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TiVo cooling

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Posted by: paradise

I would like to show my appreciation to the TiVo hackers for TiVoMad, MFSTool etc. by posting some cooling tips, which some may or may not have been covered previously. Don't be afraid to modify your TiVo! The Tivo was very poorly engineered from a cooling standpoint and seems to actually be designed to retain maximum heat:

1)cost- $10-$12. Replace the fan. Depending on your noise tolerance (the louder the cooler) Also I run the motherboard power cable along the top of the fan so nothing restricts air flow. Just be sure to get a fan with a "pass-thru" power plug (plugs into hard drive) so fan runs continuos- don't use fan plug on motherboard. You can get a ball-bearing fan for (supposed) longer life.
2)cost- $3. Use rubber stick pads on the bottom of the TiVo (I put 2 on each leg) to get air clearance under unit.
3)cost $0. If you look at the inside of the TiVo cover (model HDR-110) you see a large gray foam pad that runs the length of the cover. Remove it. It serves absolutely no purpose other than to restrict air flow, especially around hard drives.
4)cost $0. If you don't have little kids that you're afraid might stick their fingers in it, remove the fan grating. I just used a needle-nosed pliers and twisted each leg back & forth until it snapped, and then twisted the grating back & forth until it snapped off too. Took about 15 minutes.
5)cost $0. The hard drives have a clip attached to the top to hold the data cable against the drive. Unattach it & set the cable on top of it. You don't want the cable against the hard drive for air flow.
6)cost $0. If you look at the bottom of the Tivo you see the only intake air holes are at the front corner opposite the hard drives, there are no air holes near the drives. This makes for a "coffin corner" of dead air around the hard drives. I set the old Tivo fan between the power supply and the hard drives, blowing at the drives, and wired it to a hard drive power cable (Tivo fan red wire to HD yellow wire, Tivo fan blue wire to HD black wire). The power consumption of the fan is miniscule & I don't believe significantly strains the Tivo power supply.

I've reduced my temperature to 32C and have eliminated stutters & freeze ups caused by overheating. Remember just beacuse the air temp reads cooler doesn't mean the hard drives aren't still hot.



Posted by: tivolovit

Great tips http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif, I will keep this all in mind when I get around to my UG.

TiVoloViT




Posted by: Worf

quote:
Originally posted by paradise:
4)cost $0. If you don't have little kids that you're afraid might stick their fingers in it, remove the fan grating. I just used a needle-nosed pliers and twisted each leg back & forth until it snapped, and then twisted the grating back & forth until it snapped off too. Took about 15 minutes.


Remove the fan holder prongs as well, drill some holes, and use a proper fan grill ($1-$2) - less turbulence, more air flow (the proper grills impede very little airflow). Just use some standard case screws to screw the grill into the fan. Then you can perform this mod and know that fingers won't get caught as well.



Posted by: jeffw_00

I just popped a 2nd 5400RPM drive into my otherwise OK TiVo (HDR312) -all the tips sounds intelligent - i saw the big foam block - maybe a noise insulator? But - do I really <need> to do any of/all this stuff preventively?
/j



Posted by: Worf

No, you don't need to do any/all of them. They're just suggestions on what you can do. Pick and choose which ones you want to do based on your comfort level.

If you're not concerned with noise, remove the foam block. If you are, don't. etc. Try doing one at a time and experimenting. If you can, run it with the cover off. If not, leave it on, and try other mods.



Posted by: ramsfootball22

What is an acceptable temp for a directivo to run at? Mine says it is 56C. Says it is normal but that seems hi compared to what I have seen posted.



Posted by: shandrew

quote:
Originally posted by paradise:

I've reduced my temperature to 32C and have eliminated stutters & freeze ups caused by overheating. Remember just beacuse the air temp reads cooler doesn't mean the hard drives aren't still hot.



In my opinion, people are far too concerned with heat issues on standalone TiVos, probably because they're used to dealing with today's PCs (especially P4 and Athlons) which have so many cooling requirements and consume ridiculous amounts of power. In contrast, a TiVo, has very low power requirements; almost all of the heat comes from the hard drive(s). The PowerPC microprocessor doesn't even have a heat sink!

Anyway, most hard drives are rated to work under temperatures 50C or higher (ambient. Temperatures may be higher near the drive). The SA TiVo turns its fan on at 40C. If you're having heat-related problems even at 40C, your drive is probably faulty and should be replaced.

If you're sufficiently bored, you can watch /var/log/messages and watch the fan turn on and off as temperature changes.



Posted by: paradise

Electronics work better/last longer at lower temperatures. That's why when you overclock a computer processor too much, the heat causes crashes. Computer overclockers have to use large heat sinks w/fans (or ever water cooled!) to keep the CPU stable.
The hard drives will also be more stable & last longer at lower temperatures. My computer hard drives are just warm to the touch. Having the drives work 24/7/365 at the "upper envelope" of their tolerance is not conductive to stability or long life. If your drives are so hot you can't touch them, they're too hot!



Posted by: Russ Arcuri

quote:
Originally posted by paradise:
If you look at the inside of the TiVo cover (model HDR-110) you see a large gray foam pad that runs the length of the cover. Remove it. It serves absolutely no purpose other than to restrict air flow, especially around hard drives.


This is not true. The pad is there to serve as noise insulation. I agree that it also makes for hotter hard drives, but it's not like it has no purpose. It does in fact muffle some of the noise from the drives. You can leave it in place to provide noise insulation, and still lower the operating temp of the TiVo with some or all of the other tips.

I drilled extra ventilation holes in the right side of the case on my Sony, and installed an always-on ball-bearing fan ("The Silencer," from PC Power and Cooling). These two modifications dropped the temperature significantly, and the foam is still in place.

------------------
Russ Arcuri
<FONT COLOR="red">Sony SVR-2000</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">32 MB, improved cooling system</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="blue">Hughes GXCEB0T</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">57 hours, wearing Philips shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips DSR-6000r</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">wearing Hughes shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips HDR-212</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">unmodified, if you can believe it</FONT s>

<FONT COLOR="magenta">"More education is not a pancreas."</FONT c>
<FONT size="1"> -- Mississippi state legislator, commenting on a proposed state education plan</FONT s>



Posted by: Russ Arcuri

quote:
Originally posted by ramsfootball22:
What is an acceptable temp for a directivo to run at? Mine says it is 56C. Says it is normal but that seems hi compared to what I have seen posted.


As you have probably noticed, the System Information screen claims that 56C is "normal." The DirecTiVos do run hotter than the standalones. Personally, I feel better when my DirecTiVos are running under 50C, but have seen no ill effects at temps up to 55C (the highest temp I have noticed on mine).

------------------
Russ Arcuri
<FONT COLOR="red">Sony SVR-2000</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">32 MB, improved cooling system</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="blue">Hughes GXCEB0T</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">57 hours, wearing Philips shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips DSR-6000r</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">wearing Hughes shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips HDR-212</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">unmodified, if you can believe it</FONT s>

<FONT COLOR="magenta">"More education is not a pancreas."</FONT c>
<FONT size="1"> -- Mississippi state legislator, commenting on a proposed state education plan</FONT s>



Posted by: Mars

I've been reading in these threads for a few weeks about people fussing over the cooling of their TiVo. I have been working as a broadcast engineer for over 20 years. I came into this fourm for help with the software hack and got it. But electronics and hardware I know very well and would like to give back to the fourm some help. As for the TiVo cooling system I think it is fine, I admire the tempture regulated fan design and suggest you leave it alone. Most electronic components are designed to operate up to 105c which is way higher than what us humans call hot. The hard drive is a hunk of metal and doesn't know or care about too hot untill the solder starts to melt on it's circut board (aprox 400f). As for the stuttering I unpluged my TiVo and restarted it once a day for 5 days and have not seen a stutter since. If Mr paradise fixed his stutters it may be from the power down he did while modifying the fan, then re-booting back on. Russ Arcuri I see you have extra ram in your Sony, what do you think about that upgrade?

------------------
Jim



Posted by: Russ Arcuri

quote:
Originally posted by Mars:
As for the TiVo cooling system I think it is fine, I admire the tempture regulated fan design and suggest you leave it alone. Most electronic components are designed to operate up to 105c which is way higher than what us humans call hot.


Most computer equipment has a specified operating temperature range of 45 - 105 F (7 - 40 C). This is probably why the standalone TiVos turn the fan on when the internal temperature measures 40 C.

quote:
The hard drive is a hunk of metal and doesn't know or care about too hot untill the solder starts to melt on it's circut board (aprox 400f).


In reality, hard drives can and do operate at temps higher than 40 C. But I'm almost 100% sure that 105 C (221 F, above the boiling point of water) is not recommended. Metals expand as they heat. If the platters in the hard drive expand too much, the magnetic coating on them can crack or deform. Semiconductors also do not handle excessive heat well -- which is why most modern CPUs have hefty heat sinks and/or cooling fans mounted directly on them. 105 C would probably kill a TiVo in varied and interesting ways.

quote:
Russ Arcuri I see you have extra ram in your Sony, what do you think about that upgrade?


It was a pain in the butt to do. I typed up some notes about the procedure I followed here . Scroll down that page a little more than half way to find my (rather long) posting.

As for the benefits, they're real but subtle on my Sony. Basically anything that used to cause the TiVo to page out to disk doesn't anymore. I say the difference is subtle because other than the mods listed in my signature file, it's back to factory config (30 hours). At one point, I did have it upgraded to over 100 hours, but didn't have the RAM upgrade installed. Navigating menus is very quick now, and it wasn't usually before the RAM upgrade. I would have been able to give you a better answer if Circuit City and Orbit Satellite hadn't made the price of DirecTiVos so attractive... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

------------------
Russ Arcuri
<FONT COLOR="red">Sony SVR-2000</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">32 MB, improved cooling system</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="blue">Hughes GXCEB0T</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">57 hours, wearing Philips shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips DSR-6000r</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">wearing Hughes shell</FONT s>
<FONT COLOR="green">Philips HDR-212</FONT c> -- <FONT size="1">unmodified, if you can believe it</FONT s>

<FONT COLOR="magenta">"More education is not a pancreas."</FONT c>
<FONT size="1"> -- Mississippi state legislator, commenting on a proposed state education plan</FONT s>

[This message has been edited by Russ Arcuri (edited 10-15-2001).]



Posted by: hutchca

quote:
Originally posted by paradise:
Electronics work better/last longer at lower temperatures. ...
True, but not necessarily... There is an engineering rule of thumb that says the lower the operating temperature, the longer the device will last. The reason for that rule is because of the temperature swing between room temperature and operating temperature. The damage is done when the temperature changes, either heating up or cooling down. The wider the temperature swing the more damage or likelihood of damage. It's best to keep the device at a constant temperature even if that constant temperature is very high.
quote:
Originally posted by paradise:
... If your drives are so hot you can't touch them, they're too hot!
Again, not necessarily... My Quantum Fireball drives are too hot to touch even when they are sitting out of the case in the open air. That's their normal operating temperature which I guess is why they call them "Fireball"s.

My Advice: Whatever the temperature is, if it's working at that temperature it won't hurt it to leave it at that temperature. Keeping it cooler won't make it last any longer either. (Unless you regularly unplug your TiVo long enough for it to cool off)

B.T.W. My SA TiVo has 2 Quantum Fireball AS drives with no modifications to the fan or case. It has been running continuously (uptime) for &gt;140 days with never a stutter nor a stopple. The internal temp reads 38-40C but I know the drives are much hotter.

p.s.
quote:
Originally posted by Russ Arcuri:
In reality, hard drives can and do operate at temps higher than 40 C. But I'm almost 100% sure that 105 C (221 F, above the boiling point of water) is not recommended.
Actually, I used to work on some very old and very large Winchester drives that had to warm up for 30 minutes before they reached operating temperature and would start working. If I remember right (and I might not) their operating temperature was in the neighborhood of 250F. At any rate you could get 2nd degree burns if you touched it in the wrong spot.

[This message has been edited by hutchca (edited 10-15-2001).]



Posted by: jeffw_00

Someone wrote
"There is an engineering rule of thumb that says the lower the operating temperature the longer the device will last."

This is how urban legends get started, you repeat one often enough and....

I've worked developing commercial and consumer electronics for over 20 years - Here's the real scoop:

Commercial/Consumer electronics are designed to a standard temperature range of 0 - 70 Deg C. Sometimes this is specified with a minimum air flow of 200 lfm.

Manufacturers put sufficient cooling in their cabinet to keep the internal ambient temperature in this range. (sometimes they use certain cheaper components that need a lower temperature, and adjust accordingly. However, I don't think anything in the TiVo cabinet qualifies).

Semiconductor chips are designed to run up to 125C (though many manufacturers use 105 or 110C to improve reliability), but that's the temperature &lt;IN THE CHIP PACKAGE&gt; - The chip's power dissipation and package construction and cooling are chosen to keep the temperature rise in the package to less then 35DegC or so.

So - If the cabinet internal temp is 40 or 50 Deg - All the electronics should be just ducky (not a technical term)
/j



Posted by: paradise

Yes I believe the intended purpose of the foam pad is noise insulation, but in my case I don't hear any noise from my hard drives anyway (Maxtor). If your drives are making a lot of noise they're probably going bad.
I may have implied in my original post the stutters are caused by overheating. I will correct myself & say I don't know what causes stutters. I know in fact some are just my digital cable signal gliches.
Before my cooling upgrades I used to have to unplug my Tivo every couple days because of a freeze up. Maybe I've got a weak processor? Since the Tivo processor doesn't have a cooling fan it's more dependent than ever on internal case cooling. Now I never get a freeze up. I seems logical that if your unplugging the Tivo all the time helps it work better maybe you're just giving it a chance to cool off? The Tivo is really just a computer. I wouldn't want to operate my computer with only the weak off/on Tivo fan for cooling...



Posted by: IronHelix

Paradise's info is very helpful, but just doesnt take that extra step that says "I'm L33T". So here are some extra suggestions to gurantee that your TiVo will not only be well cooled, it will be L33T.

**Disclaimer** I am not responsable for any damage caused by following these procedures, freezing damage from liquid nitrogen or other coolants, damage to TiVo or other equipment or loss of life, limb and L33Tness. Please note that this article focuses on efficient cooling, not noise or space restrictions. Remember, the only boundaries are in your mind.

First, lets deal with that PowerPC processor. It puts out a lot of heat... amost 1/2 watt. So let's start with that. We could use a tiny cheapo heatsink, but thats not L33T. We are going to mount a 172W Peltier and a Thermalright SK6 Copper Heatsink with a 7000RPM Delta fan. This will be mounted using Arctic Silver Epoxy.

Now that Pelt is going to draw alot of power, so it will require its own power supply. This is pretty easy. Buy an ATX Power Supply, and use a paper clip to connect the two green wires in the ATX plug (this turns on the PS). Plug in the Pelt and you're set. This can be attached to the TiVo with Duct Tape.

Next we will tackle that mysterious Crypto Chip (it has the TiVo smily). Nobody really knows how hot that gets, so better be safe than sorry: Water Cooling. This will get a Maze1C water block from DangerDen.com, lots of 1/2" tubing and we need a radiator. Probably the most efficient radiators is in a car. So we will use a car. Instead of a bulky engine, we will place an industrial strength air handler. This should provide sufficient cooling. Coolant will be a mixture of de-ionized water, Water Wetter and phosphorescent dye for added L33Tness.

Next up is the MPEG encoder/decoder chips. They are used the most and will require something truly industrial-strength: A liquid nitrogen drip. Liquid N2 is expensive so we will instead make our own. This will require a somewhat large compressor and a gas liquification assembly. This will liquify air, (mostly nitrogen) and drip it on the chip. You might want to put the compressor inside the car (from the last step) for less noise, proper compressor cooling will be addressed in the next article.

And finally, the hard drives, the hardest working of the setup. And the hardest. Hard disks do not like (l)N2 drips or water cooling. So we will have to use forced air. For proper heat dissipation, the air should be much cooler than the device. So we are going to use the heat pump from an industrial air conditioning unit with a large fan. Use a large funnel to channel the air around the drives.

Now plug everything in. This will likely require a dedicated line from your power company, which also generates heat. Proper cooling of power cables will be addressed in a later post. You now have a Truly L33T TiVo set up with maximum cooling. Never again will you wonder if 50C is OK, you'll be at -5!



Posted by: snead

Or if you're just mildly worried about cooling and don't want to take any particular steps right now, you may not have to.
http://www.avsforum.com/ubbtivo/Forum6/HTML/008271.html



Posted by: controlio

Snead: You can also just disable fancontrol in the rc.sysinit file (and reboot) to get your fan to stay on all of the time. I've ran my TiVo for months without fancontrol, and it hovered around a cool 32-33c.

I got adventurous today, and enabled fancontrol out of curiosity... the temp shot right back up to 39c.

Go figure.

------------------
"Wit is educated Insolence." -Aristotle

[EDIT: What grammar?]

[This message has been edited by controlio (edited 10-16-2001).]



Posted by: dalesd

Beware: The more CFM you put through your TiVo, the more dust you put through it.

Unless you add air filters, wich have to periodically inspected, cleaned, and/or replaced.

------------------
Dan. Sony SVR-2000 ver 2.0.1, 128 hours
---------------------------------------------------------
* Are you liberal, conservative, libertarian -- or other?
It only takes a minute to find out! Try "The World's
Smallest Political Quiz" online at: www.self-gov.org/quiz
---------------------------------------------------------



Posted by: retrodog

... consumer electronics are designed to run at reasonably warm temperatures,,,

The designers/integrators of a unit (like Tivo) have to perform many design related tasks pertaining to worst case analysis, timing issues, processor loading, yada yada yada. After all is said and done, as far as the circuit operation is concerned, attention turns to "real world" impacts. Engineers, especially for commercial electronics, have to consider everything from component placement to possible abuse.

What's the point? Well components designed into a circuit have Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) that dictate roughly how long you can expect them to last. This varies depending on loading, operational temperature ranges, what phase the moon is in and so forth. The practice of "derating components" is for maximizing their life expectancy and increasing overall MTBF of a system. Devices like computers and VCRs and so on are designed for a limited life expectancy.

If you are not planning on using your "unmodified" component past the five year mark then you probably don't need to worry about it.

If however, you modify the unit, causing a higher than anticipated heat load, there may be a negative effect to the MTBF.

I just recently started modifying my 112 unit and am now analyzing some of the components for possible failure points. The MPEG decoder chip looks like a possible candidate for additional cooling. It gets very hot.



Posted by: rlangis

Something quick and dirty to add some cooling to those chips would be to head down to your local computer salvage store and/or Radio Shack for some 486 heatsinks.

Grab some heat-conductive glue/paste and attach them to the PPC, TiVo and Mpeg decoder chips and you're good to go. Can't hurt, and total cost will probably be under a buck depending on where you go. YMMV.



Posted by: Pointfreak!

Hey all..

Thought i'd share my results after replacing the stock TiVo fan.

The stock DirecTiVo fan is a The Delta (AUB0612L) - rated 14.1 CFM @ 22.5 dB. Since it is a standard 60x60x25mm fan, you can replace it with any similiar sized fan. TiVo also runs this 12V fan at 7V if you use the motherboard fan connector, so the actual specs will be even lower.

I purchased the Y.S. Tech 60mm fan, rated at 26CFM @ 34dB ($9.95). I also purchased the adaptor cable to run the fan off the hard drive power leads (12V). Without any cooling in a glass front stereo cabinet, I was averaging 58-60C. Well within the TiVo specs I know, but too hot for my taste., Besides...Cooler is always better.

I installed an AC fan in the back of the cabinet first. This dropped the temp to around 52-53C, without even cracking the case! I then added the Y.S. Tech fan, and now get 45C! I even get 50C with the cabinet fan off! It is louder, but with the glass doors closed you dont notice it.

The fan replacement took all of 5 minutes. I did have to drill the fan holes a little to get my fat Torx screwdriver through them, but since its plastic it was a piece of cake.



Posted by: cat_jesus

One of my SA units has a problem where it will no longer record and the menus and playback has the wrong colors. It looks like there is a rainbow across the screen. I found that keeping the temperature down keeps this problem from cropping up.

Even though I have turned the fan on continuously, every four or five weeks I will get the same problem. I will probably perform each of the recommended changes to bring the temp down.

Cat



Posted by: wgunn

quote:
Originally posted by ramsfootball22
What is an acceptable temp for a directivo to run at? Mine says it is 56C. Says it is normal but that seems hi compared to what I have seen posted.

My Tivo Series 2 was running at 50C (Normal) and within 2 months had burned up its hard drive. I just got it back today, and it's currently running its set-up routine.

50C is too hot and ultimately will cause your Tivo to die. If it does die, usually it's the hard drive - which you can replace pretty cheaply.

I suggest you do the cooling upgrades once your warranty expires. I will be doing the upgrades this weekend.

Also, DON'T PUT YOUR TIVO IN A STACK! That's how I killed mine. It sat between two AV components which caused it to go from 33C to 50C. Even though Tivo said this was a normal operating range, it obviously wasn't.

Set your Tivo away from any other heat sources, especially if you don't plan on doing any cooling upgrades.



Posted by: srs5694

quote:
Originally posted by Pointfreak!
The fan replacement took all of 5 minutes. I did have to drill the fan holes a little to get my fat Torx screwdriver through them, but since its plastic it was a piece of cake.


I used a flat-head jeweler's screwdriver to do the job. It's not optimal on the Torx screws, but it got enough grip to get the screws out, then back in again for the new fan.




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