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Old 10-31-2005, 06:16 AM   #1 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Last chance saloon

I posted a few months back about my Tivo failing to make daily calls, and then failing to reboot.

After doing without any kind of recorder for a while, a couple of weeks ago I started looking around for a DVD/HD Recorder to replace the Tivo. I settled on a model but before ordering decided to plug in the Tivo once more. To my surprise it booted up without a hitch. There was no guide data, so I started up my account and once that had been done, made a daily call.

On checking back a few hours later I was shocked to find out that the daily call process had also completed without a hitch. For about three days I had a perfectly working Tivo. I couldn't believe how much i had missed it!

I then checked that daily calls were OK and found that the last one hadn't completed properly (had a status of succeeded but said it was still updating at the bottom of the screen). It then rebooted a while later and stuck on the 'Almost there....' screen.

It seems to follow a similar pattern. Does a daily call successfully, then fails to complete the next one, then a day or so later reboots and gets stuck on the 'Almost there....' screen. Taking the plug out and leaving it a few hours before plugging it back in, results in a successful reboot and the cycle starts again.

It's very frustrating because it works enough to stop me spending £300+ on a DVD/HD recorder, but obviously I'd like to have it working all the time. Sometimes I wish it would just die completely so I can just get on with buying a new machine!

The fact that leaving it unplugged a few hours seems to solve the problem temporarily suggests to me that it is a heat issue (I have previously tried another hard-drive and PSU). I have tried improving airflow around the Tivo, but this didn't help.

Could someone confirm which way the fan should be fitted? ie, with the arrow indicating direction of airflow pointing out of the Tivo, or into it? I think it should be pointing out, so expelling hot air but just want to check to make sure I didn't replace it incorrectly when I removed it to clean the dust out of it.

This is the last thing I can try before I am sure it is a mainboard issue, and therefore uneconomical to have repaired.

Cheers for any help anyone can offer!

Jason.
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Old 10-31-2005, 06:51 AM   #2 (Print)
6022tivo
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The fan does point out, takes hot air from the tivo.

Did you take the image for the NEW hdd from your old one??. Or one from a site? Or member?

Or did yuo buy a prebuilt HDD?

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Old 10-31-2005, 07:11 AM   #3 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Cheers for the fan info. Sadly it is confirming what I thought!

The hard-drive was a pre-built one from Pacelink. I got it last December when the problem first arose, thinking it would solve it. When it didn't I sent the Tivo to Pacelink for repair. One very expensive mainboard repair later it worked fine for a while (3 months or so) then the problems started again.

Initially the problem was slightly different in that daily calls seemed to be OK but the machine simply kept rebooting itself, every few hours and sometimes more often. The issue got worse until it sometimes would get stuck on the 'Almost there...' screen.

When the problem arose again I did put the original drive back in but it doesn't solve or even change the problem. The chances of my current problem being a corrupt drive seems remote considering it happens with two drives.

Oh well, I think I'll be spending some money soon on a new DVD/HD recorder! The Panasonic model I have my eye on is more expensive than buying another Tivo from Tivoland, but given the age of the existing machines I'm put off buying another one.

If someone wants to launch a DVD/Tivo recorder in the UK in the next month or so, my wallet is ready and waiting.....

Jason.
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Old 11-02-2005, 03:21 PM   #4 (Print)
ScoobyDooZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kadoogan
I sent the Tivo to Pacelink for repair. One very expensive mainboard repair later it worked fine for a while (3 months or so) then the problems started again.




Hi just curious how much the repair was they seem to advertise a low one charge rate, but make a killing on the parts ??
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Old 11-02-2005, 03:45 PM   #5 (Print)
blindlemon
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Costs up to £200 are not uncommon for a motherboard repair

Whether they call it 'parts' or 'labour' makes no difference really as they have us over a barrel and they know it.

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Old 11-02-2005, 05:47 PM   #6 (Print)
Kadoogan
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I forget the exact amount but it was just over £200 with delivery.

Seriously pissed off when it went wrong again only 3 or so months later, although the problem was a little different. No way can I justify sending it off again, and obviously regretting doing it the first time.

I did enquire about the price of a new Tivo from Tivoland, assuming no hard drive as I can use the one I have which I am 99% sure is fine. Was quoted a decent price given the relative rarity of these machines now. Haven't taken up the offer as I am nervous about how long another machine will last given the age of any remaining stock.

I do fancy having a DVD recorder as well. I have my eye on a Panasonic DVD/HD recorder, but part of me is still holding out hope that Tivo might do something over here, especially given that there was some comment from their CEO saying that they are committed to the overseas market. Sure something like that was posted in a thread here.

My current Tivo is still doing it's 'work for a couple of days, then fail to boot for a while' thing. Given that I could maybe struggle on with this, assuming it doesn't get any worse, am I being overly optimistic in hoping Tivo may launch something new here? I'd hate to spend £350 on a DVD/HD recorder then read two weeks later that a DVD/Tivo recorder is being launched.

Jason.
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Old 11-02-2005, 06:07 PM   #7 (Print)
6022tivo
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Just reading through the thread..

Havr you tried a replacment PSU???

Around £5 ??

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Old 11-02-2005, 06:14 PM   #8 (Print)
blindlemon
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If it hangs on bootup I would still tend to suspect the drive.

Maybe you could send the drive away somewhere and get somebody to test it, or buy a new preconfigured drive you know won't have any of the corruption that might have been transferred over from your previous drive to your current one.

Alternatively, have you considered buying one of the 'faulty' TiVos advertised on eBay - as most of those (especially if you can get extra info from the seller to confirm it) will be simple hard drive problems. If the new box fixes your problem with your existing drive then you will know it's the box not the drive. You could then sell your old box on eBay as... well, faulty

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Old 11-02-2005, 06:16 PM   #9 (Print)
blindlemon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6022tivo
Just reading through the thread..

Havr you tried a replacment PSU???
Clearly not well enough:-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kadoogan
(I have previously tried another hard-drive and PSU)

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Old 11-02-2005, 07:02 PM   #10 (Print)
6022tivo
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Arn't I a silly billy...

Maybe it is input related??

Static building up, something on the scarts??

Do you use a powered aerial??

If it was me, I would try it with nothing on the inouts for a while and then check the logs for a reboot?

If it is constantly rebooting every couple of days, try it with nothing

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Old 11-02-2005, 07:24 PM   #11 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blindlemon
If it hangs on bootup I would still tend to suspect the drive.

Maybe you could send the drive away somewhere and get somebody to test it, or buy a new preconfigured drive you know won't have any of the corruption that might have been transferred over from your previous drive to your current one.

Alternatively, have you considered buying one of the 'faulty' TiVos advertised on eBay - as most of those (especially if you can get extra info from the seller to confirm it) will be simple hard drive problems. If the new box fixes your problem with your existing drive then you will know it's the box not the drive. You could then sell your old box on eBay as... well, faulty


Thanks for the advice. I'll take a look at ebay and check out what price the faulty Tivo's sell for.

My Tivo doesn't always hang on bootup. The pattern seems to be that it works OK for about 3 days although it will only complete one daily call. Then it will try to reboot itself and get stuck at the 'Almost there....' screen. If I take teh plug out and plug back in again it'll keep getting stuck at the same point. If I unplug it and leave it for a few hours, it will then normally boot up OK. The 3 day cycle starts again....

Given the two hard drives I tried, the new PSU, different power cable and drive cable, I still think it points to a main board issue that is possibly triggered by heat build up (due to the fact that it will reboot after leaving it a few hours).

Whilst I would be delighted to have it working fully again, given the money I have spent on it already, I find it difficult to justify spending another couple of hunded quid on another Tivo and hard drive, whilst having faith that it will work long enough to make it worthwhile. These things are getting pretty old now. Even the last ones made are going to be about five years old.

I really need to think about this some more and check out ebay to see what the faulty ones go for. I seem to remember reading that someone got a fully-working Tivo for £40 on ebay as a buy-it-now deal. Really wish I could be that lucky!

Cheers for all the advice. I'd be grateful for any other suggestions if anyone has one!

Jason.
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Old 11-02-2005, 07:26 PM   #12 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6022tivo

Static building up, something on the scarts??

Do you use a powered aerial??

If it was me, I would try it with nothing on the inouts for a while and then check the logs for a reboot?

If it is constantly rebooting every couple of days, try it with nothing


I don't know how to access logs. I assume you need to network the Tivo for that. I don't have the equipment and probably not the technical know-how to do that.

I don't use a powered aerial.

Cheers for the ideas!

Jason.
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Old 11-03-2005, 03:15 AM   #13 (Print)
fade2grey
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sounds like a heat/PSU problem - have you tried running it with the lid off to rule out heat? - speaking purely from a PC point of view though..
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Old 11-03-2005, 03:45 AM   #14 (Print)
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Enabling Backdoor Mode
The Backdoor mode can be entered using the remote by doing a "Browse By Name" for "B D 2 5" followed by the "Thumbs-Up" key.

C-E-C Thumbs-Up
Will allow you to access the TiVo's log files on your TV screen. Page up and page down allow you to move through the log information and the right arrow you to move through the log files. Use the left arrow key to get back out to the normal TiVo menus. (C=Clear, E=Enter)
Attached Files
File Type: txt Tivo Backdoor Codes.txt (14.3 KB, 47 views)

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Old 11-03-2005, 03:53 AM   #15 (Print)
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Can any of the Linux gurus shed any light on what's going on while "Almost There" is being displayed? It sounds to me like some component is being initialised during that process and is failing, perhaps due to heat. Maybe a dry joint somewhere? If you can try and narrow down the affected areas it might help you diagnose the problem and maybe get a fix.

I'm sure the £350 is burning a hole in your pocket, but from what I can see, the new PVR's still can't match TiVo.

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Old 11-03-2005, 05:09 AM   #16 (Print)
6022tivo
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Yep, Jason you don't need it networked to look at the log files.

Enable the backdoor codes with the remote via Carl's post and attachment.

It may give you an idea to see why the tivo has rebooted??.

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Old 11-03-2005, 07:21 AM   #17 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Thanks again for the advice everyone.

I never knew you could look at the logs on the TV screen. I thought the only useful backdoor code for a non-networked Tivo was the 30 second 'jump' feature. I'll take a look at the logs and see what I can find. Thanks for that!

Tivo_Lad: Yeah, the money is burning a hole in my pocket! I know I won't find anything as good as Tivo. Sky+ seems the nearest thing but I'm not sure I'll be keeping my Sky subscription going for much longer and I know it is useless without a subscription.

I did consider the Topfield, but I would like a DVD recorder so was looking at the DVD/HD combo route. Settled on the Panasonic DMREH60D although it is a little over my budget.

The thing that puts me off going for another Tivo is the fact that the existing machines are all at least 5 years old now. I'm not confident that buying another one is a good long-term deal.

Now if Tivo would just launch a DVD/HD model over here......

Jason.
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Old 11-03-2005, 10:02 AM   #18 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiVo_Lad
Can any of the Linux gurus shed any light on what's going on while "Almost There" is being displayed?


I'm no guru but from my reading of the rc.sysinit file it's roughly half way through when it changes to "Almost There". After that it:
does something with IR
reads the TiVo Service ID from the chip
sets up IP address and networking
starts the logs
sets the clock
runs green screen if required
starts the fan
does more checks
runs rc.sysinit.author if present
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Old 11-03-2005, 05:08 PM   #19 (Print)
Kadoogan
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I have had a look at the logs. Took ages to get back to the point where it looks like it rebooted by itself:

The last couple of entries look suspicious:

MCPaction[109]: WatchdogAction::Trigger: callActive for 175 interval-secs
MCPaction[109]: WatchdogAction::Trigger: Too long! Try to reboot!
MCPaction[109]: Time to reboot (1130580076)...

The reboot then seemed to fail after this line:

tcphonehome[ 104 ]: Running command: $TIVO_ROOT/tvbin/modemtest ATi3

I mentioned before that the pattern at the moment seems to be that when making a call, the first one after a successful reboot usually connects and loads and indexes OK, and says 'succeeded' on the Phone Connection screen. The problem is that the status at the bottom of the screen still says 'Updating' and never clears so the Tivo cannot make another call. I am guessing that after failing to start a call a couple of times the Tivo reboots in order to clear itself. It then fails to reboot at the modem test part of the boot sequence.

Waiting a few hours then plugging the Tivo back in tends to result in a successful boot.

I am assuming from this that the modem is buggered. Possibly the fault is triggered by heat build-up which explains why it works after leaving the Tivo unplugged for a few hours. Next time it goes wrong I'll leave the case top off and see if that helps. It would just about proove my suspicions regaring heat if it worked fine without the top.

As the modem is part of the main board this would again be a very expensive repair I assume, which I could not justify.

One thing I noticed is that there are a large number of entries that read:

proritizer[132]:ProcessOneFromOterator got errDbNotFound
TmkMediaswitch::Trace[128]: Lost VBI lock

This doesn't seem to cause a reboot or anything so I guess it may be nothing to do with my problem.

I have to admit that the log seems to contain a lot of info that I don't understand so I may be missing something that would be helpful. If anyone has advice of what to look for or can shed any more light on the entries I included above, i'd be most grateful.

Thank you all for your help.

Jason.
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Old 11-03-2005, 05:21 PM   #20 (Print)
cyril
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kadoogan

The thing that puts me off going for another Tivo is the fact that the existing machines are all at least 5 years old now. I'm not confident that buying another one is a good long-term deal.

Now if Tivo would just launch a DVD/HD model over here......

Jason.


If only (sigh)...

Anyway, if the TiVo hasn't been used for 5 years I don't see why it shouldnt be as good as new so long as nothing has rusted!

I think the Hubble telescope had a 486 chip that ran for quite a few years! I have a Pentium one that still works fine!

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Old 11-03-2005, 06:10 PM   #21 (Print)
6022tivo
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Hi Jason

Could be the modem, if so you could put a network card and get the updates this way if you are on BB??

Maybe your line is hanging your modem in some way (long shot).
If on ADSL are your microfilters in place and ok, do you have any other funny line problems in your house.

It is a shame you are not closer, I would lend you a net card and even put one in to see if it fixex the problem for you.

You can get one if you are lucky for about £35 on ebay, normal cost is about £50, or £74 for a cache card.


Oh, and P.S. don't worry about the lost VBI blocks, the fans clear them out and they end up as dust behind the tivo.

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Old 11-03-2005, 06:54 PM   #22 (Print)
Kadoogan
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Thanks for the reply 6022tivo!

I do have broadband so I guess I could try that route, buying a network card. I think it's called a Turbonet card? I have seen them mentioned before but have to admit that although I know my way around Windows and PC's generally, I am pretty clueless when it comes to networking. I'll have to read up on these first. How easy do you think the whole install process is for someone like myself? I found a page on the internet with instructions but they seemed to be written for a US Tivo and were a little confusing at times. Admittedly I only scanned through them fairly quickly. I guess there are instructions around for installing in a UK Tivo.

Would I need an ethernet card for my PC to link the Tivo to? Bit confused about the PC end of the set up. Told you I was clueless about networking!

I have to admit that I am not sure where to go with the whole thing at the moment. I will take a look on ebay and see if I can find a bargain Tivo (bit of luck required for that I think!). There is a risk in buying a network card and finding that it doesn't solve the problem.

Thanks again for your advice. It's given me something else to think about!

Jason.
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Old 11-04-2005, 06:45 AM   #23 (Print)
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If you buy a Turbonet card on ebay and it doesn't solve your problem then you would be able to put it back on ebay and only be down a few quid? You might lose a bit more if you bought from 9th tee or the other more official suppliers.

If your PC is connected to broadband via a USB modem then you should be able to use Internet connection sharing, a cross over cable and a £10 ethernet card (if your PC doesn't have one already) to network your Tivo.

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Old 11-07-2005, 12:18 PM   #24 (Print)
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If you paid Pacelink a fair few quid for repairing the tivo once, I would contact them and advise that the fault has re-occured after only a couple of months and see if they will take another look at it.

Gordon is usually pretty fair and you can always advise that you don't really want to invest much more money in this unit as it only lasted a coulple of months after the last fix!

The downside is that it will cost you £10-£20 to send it there in the first place (depending on courier).

As for worrying about buying an old piece of technology (if you were to replace with another tivo), for most people, its not the basic PVR/DVR technology that makes people love tivo, its the tivo operating system itself that no-one has got close to re-producing!

So until Tivo releases another unit, I'm afraid in my honest opinion, you are going to be greatly dissapointed with settling for a piece of new (but not tivo) equipment.

I purchased a Brand New DVD Recorder when they first came out (cost a fortune) and used it about 5 times. I recently helped a friend of mines Dad set-up a new DVD recorder about a month ago. My opinion still hasn't changed. I think when it comes to menu navigation, software writers at these manufacturers just don't have a clue what the term "User Firendly" means!
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Old 11-07-2005, 02:59 PM   #25 (Print)
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I have emailed Pacelink to see what they can offer. I did email them back around March this year when problems began after their repair and I took the reply to mean I'd get charged again. Didn't really pursue it at the time.

The periods in which the Tivo does actually work have shown me that you are right, and yes it is still far and away the best device available. Other hard drive devices may also have a DVD recorder, or twin digital tuners, but yeah it is the software that makes Tivo what it is. I have had enough usage over the past few weeks to realise that I would probably end up disappointed by something else.

I'll see what Pacelink can offer and if it isn't good, it looks like I'll be purchasing a 'new' Tivo from yourself.

Thanks for the advice!

Thanks also to AMc for the Turbonet advice.

Jason.
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Old 11-17-2005, 07:09 AM   #26 (Print)
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Pacelink offered to repair it for their minimum charge of £35 plus shipping, so I took the risk that it would last for longer than last time.

Got it back yesterday. They had obviously been testing it as there were a couple of user recordings made, and a daily call had successfully completed.

Seems OK so far. Plugged in and immediately made a call. It was quick as there wasn't much to update. Completed fine with the status at the bottom of the Phone Connection screen changing back to 'Make Daily Call Now', when it would previously stay on 'Updating.....'

I'll see how it runs after a few days, making sure daily calls finish processing correctly.

Unfortunately the invoice from Pacelink doesn't explain exactly what was wrong. Might have to email and ask as it would be nice to know.

Jason.
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Old 11-17-2005, 07:56 AM   #27 (Print)
blindlemon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kadoogan
Unfortunately the invoice from Pacelink doesn't explain exactly what was wrong.
I think that's par for the course and you are unlikely to get much more information.

Pacelink have invested a lot of time and effort into working out how to diagnose and fix TiVo mainboard problems and, IME, they guard their knowledge jealously.

Just thank your lucky stars it's working now, keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best...

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Old 11-17-2005, 09:08 AM   #28 (Print)
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I can see why Pacelink would not want to give away too much info. As far as I know they are the only ones who repair main boards, so it makes sense not to tell people too much detail about how they did it. Especially, as you say, given that they must have spent a lot of time and effort to gain this niche corner of the repair market.

Whilst I hope I'm not speaking too soon (fingers well and truly crossed!) it is nice to have what looks at the moment like a fully fuctioning Tivo. Makes me wonder why I would have considered replacing it with something else. As we all know, there is simply nothing else to touch it. If this one should go wrong again, having looked around at alternatives, I would definitely just buy another Tivo.

If Tivo would like to licence their software for a UK model DVD/Tivo combo, my wallet is still at the ready.......

Jason.
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Old 11-18-2005, 07:09 AM   #29 (Print)
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Apology one - I think this is my first post so sorry for making it a "help me" one without any prior contribution to the community
Apology two - Sorry for hijacking this thread, but the FAQ guide up there ^^^ suggested that was a good approach if I had a similar problem.

So here goes. I have a completely unmodded TiVo. Had it for about 4 years and bought it from a mate who had it for a further two. Largely untroubled use.

I moved house in July and setting it up again was a real pain. I got a lot of GSOD, but this eventually sorted itself out (with 2 lots of 24 hour GSOD sessions). During the move we switched from Sky to Freeview, but that was the only change.

Over the past month I have noticed screen glitches when playing back shows (mainly bunches of pixels appearing and going again). It has also had the odd freeze/pause that can be fast forwarded out of.

This week it has had a number of freezes during playback that can't be unfrozen (resulting in me swearing and turning the power off). A number of times it has powered off, rebooted, gone to GSOD for about 20 mins and then been OK. A few times it has got stuck on the first two grey power up screens (after rebooting itself) and I've turned the power off. Once it has had its power light on but the screen was blank and the remote had no affect (manual power off again). Last night I got told that Little Britain (which we were watching, got frozen on, reset the power and then selected on the menu) was not on the recorder (or something similar), but this is the only time it has done that.

I'm starting to get really frustrated with it. The only thing that I can think has changed recently is that with the cold weather we have had the heating on. The entertainment unit backs up to a radiator, but TiVo is a good 6 inches from this on a bottom shelf (so no heat coming from beneath it). It also may not be using its original figure of 8 power cable. Certainly when pulling the current cable out it feels slightly lose in the connection between cable and unit and there seems to be some movement within the unit's socket (dunno if that last bit makes sense?)

I've had a good read of various posts here and hope that the first of these three solutions could help:

1. replace PSU ( )
2. replace drive ( )
3. replace the equivalent of the motherboard ( )

I'm an intermediate PC techie type. I've happily added a new harddrive to my PC and put in a network card, so feel OK about replacing the PSU. I would want to preserve the machines current recordings so feel very uncertain about a DIY hard drive replacement but would find spending £160 to get Pacelink to do it a very bitter pill to swallow.

From what I've described what would the expert advice be? I look forward to your wisdom.

Thanks, DaddyR/Richard

Apology three - sorry for the massive post!
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Old 11-18-2005, 07:21 AM   #30 (Print)
Ian_m
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Southampton, England
Posts: 748
My bets a drive issue, especially after 4 years.

If not into PC fiddling, just buy a pre-configured drive, put drive in, re-run guided setup and away you go.
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