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Thread: DVD/TiVo Combo unit investigation and information

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  1. #1
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    DVD/TiVo Combo unit investigation and information

    Well, over the thanksgiving break, I decided to do some investigation into the DVD/TiVo combo units. As such, I am sharing the results of my investigations so far.

    There are two types of dvd combo units: dvd players and dvd writers. There is only one dvd player unit currently (the Toshiba SD-400) while there are two dvd writer units - the Pioneer DVR-810H and the Pioneer DVR-57H. The units share many similarities, specifically:

    DVD Playback (including DVD/VCD/CD-R/CD-RW/CD/DVD-R)
    TiVo Series 2 functionality, including being HMO ready
    "TiVo Basic" service included, with the option for "TiVo Plus"
    Progressive scan output (3:2 pulldown)
    One USB port
    Optical output for Dolby Digital/DTS

    However, there are a few differences between the various units.

    Toshiba SD-400 (pdf spec sheet)
    Street Price: $500
    80Gb HDD
    Only has one set of inputs?

    After opening up this unit, I was less than thrilled. In short, the unit looks like a cheap Apex-style dvd player and a standard series 2 tivo shoved into a single unit, with slight changes to the tivo motherboard to add progressive output and control communication with the DVD player, and a shared power supply. The dvd player is not a standard PC dvd drive (at least in the sense that it doesn't have an IDE interface or whatnot), and interfaces direclty with a small daughterboard with a zoran chip. From the looks of it, all dvd playback stuff is handled by the zoran board, with the audio and video piped to the outputs directly.

    Pioneer DVR-810H and DVR-57H
    Street prices: $1000 and $1500, respectively
    Faroudja progressive scan output
    two sets of inputs (no, not two tuners. as in two sets of composite RCA style connections on the back)
    Since these units are nealy identical, the main differences are as follows:
    1) regular silver exterior vs. black 'Double-Layered Chassis'
    2) 80gb vs. 120gb HDD
    3) silver or nickel (not sure) connectors vs. gold connectors
    4) one year vs. two year warranty
    5) for some reason, the 810 software install is not working with drive expansion currently, but the 57h software is...this is being investigated, could very well be a bug in mfstools 2.0

    These units are based on, not surprisingly, the Pioneer 105 DVD-R/RW recorder. The drive inside the unit is the standard IDE based unit, with just a new fascia put on to match the front bezel of the unit. The differences between the units are trivial, and not really something that would be worth the extra $500 to go with the 57H (unless you really care about black vs. silver). The motherboard on the units is very different than any other tivo motherboard I have seen. While some of the differences would be attributable to the addition of the faroudja progressive scan stuff, there are some other major differences (a large pioneer BGA IC right next to the secondary IDE channel). There is also a larger fan than is used on any other tivo I have seen so far, possibly due to the heat produced by the dvd burner. Because the standard PC DVD burner was used, software dvd playback was needed, and apparently provided in the form of LinDVD.
    Last edited by mrblack51; 12-29-2003 at 03:22 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Hackability:

    I only did some basic stuff with the DVR-810H software, and never got around to messing with the SD-400 software (I was so disappointed with the internals that I never got around to it). The burning question is whether you can hack them, and the answer is yes. I don't have the tools to do the prom hack myself on these units, but I was able to do monte on them just fine. As with all s2 units, you can use the 3.1.u5 kernel and minimal filesystem from an hdvr2 as the basis for doing monte. tivoftpd and bash worked fine, tivoweb worked fine after the standard tweaks needed for 4.0 units (and maybe one more, its been a few days). I didn't have a chance to test extraction, but you should be able to extract by doing the same type of kernel and tivoapp patches that are needed on 4.0.

    Expanding the hard drive on these units has apparently proved to be a bit tricky. One nice thing about the 5.2 software is that LBA 48 was included, due to the newer version of the linux kernel which was used. My understanding is that expansion of the drive space on the SD-400 and the DVR-810H software is problematic. You can definitely use standard tools on the DVR-57H software, and you can use the DVR-57H software on the DVR-810H. I didn't test the DVR-57H software on the SD-400, though I wouldn't be surprised if it worked. Because of how the units are designed, you should still be able to use two drives (assuming they will fit in the case) on the primary IDE channel. It is unclear if anyone has attempted a 3-drive setup on the Pioneer units, with two drives on the primary IDE channel, and a third hard disk on the secondary channel with the DVD drive. The PTVupgrade guys have apparently been able to use drives on either IDE channel though.

    -More to come, stay tuned-
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  3. #3
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    You can also successfully restore a 5.2 MFSTool backup image into a standard HDVR2 (as long as you do a clear-and-delete everything after your first boot).

    Note that because it defaults to TiVo Basic mode, you'll have no real TiVo functionality until you hack past that.

    I didn't try hooking up my 104 DVD recorder to the IDE bus, though. I wonder whether it would have utilized it. As it was, I had "DVD" menu item but it didn't go anywhere.

  4. #4
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    Originally posted by MuscleNerd
    You can also successfully restore a 5.2 MFSTool backup image into a standard HDVR2 (as long as you do a clear-and-delete everything after your first boot).

    Note that because it defaults to TiVo Basic mode, you'll have no real TiVo functionality until you hack past that.

    I didn't try hooking up my 104 DVD recorder to the IDE bus, though. I wonder whether it would have utilized it. As it was, I had "DVD" menu item but it didn't go anywhere.
    I too have gotten the 810 image to restore onto my HDVR2. The biggest problem i faced was that clear and delete everything was not working from the menu structure. I was able to do a C & D E by calling the setzapfactoryreset.tcl script (i think thats the full name) from tivosh. Once it finished, i was able to go through setting up the satellite input.

    the unit will get video from the satellite after that. however, i was unable to change channels due to an error #63, stating a need to upgrade the tivo service. I think this may be due to not having a dvd drive connected to the unit (fixsub didnt clear the error)...but it could also have something to do with attempting to limit the ammount of guide data or something. more investigation needed.

    there are no specific references to hdc or hdd in tivoapp. the next step is to hook up a drive like the pioneer 104, 105, or 106 to the unit and see if it recognizes as the dvd drive...or maybe if there is a usb 2.0 enclosure that you could use with one of those drives...hmm
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  5. #5
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    It's interesting that we had two very different experiences bringing it up, even though (I think) we started from the same backup image.

    I had no problems getting to clear-and-delete via the UI, and I also had no problems changing channels. I couldn't record anything, however, due to the TiVo Basic restriction. I'm confident that can be worked around, though.

    I suspect the ultimate problem with using 5.2 on an HDVR2 will be that the bitrates/resolution of the DirecTV streams are not what the software expects (in fact, you can see the box complaining about the bitrates in the log files).

  6. #6
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    Alrighty - thanks to db74 being very gracious, I now have the photos of the internals of the two units online.

    Toshiba SD-400
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/T...400%20001s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/T...400%20003s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/T...400%20004s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/T...400%20005s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/T...400%20006s.jpg

    Pioneer DVR-810H
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/P...oto%20007s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/P...oto%20008s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/P...oto%20009s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/P...oto%20010s.jpg
    http://tivo.dementia.org/mrblack51/P...oto%20011s.jpg

    Edit: in case you were wondering, the wires in the toshiba unit were there when i bought it. it was open box when i picked it up, so it may have gone in for repair, but its hard to say. the hdvr2 units have wire modifications from the factory as well.
    Last edited by mrblack51; 12-04-2003 at 12:04 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the images mr.Black.

    I am utterly disappointed in the internals of the Toshiba. I would not buy that until they came out with a newer rev. The amount of wires adds on the PCB is an indication of SHIT poor design, and they fixed them by just slapping wires on the board, instead of re-spinning it....suck

  8. #8
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    note for anyone attempting to mess with these disk images: I was lazy, and used sleeper's iso on them. since the software comes off SA dvd units, you should select the SA option. make sure you edit your rc.sysinit.author to prevent kmem and such from running, since the original offsets won't work. i made sure to restore my image on my own, then skipped all the restore stuff in his prompts.

    for those attempting to monte on their own, or using a prom mod - you must use replace_initrd rather than the various kill-initrd tools. the reason is that the ones for the s2 are tuned to specific kernel versions. since the dvd units use a different kernel version (2.4.20), the offsets will be different for the needed changes. replace_initrd is universal for any s2 kernel image.
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  9. #9
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    Did either of you ever connect a DVD drive to the system? Was it as functional as the original units (ie. could you play DVD's, and could you write them?)

    Sounds like an interesting long term project to work on.

  10. #10
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    So i finally got to play with this a bit more. I am still stuck in the error #63, which appears to be related to some sort of pre-tivo-basic condition which i am investigating on how to clear.

    unfortunately, its rather difficult since I don't have the 810 in front of me anymore. if anyone has a 57H or 810 and can help me, especially by giving me access to tivoweb or telnet on your unit over the internet so i can look at the mfs, it would be appreciated.

    despite that, while in the error #63 condition, I can tune to whatever channel i am authorized for, i just cant get any info or pull up the guide
    Last edited by mrblack51; 12-21-2003 at 09:37 PM.
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  11. #11
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    mfs_ftp 1.2.9p works on the 57H image / 5.2x software / 2.4.20 kernel

    do NOT install tzoffset.tcl, or delete it before running mfs_ftp - (gotta fix that)
    Last edited by rc3105; 10-04-2004 at 04:13 PM.

  12. #12
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    the 5.2 software seems to be quite buggy. while it works fine from a UI standpoint, there seems to be a number of utilities which tivo has broken knowingly or unknowingly, such as fsfix.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrblack51
    the 5.2 software seems to be quite buggy. while it works fine from a UI standpoint, there seems to be a number of utilities which tivo has broken knowingly or unknowingly, such as fsfix.
    Is a shame to read that. I noticed certain things to be not working as supposed, but I thought it was caused by the software being run in a foreign hardware (hdvr2).

    By the way, I tried again to put the dvd-rom and mount it. The first time I booted with the dvd-rom connected, it corrupted the hard disk until I finally got the Green Screen of Death. I traced down the problem to a faulty IDE cable.

    I reimaged the drive, Monted, killed-init-ered the kernel. This time everything worked fine. But when trying to mount the dvdrom to /mnt/cdrom (did you notice this mount point is already there?), I got an error, something like "no driver found | no driver present" or something like that.

    I stopped there and decided to install Red Hat on another hard disk, setup a cross compiler and compile an S2 version of the following files:
    cdrom.o (already present on the /lib/modules dir)
    ide-mod.o
    ide-cd.o
    ide-probe-mod.o
    isofs.o

    If you have some insights or recomendations, I would be glad to hear them

  14. #14
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    Further investigation has shown that, once the msg #63 condition has been cleared, the 5.2 software will properly pull up the guide and such. DTV grid style guide is not available on 5.2. also, even though the guide is displayed, only the current show is listed, not any of the upcoming shows. this issue is being investigated.

    I went ahead and picked up an 810 to keep (well, until the HD-dtivo comes out), so hopefully i can make some progress.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingPhoenix
    Is there anyone who's tried using the HMO MultiRoom viewing between a regular S2 and a DVR-810H to burn shows from the S2?
    yes, and it doesnt work. there may be some hacking that can be done to fix that, but as of now it wont work.
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