DVR simply isn't tall enough to benefit from the curve. The curve is there to look cool and prevent anybody from putting anything heavy on top of that cheap, plastic top.

    Heat isn't the enemy of electronics, and even the hard drive would prefer to operate at around 40 - 45 C.

    The cooling system is too loud and isn't designed to achieve optimal cooling, but it barely has to do anything so it's working well enough.
     
    cherry ghost likes this.
  9. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    Good move. The date should be on a sticker. You may have to pull power and look in the rear or underneath. Sorry, I don't have a Bolt. On a Roamio it is on the rear. I have 1/2" feet to elevate my box. That's good for 1C.
     
  10. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    Bolt: Middle of the label on the bottom: [DD MM YYYY]

    Yep.... I too am convinced the curve was put there to help insure no device was placed atop the Bolt. The curve actually contributes to an airflow short circuit beneath the chassis.
     
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  11. justen_m

    justen_m Cheesehead

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    My relatively cool Bolt is 28 April 2017. As an engineer, I agree with others. I can't see a reason for the design, other than marketing BS.

    I know I've shipped stuff for no reason other than... the marketing and or sales department thinks we need it. (LaserJet engineer... seriously, 1200dpi color? You understand the human eye can't see that, right? Our printers aren't physically capable of that, right? But you can put in on the label if I add this feature? Sigh...)
     
    Saturn and clay.autery like this.
  12. RichB

    RichB Oppo Beta Group

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    Massachusetts
  13. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    I did the same thing with both of my Bolts and saw similar results.

    Although I thought it was very easy to replace the fan. For me, the most difficult part is putting the enclosure back on. It usually takes me two or three tries before it's seated correctly.
     
  14. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Just checked: 56 degrees, in a relatively open area with other running electronics (on top of them) and having done nothing more than putting small water bottle bottle caps under the 4 corners (as I've done with other electronics). And I don't hear the fan, sitting 8-10' away.

    Something seems to be working well here.
     
  15. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    Northwest...
    What was your starting temperature? Delta?
     
  16. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Delta between nothing and the small supports? I started using them almost immediately and long ago, thanks to a suggestion here (thanks again, Sharkster!)--I seem to think, maybe around 5 degrees?
     
  17. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    No... well yeah... To understand the significance of the 56 degree report you made, it'd be nice to have some reference temps:

    Temp stock (as delivered):
    Temp with bottle caps: incremental improvement; sets based line for next observation
    Temp with new fan and bottle caps: <--- direct comparison to "Temp with bottle caps" I think this is where the 56 degrees C you reported fits in.
    Temp with new fan no bottle caps: <---- direct comparison to stock
     
  18. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, I really don't have other stats, as the temp. seemingly hasn't been an issue for me and I haven't had a need (thankfully) to go a new fan route. The best I can recall, the initial temp. without any mod. was in the low or mid-60's (I remember thinking that it was at an acceptable level, esp. vis-à-vis reports I was seeing from others), with the small supports then lowering things by maybe around 5 degrees. Sorry for the lack of precision.
     
  19. clay.autery

    clay.autery Member

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    Sorry Mikeguy.... I got confused. Thought yhou did a fan replacement. Doh!
     
  20. cwerdna

    cwerdna Proud Tivolutionary

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    Huh? 66 F? Do you mean 66 C?

    The ODT value in the system information screen as far as we know is on-die temperature and is in Celsius.

    66 F would mean ODT is just under 19 C.

    I just put my Bolt Plus on top of a USB-powered laptop cooling pad which has 1 or 2 fans, depending on which pad I use. Since I don't have high confidence is some of the cheaper ones running 24x7, I pick up cheap ones when they go on sale at Fry's (e.g. Thermaltak Massive V14 was $5 yesterday). I figure the cheapo ones will have bearings that will crap out within a year or two of 24/7 operation, if not faster.
     

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