Hacking the Hughes DirecTV TiVo

The modem on my Hughes DirectTV TiVo receiver seems to have died. It makes calls, but cannot seem to establish the communication link.

I as a bit annoyed that DirectTV wanted me to pay $50 for a replacement TiVo AND sign another 1-year committment to in the HOPE that a new TiVo would fix the problem. I would have to ship my current TiVo back. As long as replacing my TiVo was on the table, I thought I'd give hacking it a shot first. I soon found that people had long ago found a way to replace the phone call with PPP over serial to their home network. That would avoid the modem.

I found a page on my DirectTV receiver family and decided to start here.

Although this page is intended to be a quick-start version of the above page, I decided to write this log since I have never managed to do anything in a simple, straightforward manner. Perhaps this page will help next time I or somebody else tries this procedure.

Even though I'm a long-time LINUX user, I am following instructions as close as possible. I will use a spare PC and the Sleeper CD-ROM.

It appears that they distribute this in RAR, which is non-free. I added non-free to my debian sources.list, and got the unrar package.
This is looking a bit messy. I wonder if there are easier pages to follow for people comfortable with LINUX. This appears to be intended for (mostly) Windows users. Until I find (or make) that page, I'll continue...

We need to set up a PC with a FAT or FAT32 disk on primary master, a bootable CD-Rom on primary slave. TiVo disks will go on secondary IDE.

I mounted the TiVo disk as secondary master, booted the Sleeper disk, and ran the "m" -- full monte script. As I write this it is working on the backup command. Sure hope it works, since when booting it complained that the secondary master was not fully ATAPCI compatible, or somesuch.

They recommend testing the new disk in TiVo, but that seem silly to me, since we haven't hacked it yet.

To hack, I guess we re-boot, or go to the Surgery Phase...

Defaults should work, then select Pegasus drivers for most USB/Ethernet adaptors, and ax8817x (A) for D-Link and most USB2 adaptors, I think.

Enter the TiVo's IP, broadcast, netmask...


re-boot remote? (remove batteries and replace)

Re-install disks, hook up USB/Ethernet adaptor, and hopefully recording capacity will show as appropriate for new disk, and TiVo will have a WWW server, FTP server, and Telent.

re-boot remote? (remove batteries and replace)

Remove all recordings. You won't be able to view them with the new disk anyway, and they were'nt copied.

I ran through the full monte, several re-boots as directed, hit <enter> a lot, entered the network info very easily.

I tried to repeat on the prom script to get another copy of my TiVo disk. I failed. My suggestion is just to run the full-monte every time. re-do the backup phase too. I'd be suprized if they were mounting the TiVo original disk write-enabled. I know that I'd mount read-only if I were doing this hack.

After the hack, things seem to work, but my NetGear USB 2.0/Ethernet converter doesn't seem to work. It does not even show a power light (which it does from my PC). I dunno if just having the wrong driver would do that... or if something was left un-wired in the TiVo. (does the USB even have power???)
Aaron Birenboim
Last modified: Wed Nov 23 08:09:11 MST 2005