What would you do with this hosed S3, RMA or attempt to repair it yourself?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by Sturmie, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Sturmie

    Sturmie Commander Cool

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    I have an S3 that I upgraded to lifetime about 8 months ago. Since then, I have decided to go in a different direction with my DVR needs (Ceton tuner + Media Center PCs) and no longer have a use for my S3. I was going to eBay it, so I did a "Clear + Delete" on it to put it back to factory defaults. Well, that wound up hosing the TiVo OS and it now can't get past the "Almost there..." screen. I've tried various kickstart commands and nothing works...the hdd even passes the SMART tests (including the extended one), so I'm 99% sure it's a software problem.

    That being said, after 30 minutes pleading my case to TiVo customer service, I got them to "come down" to $49 for the RMA instead of the outrageous $149. The question I have, is it worth it to RMA the unit for $50 and then try to sell it or would it be easy enough for me to just try and re-install the image on the drive. I've been doing a little reading on re-imaging the drive and it doesn't sound terribly difficult.

    Thanks for the help.

    Sturmie
     
  2. shwru980r

    shwru980r Well-Known Member

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    I'd try to find the same model S3 on Craig's list, Ebay or amazon without lifetime service and swap hard drives and power supplies with the lifetime unit. You should be able to find one in the $50 range.
     
  3. Sturmie

    Sturmie Commander Cool

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    Thanks for the reply, but if I'd have to pay $50 anyway for an S3 for the parts, why shouldn't I just go with the TiVo RMA option for $50? Just curious.
     
  4. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Assuming TiVo is going to fix or replace it with refurbished, and maintain the lifetime on it, the RMA looks like the best deal to me.
     
  5. zalusky

    zalusky Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    Search around and try to do an Instant Cake on the hard drive.
     
  6. shwru980r

    shwru980r Well-Known Member

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    You won't have to send back your existing Tivo and risk it being lost or damaged during shipment.
     
  7. lpwcomp

    lpwcomp Well-Known Member

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    John's...
    Instant cake costs $40. There are far cheaper (like free) alternatives.
     
  8. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    You should probably establish exactly what's wrong with it before you make any decisions.

    It could be that the hard drive actually has a physical problem and needs to be replaced.

    It could be that the hard drive is still okay as a hard drive, but that somehow the software got screwed up.

    It could be that the power supply has a problem.

    If you hadn't done the clear and delete my first guess would be power supply.

    Since you have, I'm moving drive physically good, software screwup ahead of it on the list.

    Does "Ceton tuner + Media Center PCs" mean you're comfotable with disassembling and reassembling hardware, hooking up hard drives, et cetera?

    If so, I know some tricks you can try.
     
  9. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Shipment and its risk (and others) are also involved in eBay purchases. ;)
     
  10. Sturmie

    Sturmie Commander Cool

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    Definitely...I built those 3 HTPCs and am a systems administrator/engineer as my profession. The fact that it passes all SMART tests would lead me to believe that the TiVo OS got hosed somehow since everything was working fine before that. The first TiVo CSR I spoke did mention that he has seen the "Clear & Delete" option bork up an S3 before...so, it seems like it's sort of a semi-known issue there.

    Do I void the warranty if I open the box (like with the older ReplayTVs)? Just curious. If not, I'm willing to try a few things for sure.

    Thanks.
     
  11. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    At this point I don't think there's any warranty left on an original S3, or even an S3 HD or S3 HD XL, and there's no sticker that gets broken if you open the case (I think the Series 1 was the last time they did that), so if you don't tell them you opened it, neither will I.

    After I talk about the hard drive a lot, I'll tell you what you should check first instead.

    If you don't use a GigaByte brand motherboard for what I'm going to suggest, you won't have to worry about preventing the creation of a Host Protected Area on the TiVo's drive.

    Go to mfslive.org and get WinMFS (you should also download the zip of the .iso of the MFS Live cd v1.4 and burn yourself a copy, but you should do that even if you don't own a TiVo and don't plan on getting one, it's just handy to have around). While you're there, read the instructions for WinMFS.

    Install WinMFS on a Windows XP or newer PC.

    Hook up the TiVo drive to a spare SATA port on that PC and boot it.

    On Win7 and maybe Vista you'll need to be running with administrator privileges for WinMFS to see your TiVo drive.

    Don't try to look at the TiVo drive in Windows Disk Management, don't open any programs except WinMFS.

    When you open it, click on "Select Drive", you should get a screen with the TiVo drive showing, but not any PC formatted drives.

    Select the TiVo drive, close that window, and click on "mfsinfo".

    It should show you something about the boot partitions being 3 and 4 and the alternates being 6 and 7, although it might say 6 and 7 and alternates being 3 and 4. There's another thing on the main menu about fix boot or bootfix or something like that and it has two options.

    Option 1 sets the drive to boot from partitions 3 and 4, and makes 6 and 7 the alternates, no matter how the bootpage is set beforehand, and option 2 sets it for 6 and 7, alternates 3 and 4, no matter how it's set before.

    Make a note of what partitions mfsinfo says it's set for.

    It's not impossible that it will give you a "wrong" answer, like partitions 1 and 4 or 2 and 3, or something. It happened to me once on an S2 which is how I discovered this trick.

    While you're in mfsinfo check all three of its sub-pages to make sure everything looks kosher, then close it.

    Then find swap fix and click on that, might not help but won't hurt.

    Then go to boot fix or whatever it's called and select the option that reverses whatever your current main and alternate selections are, so, for instance, if it's 6 and 7, choose option 1.

    If you got an answer earlier where one of the numbers was wrong, use the one that was right to indicate the pair you want to swap from primary to alternate, so if it was like 1 and 3, select option 2 to make it 6 and 7, alternate 3 and 4.

    Then check it in mfsinfo again to make sure all went well, back out of that, shut down the program, shut down the computer, and try the drive in the TiVo again.

    If it doesn't work, go back to WinMFS and choose whichever bootfix option you didn't choose the first time and try it in the TiVo again.


    Now that I've told you all of that, here's the first thing you should do when you open the TiVo.

    Check the power supply for capacitor disease.

    Wikipedia has a good page on "capacitor plague", which is the same thing and has illustrations.

    You want to look for capacitors in the power supply's output circuitry with even the slightest hint of a bulge or leakage. If the top of even one of them is anything other than absolutely, positively flat, that's where at least one of your problems is.

    You should also get the drive manufacturer's diagnostic software and run the long test.

    Report back here and tell us how it goes. We need feedback.

    Did I mention that you could just sell me that lifetimed S3 real cheap instead and make it my problem instead of yours? :)
     

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