OzTiVo Press Release - Information on resurrecting your unsupported TiVo HD PVR in Australia and New Zealand.

1 November 2017


The OzTiVo community, comprising hardware/software hackers and developers, as well as a loyal user base, has been around since the last millennium. Even though TiVo was not available in Australia (or New Zealand) at that time, individuals imported discarded Series 1 TiVo units from the US and tweaked the non-functioning hardware and software into life, dealing with the complexities of NTSC to PAL analogue systems and the advent of digital set-top boxes. The units responded to MINNIE, an unofficial home grown "mothership" server that served up TV guide data, a roll-your-own system created by volunteers in the community writing the guide from scratch for all areas of the country. The modifications worked brilliantly, albeit with slightly inaccurate and unreliable data at times, but at its height of popularity MINNIE had thousands of dedicated supporters and enthusiastic followers, as well as being accessed by other platforms such as Myth TV home theatre PCs for the TV guide. Despite HD units being available, this system is still alive and in use by some users.

Around ten years later, TiVo officially came to Australia and New Zealand, with the promise of a "lifetime subscription". With an officially supported service available, most users moved across to the impressive TiVo HD units with its familiar intuitive interface and functions superior to its competitors. Unfortunately it was not the commercial success that 7 and Hybrid expected. The TiVo license expired in 2017 and the mothership server went offline. The TiVo set top box faced the prospect of being reduced to e-waste as trade-ins, or a brain-dead and hobbled VCR at best with the lack of a mothership from which to obtain its vital guide and support functions.
Upon the announcement that the Australian and New Zealand service was to be discontinued, the OzTiVo community sprang into action again to develop a solution to keep the beloved units functioning.


Don't throw your old units away! There's life left in them yet.

In order to modify the abandoned units, a single chip needs to be replaced on the motherboard (similar to jailbreaking a phone or installing a console mod chip). This enables the hacked and patched software to be installed on the hard disk. The hardware modification is relatively easy for a competent electronics enthusiast, but there are various people in both countries that have volunteered their services to do the modification for you for a very nominal charge. Be aware there may be a large backlog of units in front of you at this time! Instructions have been prepared and made freely available to assist you making the necessary DIY modifications. The software is modified by booting a computer from a flash drive made from the downloaded files, then removing the hard disk and attaching it externally to a USB dock or adapter, or spare SATA connector, then applying the patches.
The patched software will now make its daily call via the internet to a new mothership server run by the oztivo community, where it downloads data such as housekeeping information and updates to the TV guide. There is no personal information saved there aside from the identity of your PVR and postcode (to serve up the appropriate guide for your area). The TV guide is normally a proprietary publication, licenced and sold to service providers such as TiVo Inc., for distribution to their users. In our case, volunteers create the guide for various areas in the country and upload it to the mothership for transmission to the modified OzTiVo boxes. The data is written and created from scratch by various individuals from publicly available information and built upon the existing Series 1 guide data. There is no copyright infringement or appropriation of proprietary data, as would be the case if the data was scraped from a commercial source. Unfortunately this could occasionally result in inaccurate or incomplete data, inconsistent with the commercial offering we were used to (with all the broadcasters' time-shifting shennanigans, who does know with any certainty what time the 8.30 movie was supposed to start anyway?). There may be an appeal from time to time for you to volunteer and complete a portion of missing guide data for your area, representing a couple of hours of broadcast on a channel. This is a small price to pay for a continuing, uninterrupted and free guide service. More than likely you will find others have beaten you to it in populous areas like capital cities.

For information on how to rescue your defunct unit and give it a new lease on life, head on over to our Twiki site at https://hd.oztivo.net/twiki/bin/view, where detailed instructions for hardware modification and installer files to patch the system software are available for FREE download. The TiVoHD /Series 3 pages are sparse at the moment, but it is early days. Experience has shown it will become a hive of activity before too long.

Please spread the word to anyone you know that still has their unit and wants to prevent it from becoming landfill. There is also great interest in acquiring any unwanted homeless units, regardless of their activation state. We'll make sure they are given a long life in a loving home.


Back to: S3FAQ

-- SimonShead - 2017-11-02

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