Getting my TiVo on

A few weeks ago, I bought a used Series 2 TiVo to replace the bedroom Series 1. The main impetus for this is to use the ability to watch programs recorded on the TiVo in one room on the TiVo in another room.

By coincidence, I also happened to have a 180Gb hard drive sitting on my shelf which I thought would be a good addition to the new TiVo. Unfortunately the Series 2 TiVos don’t have a second bracket, power connector, and ide connector so for simplicity I thought I’d replace the existing drive with the big one.

Unfortunately in order to do the drive replacement, you need a WinTel box that you can boot with a special Linux boot CD with mfstools 2.0 on it. I had the CD, but unfortunately until a few days ago my Windows box was out to lunch. Dropping an older and less capable video card brought the Windows box back, so it was time to get this thing done.

I stuck the 180Gb drive in the Windows box and booted it with the Ultimate Boot CD and tested the hell out of it using IBM’s DFT and Western Digital’s drive testers, and it passed everything. That’s a good start, because the reason it was on the shelf is that the Linux 2.6 kernel didn’t like something about the way it was partitioned (it was fine in 2.4).

Then I put the 40Gb drive from the TiVo in the Windows box and copied the image to the 180Gb drive using the mfstools. I put the 180Gb drive into the TiVo and confidently screwed the cover on, and tried to boot it.

Oh. Bad news. I don’t see anything. Dammit! I unscrew everything and put the original 40Gb disk back in the TiVo. And I don’t see anything! Panic time. Is there any chance that I mixed up the “from” and “to” in the copy? I don’t think so. But what else can it be? I conclude that the TiVo image on both drives are now screwed up.

After some frantic Googling, I find has a “InstantCake” CD, which for $20 gives me a iso image that I can burn onto a CD, boot my WinTel box, and it will install a TiVo image on the hard disk with no sweat. Ok, $20 for a bit of instant gratification seems like an ok deal. I do it, slap it back in the drive (but this time nothing is screwed down) and find that I’m still not getting anything on the screen. But just for the hell of it, instead of plugging the RF-out of the TiVo directly into the coax going to the TV, I plug the composite-out of the TiVo into the RF modulator that the DVD normally plugs into. And lo and behold, I’ve got a signal. Makes me wonder if the original copy wouldn’t have worked. Also makes me think that the RF modulator is screwed.

So I do the guided setup and while it’s doing its first “daily call”, I screw the drive back to the drive bracket and put the top back on. And activate the service on-line. The daily call is taking forever, so I go to bed.

I woke up this morning to find that the daily call had completed, but evidently before the TiVo service had gotten the word that I’d activated the service. So it was upgraded from the software version 5.x which was on the InstantCake ISO to 7.2.x, it was still showing it as having no service, and still named “Family Room” (which I presume was the previous owner’s name for it). So I did another daily call, and before I left for work it was showing that now had an account in good standing, and it was named “Bedroom2” like it was supposed to. But still no shows in the guide.

I’m hoping that when I get home tonight the guide will be updated and indexed so I can start the tedious process of entering all the Seasons Passes that were in the other TiVo.

BTW: If you ever need a money making idea, come up with a way to take Season’s Passes and thumbs and shows from your Series 1 TiVo and put them on your new Series 2 TiVo.

Update: I forgot to mention that at one point during the proceedings, I tried using the RF cable with the gold plated connectors that came with the TiVo instead of the crappy one that came with the TV, and suddenly the RF modulator works well too.