Re-Casing the Bolt - ideas for giving the Bolt a proper case

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by darklyte, Aug 22, 2018.

  1. darklyte

    darklyte Joe

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    Sep 16, 2003
    New York, NY

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    I've seen several posts about people considering taking the Bolt's components and putting them into an entirely new case so I'd thought I'd start a thread just for this and get some thoughts on how to do this.

    The main purpose to do this is, regardless of what you think of it aesthetically, its a poor quality plastic shell that is inferior quality & design compared to any other TiVo going back to Series 1, or even my cheapo Time Warner Cable standard issue tuner box.

    Most egregiously, it lacks proper heat dissipation that could impact the lifespan of the device components. TiVo could have easily put some holes for ventilation in the case or raised up the bottom for basically no cost. But since they didn't and people are raising theirs on bottle caps, using laptop coolers under and putting holes and fans on top of the case I figured maybe there is a more elegant solution.

    Ideally there would be a solution that checks these boxes:
    1. Made of off-the-shelf parts widely available
    2. Have better heat control options (ventilation holes, space for case fan(s)
    3. Accommodate a 3.5" HD for better upgrade options
    4. Be as cost effective as possible (i.e. no $300 HTPC cases)
    5. Easy enough to do that someone with some basic tech skills and a screwdriver could accomplish
    As I've started thinking about this a few issues that I noticed are that the Bolt motherboard is not a standard size, it may need to also be mounted higher than usual to accommodate the cable card underneath?, some moving/realigning of the IR sensor and LEDs would likely be needed.

    Some measurements I took (rough estimates):
    • Motherboard size = 190mm x 155mm (7 1/2" x 6 1/8")
    • Back plate = 184mm x 32mm ( 7 1/4" x 1 1/4")
    • Heatsink = 85mm square (located 1.5" from front of board, 1.25" from back, 2.5" from right, 1.75 from left)
    Any thoughts on tackling this and what might work?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  2. TexasDVR

    TexasDVR Member

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    Um, I may have found a use for the Old Sony DHG-500; but it still works!

    Hey look what my Sony can do now; it has Four tuners and can record 4 channels!
     
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  3. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    New Mexico...
    I was going to retrofit a Bolt into an old S2 or S3 box and share the details of how to do it, but I really did not want to start by tearing apart one of my good working Bolts until I had the details worked out. I put out a request for a donation of any broken/unusable Bolts to serve as the initial doner box, but nobody showed any interest, so my project never got off the ground. It really should be pretty easy to do.

    Perhaps the most interesting possibility for this conversion would be the easy switch to a "real" HDD instead of the toy 2.5" thing to which the Bolt is currently limited. If one of my currently upgraded Bolts ever has an HDD failure, perhaps I will then do the conversion. But they are both still working fine after two years.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  4. Joe39565

    Joe39565 Member

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    "My Awesome BOLT Cooling Mods" topic already has provided a great solution.

    The author; "CIR-Engineering" also mentioned going with an external hard drive enclosure so you could use a 3.5" form factor hard drive.

    I've already started modification of a "parts" bolt I purchased on Ebay, and waiting for the rest of the parts I purchased to arrive.

    A metal case would be much nicer, but what about RF remote operation?

    The metal case would still have to be modified; and it is much easier to work with plastic.
     
  5. JLV03

    JLV03 Active Member

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    Feb 12, 2018

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    The Roamio Plus/Pro have a metal case and plastic front. No problems with RF remotes in that style box.
     
  6. darklyte

    darklyte Joe

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    Sep 16, 2003
    New York, NY
    Yeah CIR has some awesome ideas/solution for just getting acces to the bigger HD via an extra external enclosure. His work there is one of the things that got me thinking about this!

    That Sony DHG case looks really cool, I'd love to figure out a way to get the bolt hooked up to the screen on front. One of the things I miss the most from my older S3 unit is the clock and being able to read off the front panel what's recording which was a killer feature. Unfortunately the ribbon cable from the S3 has nowhere to plug into on the bolt, and even if it did I don't know that it would just work.

    One of the most promising cases I've found is this one:
    M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure

    BUT it has a couple of drawbacks which are still fewer than most others I've found so far.
    • It would require an additional hard drive adapter bracket to fit a 3.5" .. maybe this: 2.5 / 3.5 to 5.25 Drive Bay Computer Case Adapter HDD Mounting Bracket SSD 44276895809 | eBay
    • The way its set up in front it gives extra room to work but would require some extra wiring creativity to get the leds set up. In fact, the way the LEDs are on the TiVo board I'm not sure how easy it would be to get them functional/seen on any other case without soldering. Would need ideas on this.
    • The mounting holes aren't aligned with the TiVo mainboard screws, since its not a standard Mini-ITX size this is going to be an issue with all cases, but it has so many vent holes in it you could probably easily fix that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  7. darklyte

    darklyte Joe

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    New York, NY
    Here's a pic that shows the issue with the LEDs I mentioned, which would require some creativity to deal with if you wanted them to work on a new case. I'm not sure there is another way besided unsoldering these and attaching new leds via a wire that can be placed at the front of the case.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Joe39565

    Joe39565 Member

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    I'm still basically going with CIR's approach. Added more vent holes to the cable card area, and instead of powering the 120 mm fan from the Bolt motherboard, it will be powered by the external hard drive enclosure.

    With the Bolt power supply load reduced by relocating the hard drive and fan power to the external HD enclosure, I'm sure that should further reduce the motherboard temperature and reliability while keeping the motherboard itself fully "factory".
     
  9. CaseyJ

    CaseyJ Always read the plaque

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    Now that I transferred my last TiVo HD lifetime to a new Bolt, I'm going to sell the HDs' recapped power supplies, fans, and hard drives. That left me wondering what to do with the cases (and motherboards). Using them as Bolt enclosures is one option I'm considering, with a CIR style fan blowing on the heat sink except mounted inside the enclosure.
    One of my Bolts is stock and one has a 3.5" drive in an external enclosure, but I'm not happy with either of these. So I'll probably start tinkering with this idea. But first I'll wait to see if the last HD actually gets deactivated in September.
     
    darklyte likes this.
  10. V7Goose

    V7Goose OTA ONLY and Loving It!

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    Butchering the Bolt case, and then still having to use another external box with it, just does not score very high on my "intelligent design" test. The Bolt is already ugly enough without subjecting it to something similar to a 2nd grade art project.

    An external drive enclosure by itself just to convert the drive to a bigger and more reliable 3.5" model is an OK solution which is quite simple for just about anyone to do, but as far as I am concerned, there are better options. We all get to do what we want with our own devices. Isn't having choices great?
     
    darklyte likes this.
  11. Joe39565

    Joe39565 Member

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    I guess a highly intelligent and motivated individual could program a 3D printer and have it print out a modified state of the art case for the bolt, and have that design incorporate room for a 3.5" hd.

    For most normal people, "hacking" a spare bolt case to achieve a much lower operating temperature for the sake of possibly extending the life cycle is the main goal.

    I'm sure many of us following this forum would love to see anyone come up with a replacement case that looks to be a piece of art. ;)
     
    krkaufman, Idol and darklyte like this.
  12. darklyte

    darklyte Joe

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    Sep 16, 2003
    New York, NY
    If a highly intelligent and motivated individual took the basic specs of the case, removed that horrible arch and mostly just extended the width and height to accommodate a 3.5" HD and a fan or two they could potentially make a few bucks off their creation if they wanted, (not a lot mind you the audience is limited but a few hundred bucks isn't out of the question), but more importantly and valuable, they'd receive the love and admiration of the Tivo forums lol

    The 3D printing route would also provide an opportunity to make the case in a way that it follows the current design of the front of the Bolt case where needed to fit the layout of the RF sensor and LEDs.. so moving everything over could be pretty darn easy! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
    krkaufman likes this.
  13. gthassell

    gthassell Active Member

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    Instead of traditional 3D printing, if someone comes up with a good design in SVG format (for cuts of acrylic or plywood) I might be willing to attempt to create one with my favorite piece of technology (since the TiVo).... A Glowforge 3D Laser "printer" - which is really a 3D laser cutter and engraver. www.glowforge.com (there is an amazing promotional video of the unit in action on the wbesite home page)

    While they were delayed several years from the product concept launch and crowdfunding (they raised almost $28 Million in the first 30 days), they have now delivered to most countries where they have received orders.

    If anyone is interested in getting one for a discount, I do have a referral code I'll share. - Glowforge - the 3D laser printer (full disclosure - you get a discount, and I get an equivalent credit) - just go to the page using this link (rather than the main website) and go the the "Buy Now" section. PM me if you want to ask any questions about it or see some of the things I've created.
     
  14. Luke M

    Luke M Member

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    If you want to be a bit lazy, you could keep the motherboard in the existing case when installing it into a new case. Just remove the top.
     
  15. My Cape is a Recliner

    My Cape is a Recliner Member

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    I'm bumping this thread in stead of creating a new one, in hopes that someone who posted in here came up with something over the last year they forgot to contribute. It also sounds like OP started it with the same thread intentions I have.


    It sounds like this threads was trying to come up with an entirely new (to the bolt) design. I like the CIR Engineering Bolt case mod with the fan, but my problems with that are the Rosewill external enclosure states it is limited to a 6TB. Not sure why, but before I limit my HD options, I'd rather try to expand my case options. Also, that external is about $60 for just an enclosure that you need to modify too.


    Here are the options I came up with hoping for some thoughts on any of it:

    * An older Tivo model case. Did anyone ever try this out?

    * A computer case. The problems I'm noticing are that unless you can find a used one, or DIY, I can't justify the price of what I'm seeing is $50-$100. Its difficult to find one that is long enough to fit the drive on the side. I'm having better luck finding smaller ones that are about 10x10x what would probably have to be about 5-6" tall, to mount the HD over the motherboard. This would easily allow for larger fans.

    * A DVR case (security system style). Is about the size, mostly hoping someone looked into this and has done some of the legwork of finding the right one.

    * An old VCR. This is supposed to be slightly comical, but it would be the right size case, and would only look out of place because of how old they are now (, and that I wouldn't have any tapes in the house). I would either seal the VHS opening or make that as the display. Use a Dremel to cut out what was needed. Then a drill with a tap and use spacer standoffs to mount. With where it sits in my setup the back and one side would not be visible. I would drill many smaller holes on the visible side to try to keep it looking stock. The big bonus to this one, is out of all the other options, I think If someone were to ever burglarize my house, this is the only option that would probably get left behind. I could probably find one at goodwill for $5.

    * A custom made, one off plexiglass/acrylic case in smoke or transparent black. Based off of one 5 minute video
    ( how to build acrylic computer case - Bing video )
    I think I know everything I need to, to make it right. I still haven't figured out my dimensions yet, but I think I would personally rather mount the 3.5" HDD partially over the motherboard as opposed to next to it. My thought is that I would rather use a larger fan 120/140/150mm fan that can be mounted on the size, and that I know would blow a serious amount of air (triple digit CFM) as opposed to the single digit CFM that the factory fan does. Possibly a thinner 150mm fan over the heatsink, and a 120/140mm fan (maybe even two on the side) then another fan helping blow out. All in, this should be about $50-$70.


    Can anyone help with any reasons to why any of these would work better, or not as well, or any thoughts? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  16. shwru980r

    shwru980r Well-Known Member

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    It might be easier to upgrade the the new Tivo Edge model. You could transfer your shows with Tivo online and then sell your bolt.
     
  17. My Cape is a Recliner

    My Cape is a Recliner Member

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    Oct 5, 2019
    Your answer is to spend $400 on a new edge (that's currently out of stock on TiVo.com), + $550 for lifetime, to get a 2TB drive (that probably won't be big enough), AND IS STILL A 2.5" DRIVE, then sell what I have to get back half of that is your suggestion?
     
    UCLABB likes this.
  18. Slumpert

    Slumpert Member

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    Project - Bolt into a Roamio chassis.

    Still work in progress but it’s up and running. Ordered some new cables to be able to remount the hard drive.
    I bought that Roamio for under $25 as a functional unit missing remote and power.
     
    My Cape is a Recliner likes this.
  19. shwru980r

    shwru980r Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Seems like this project requires significant time a resources. How much time have you spent on this? How much is your time worth to you?
     
  20. My Cape is a Recliner

    My Cape is a Recliner Member

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    Oct 5, 2019
    That's relative. The engineers had parameters in which they designed this.. Sounds like size was important and it compromised it in other ways. I want to personalize this. I'm not someone who needs to pay someone to get me out all the work I want done. Heck, I still change my own oil and buy my own groceries, and sometimes I cook my own meals instead of eating twenty some mcdonalds meals a week. I wash my own clothes, my own pickup with a sponge, and I even like to go visit national parks, when I could always just google them, and save me all that time....

    Did you realize that an edge still has the same 2.5" drive that is the entire point of trying this, in order to fix that?
     

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