Tips on buying used Series 2

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Alexis997, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Alexis997

    Alexis997 New Member

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    Aug 2, 2002
    Berkeley, Ca

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    Hi,

    Our Series 2 with Lifetime has started giving the error message S03 (Dr Google says this is bad!).. I haven't made a decision about upgrading to HD or Premiere yet, so am thinking of just staying put for now. If I buy a used S2 with Lifetime off Craigslist, what should I ask and/or look for when I email & go look at it??

    Would a screen shot of the system information show that it has Lifetime? (can't remember) Should I get a model #? Any scams I should be looking out for?

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

    Alexis
     
  2. robomeister

    robomeister DVD TiVo Expert

    594
    0
    Feb 4, 2005
    Beltsville, MD
    The S03 error is usually caused by a corrupt section on the hard drive. It occurs when the TiVo is calling home and is trying to process the downloaded guide information. The most popular way to clear it is to unplug power from the TiVo, wait 1 minute, then plug it back into power. This will usually clear it. I've also had one TiVo spontaneously start working again, no explanation. It just started working properly. You can force it to connect a couple times in the Phone and Network selection in the Settings section. It just might fix itself.

    To answer your questions.

    You could ask the seller from the TiVo Serial Number (TSN). You could then independently verify that the unit has a subscription by trying to activate that TSN on your account. If the TiVo has a subscription, the system won't let you subscribe the unit. If it has no subscription, then the system would prompt you to enter your credit card info. Or you could actually call TiVo and ask about the status of that TSN. They can tell you what kind of status it has.

    Yes, a screen shot of the system info screen would show the subscription status. If the TSN is all zeroes (000000000000), that indicates the unit was recently restored from a backup and the software hasn't been married to the hardware with a Clear and Delete Everything (C&DE). The status may say Lifetime, but until you do the C&DE, the unit will not work properly. Watch out for that.

    I personally like the TCD240xxx series of the Series2 TiVos. These are single tuner units that work with the Digital to Analog (DTA) converter for Over the Air (OTA) broadcasts. The tuner seems to be better than the later unit (TCD540xxx or TCD590xxx), not as fuzzy. If you are doing OTA, avoid the TCD649xxx models, the dual tuner units. These will not work with OTA without doing some fancy guided setup. The Series2 TiVos also work with satellite (DirecTV and Dish) using a analog decoder.

    You can get one of these for $100-$175 on ebay.

    You should at least try to get a HD TiVo with lifetime. This will future proof you and will work with pretty much any cable system, but not satellite.

    After saying all of that, it is a simple matter replacing the hard drive in your TiVo with a new software load, and you would be good as new. I can provide you with all the tools to get your TiVo back up and running like new, or as close to new as possible.

    Hope that helps,
    robomeister
     
  3. Alexis997

    Alexis997 New Member

    26
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    Aug 2, 2002
    Berkeley, Ca
    Hi robomeister,

    Thanks for the very helpful reply. I will try unplugging and see if that works. We've tried re-connecting a few times and it's gotten to different points loading the data, but just quits. I've read a little online about it, and am afraid to try the kickstart 57/58 I've read about. Seems like that might accelerate the GSOD!

    I thought about replacing the drive -- "how hard can it be?" Then I read the FAQ on it and decided I'd be out of my league. :)

    Unfortunately, we do have satellite and (I've posted about this) can't decide whether to make the cable & HD/Premiere jump. I think we'll stay put for now... If I buy another S2 w/Lifetime I'll have two boxes with Lifetime, and can take advantage of the discount when we move up to the Premiere (assuming it's still available -- does it seem like that discount might be going away anytime soon?!).

    Would it be smart/reasonable to have them transfer the Lifetime to me while I'm there purchasing the S2? The moment for asking for a screen shot may have passed. Or maybe I can just start it up there and pull up the system info..? Or am I being too paranoid? :)

    Thanks again,

    Alexis
     
  4. LifeIsABeach

    LifeIsABeach Active Member

    2,360
    2
    Feb 28, 2001
    Drexel Hill, PA
    What part do you find out of your league? If it is buying a blank drive and using instacake to prepare it then there are much easier ways. Companies such as weaknees and dvrupgrade will sell you a preformatted hard drive you can just pop into your TiVo. If that seems to technical as well I believe one or both of those companies will let you send in your TiVo and they will do it for you.
     
  5. jmill

    jmill New Member

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    Feb 22, 2010

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    .. or you can find hard drive replacements on eBay. Usually there are quite a few drives here and there and most are priced very cheap.
     
  6. robomeister

    robomeister DVD TiVo Expert

    594
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    Feb 4, 2005
    Beltsville, MD
    Alexis997,

    I've never really used the Kickstarts myself. I've always replaced the hard drive, since that is the part that will fail most often.

    One question regarding your TiVo. Do you want to keep the recordings, or do you just want it to start working again? If you replace the hard drive, you will lose the recordings (unless you use one of the mfslive.org tools to copy the drive).

    Replacing the hard drive is not as complicated as it sounds. One huge warning though --- SHOCK WARNING!!! DON'T TOUCH THE POWER SUPPLY WITH ANYTHING METAL OR YOUR FINGERS. The power supply is not protected and has some huge capacitors on it, which could release a lot of electricity if fooled with.

    To break it down into big steps:
    1. Get an IDE hard drive (or a SATA hard drive and a SATA to PATA adapter that is compatible with TiVo).
    2. Load the TiVo software onto the new hard drive.
    3. Open up your TiVo. It has Torx 10 and Torx 15 screws, or just regular Philips head screws.
    4. Set the jumpers on the hard drive to Cable Select. Or match the settings of the existing hard drive.
    5. Replace the hard drive.
    6. Put the lid back onto your TiVo.
    7. Fire it up and do a clear & delete everything to marry the hard drive to the motherboard.

    To break down each step.
    1. Finding an IDE or PATA hard drive is getting a little difficult these days, but they can be found online. They are usually slightly more expensive than a SATA drive of the same size, due to the extra electronics on the drives. You can use SATA drives, but you need an additional board to convert the SATA interface into the PATA interface. Finding one of these that is compatible and not too expensive is also a challenge, but I've found some on ebay that work. Another gotcha on the SATA drives: the Green drives have some settings that don't work well with TiVos. So, go PATA!

    2. To load the TiVo software, you have several options.
    a. Instant Cake from dvrupgrade.com. Costs $40. You get an ISO to create a boot CD. Attach your new hard drive to your computer following the directions and it will load the software onto the drive. I've never used this, so I'm not sure of the details.
    b. Use the mfstools from mfslive.org. They have two, MFSLive Boot CD and WinMFS. I use WinMFS all the time, because you can use USB to IDE converters and do everything without opening your computer. You also need a compatible software image for your model of TiVo. Chances are I have a image I can send you. I have an image for almost every Series2 model. Just ask! Same as with a. above, you attach the new drive to your computer and copy the image to the hard drive.
    c. Get a preconfigured drive from weaknees.com or dvrupgrade.com. You will need to get one that is configured for you model of TiVo.

    3. Most of the TiVos use the Torx 10 screw head to secure the cover to the case, and the hard drive to the case inside. Then they used the Torx 15 screw head to secure the hard drive to the bracket. Most of the non-TiVo branded TiVos use a plain old Philips head screw.

    4. On most TiVos, the proper setting for the hard drive is Cable select. If you have two drives, then one would be set for master and the other for slave. But it is best to match the drive jumper settings of the existing drive. If you get it wrong, the TiVo will simply not boot. Change it, and it should work.

    5. no explanation needed.

    6. see step 5.

    7. Plug everything back in and power on the TiVo. You need to do a Clear & delete everything. This will remove the "hardware problem found" you get. Then you will have to do Guided Setup again.

    I can do all this in about 20 minutes, but I've done it a bunch of times. The first time is always the hardest, because you don't know where all the parts go. Weaknees.com has some good instructions with pictures that can help you out, too.

    Good luck, and if you need help, just ask.
    robomeister
     
  7. Alexis997

    Alexis997 New Member

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    0
    Aug 2, 2002
    Berkeley, Ca
    Two things that scared me off: first, the troubleshooting/connecting the TiVo hard drive to a computer and second, the FAQ said something like "if you're uncomfortable with any of this", then don't do it!

    I'm fairly sure I could handle a hard drive swap.. maybe. (though I'm not sure I have any idea how to accomplish step 2 that robomeister posted... - this is where a formatted drive would come in..?) The hardware part I get, the software part confuses me.

    I don't care about the recordings, it if meant the TiVo would stay alive!

    So I did purchase a Lifetimed S2 today, as well as a second S2 that I was thinking I could use for parts for the dying S2 - until I found out that the model #s had to be the same. Doh. At least I only spent $20 on it. The dying S2 is model TCD 140xx and the non serviced S2 is TCD 649xx (the new Lifetimed S2 is a TCD 540xx). I can't transfer the hard drive from the TCD 649 into the TCD 140, right?

    Thanks again for your help!

    Alexis
     
  8. LifeIsABeach

    LifeIsABeach Active Member

    2,360
    2
    Feb 28, 2001
    Drexel Hill, PA
    That is correct. It must be the same model. If you are comfortable enough to swap a drive from one TiVo to another then you would be able to swap in a preformatted drive from any of the places jmill and I mentioned above. No need to do anything it states in the FAQ.
     
  9. leeherman

    leeherman Well-Known Member

    1,436
    116
    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Alexis,

    I have an S2 I'll be looking to sell. It has the Weaknees 300 gbyte second drive and works perfectly. The S2 does not have lifetime activation.

    I haven't figured out a price, and I still need to reconnect the S2 to pull whatever programming exists off to other Tivos, but PM if interested.

    LH
     

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