Need Help Diagnosing Tivo Problems...

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by sw10025, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. sw10025

    sw10025 Active Member

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    May 16, 2000
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    I have posted here several times in the last couple of months, but now my Tivo problem has reached critical point, and I need some guidance what the problem is. I have two Series2 Tivos that are quite old, up until recently the only repair they'd had or needed was a broken fan, but they started having problems a couple months back so I replaced the hard drives on both (since that's usually the problem). Bought the replacement HDs from DVR_Dude on EBay.

    I had some minor issues getting one of the HDs to boot from the start, but cutting power and trying again seemed to fix that. Things worked fine for a couple of weeks, then the second unit started making a loud grinding noise, which I understand to be a symptom of hard drive failure. I moved it slightly, rebooted it and its been quiet since, so I was going to keep an eye (and ear) on it and see what happens since its supposed to have a 1 year warranty. (The seller said it might also be a power unit problem, since I have no idea if that's a possibility, I had been thinking about replacing both of those as well.)

    A week or two ago, both units stopped completing the daily updates properly. (They had been before then, had no problems before that, although the prior HDs that I had replaced had had that problem for quite a while). So I'd decided to go ahead and order the new power supplies, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I reverted back to the old solution I'd used when I had the old HDs, rebooting once or twice, then trying to download and get at least some of the data.

    So I tried that with the first of the Tivos today (one that hadn't had the grinding noise) and it refuses to boot properly. Its been over two hours, and I've yet to be able to get it to boot up. It goes from the grey screen to the orange Tivo screen back to blue and back to grey and is stuck in that loop. I tried unplugging it briefly, and tried unplugging it for an extended period of time, and nothing helps. Its stuck and won't reboot. I'm afraid to try this with the second Tivo.

    I'm rather perplexed what I should do at this point. Its rather more than a coincidence that both Tivos are experiencing basically the same problem after both the new drives were installed, but then they're both quite old, and haven't been repaired much, its possible. Anyone have any suggestions? (Bear in mind, I'm not technically savvy like most of the people here, I might not understand your suggestion.) I did keep the old HDs, if that's helpful. Not sure what I should do next to try to narrow the problem down...

    BTW, if I replace the power supply, will that in any way erase or ruin the HD content? I'd like to retrieve it, if at all possible...

    ETA: I tried using a different power plug to see if that would make any difference (from an even older Tivo I don't use anymore) and the fan powers on, if that makes any difference.)
     
  2. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    S2 and S3 TiVos are starting to see power supply problems due to faulty capacitors in the power supplies.

    Go read the Wikipedia page on "capacitor plague".

    Then look at this thread

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=479176&highlight=broken

    for a very good picture of how subtle the visual clues can be.

    Since both units started acting up even worse with new drives, perhaps the new drives draw more power than the old ones (you can look on the sticker on the top to find the amperage ratings at +5 and at +12 Volts on the old drives and the new ones).

    This increased power demand would only hasten development of power supply problems if you do have units with faulty capacitors.

    The good news is that if you can solder, you can repair much more cheaply than replace.
     
  3. sw10025

    sw10025 Active Member

    1,421
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    May 16, 2000
    Los...
    I think you and I had this discussion when I was replacing my HDs and I couldn't find any evidence of this. I have been doing more reading on weaknees site, and they mentioned that either motherboard or power supply problems could be caused by power outtages and surges. Unfortunately, we have been having a LOT of them in the past couple of months, one because of a brush fire, another several during a windstorm, and two the house just had them no one else in the neighborhood was apparently affected. I have them on "power surge" strips, but not the other protection device we talked about last time. I strongly suspect this may have something to do with the problem, the question is, is it the power supply, the motherboard, or both, given not only the inability to boot up, but the previous problem with the S03 errors when trying to download the programming data via the internet.
     
  4. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    If I mentioned another protection device, it would have been an Uninterruptable Power Supply, or UPS. All of your electronics should be on them.

    What are the model numbers of your TiVos?
     
  5. sw10025

    sw10025 Active Member

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    May 16, 2000
    Los...
    Right, that's what you mentioned. Both of the Tivos are TCD240080s.

    ETA: I tried to call weaknees to get their advice on whether they thought it was the power supply (and I could order the part from them and do it myself) or the motherboard, in which case I should send it in to them for repair, but they were closed, even though it was within their stated hours of operation. My guess is they've closed for the Christmas holidays. Is there anywhere else I can get Tivo parts that folks would recommend? DVR_Dude only has HDs in his inventory...
     
  6. sw10025

    sw10025 Active Member

    1,421
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    May 16, 2000
    Los...
    Incidentally, I contacted both weaknees and DVR upgrade about the possible repair. Weaknees responded this afternoon and said the S03 error is often sign of failing/failed hard drive. Dammit. That means they started to fail before I even had them installed a month, and the one that isn't booting had tons of content I really, really wanted to keep, was trying to move over to PC to burn content as fast as I could...gosh, I hope it really isn't the drives themselves...

    Well, I guess there's one way to test this, if I put the old HD back in, and it boots up, then that's a damn good sign the new one is the problem. :(
     
  7. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
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    2 new drives failing inside a month is possible, but I'd suspect almost everything else first.

    The most likely explanation is bad caps, most likely the 2200uF one tucked under the heat sink.

    Since you got the drives from DVR-Dude you're probably better off talking to him about your situation than a different seller.

    What are the brand and model number(s) of the drives?

    Probably not a bad idea to download a bootable cd version of the manufacturer's diagnostics and running the long test on each drive.

    Are the drives SATA and are you using an adapter, and if so, which one?

    How were you connecting these TiVos to the internet, and did you try reverting to connecting via the internal modem connected to the telephone line?

    Definitely try putting the original drives back in and see what happens.
     
  8. sw10025

    sw10025 Active Member

    1,421
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    May 16, 2000
    Los...
    I sincerely hope you're right. I'd rather pay for additional parts or repairs than have all that really valuable content (to me) unrecoverable. Let me ask this: could all these power outtages have damaged the HDs or would they most likely damage the power supply FIRST? I just had another one (brief) while I was typing the answers to your questions before.

    You had previously been kind enough to provide me with links to instructions and photos to check this and I found nothing wrong, but I've opened up the unit for inspection again, and I'll be *thrilled* if I made an incorrect assumption previously. May I ask two questions to that effect (see photo in link).

    https://www.weaknees.com/cart/added.php?cat=0&productid=51043&amount=1&page=0&keep_https=yes

    I'm assuming the silver object shown on the power supply is the heat sink, correct? There are a bunch of capacitors underneath it. I didn't find anything like what was show in the pictures, no bulging or brown goop at the top of the capacitors, nothing at the bottom either, but I had assumed all that hard white stuff at the bottom of the caps on the power supply was some kind of sealant or glue or something, but maybe I'm making an erroneous assumption. The only thing is, I see the same white stuff in the above photo in many of the same places, its on both my power supply and looks like its in the photo by the caps next to the heat sink, the big cap on the right side, and those two little blue things on the right side of the power supply (sorry, have no idea what those are). If that white stuff is supposed to be there, unless its covering up some leakage so I can't see it, I just can't see any other potential problems.

    I did actually talk to the seller after the other Tivo started having problems (that was prior to discovering that neither of the units were completing the programming updates). I had unplugged the second Tivo and temporarily located it in a different room on a different satellite receiver and it had started making very loud grinding noises, which I know is a big sign of hard drive failure. Then when I moved it back to its original location, I had some difficulty getting it to boot up properly, but eventually it did, and the noise went away. The seller said it could also be a power supply problem. There were a couple things he wanted me to do to test this, but I said I wanted to clear off the drive first in case it failed altogether. I was concentrating on doing that before I risked unplugging it or disturbing the machine further. I planned on talking to him again once I had done what he suggested.

    But now that I've got an apparently dead unit that has to be dealt with, I was trying to get as much information from as many different sources as possible. And frankly, I hoped it was either a motherboard or a power supply problem (or both). If its a MB problem, neither of these vendors sell them, but they do repair them, so I'm assuming its a problem I shouldn't attempt to tackle at my level -- largely ignorant -- although I'd be willing to try to fix the power supply on my own. That's why I wanted the third parties' input on what the problem was, to first off get as much information as possible to make my decision how to handle it, to decide whether to gamble its the power supply and replace that, only to have to send it in and pay even more to replace the MB, and if there's a possibility that the surges damaged the HDs, well then, its my problem, I eat it, I would never ask the seller to replace or repair the units if I thought the damage was caused at my end.

    They're both Western Digital, WD10EVDS-63U8B1 WD AV-GP. Forgive my technical ignorance, what I would do here is download the diagnostics onto my PC, then take the drive out of the Tivo and plug it into an external PC HD drive, and then run the diagnostics, correct?

    They aren't SATA, there is an adapter which the seller provided, but no packaging or marking, I have no idea what brand it is. If there is an adapter that might be better than what I was given, I'd be happy to go buy it, but I had a really hard time getting the motherboard cable and the power supply cable out of the old HD the first time (I was very careful, don't think I damaged them, saw no physical damage, it was just hard because I was afraid of damaging them so went very slow, didn't want to use a lot of force) and they seem to be very connected to the new one, but I'll risk taking it apart if I have to to put something better in there.

    I was connecting via cable modem. I didn't try reverting to the old phone line because back when I had the old drives, the machines had stopped connecting properly (the S03 errors) and I had switched to cable modem hoping the phone connection was the problem, but that wasn't the case, still got S03 errors. So if they didn't work before, I'd assume they wouldn't work now.

    I had intended to do that, but I'm having such difficulty getting the motherboard cable and the power cable out of the adapter, just like I did out of the original hard drive, I'm a little worried I might damage them. (I'm pretty sure I didn't damage them before because I went slow and careful, saw no physical damage, and the units did work well for a couple of weeks.)

    I'm wondering whether I shouldn't just go ahead and pay for ONE new power supply, try it in the unit that won't boot (if the caps are bad, even if I can't see the damage, that would remove and replace all the old caps, right?) and if that doesn't fix the problem, I could always put back the old power supply, and try that same new power supply in the second unit. That might prevent IT from failing altogether like the first one. What do you think?
     
  9. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
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    Your link to the picture in your shopping cart at Weaknees doesn't work because on my computer it goes to my shopping cart there, which is empty.

    However, I just had the cover off of my 24008A, so my memory of it is fresh.

    Also, the picture is viewable here:

    https://www.weaknees.com/tivo-power-supply.php

    The white goop (looks like marshmellow creme, but glossier) is an adhesive used to keep stuff in place while it's getting soldered. It can be carefully broken off with needlenose pliers or something if necessary.

    Those blue things over near where the AC cord plugs in are probably Metal-Oxide Varistors, a sort of surge suppressor, about which you almost certainly don't have to worry.

    The 240 power supply has 2 heat sinks.

    There's one over on the "AC side" of the board, next to the big round capacitor (the least likely cap to be bad), it's "L" shaped, has no fins, and only has one transistor package bolted to it. It's also electrically "hot" when the TiVo is plugged in.

    The other heat sink is the one on the side where the wires to the drive and the motherboard come out, it comes up, bends over 90 degrees, is finned/serrated, and is the one under which the culprit caps usually lurk.

    The power supply from any of these models will work with your Tivo.

    TiVo TCD230040
    TiVo TCD240040
    TiVo TCD240080
    TiVo TCD24004A
    TiVo TCD24008A
    TiVo TCD240140

    So check your area Craigslist for someone selling, or giving away, a working one of those cheap, and if you find one use the power supply out of it to sub in to test the drive and motherboard of one of yours.


    The WD10EVDS is a 1TB SATA drive (I think the biggest PATA/IDE drives ever made were 750GB, and very few 640GB and 750GB PATA drives exist, relatively speaking).

    Your TiVos are PATA, so I guess DVR_Dude supplied an adapter with each. Which are probably good ones.

    Getting the data cable (the 40 wire one) and the 4 wire power plug out of them is done by carefully rocking and wiggling (until you've done it so many times there's less friction in that friction fit :) ). You can try lifting one corner/end of the ribbon cable plug just a little, then work the other end, kind of rocking back and forth. The power plug can be levered against the socket with some pliers.

    Those 40 wire cables are the insulation displacement type. Inside each hole is a metal socket whose top is a two prong fork. Each fork straddles one of the individual wires, cutting into the plastic insulation and making contact to the actual metal of the wire. Check the plug on the TiVo drive cable to make sure the cable didn't get lifted away from the forks at any point across its width when you worked it out of the socket on the drive.


    Go here:

    http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=610&lang=en


    I have not used

    Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows

    so I don't know if it's usable for what you need to do.

    Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS (CD)

    is what I use, it lets you burn it as a bootable cd.

    Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for DOS

    is pretty much the same thing, but you have to put it on a bootable floppy.

    (I believe in having a floppy drive on a computer whenever possible, just in case, and then avoiding using it whenever possible)

    Advanced Format Software
    (Only for Windows XP users with WD Advanced Format Drives)

    is not what you need for a TiVo drive,

    and I guess

    Acronis True Image WD Edition

    is a freebie limited version of some drive cloning software of no use to you TiVo-wise.

    (If you want to clone/Xerox a drive, use dd_rescue on the MFS Live cd v1.4.

    Did I mention that you should go to mfslive.org and download that and burn yourself a copy just because it's handy to have around, even if your don't own a TiVo?)



    The least likely thing to be bad, fortunately, is the motherboard. That's also probably the most expensive to fix, so let's be certain the problem isn't elsewhere before you commit to that kind of expense. A local repair shop that knows how to work with surface mount devices could probably transplant the Atmel crypto chip (where the TiVo Service Number, to which your subscription and recordings are tied, is stored) to a good board from another TCD240xx0 (I'm not sure if the xxA boards would be usable for this particular trick or not) cheaper than what you'd have to pay to have it sent off for repair.
     
  10. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    And the other thing I meant to say and forgot--

    Check the cable that connects the front panel to the motherboard, and make sure it's fully and properly seated into the socket on the motherboard, sometimes it gets knocked loose a little during drive swaps.
     

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