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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Edit by 57. Please discuss adding/using an external SATA HDD in this thread. Please also see the following new post:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=98929


Hi, new to DHome and Pace 775D. So far all is well with the Pace and love being free'd from commercials!

Thinking about adding an external drive and contacted Shaw tech support. They didn't really have much advise to offer except to email me these instructions from their notes;


8 - Connecting eSATA external Hard Drive to Pace HD PVR

This section outlines the process on how to properly install an external SATA (e-SATA) drive on Pace Tahoe TDC775D.

**Important: Content recorded on the PVR can only be viewed from that specific device. Content can not be transferred or viewed on a home computer or any other electronic device. Do not use an E-SATA from your PC as it will be automatically reformatted when connected to Pace resulting in ALL DATA BEING LOST.

Installation
1. Pace PVR must be disconnected at the time an e-SATA drive is connected.
**NOTE: If an e-SATA drive is connected while the system is running the e-SATA drive will not be recognized.
2. e-SATA drive must be connected utilizing the SATA port via an e-SATA cable.
3. Once connected, the PVR can be booted up. Boot time should not be affected when a properly working e-SATA drive is connected.
4. Once the e-SATA drive is connected and the PVR is powered on, the user will be prompted to format the e-SATA drive. This will mate the e-SATA drive and its contents to that PVR. Formatting of the e-SATA drive will only be required the first time the e-SATA drive is connected to the STB.
5. You must choose “YES” in order to have external eSATA Hard Drive functionality on the PVR, formatting will take 10 to 15 seconds.

**NOTE: Content recorded on the PVR can only be viewed from that specific device. Content can not be transferred or viewed on a home computer or any other electronic device. Moving eSATA to PC will cause an automatic reformat and all data will be lost (vice versa: PC drive to pace).


Reading this forum I didn't find any "approved" eSATA drives, though Western Digital seems preferred, but any drive can be used as long as it's; under 750GB, non USB, 7200rpm 133mb/sec, and conncected with an eSATA crimping cable?

I wonder if I will lose my programming currently on the PVR once I connect the external. Sounds like once installed both internal and external drives are accessed automatically.

Anyone have any sucess/failure with certain drives? Anything else I should be thinking about before going shopping for an external drive?
 

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ESATA - preliminary success.

So I ordered a Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB SATA2 hard drive, and a 6ft ESATA to SATA cable to use with my Pace unit.

I wanted to avoid using an external drive enclosure, because my experience has been that they get quite heated, and the extra power adapter (and external unit itself) is a nuisance.

I came up with a pretty elegant solution that I am happy with. I have an HTPC box, so I simply mounted the 750GB drive into the HTPC, and powered it with the PSU of the HTPC. I then ran the 6ft cable from the hard drive in the HTPC to the Pace unit.

As per hugh's instructions on page 1, I simply unplugged the Pace, waited a few minutes, plugged in the drive, and powered the Pace back on.

It had a blank screen for a minute, then the message popped up saying it was formating the drive. Note that it did not ask me to format, it just went ahead an did it. It did its thing for a few minutes, and then the blue light on the Pace turned red. I figured this meant it was done, so I turned the Pace on.

Of course my guide was erased, but the tuner was working fine. Much to my horror, when I pressed the "list" button it said some message about the DVR is not available, and might have to contact service.

Thankfully after another 1 or 2 minutes, the list was up, and my free space was WAY lower (9% used space, for 6 hours of HD and another 10 hours of SD that I had saved). When I deleted a 1hr HD program, it went from 9% to 8%. Happy times!!

I was actually a bit skeptical, because normally formatting a 750GB drive would take quite a while ... so the fact that the Pace was able to format such a huge drive in a matter of 5 or 10 minutes leaves me with a bit of concern. But ultimately the space used reflects the size of the new drive. So far so good.

A few shows will record this morning, but it will be getting its first big test this weekend with lots of NBA playoffs to record (i usually tape for 4 hours, in HD to account for possible overtime). I will post back after the weekend to say if it is all running smoothly.

I have heard about a problem with external drives about "blipping". Can anyone explain this to me so I can watch for it?

Does anyone know how the PVR decides which drive to record on. In other words, how will I know if its even using the new drive? Which will it prefer?

An even more esoteric question... I wonder what would happen if I accidentally powered off my HTPC while its recording (not likely since I leave it on all the time... but you never know). I wonder if it would automatically swap to its internal drive and keep recording, or if it would really mess things up.

Im really stoked about this. The previous size of the drives meant I really couldnt get the most out of my PVR. I record a lot of HD sports, HD networks shows. What this has meant is that I can never record other stuff for lack of space. There are always neat looking programs on Discovery HD etc that I know I would eventually get around to watching, but I never record them cause of space issues. Another example is when good HD movies are played on the network channels... I never record them cause I dont want to have to rush to watch them. I also look forward to doing more series recordings of random shows, and just let them sit there on the drive till summer when nothing is on.
 

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An even more esoteric question... I wonder what would happen if I accidentally powered off my HTPC while its recording (not likely since I leave it on all the time... but you never know). I wonder if it would automatically swap to its internal drive and keep recording, or if it would really mess things up.
Hot plugging of the eSATA drive is not supported (i.e. you need to reboot if/when a drive is removed or added). It will continue to try to record to the drive and fail.
 

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So lindend...

say I am recording a program, and if wolfman is correct, it will be recording on the ESATA drive, since it has much more capacity. My HTPC crashes, and powers off momentairily cutting off power to the ESATA drive.

when the ESATA drive comes back online, do you think I will have lost *all* the programs stored on the drive (i.e. the Pace will ask to format), or will I only have lost my current recording. I guess this might be a reason to have it externall... but the external enclosures get terribly hot. What are your thoughts on this?
 

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when the ESATA drive comes back online, do you think I will have lost *all* the programs stored on the drive (i.e. the Pace will ask to format),
It should not ask you to re-format the drive and you shouldn't lose all your programs.

or will I only have lost my current recording.
The current recording will be iffy. At best, it will be truncated where the drive went down. Worse case, it won't be playable.

I guess this might be a reason to have it externall... but the external enclosures get terribly hot. What are your thoughts on this?
If you are absolutely sure that you won't power down the drive in your HTPC, I don't think it matters. However, if there is a significant chance that you'll forget, the eSATA enclosure would be more reliable/stable.

Just remember that if you do go with the enclosure, I'd stay away from the combo USB/eSATA ones until the firmware issues in the enclosures are resolved.

Also, be sure to use an eSATA cable that connects properly to the eSATA port on the drive. Many housings prevent a clean connection unless the proper cable is used.
 

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LawrenceBS -
When I connected the eSATA drive I did *not* lose my previous programs.

lindend -
Thanks for your replies. I tried this out at lunch today, and it confirmed most of what you said. I wasnt smart enough to try recording a program before I did it to see if the current program was saved.

I was curious whether powering down my PC would turn off the drive, because even though the PC would be turned off, there is still power going into the Mobo. Sure enough, the drive is only powered if the PC is turned on.

I left the PVR on the weathernetwork, and then powered off my PC. Sure enough, the Pace "crashed" (image on the screen was frozen, and no buttons worked... couldnt power it on or off). After a couple minutes it was still crashed. I was reluctant to physically unplug the Pace, as I didnt want to lose everything. Instead I booted my computer back up. Once the drive was powered, the Pace unit started "working". It showed no channel, the blue light was on, and "- - -" was across the display. After a minute or so, the picture came up, and ultimately I could access the DVR list. Just like you proposed, it still found the shows I had previously recorded, including one that was likely on the external HD because it recorded earlier today. The free space was 7%, same as before the incident.

Regarding the issue of whether I want to leave it in my PC (food for thought, anyone please give feedback). My HTPC is always on. The only reason it would get turned off is maybe if I had to reboot due to crash (which I would make sure I wasnt recording anything... not sure if a reboot would actually power the drive off either), or perhaps if windows forced a restart.

As far as enclosures. I usually shop at ncix.com (have had good luck with them on numerous PC builds etc). I couldnt even find an external drive enclosure for SATA... they would accept SATA drives, but they all seem to have USB2 for the external connection. Do you have any advice on suitable enclosures?

Further to the enclosure issue... are there any out there that can actually keep the drive cool?

I still have my moto dual tuner PVR (in the bedroom now)... so Im thinking for important programs (like Suns vs. Spurs this weekend) I might also record it on the other PVR. That way I have a backup in case for some inexplicable reason the PC causes trouble. Despite the trouble, it really is nice not having to find space for an external enclosure and extra power supply.
 

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LawrenceBS -
After a couple minutes it was still crashed.
Yes, symptoms can range from a non-responsive box to a reboot.

Do you have any advice on suitable enclosures?
In the states, some are available via Amazon.com. I'm unsure if those vendors will ship to Canada, but you could check.

In my position, I really can't recommend a specific brand over another.

Further to the enclosure issue... are there any out there that can actually keep the drive cool?
Sorry, don't know the answer to that one.
 

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TigerDirect.ca has a number of drive encolsures at what seemed like reasonable rates. I'll admit to not checking the specs close enough to know whether any had special cooling capabilities, but there were a number that implied it by the name. Most seemed to be USB/SATA enclosures, although I think there were at least a couple that were SATA only.
 

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But if the PACE only works with 750 GB or less, I guess you're out of luck anyway.
Drives larger than 750GB will work, but only ~750GB will be recognized. So basically, its not harmful to get a bigger drive as long as you know beforehand that the software can't use the extra capacity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Update from Shaw tech support;


What is the largest e-SATA drive supported on Pace Tahoe TDC775D?
A Tahoe can support drives up to 1600GB (1.6 Terabytes). However, the largest e-SATA drive tested and verified is 750GB.
Pace Recommended e-SATA drives

This section outlines the e-SATA drive(s) that Pace has tested and verified to operate with any Pace PVR. Although any current e-SATA drive is compatible with Pace PVR's, the following manufacturers have been tested and verified and are therefore recommended for e-SATA use.

Recommended Drives:
Manufacturer & Model Number
Edge: Diskgo TBM120
Maxtor R42JER0E
Seagate ST303204FPA1E2-RK
Seagate ST305004FPA1E2-RK
Western Digital WDG1SU5000N
Western Digital WDG1S5000


I bought a Western Digital My Book Home Edition 500GB (model WDH1CS5000CN) and Certified Data eSATA cable, and after many hours on the phone with Shaw tech support was unable to get Pace to recognize the external drive. I noticed the eSATA cable had been repackaged, so it may have been the problem, though unlikely.

The Western Digital WDG1S5000 is my first choice, but I cannot find it for sale in Canada and Western Digital Store and Best Buy will not ship to Canada! I called Western Digital Canada and they said this drive will not be available in Canada till the online store is up and running in 3 to 4 months.
 

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Added 750GB FreeAgent Pro

Thought I'd share my experience.

Just got a FreeAgent Pro 750GB FireWire 400, USB 2.0 & eSATA drive. Didn't come with an eSATA cable but I picked one up from a local computer shop.

My first problem was when it asked if I wanted to format the drive. It looked like it was set to "NO" but it was actually set to "YES". When you see this prompt, just hit enter.

Everything seemed fine but my used space remained at 63%....no change :(

Here is what I did step-by-step that resulted in success.

1. Power on the TV.
2. Turn the power off from the front of the Pace DVR and wait a good minute before going to step 3.
3. Unplug the power cable from the back of the Pace DVR.
4. Plug the eSATA cable into the Pace and the external drive.
5. Power on the external drive.
6. Plug the power cable back into the Pace DVR.
7. Wait half a minute and follow on screen instructions

Viola, went from 63% to 12%! Didn't lose any recordings.

I ran into problems because I just unplugged the box from the back before turning the power off,
you need to turn the power off from the front before you unplug it from the back!!

I was just about to give up hope before I followed step 2. Hope this saves others some frustration.

George
 
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