View Full Version : Newbie Buying Guide

08-14-2003, 03:43 PM
Hi All:

I have monitored this site for a long time, hoping to bite the bullet and buy (and hack) a TiVo. This time I'm going to do it.

One of the main detriments in the past has been the expectation that every time I need to fix/upgrade/hack something in the TiVo, I'd have to pull the TiVo from my entertainment unit and connect it to a PC. However, with my understanding of Airnet, I hope this concern goes away.

My home network consists of:

DSL broadband 1.5MBps
1 desktop WinXP 933MHz
2 laptops WinXP with wireless Netgear cards
Netgear 814 wireless router 802.11b\

Obviously, my goal is once I've loaded xtreme and the Airnet drivers on the TiVo, I can install the TiVo in my entertainment unit and then do everything else via teraterm or hyperterminal from my desktop (unless of course I'm upgrading the drive capacity. Is this a reasonable assumption?

So, I would appreciate if someone would just double-check my buying list. I'm fairly sharp when it comes to software, so I'm not intimidated by what I have to do to upgrade and apply hacks. However, I do not have solder kits etc.

Buying List

1. DSR6000 from eBay. EBay seems the best way to go unless someone has another suggestion. I looked for a unit here at dealdatabase, but didn't see anything. Seems like $300 is about what I should pay.

2. Serial Cable (probably from 9th Tee). Alternatively, if I understand correctly, I can purchase a DB9 female-DB25 male adapter, DB25 female-DB9 male adapter, and a null modem adapter and construct one myself (no solder). Is this correct? I'm guessing I can get these things at Fry's for cheap.

3. Airnet kit. I'm hoping to find this on EBay. The way I understand it, I'll need a wireless network card with an external antenna. Didn't know these things existed. Any suggestions? Would prefer to buy the entire kit including network card and antenna. (I'll definintely be putting the case back on so it'll look nice in my entertainment unit.) Also, is Airnet just a good as Turbonet? I can't have a cable going across the room, so I'm want to use wireless access, but do I lose anything with this (streaming quality, slower access, etc)?

That's it, right? I don't plan to upgrade the drive capacity right away so I'll keep the drive configuration. I'll load 2.5.2xtreme first (I have a P3 card) and maybe upgrade to 3.1 later (I understand there's hack from Bliss so I can use my P3 card with 3.1) However, I don't see that I get a lot extra with upgrading. Is that true? But unless I upgrade the drive capacity, the TiVo should not have to be removed from the entertainment unit, right?

Sorry if this is a lot of newbie stuff and repetitive. I just want to go in to this with as much confidence as i can. Thanks for your time and patience.


08-14-2003, 06:18 PM
1) sounds good. make sure the person guarantees it works fully. if you pay much less than $300, then you should be extra careful, since most units below that are broken

2) ok, no problems here.

3) um, i would suggest just getting your airnet from 9thtee. not sure how often you will see airnets on ebay, but unless you are sure about what you are getting, i would suggest getting it from the legit source. yeah, you will want a card that can support an external antenna, but you also need one supported by the airnet driver set (unless you want to do some support on your own)

08-14-2003, 09:28 PM
Thanks Mrblack for your prompt reply.

I have a couple followup questions:

1. As you can see, I have decided to purchase a Series 1 TiVo. This was not an easy decision. My tendency is always to go for the latest technology. As I indicated, I have a wireless network already installed in my home and the Series 2 is network-ready. (I am very interested in the features touted in the Home Media Option, although I see someone is working on a Series 1 HMO application.) Not to mention that it appears that I can get a Series 2 for half the price of a Series 1 before even buying the Airnet. The only reason I can see that I chose the Series 1 is that it seems to be so much easier to hack for a TiVo newbie like myself. Would you suggest I reconsider purchasing a Series 2 over a Series 1?

2. I want to make sure I get the Airnet purchase right. Dealdatabase user jjcheap has a couple of Airnets for sale on EBay. One is the Airnet board, DLink wireless card and external antenna:


Another he is calling an Airnet kit, which includes a Dlink access point/bridge:


Not sure what the kit with the bridge does extra, unless I'm hooking up additional TiVos or trying to extend the network area over the house. But all I would need to connect to my existing network is the board, wireless card and external attenna (without the kit/bridge). Right? Current price seems to be good because it's including the card and external antenna. He also calls it a T60 Airnet board and kit, but it should work in a DSR6000, right?

Once I connect the TiVo to my PC and boot up from the Linux CD and install 2.5.2xtreme, I need to check if the Airnet works before installing the TiVo in my entertainment unit. I understand from the FAQ that Kraven's, Superzap's, and Tivolator upgrades already includes the drivers for Airnet. So would you suggest I just go ahead after installing 2.5.2xtreme and upgrade to 3.1 via one of these upgrades and the drivers will already be there? Are the drivers in 2.5.2xtreme? Once I'm able to start a terminal session across the wireless network and get a bash prompt, I should be safe in installing the TiVo in my entertainment unit and not have to move it again. Correct?

Jeez, I'm sorry if it seems I'm nit-picking about info. Just trying to lower my anxiety before I take the plunge.



08-14-2003, 09:42 PM
I think you will be sorely disappointed with the throughput of wireless when doing extractions. If that is a primary goal, you should weigh the benefits of wireless with the downsides. An alternative if you just CAN'T run an Ethernet cable is to use powerline-based networking.

My $.02

08-15-2003, 02:22 PM
Thanks, Bubblelamp, for your reply.

Video extraction will not be my primary objective in purchasing the TiVo. It certainly could be down the road once I learn more. But as the saying goes, I need to learn to walk before I run.

Believe it or not, I've never even witnessed a TiVo live in action. I just have always followed the technology and been intrigued by it. I will be enjoying it for a while for the basic TiVo functionality: record shows, pause live TV, commercial blocking (I think it does that...) from a nice user menu. My current Directv setup with a S-VHS recorder sucks so bad I don't use it.

My main objective with the Airnet is that I can make software modifications/apply hacks easily from my desktop without having to pull the TiVo from my entertainment unit often. This has been a major stumbling block for me in deciding to purchase a TiVo.

HOWEVER, I do have video editing software, a great DVD burner, etc on my desktop that I'm starting to use, so it may be only a matter of time before I will want to start investigating extraction. But I certainly don't want to run a cable across the room. I have a pretty nice place but I rent and I do not know how much longer I'll be here.

Thanks for your insights. I may be asking more questions about extraction later.


08-31-2003, 12:55 AM

What kind of speed do you expect to be able to transfer out of the Tivo with? Wireless networks are at 10mbs and the wirelessG is up to 54mbs. I am looking to start hacking my unit and wanted to go with the Airnet and the wireless as my unit is downstairs and it is not easy to pull a cable to my hub which is upstairs. I already have a 10mbs wireless in my house setup and running so this seemed the most logical for me. Any comments appreciated.

08-31-2003, 01:07 AM
Real world speeds for 802.11b are closer to 5-7Mbps and will be the bottleneck for transfers. 802.11g probably runs around mid to high 20's, which will be sufficiently fast to keep up with full extraction speed.

Will you be happy with the 802.11b speed? I can't answer that, I don't run any wireless on my Tivos. Maybe some of the guys here who do will pipe up.

PS If you have any 802.11b nodes on the same access point as your 802.11g nodes, they all slow down to the crappy levels!:eek:

08-31-2003, 01:12 AM
[quote]My main objective with the Airnet is that I can make software modifications/apply hacks easily from my desktop without having to pull the TiVo from my entertainment unit often. This has been a major stumbling block for me in deciding to purchase a TiVo.

If your objective is to run hacks, how often do you think you will be doing this? You run most in 2.5.2 with xplusz via remote and dont use serial unless transferring files or tinkering with extraction. Plus I find myself rarely playing with hacks after initial setup and I have 5 series 1. Pulling the tivo isnt a big deal. You leave the case screws off and the HD rack unscrewed and its a 2 second operation to slide the cover off and pull the fan plug......
Just my 2 cents.......... I have both turbonet and airnet and the airnet is Slooooow.......For how often you will extract video whats the big deal in running a line across the floor or to one of the 2 laptops you have? Or if you even extract at all? I wanted tivo for extraction and never do it anymore, just enjoy the HD quality taping.

08-31-2003, 03:25 AM
As far as series 1 vs 2, I haven't played with any ones, but my series 2 hacking guide is entirely newbie oriented and I have seen a 90% success rate with the people who have used it. Don't expect HMO, though, as it is currently only available to stand alones and you should be getting a combo box since you have directv. Wireless straight out the back (on the series 2) is difficult, however some have accomplished it. However, you could run an ethernet adapter out the back, then use a bridge to go wireless. It's a more expensive option, but it also means that if you really needed to extract a show quick, you could drape an ethernet cable accross the room and be ready to go. And again, I haven't done series 1, but if it bears any relation to the series 2, don't expect to set it and forget it and still play with hacks. While it is true that you CAN install hacks without pulling the box, there is a good chance that at some point you will install one wrong and hose the box.

Just MY 2 cents :)
- Cobelli

PS, guide is mirrored at cobelli.net/tivo