TE4 Bolt upgrade with external drive

Discussion in 'TiVo Bolt DVR/Streamer' started by tommage1, Dec 15, 2019.

  1. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Many people are still trying to find a 2.5" drive that will work correctly with a TE4 Bolt, and not fail within a year or so. I still think the best solution is to go with a good quality 3.5 PMR/CMR drive in an external enclosure. The drive in the enclosure ideally should be connected directly to the Sata port on the Bolt MB. And get it's power from the enclosure. Mine has been working well for quite awhile now. I did not even have to cut the Bolt case, I used a couple cardboard shims where the cable comes out of the Bolt. And used two cables that can connect/disconnect so can separate the Bolt from the enclosure easily. Here are some pics if anyone interested. No Esata being used, the cable coming out of the Bolt is connected to the Sata port on the Bolt MB, the cable coming out of the enclosure is connected directly to the Sata connection on the drive. Added bonus, since no drive in the Bolt it does run a bit cooler. Not as much as I expected though, most of the heat must come from the MB/CPU, not the drive.

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    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
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  2. Mukwonago

    Mukwonago New Member

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    I am on my first month of a WD 3TB RED drive. Externally outside of the Bolt VOX, not in an enclosure with an external power supply. I have the SATA cable going out of the case where the internal drive used to be, it's loosely closed. So far no issues. No noises, all is very quiet. Ideally, I would have liked an enclosure but I just didn't want to spend any more money on this project than the initial Bolt, the drive and a $9 power supply from Amazon.
     
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  3. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    I had the cable going out the same place as you for awhile, then decided to use the shims so I could have the Bolt case entirely assembled. I also tried to spend as little as possible on the project. The enclosure I used only cost around $20. It can be used with Sata and IDE drives. Since it has IDE type connections inside it has a molex power connection along with regular Sata connection. Regular Sata connection is usually one piece so cannot connect data and power connections separately. So to use the enclosure's power I used the molex power connector with a molex to sata adapter. The entire project (other than the drive) cost under $30, the enclosure, two Sata data cables (that can connect together) and the molex to Sata power adapter. This is what the inside of the enclosure looks like before I put in the drive, did not use the one part Sata connection at all, nor the IDE data cable, just the molex power with the molex to Sata power adapter and a Sata data cable I connected to the drive and ran out of the case myself.

    What does your setup look like? What does that $9 Amazon power supply look like, it just connects to the power connection on the WD Red? Outside the Bolt?


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    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  4. Mukwonago

    Mukwonago New Member

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    My Amazon search skills were not good at all and I couldn't find an enclosure that had an external SATA connection. I found plenty of enclosures that had USB interfaces. I know they exist, but I just failed at finding one for a reasonable price, no where near $20. Now, I was in a dark place because I learned two things AFTER ordering the Bolt. My fault of course, research is my responsibility for the project. I naively believed that I could plug an external drive into the eSATA port on the back of the Tivo AND I thought I could go bigger than 3TB without a song and dance. Ok, enough about that. So, I this is how I faired and like you, wanted to spend zero time or as close to that as I could at this point of my life;
    $149 Bolt VOX 500GB ordered direct from Tivo, not a renewed unit.
    $99 1 year of taking it up the shorts in terms of recurring money loss for subscription.
    $80 WD RED 3TB. Yes, I wanted the 10TB but I read on here 3 is as big as I could go without doing 'stuff'. Amazon Prime
    $154 Tivo Mini Vox. Amazon Prime
    $9 Drive power supply. Amazon Prime. Has an on/off switch and came with all the various hard drive power connectors that are out there.
    Rough numbers, I'm at $491. At this point, I'm trying to stop the bleeding, literally one dollar at a time.
    I already had sata cables so I was good there.
    I'm over budget in this project. I was supposed to look for ways to get off of cable, to cut the cord, instead not only did I not do that, but now I'm paying yet another yearly subscription cost.
    Ok, here's the picture. It's ugly. This is just ugly as ugly can be. I kept telling myself that I will clean it up, but I would be lying if I truly believed that.
    On a shelf, in a cabinet is the Cable Tuning Adapter.
    On top of that, sitting directly on it, is the Tivo Bolt.
    The sata cable is coming out of the small hard drive door, exiting to the 'front' of the Bolt.
    The WD 3TB drive sits on it's side, to the left, externally of course, without an enclosure and nothing near it by a few inches both sides.

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    On a side note, and I apologize I'm venturing off topic, although the project is technically a success I have a few disappointments when all is said and done:

    1) The Bolt looks really really cheaply made. But I was pleased that there was nothing for me to do to get the bigger drive working. The unit arrived, I pulled the OEM drive before it ever saw power for the first time.
    2) I didn't really want to buy the Mini though it works nicely. In 'my' perfect world, I would own TWO Bolt's but I will not pay TWO subscription fee's. Tivo should have a 'whole' house subscription package.
    3) It's a shame the eSATA port on the back of the Bolt is fairly useless.
    4) I'm bummed that the unit natively only supports up to 3TB. I think they should have incorporated support for larger drives. Yes, I have read that it is widely done, "I" did not want to mess with that, I wanted turn-key as much as I could.
    5) I hate the ads they play before I play recorded content.
    6) I was an early adopter of Tivo over 10 years ago, I miss the thumbs up and down rating buttons.
    7) The remote should be backlit.
    8) Tivo search sucks compared to my Spectrum DVR's which I still have until I watch all that is there.
     
  5. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Ok :) A few things, one the external connection of the enclosure does not matter, at least for my project. As I do not use it. The data connection, I use a Sata cable directly connected to the drive inside the enclosure. The ONLY connection used with the enclosure is the molex to sata power adapter inside (and of course the AC adapter/power supply for the enclosure itself). The enclosure, needs to be big enough to hold the drive, the molex to sata adapter and be able to connect the Sata data cable to the drive and be able to run it out of the enclosure. In case you want to try one since the are "old tech" they are pretty cheap price wise, construction wise they are great, aluminum, a fan inside, goes together with screws not "snaps". Model is Sabrent EC-UEIS7. Around $20 at Amazon or a bit more depending on the seller you choose. For ME the ideal enclosure for the project, I have others that work but this one the size and construction is great, can fit everything inside and run the Sata cable out and be able to completely close the enclosure. The molex to sata power adapter, I had some lying around so did not have to actually purchase but they should only be a couple bucks.

    Cost of Bolt, if you are willing to accept a used Bolt or Bolt Vox you can actually find them at ebay WITH LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION for a bit under $300 if lucky (usually the white model), otherwise low to mid 300s. White or black does not matter, either can run Vox/Hydra software if you want to use TE4. The white would probably not come with a Vox voice remote so you would have to get one if you want to use TE4 voice function. And I'm talking about the models that can be used with cable OR OTA. Used can almost be an advantage with all the problems I read about here with renewed or even new Bolt/Bolt Vox purchases direct from Tivo. Most used have been USED (ie tested) for awhile so should be no issues if buying from a good seller. And if you are replacing the drive anyway the used drive in the Bolt would not be an issue.

    Yep, the Bolt seems rather cheaply made. The last REALLY solid Tivo as far as I am concerned it the Roamio Plus/Pro. Some people do use the Esata port, you can use it as expansion (of the main drive, still have to use the main drive). For me I wouldn't, another point of failure possible, already have the main drive and the flash drive. Thumbs, have you tried TE3 interface? If you don't care about the voice function (and AUTO skip, you can still use one push button skip) maybe try it if/when you do anything with the drive again. But only if you are ok with losing all your current recordings (mostly, you can backup to computer or another Tivo and transfer back once on TE3). You will not get ads with TE3 (at least for now), you should be able to "opt out" now on TE4 if you call Tivo? Native support for drives larger than 3TB, well yes it would be nice but the largest drive Tivo has ever included stock is 3TB. If you don't want to mess with upgrade software/procedures that can be tricky (especially with a Bolt) 3TB is not bad :)

    I like your power adapter, did not know they sold power adapters with connectors that will connect directly to a hard drive. Most barrel shaped or proprietary type. As for "looks", I think yours is pretty cool ;) Since I like to "modify" things myself I've done some interesting modifications over time, you know, like twist ties, duct tape, drilling holes or a shoe sitting on top of something to keep it together. The "fine" mods can come later in most cases.......... Hey, yours is WORKING, you have a reliable good quality 3TB 3.5 CMR/PMR drive hooked up, could last for many years, probably a lot longer than any Bolt with a 2.5, stock or expanded ;) Have fun!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  6. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    A couple more things, I know you are at the point where you don't want to spend more money. But if the way things look bother you you can "clean it up" for $20. First of all the shims to the sides of the data cable which cost nothing, use them and you can have your Bolt completely assembled. Second the enclosure. Two things you could do with that, one JUST use it to hold the drive. Using your Amazon power supply for the drive. Or use the power in the enclosure with the molex/sata adapter. Either way the drive would not be bare, that would make me nervous over time, dust, insects, even a mouse chewing something on the board?

    And I know you do not want to use any of the expansion techniques to get over 3TB. BUT there is one that is so easy, only a few minutes (if starting fresh). You hooked up your 3TB, let the Bolt format it and were ready to go. An 8TB would be almost the same. Hook up the 8TB, let the Bolt format it, same as your 3TB (the 8TB would have 3TB capacity at that point). Then you pull the 8TB (at the guided setup screen, do not run guided setup at this point), hook it up to computer and run MFSR to expand to 8TB (read the instructions on how to use MFSR). Hook it back up to the Bolt and ready to go. Again for it to be that simple you need to be starting fresh, no current recordings/settings you want to save. 8TB would be the limit for it to be that simple, to go beyond that you's also need to use MFST, not overly tough but not as simple as a fresh MFSR upgrade. I have not done a fresh 8TB MFSR upgrade with a BOLT though I have with a Roamio on TE3. So you might want to read up on how it has worked out for other users............. Maybe stick with your 3TB if unsure, don't want to spend a lot more money since you are trying to keep costs at a minimum. Which is a very good thing ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  7. leiff

    leiff Active Member

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    Good read guys. Myself,I prefer keeping small sized hard drive-in tivo since I find navigating TVO menu slow and cumbersome with too many recordings. Instead I use KMTTG software to store my shows on 10 TB harddrive in my PC which can be easily be moved back to tivo for viewing later
     
  8. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    I agree about the menus with a lot of shows. Especially movies, only way to really group them is wishlist type folders. If there is one thing I could ask them to include in the Tivo software it would be folder creation and manipulation.
     
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  9. Sparky1234

    Sparky1234 Well-Known Member

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    That has been on the table for decades but TiVo is not listening.
     
  10. tommiet

    tommiet Active Member

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    Tons on good reading (thanks.) But for the life of me, why would anyone want an 8TB drive to store almost a 1000 hours of recordings? My 1TB bolt tells me it can store 120 hours of HD. I think I've got my storage up to 60% a time or two. VOD is handling more and more of my TV viewing. Also, not the safest way to archive videos - if that's what your doing.

    Still... one of the better threads I've read here in a long time......
     
  11. Mukwonago

    Mukwonago New Member

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    I'm already knee deep into the 3TB drive but I have a quick question before doing research on it. If I was to go to a 8TB drive, could I move the content off the 3TB with KMTTG and place it back on the 8TB?
     
  12. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    Yep, assuming that it's not copy-protected, and using pyTivo Desktop/pyTivo to move it back to the drive from your PC.
     
  13. Mukwonago

    Mukwonago New Member

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    Thanks, is there an easy way to determine which material is protected?
     
  14. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Mike says yes. I have not done it myself. I don't think it would be a problem if you are running TE3. Not sure about TE4, I thought I read you can't transfer from computer back to a TE4 device but I could be wrong. Copy protected, well any premium channel content is most likely copy protected. Other content, it also depends on your provider, from what I have read here some cable companies protect almost everything. Comcast by me, just premium protected far as I know.
     
  15. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

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    I'm an OTA guy and as far as I'm aware, it typically is not copy-protected. Premium service content, I believe, typically is, and some cable providers also will mark "regular" OTA-like content as copy-protected as well.
    Yep: only TE3--not TE4--allows PC -> TiVo box transfers.
     
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  16. spiderpumpkin

    spiderpumpkin Say no to Hydra!

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    I tore out the factory installed eSATA port on my Bolt Vox 3TB and I have a SATA cable to to eSATA adapter pulled through the hole and installed. On my new adapter I removed the eSATA port plate and trimmed down most of the plastic and fit it into the hole from the old eSATA port. I have an external enclosure with eSATA so I just use an eSATA to eSATA wire now.
     

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  17. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. Would be cool with a Roamio also. I use an Esata toaster external with a couple Roamios as you can swap drives around with Roamios, as long as on same OS (if using cable card all drives need to be created from the original to maintain cable card settings). I cut the plastic case (Roamio basic) to run the cable out, your method I would never have thought of, would have been afraid to remove the factory installed Esata port. You only need one cable, very nice. For your project the only concern I might have is if ever wanted to use TE4, I've heard TE4 can be finicky with Esata. For my one TE4 test machine I stick with Sata to Sata.
     
  18. spiderpumpkin

    spiderpumpkin Say no to Hydra!

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    The Tivo doesn't seem to miss the factory eSATA port and I don't either since Tivo never made it a port that could be used with any drive. All I did is take a flathead screwdriver and hollowed out the port and then broke away the rest of the eSATA casing until it was removed from motherboard.

    The new wire I fed through the hole can just as easily be taken out if I need to ever change up external drive setup. For instance if Tivo someday forces TE4 on us and eSATA doesn't work.
     
    tommage1 likes this.
  19. Tweak42

    Tweak42 Member

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    Los...
    ;TLDR I discovered a esata drive dock that works with the Bolt.

    Hey all, wanted to add my experiences upgrading our 500GB Bolt. Our main Tivo is 4TB upgraded Roamio basic so I have been putting off upgrading the Bolt the last few years because of the 2.5" drive conundrum.

    Only broke 1 clip getting the Bolt open, and completed clone 500GB to 4TB drive with MFSTools 3.32. Sadly, got 4 blinking LEDs booting using esata Rosewill enclosure. Bypassing straight to sata worked fine. On the off chance I tried esata using my old Thermaltake dock and it surprisingly worked! :grinning: It must be the difference in JMicron controllers, as the chip in the Thermaltake dock is far older USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0 on the Rosewill.

    :cry:Unfortunately in the process of juggling different hard drives, testing sata / esata connections I accidentally reconnected the wrong drive to the Bolt and lost the association, thus all the recordings and season passes are lost even though I still have the original 2.5" 500GB drive intact.

    My intention was to use the Rosewill but it appears the controller will NOT work with the Bolt so I may just have to settle with cutting notches and long sata cable route. I did a through google search on the chance there's a JMS565 firmware update that might fix the problem, but did not find anything. I still use my Thermaltake dock for work so won't be dedicating to the Bolt and there's no guarantee future updates won't bork it. Quick search on ebay and the dock sells in the $30-40 range.

    If you have an esata enclosure/dock that works with the Bolt please share the model and controller chip inside.


    --------- Parts:--------
    Rosewill RX304-APU3-35B esata/USB3 enclosure (has a temp control fan) "JMicron JMS565"
    WD 4TB Purple WD40PURZ (all WD Purples are non SMR as of this posting)
    Thermaltake ST0005U BlacX eSATA/USB2 Dock (who called it a toaster?) "JMicron JM20336"
     
  20. tommage1

    tommage1 Well-Known Member

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    The bracket port you used in the Bolt should always work, as far as I know. As it has no electronics, just wires, same as connecting to regular Sata. The enclosures, that is a different story as electronics is used, different chip sets etc. So in the case you ever have to use TE4 could use a cable that is Esata on one end (connects to your custom installed port on the Bolt), then Sata on the other end and connects directly to the data Sata port on the drive in the enclosure. I think there are some enclosures that have Esata ports that work with TE4, Weaknees sells an external upgrade that works with the Esata port on the enclosure. Not sure what model they use...........

    I don't like TE4 myself, use TE3 on all my devices other than the Bolt. I am using the Bolt as a test, see how my external upgrade works with TE4. Also to get used to it in case it becomes mandatory.
     
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