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About the Author and this thread - ARR is a former Shaw employee who worked for several years assisting the Star Choice team that developed and tested the Star Choice DVR530. He previously posted on the Digital Forum as digitaldude.

This is a revisit of a topic discussed in previous posts and hopes to shed some clarity for those interested.

DISCLAIMER: If your unit is under WARRANTY, then this procedure is NOT recommended.

A little history:

The very initial hard drive in DSR530's were Maxtor, but never went into production with that model as it proved unreliable and not up to the task.

The CE version was chosen for it reliability and performance.
Read the specs here: http://www.seagate.com/docs/pdf/datasheet/disc/ds_ce.pdf

A little known fact is that ~ 30K 'special' dsr530's were shipped with the Seagate 250GB hard drives for in house use at a major N.A. auto manufacture that operates their own DCII transponder and had been using Moto DSR4XX units, but needed a DVR and the 530 was the ONLY DCII DVR around.

While its easy to criticize Moto/*C for selecting the 160GB, initial plans which I took over spec'ing originally had the 80GB and the 120GB was only a consideration as they were being used by the cable HD PVR's and only recently in the DCT6416 went to 160GB. I examined the cost and made a case for our current 160GB, so be thankful we got that.


continued....
 

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Part 2

Before we get carried away, 2 things;
1. The Seagate 250Gb is KNOWN to work and work well.
2. Other sizes 'may' work, but early tests in October 2006 with the 400GB showed possibilities, but mixed results.
Now I admit, I've not tried it since, but code back then was probably BC or something close and was now where near as stable as the code we enjoy today.

(Click on Thumbnails for larger picture)

Here is Diags R showing 356GB:
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And an almost nostalgic look back on the infamous blue guide showing 283SD / 70 HD hours possible.
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So while it clearly went in, formatted and was recognized, material recorded, but playback was unpredictable.
Of course, YMMV* (Your Mileage May Vary)

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Part 3

Before you begin, you may want to obtain the security bit to make life easier removing the case screws.
One possible source is Newelectronx.
Here is a closeup:
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Remove the top cover:
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To reveal all the goodies:
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Part 4

Once inside you'll notice the Seagate 160Gb hard drive mounted with heatsink on each side.

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This was a VOOM specification that later paid off well as we'll see.
To extricate the drive;
1. Detach the USB cable from the main board.
2. Detach the power cable for the rear adapter board.
3. Remove 4 screws holding the drive/heatsink assy. from the chassis.
4. Remove 4 screws holding the heatsinks and pry loose. They are attached with a thermal tape.
5. Carefully remove the USB adapter board.

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This little board is why you MUST use Seagate drives.
Other manufactures will not have the same 40 pin connector to 4 pin power plug spacing.
There was a different board for the Maxtor drive in development with different spacing.

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Part 5

Now that the drive is removed, you'll see the cooling fan that caused all the fuss with noisy machines in the beginning.

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This is a high quality fan, but the noise was caused by the very close proximity of the fan to the bottom of the drive and while spinning, the back pressure cause the fan blades to deflect.

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Later software turned it off unless absolutely (69 C) needed and this is were the extra design of the heat sinks paid off handsomely.

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Part 7

Now the drive needs to have its 'special' format.
For the curious, it's VxWorks.

Fortunately there is a quick and simple method to do it.
Goto Options 6-4-9-8-8-6 and do a FACTORY RESET and choose the ERASE hard drive option.
This formats the drive, but has the unfortunate effect of also de-authorizing your box.
A quick call to Starchoice to obtain an authorization re-hit should do the trick nicely and take only a moment.
They don't want people resetting the boxes, so tell them you've been renovating and it's been disconnected for over a month and doesn't work or some suitable story.

Once that is done, check you work by going into Option 6-4-9-7-7-1 and cursor right until Diags R comes up.

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You should now see a value larger than the 134GB that the original 160GB shows if you upgraded as opposed to replaced.
The 250GB yields 217, while the 400GB gave us 356.

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Part 8

The DVR list will also now have improved storage values:
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It should now be possible to match and exceed the storage of even the newest and next release of the Bell HD PVR's as they currently tout a mere 50 or so hours in spite of the massive disks.

If followed carefully, the procedure will permit an out of warranty repair or upgrade with minimal hassle.

You may want to retain the original 160GB should you sell or need to send it back for some reason.
IF you prefer to recycle the drive, check you jumpers for Master/Slave/Cable select as needed for your PC system and then use the Seagate utility to do a ZERO fill of the drive and then proceed to partition and format for your O/S.

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Part 9

I personally know of at least 2 members that are successfully running the 250GB configuration.

As much code has passed since my October 2006 experiments with the 400GB and the very low cost of storage these days, I encourage those pioneering souls to try their hand using the 320GB, 400GB, 500GB and 750GB and report back their findings.

Always TEST, TEST & TEST to make sure everything is running as expected if your recordings are important.
We are not aware of any special bios or size limitations and fully expect most drives to work, but just because it says so on the Diags R or DVR list, make sure you can record and playback before going to far and try and verify that you can actually store 40 to 70 hours of HD.

For the more adventuresome, you may want to try using an EXTERNAL USB enclose and plug it into the mainboard where the IDE/USB adapter cable went.
Double check the colour coding and signal wiring as I thought it might have been slightly non-standard.

This could potentially open the door for many volume archiving if the externals work.
Early reports are IMPROVED performance with the 250GB, presumable do to the 7200 RPM and larger cache sizes over the 5400 RPM OEM drives.
Keep in mind the the 7200's WILL run a bit hotter than the 5400 and that's why they were chosen for 24/7 PVR service.
I use a 120MM PC case fan that has connectors allowing it to sit inline with the drives power connector and it keeps the power supply and drive area very cool and is easily detached if needed.

I have no particular reason to explore this myself, as I'm quite satisfied with the current 160GB storage and may try at a later disk following a disk failure, but with 3 other HD PVR's with various large drives, I see no need.

End of tutorial.

Let the experiments and discussion begin.
 

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Very Nice!

Given that most people are still getting replacements out of warranty, that may hold some people back.

Also, will any Seagate IDE ATA100 drive work, or is it a specific model?

Another question - does your 120mm fan suck air out of the unit - can you post a picture to show how/where you mounted the fan.

Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I highly doubt the 250GB used on the East coast was the same model in the auto makers version and may or may not be the same as the other member down South, so I would have so say again that the 250GB ARE working quite fine apparently and as requested, give the other sizes a try and report model and findings.

This community needs to take a proactive stance to open up the units to force *C start to use larger drives and we can all benefit by this, whereas the poor Bell boys MUST replace their disks with those on a supported list.

Here we already know the regular PC drives work fine and we don't need the 5400 lower performance ones the factory uses.

The 120mm fan sucks and I'll try and post a pic or 2 later.
 

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Fan's Suck!

As previously mentioned, the fan draws the warm air from above the power supply as shown.

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The connection is with the standard 4 pin PC power supply connector in a feed through and tapped as shown.

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The drive stays relatively cool due to the heatsink, but the exiting warm air also help and the is some airflow from the bottom up through the top.

A hand placed on the top cover finds it cool.

I made no attempt to protect the fan wire that exit the back as the screws are not holding the cover down, but the front edge is snapped into place for cosmetic reasons.

Noise is not a problem for 2 reasons:
1. The unit is behind smoked glass doors in a cabinet
2. The fan is a thermally controlled with the sensor closest to the unit and runs well less than full speed.
I'm guessing in the 1200 rpm ranger versus the 3800 rpm maximum.
It's an Antec Smart Cool as opposed to the Tri-Cool series, which would work nicely as well and has the 3 speed fan switch, but this way, it's a set and forget operation.

I'm sure the 80mm would do as well.
It doesn't take much, just a little active air movement to exhaust the heat does wonders.

While this should in theory increase life span, it likely doesn't help those that suffer from the cold cpu startup syndrome.

I use the same technique on a popular HD FTA PVR that suffers from a thermal problem when fully 'accessorized'.
 

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Scenario:
Replace the hard drive and do a format with erase and then get starchoice to reauthorize. In theory the system should work and I now have a useable larger hard drive. I subsequentlly replace again with the original hard drive.

Question:
Will the system need to be reformatted again or can I just put in the old hard drive and access the shows that were originally there?

If so, then you would have a way to archive shows and put in a new hard drive when the original one gets full.

Thoughts anyone? This is something I'm willing to try if you think the shows on the first hard drive will still be watchable after using a different one. Our current drive has some movies and shows that we want to keep indefinitely so I wouldn't want to lose them when I try to put the original hard drive back in.
 
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