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Upgrading my ReplayTV

A step-by-step illustrated chronicle of my ReplayTV 5040 upgrade

Upgrading your ReplayTV isn't as difficult as you'd think it would be. That's because a great utility called RTVPatch exists. It is totally free and open source, and (at least for me) worked beautifully. Biggest kudos to the team that created it.

Now on to the project. I started with my ReplayTV 5040, which has a 40 gig HDD. I found and purchased a 160 gig Maxtor DiamondMax Plus on the cheap. When researching the upgrade process, I saw that while there was plenty of textual documentation out there, there wasn't much in the way of pictures. So, I tried to take photos at every major step. Please note, if you intend on upgrading your ReplayTV like I did you should be fairly comfortable in tinkering with the insides of a computer. There's nothing major done in this process, but you should understand:

What you're going to require: A PC running either Linux or Windows, with one IDE channel available. As in, both plugs on that channel's IDE cable need to be free. Since you probably have your main hard drive on the Primary IDE channel, unplug both devices (such as CD-ROMs, etc, if there are any) on the Secondary channel. I happen to have a spare PC with Red Hat 9 installed on it, so I used that. On the PC you intend to use for this upgrade, grab the copy of RTVPatch that's for your OS. Since I'm running desktop Red Hat 9, I used XRTVPatch which runs in the xwindows environment. Other versions include: a text-based one to run from the linux command line, a Windows version, and a bootable version. The bootable one allows you to create a boot disk so that you can just boot your PC using that floppy and run the utility from there. If you use either of the linux versions, make sure to change the file permissions for RTVPatch or XRTVPatch to allow execution. I say this because it had me baffled for a while like the linux amateur I am.

To get started, unplug and open your ReplayTV case.

You'll see the hard drive sitting right in the surprisingly empty box. Unplug the power and IDE cables from the drive, and unscrew the mounting bracket holding it to the case. You'll have to cut a cable tie (pictured below) in order to lift out the bracket without disturbing the cables leading to the ReplayTV's motherboard.

It is important to not unplug these cables, as I've read everywhere that this will cause horrible things to happen to your ReplayTV. I just slid the drive (still attached to the mounting bracket) out from underneath the wires.

Remove the drive from the mounting bracket by unscrewing the four screws on the sides of the drive. ReplayTV uses the drive with its jumper set in "Cable Select" mode. This is a no-no when putting it in a PC, so switch the jumper to mark the original ReplayTV drive as "Master." That means you should change the jumper on the new upgrade drive to be "Slave." Instructions for where to put the jumper should be printed on the top of the drive.

Connect both drives to your PC. The original ReplayTV drive should be hooked to the connector at the end of the cable, and the new upgrade drive should be hooked to the connector in the middle. In the picture below, you'll see 3 drives -- the one on the bottom is the main system boot drive, the top two are the old and new ReplayTV drives. I know some people would scoff at me for stacking these drives so closely together, but they won't be like this long. They did get rather toasty, so I wouldn't leave the machine running for days with this setup.

Fire up the machine and start RTVPatch. Check to make sure that the drive shows up as the correct size, otherwise you have problems and should consult all of the online help. Dig my high-tech method of taking screen shots!

Basically, what this program does is copy your ReplayTV system information from the original drive (the source) to your new upgrade drive (the destination). It also copies over your old show files onto the new drive for you. Select the source drive and the target drive from the dropdowns. Triple-check to make sure you've selected the correct ones. Click the "Copy System Partition" button. This will put the system info on the destination drive. This should only take a few seconds to happen. If you would like to copy your shows from the original drive to the new one (like I did), click the "Copy MPEG Partition" button. This process will take longer, mine ran around 45 minutes. A progress bar will creep along so you can estimate how long it will be.

Once that's finished, the last step is to click the "Patch Target Disk" button. What this does is marks the ReplayTV system information with how big your drive is. Basically, it lets the ReplayTV know how much total storage space is on the disk. This is a quick but important step, don't forget to do it!

The new drive is now ready to be used in your ReplayTV. Power down the PC, and remove the new drive. You can keep the old drive in your PC as you now have another 40 gig drive you can use for whatever you want. Move the new drive's jumper from the "Slave" spot to the "Cable Select" spot. Refer to your hard drive's instructions for which spot to put the jumper.

Screw the new drive into the mounting bracket with the screws that came with your new hard drive.

Slide the mounting bracket (with drive attached) back under the wires, and screw it down. Re-attach the IDE and power cables.

Put the cover back on, hook the ReplayTV up to your TV, and you're ready to go! With my 160 gig drive, my ReplayTV was 100% full before the upgrade but now I have another 65 hours available at medium quality. I can't reiterate how simple and painless this was, many many thanks to the creators of RTVPatch for their wonderful work. Happy upgrading!