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Thread: TiVo Bluetooth Serial Console Adapter

  1. #1
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    Jul 2005
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    TiVo Bluetooth Serial Console Adapter

    Hello Everyone!

    For quite some time now, I've been wanting to create a "slick" way of connecting to the TTL console. Initially, I had wanted to create a snap-in adapter for the Gen06 platform (TiVo HD) that would put a 3.5mm serial jack right at the rear of the TiVo, much like I used to do with my Gen05 (Series3) hardware. However, I got very lazy with the PCB design and it did bother me some that it still required the use of a null modem cable and a serial port in order to work.

    For me this meant that on modern computer which did not have a DB9 serial port, I would have to have an internal adapter in the TiVo that would convert the TTL serial interface to full RS232 levels, connected to a TiVo Null Modem Cable, connected to a USB-RS232 adapter. That would have been 3 adapters needed to connect to the TiVo for a simple serial console.

    Alternatively I could have also used an FTDI USB-TTL cable to interface with the TiVo directly without the need for extra adapters, but this still required me to open the case of the TiVo in order to access the serial console. One forum member even had me permanently install an FTDI cable into the TiVo, with the USB portion permanently hanging out the back through a hole. Again, I felt that it looked _okay_ but it was still somewhat sloppy.

    A few weeks ago I bumped into a Bluetooth TTL module online made by Roving Networks.

    http://www.rovingnetworks.com/documents/rn-41sm-ds.pdf

    This little guy will pass the full UART data stream directly to the the target over a serial Bluetooth connection, acting as a direct cable replacement. I figured that if I could configure it to work with the TiVo's settings and connected directly to the 4 pin header, I could have a long distance serial console connection that would look clean and professional, and wouldn't even require me to take the TiVo out of it's installation location in order to debug.

    So today I finally received some development hardware to play with and here are my preliminary findings:





    It works!

    So far it still takes about 3-5 seconds from the time the TiVo powers on before the PC connects to the module, but apparently I can speed this up with some other tweaks and by hard-coding my PC's BT MAC address into the TTL module.

    This prototype here hangs out on some ridiculously long leads, but if there is enough demand I could whip up a PCB that snaps right onto the board and provides one with a quick and easy method of connecting to the serial console.

    Is anyone else interested in having such a device? With enough interest I could probably get the finished product into the $50 price range, and obviously it would be compatible with both the Gen06 (TiVo HD) platform and the Gen07 (TiVo Premiere) platform.
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2002
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    214
    Very cool. I have 3 TiVoHD boxes in my current stack. Could multiple BT TiVoHD adapters coexist?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSimmons View Post
    Very cool. I have 3 TiVoHD boxes in my current stack. Could multiple BT TiVoHD adapters coexist?
    Yep, you can rename each module to anything you want. I currently have mine set to "TiVo Premiere TTL" which is what it shows up as when searching for BT devices, but you could have them named "TiVo HD Living Room", "TiVo HD Bedroom", etc.
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  4. #4
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    So far one of the downsides I've noticed so far is if you're trying to access the PROM boot menu, the initial BT connection isn't fast enough. On a cold boot, it's probably going to be anywhere from 5-8 seconds before the connection to the console is live.

    HOWEVER, at least on the TiVo Premiere there is a location on the board for a reset switch, which one could just wire to to one of the vents on the bottom of the case so one could quickly reset the TiVo without pulling the plug. Using this method, I am able to connect to the module, press the reset button, and then connect to the PROM menu.

    So far, I'm very happy with my wireless serial cable. :-)
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    What's the range of the adapter when the TiVo's all buttoned up?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worf View Post
    What's the range of the adapter when the TiVo's all buttoned up?
    Currently not very good, but it's something I'm working on. The location that I am currently placing the adapter is hurting it quite a bit, and I'm going to try moving the adapter up into the front panel using very long leads. This should boost signal strength and range considerably.
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2005
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    My initial placement of the adapter in the rear of the TiVo was fine while the case was open, but when closed the range was neutered. You had to be all but right on top of the box in order to connect, which is really, really useless.

    Once I moved the module to the front panel in front of the metal case but behind the plastic face, signal range was far more acceptable. I can now be anywhere in the room and connect to it without issue, even through a wall on the same floor. Moving up or down to different floors kills the connection pretty quickly, but this is still a VAST improvement over having to pull the TiVo from the stack and tethering it to a PC for debugging.

    Here's a bad photo of how I have it wired currently. Note that the module itself is stuck to the face of the unit behind the plastic bezel for optimal signal strength.

    Last edited by Omikron; 04-05-2010 at 03:58 AM.
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2004
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    Interested.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2005
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    Just did some more range tests and was able to get usable reception upstairs while my TiVo was downstairs directly beneath me.

    I'd say that's fairly workable. :-P
    .-=Omikron=-.

    TiVo Series4 Premiere Development HERE

    Do you have a PROM related question? Check HERE and HERE before sending me a PM. Any questions that have already been answered will be deleted if sent via PM.

  10. #10
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    Do you still sell a DIY kit for the 3.5mm serial jack? Bluetooth sounds nice but no way (that I know of) to do a reset like that to get into the prom menu on a tivohd.
    Before PMing me: Iím not your personal tech support. If you have a question, ask in public so I don't have to repeat if somebody else asks. If you want images or slices, use emule. I will ignore all support PMs.

    Sponsor a vegetarian! I have taken the pledge, how about you?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaWolf View Post
    Do you still sell a DIY kit for the 3.5mm serial jack? Bluetooth sounds nice but no way (that I know of) to do a reset like that to get into the prom menu on a tivohd.
    http://dealdatabase.com/forum/showth...&postcount=340

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