ReplayTV, the Click of Death and a Happy Ending

by Erica Sadun

I was walking through the bedroom when I heard it. Click, click, click, clickety click.

I whirled around. "What was that?" I asked the husband.

Click, click, click, clickety click.

"I think it's the TV," he said. "It's been acting funny."

"Funny how?" I thought: Jay Leno funny? Robin Williams funny? Heaven forbid: Carrot-top funny?

"The picture keeps freezing."

Click, click, click, clickety click.

I leaned over the Panasonic Showstopper/ReplayTV unit. Click, click, click, clickety click.

I was hearing Quantum Fireball Clicks of Death. There wasn't much time left. I had to act.

I unplugged the ReplayTV, brought it into the workroom and hoped I wasn't too late. Once the continuous clicks begin, there's only so much life left in the drive. I needed to transfer the software over to a new drive before the Quantum sang its clicking swan song.

Fortunately, I had just scored a very cheap 60G Maxtor hard drive ($9 after rebate) over at Office Depot. I'd been using over FireWire as a backup drive but one's husband's basic need for TV must always come first. I pulled my old overclocked eMachines Celery 366 out of storage from the baby's room and cracked it open so I could hook up the drives.

My first surprise involved how easy it was to open the Showstopper unit. After buying special-purpose screwdrivers when I upgraded my TiVo, it was a nice change to use a good old phillips to crack the case. Even more, the lid slid off easily without the massive struggle I remembered from the TiVo. Compared to TiVo as far as TV watching goes, ReplayTV is the Neandertal to TiVo's Cro Magnon, but for modding? Way nicer.

Once open, I found all the typical bunny dust you'd expect in a set-top unit, but the drive itself was housed beautifully, complete with a cover and anti-vibration lining. Sure enough, it was a Quantum Fireball. I left it as Master, set my Office Depot drive to Slave and connected them to the Celery.

At this point, the husband walked in, looked around at the various open cases (FireWire enclosure, ReplayTV box, eMachine case), the disk drives lying around, the various tools, etc. He shuddered and walked back out. With upgrades, like sausage making, it's best not to see the process.

A little googling found me the RTV Patch site over at Source Forge, with beautifully complete and easy-to-follow upgrade instructions. Quite frankly, the hardest part of the upgrade involved tracking down a working 1.44 MB floppy disk. I went through four before I found one that would boot properly.

Within minutes, the upgrade was complete. I retired the FireBall into the Drawer of Discarded Hard Drives and install the new Maxtor into the ReplayTV unit. Warning to others: don't forget to switch the jumpers back from slave to master before re-installing. Naturally, I didn't the first time and was pulling out my hair until I realized what had gone wrong.

The ShowStopper/ReplayTV is now working again. No clicks. No problems. I've reinstalled the husband in front of it. The remote control is permanently attached to his hand and a HappyTV(TM) smile is plastered on his face.

All is well that ends well.

What sort of PVR nightmares and rescues have you experienced?


2005-01-25 01:22:08
Congratulations on this successful surgery as well as finding out all the necessary information so easily!

I'm always amazed by all what hard drives endure in such units so I'm surprised such incidents aren't more common!


2005-01-25 20:25:25
A friend of mine wants to know...
Do you have a sister?
2005-01-25 20:34:38
A friend of mine wants to know...

Yes, I have two...

2005-01-26 14:06:25
everything you need to know about ReplayTV and Showstoppers