After Hours

Cracking open a Motorola DVR

25 comments
james
james

In South Africa we also have a DVR which receives its signal via a Dish. The unit is able to record two channels and record a third. It has a 80 gig HDD (puny if you ask me). If only the prices would drop and the content being transmitted would be improved.

sabbott4
sabbott4

Does anyone know how to get at a recorded program without having to use the RCA cables and running it in real time?

marcellusl
marcellusl

I?m looking at taking my box apart. How did you remover the security screw? Is there a tool I can buy to do it without stripping them? Also were you able to replace the tamper seal?

yobtaf
yobtaf

I don't want to give too much away, but one of the Firewire ports is active!

jredding
jredding

Can you replace the 120 hard drive with a 500 or 750 by simply taking the 120 out and putting another one in, or is there some software on the 120?

tellis
tellis

You can capture recorded programs from Firewire port as well, but you still have to play on DVR and record combination on receiving unit. This works for Hi-Def programming EXCEPT from protected content streams.

soundy
soundy

Try a smaller lumber/hardware store, the ones that cater more to professional builders, rather than the big-box stores. You can often find a multi-bit screwdriver with a wide assortment of security bits. Or just google "security screwdriver".

tellis
tellis

I have still had no luck at archiving the protected HD recordings. I'm not trying to distribute content, just archive the content for later personal use on a different HD monitor. Anyone have any ideas? It is frustrating to have access to recorded HD content but be locked into accessing it ONLY from the unit where the recording occurs...

csweet
csweet

A close friend who is in the cable industry has told me that the cable companies control the amount of space you can use on the hard drive from the central office. Even if I went and got one of the Hi-Def DVR's I would not have any additional recording space.

eggheadgeek
eggheadgeek

I believe there is some software on there - it is a basic Linux OS with some software to run the unit. I have heard it is possible to copy the software to a larger HD but why wouldn't you just get a unit with a bigger drive or buy yourself a TiVO?

tronman
tronman

I've got the Comcast 'Microsoft Enhanced' firmware version of this box, and I tried plugging in my camcorder to the firewire ports, with no luck. I wanted to watch home movies through the box and keeping it digital is obviously the cleanest way to do so. I plugged it in, turned it on and nothing happened. I surfed around in the menus but couldn't find any setup variable, menu item or anything else to indicate that the box is even aware of its' own firewire ports existence. This is for self generated content playback, so there's no copy protection involved. I have a Panasonic PV-GS500 camcorder if that helps.

joseph.queen1
joseph.queen1

I can only speak from my experience (and equipment I use for all this) with Verizon's FIOS tv. 1) If the 5c flag is not set to 'copy never' like it IS for Verison's VOD movies, you can record it to a D-VHS over firewire using a 5C compliant device like the JVC D-VHS model 30K or 40K or ... I have yet to find a channel, HBOHD or DISCHD, for example that does not have the 5C flag set to 'copy once' so I make D-VHS recordings all the time. 2) There are also quite a large number of channels that do not even use 5c like National Geographic Channel HD. That can be recorded in the clear via a PC with a firewire card. A PC has no concept of the 5C encryption stuff so if the 5c flag were present in any fashion, the PC would not be able to record the data. 3) By FCC mandate, all the Local stations must be broadcast in the clear so a QAM capture card, like the Hauppage HVR-1600 (with their new QAM driver) will let you watch/record the Loacal stations. I mention the HVR1600 because it has analog and digital capabilties so you can record both feeds of your local channels (SD and HD) Joe

jimmcfall
jimmcfall

That is not true. The h.d. is crontrolled from the box. the cable company can do a cold initialization and the box will download all new firm ware and erase everything in the process. If you shut the box off, and press the ok/sel button, you will get a settings screen,and have several options to go through, like checking internal hd temp, how full the hard drive is, and s/n ratio etc.

billyo92833
billyo92833

It figures they would 'manage' usage like this. And then they wonder why so many people steal their service. The more they charge, the more they come up with new ways to limit the service provided. That said, I really do LOVE my cable internet access, (Yes, I do pay for it!) but it makes the DSL at work seem so damn slow!! Back on topic: Does anybody know how fast a PC needs to run in order to serve as an effective DVR, as well as memory needed. I have the tuner card and hard drive. Thanks, Billy

joseph.queen1
joseph.queen1

I was wondering if the disk had to have some level of formatting and some pice of the OS to get started but I can only conslude that the answer is no. I say this because I bought a brand new,blank,unformatted 160 Gbyte disk for my Moto 6416 (it only supports a 160 Gbyte disk until a firmware load is sent out, if ever) and swaped it for the disk in my DVR. I turned the DVR with the blank disk back on and after about 15 minutes, it was fully operational. This leads one to conclude that a minimal OS is in firmware on one of the EEPROMS on the DVR and IT formats and prepares the disk for download of the full OS. Makes sense when you think about it and is rather clever If a disk goes bad in a DVR, the Technician at your house (or back at the repair depot) simply replaces the bad disk with a new,blank one sitting on the shelf and upon power up, it prepares itself. Eliminates any cance for human error by the tech and eliminates the need to maintain a stock of prepared disks and have to keep track of firmware revs on those disks back at the depot.

njlangys
njlangys

I own a Tivo box from my satellite days and liked it a lot better than the cablebox. It sure would be nice to use it with the cable setup

ashumate
ashumate

The cable companies seem to be pushing the newer model with the 160G drive since High Def started getting more popular. It should be possible to put a bigger drive in by just imaging the original with DD or other software. or as eggheadgeek said you could just get a TiVO and hack to your hearts content.

joseph.queen1
joseph.queen1

The data is VERY different since the 1394 data is in Mpeg2 Transport Stream format and is output at around 2-4 Mbits/second because it is the compressed data. The data output to the HDMI or Component is the fully decoded Mpeg2 Transport or Program stream (depends upon the device implementartion) and is on the order of Mbytes/second because it is the fully uncompressed Mpeg2 data. Put another way, The Transport or Program stream describes HOW the mpeg2 data is delivered. TS has been chosen as the ad-hoc standard for moving mpeg2 data over the 1394 interface. Once the Mpeg2 data stream (whether it is TS or PS) has been decoded, you have the picture and sound to send to the display device. Ie. In the context we are talking about in this post, The encoded data is sent to the 1394 recorder via Transport Stream format and it then needs to be decoded and sent over the HDMI component interface on the display device. Obviously, the decoded Mpeg2 TS formatted data is a LOT bigger.

tellis
tellis

If you review the Motorola specifications for the unit, you will find mention that the firewire port is not configured to accept input -- it is only an output port. Whatever is the selected programming display, all output ports (HDMI, Component, 1394, etc.) get the same signal at the same time.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

a box with a 3 GHz dual core and 2 gig of RAM. i did test before with a single core 2.8 and a gig. It worked fine but ran a little hot. It ran hot due to it being one fo the first Prescotts released which were notorious for high temps so I can't say that it wouldn't have worked fine besides that. I just wanted a faster machine so I could use it for other tasks.

paul
paul

Tivo does have an HD Dual tuner box that can replace the Cable providers cable box. It was just recently released for about $300.

soundy
soundy

...you just want to hack a PVR for the sake of hacking a PVR. These units are also a dual-tuner HD cable box... ie. if you want high-def from your cable provider, you probably have to use one of these (or a similar, cheaper, non-PVR model); TiVo won't do that.