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View Full Version : Need recommendations for Series 2 boxes



srp336
04-03-2006, 11:05 PM
I've been reading this forum for a couple of years now in connection with my old Series 1 box. I've noticed the posts on Series 2 machines, but haven't really kept up with them.

Now, I notice a lot of places offering big rebates on Series 2 (with a 1 year contract). I'm think about replacing my S1 (or maybe having two Tivos...). If I do get a new machine, I'll want to be able to extract video from it.

I'm hoping to not have to do to much to the new box to hack it. It seems to be that I read something when the S2s come out that hacking the box involved unsoldering something from the motherboard, which is one big reason I never got one. Is that still the case for some of them? The model numbers on the rebated models start TCD540. In another post, someone said that they need a PROM upgrade. Is that difficult?

Thanks!

Narf54321
04-04-2006, 10:41 AM
Since you seem to be talking about the standalone (cable-TV) units:
Keep in mind that with Tivo-2-Go and Tivo Desktop software there are a lot more extraction/insertion capabilities official from Tivo, Inc so you don't even necessarily need to open the case.

TCD240xxx the 'original' series-2 machines. These are all-black with an all-black faceplate, and there have been software hacks developed for these. Check ebay for these types of units (the remote is a little different than the series-1).

TCD540xxx the 'new' series-2 machines (also referred as the Series-2.5). These are usually what you find new in the box these days. These are often dark grey-ish with a white nightlite grille on the front. The anti-hacking on these is more severe, and you need to replace the PROM chip to do any hacking beyond a larger HDD.

There's rumors of a dual-tuner TCD649xxx unit. Also the Series-3 with cablecard and Hi-Def support is coming out late this year. The S3 apparently just passed the CableLabs testing on its first try.

Tivo is soon ending the lifetime subscription plan, so if that matters to you you should act very quickly. Otherwise, they have a $20-per month plan which includes the box "free" if you can call it that.

srp336
04-04-2006, 11:11 AM
Does Tivo-2-Go and Tivo Desktop allow for editing out commercials and burning to DVD?

And about the PROM upgrade... how difficult/time consuming/expensive is it? Does it involve desoldering?

Thanks!

Narf54321
04-04-2006, 12:15 PM
Does Tivo-2-Go and Tivo Desktop allow for editing out commercials and burning to DVD?

Tivo-2-Go downloads in an encrypted .tivo format. The "supported" burning software (Sonic MyDVD) can understand it and burn, but reports are that its buggy and in general a pain in the hind quarters.

There are methods of stripping the encrypted wrapper from the MPEG2 video (see GraphEdit or DirectShow Dump). Once non-encrypted you can use pretty much any DVD burn program. I hacked my Tivos so I don't have any hands-on experience with those methods.

A hacked tivo can be superpatched so that recordings aren't encrypted. MFS_FTP is pretty fast at downloading/uploading on a wired ethernet network. A hacked tivo can also utilize the excellent tivoserver from a PC with DivX, Xvid, AVI, MPG and other varying video files.

(The series-2 really shines when you have two networked units in different rooms and can pass shows between them.)


And about the PROM upgrade... how difficult/time consuming/expensive is it? Does it involve desoldering?

I'd say a PROM mod is moderately difficult, if only because there are 32 pins which are quite close together. I'm working on a PROM mod for my TCD540 right now. Usually one would get a PLCC32 socket to replace the SST37 chip in the Tivo, then you can pop new chips in and out as you want.

Expensive is subjective, depending upon how badly you want to hack your tivo and how many of the supplies you already have on hand. If you blow up your Tivo, then it can be pretty expensive because you have to replace the unit (especially if you had Lifetime on the dead machine).

My previous "mod" solution was to go on ebay and get a TCD240 unit for under $100. If you go this route, make sure you get the remote, IR blaster, and preferably the user manuals. Now I've decided to try my hand at a real mod.

I've done a little bit of soldering before, but to do the PROM mod I've spent probably $150 on new supplies including a programmer off ebay, a paint-stripper heat gun, then a small 15W fine tip iron, cheap multimeter, good quality tip tinner, thin 60/40 solder (the lead-free stuff is hard to work with), copper desolder braid (VERY necessary I've found out), flux cleaner spray, a couple sockets and extra chips for if/when I ruin them. The first step is to remove the existing chip (heat gun) and then solder in the socket. You can insert the original chip and make sure you have a working Tivo before programming a new PROM chip.

Some folks have said they found local electonics shops to socket the PROM for them, about $50-60 in labor.

srp336
04-04-2006, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the detailed reply. I guess I'll need to pass on the TCD540s then... it's been probably 20 years since I've done any soldering. I used to get Heathkits and build those, but they always had to be sent in for repair. I don't think my soldering skills were ever that great. I think I'll see what's on ebay...

Thanks!