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-   -   DCT6412 Hard Drive Upgrade? (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/42-hdtv-recorders/496586-dct6412-hard-drive-upgrade.html)

alexburke 01-16-2005 02:29 AM

Has anyone tried souping up a DCT6412 by upgrading its hard drive?

A few mandatory notes to make sure there are no misunderstandings, since these forums seem *very* well read:
(1) I am located in Canada. It is a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada to tamper with equipment to steal cable service (actually, doing anything to steal service is a criminal offence). What I'm doing is *NOT* to steal service, but *ONLY* to allow the DCT6412 to record MORE *legitimately acquired* programming than it can when shipped from the Motorola factory.
(2) I do not want to copy any content off the hard drive for use anywhere else. My only intention is to display the content (more of it!) with a TV connected to my DCT6412. Furthermore, I do not wish to share the content with anyone, anywhere, anyhow.
(3) I do not condone opening a cable box you don't own. I own this DCT6412 (it was purchased outright from my cable company), so I firmly believe I have the right to do this.

Okay, with the legal stuff out of the way, the two DCT6412 units I've laid eyes upon both have a 120GB Seagate 5400rpm "Consumer Electronics"-grade hard drive in them. I replaced the hard drive in mine with a brand-new Western Digital 250GB 7200rpm hard drive. I expected the unit to reject it, because it wasn't formatted (as the unit was expecting it to be, or even at all); it was fresh out of the static bag. However, to my surprise, it seemed to initialize it and use it just fine for recordings!

The attached image indicates that the unit seems to have a capacity of 120 GB hardcoded in its firmware (8.12, if I recall correctly), yet has allocated just a hair over 149 GB to its various partitions. This indicates there doesn't seem to be a 137GB limitation (caused by the 32-bit LBA addressing limit at ~137GB in some older PCs and similar platforms), since the "PVR Content" partition is ~144GB in size by itself. The IDE interface is provided by an ALi M1543C-B1 southbridge, which dates from ~1998, making it ANCIENT by PC standards. (This is almost certainly the same component which provides the box's two USB 1.0a interfaces.)

Why Motorola chose to go with such an ancient IDE interface is absolutely beyond me, other than perhaps that they got a VERY good deal on them (but what would a newer southbridge have cost in volume, really?!)

Extensive Googling has not revealed whether or not the ALi M1543C-B1 component supports 48-bit LBA or not, but judging by its age, my guess is that it does not. However, the attached screenshot seems to indicate it doesn't *properly* do so. The age of ALi's press release (apparently this part went into volume production in Q1 '98) also makes me leery of the device's ability to address more than 137 GB of any hard drive installed in the unit.

I have been a PC technician, consultant, programmer, etc for >10 years, and this sort of stuff doesn't faze me in the least (even mounting the original disk in a PC, poking around the disk in a hex editor to look around). Otherwise I wouldn't be trying it! (One note for the PC-aware: the drive contains a nonstandard partition table -- ending in 0x56AB, somewhat amusing when the "standard" one ends in 0x55AA. No partitions are defined there, but sector 0 is anything but blank.)

However, the unit wasn't stable -- after a few hours of recording HD content with the TV turned off, I would return and turn the TV on, to be greeted by a black screen. The hard drive's heads weren't chattering, indicating it was no longer recording. Pressing STOP then DOWN then OK, which is normally required to stop recording with the Prevue software my cable company uses (which is total garbage, but that's another matter), didn't do anything -- and I wasn't able to change channels or cause the unit to respond by pressing any keys (no menu, guide, or other overlay of any sort). The unit was acting strangely, like it had lost its mind.

After unplugging the unit's power cord and plugging it back in, pressing the "recording list" button indicated no recordings were stored; this leads me to believe the filesystem had become corrupt (or was originally, since that drive was never formatted at the Motorola factory). However, recording 4 or 5 short clips then power cycling the unit did NOT result in the loss of the recordings -- only when the unit "blew a gasket" as described above were the recordings lost.

So, I plan to try again with a brand-new Seagate 160GB 7200rpm hard drive -- first new, then with the image of the original 120GB hard drive copied into the beginning of the 160GB unit (leaving blank space at the end, which ideally would be detected and used).

Any ideas? Thoughts? Others trying this, or thinking about it? Please let me know, either by PM or preferably by replying to this post!

Thanks in advance...
LL

alexburke 01-21-2005 02:50 AM

Someone asked me a couple of questions. Here are snippets of their questions, followed by my replies:

"But since you said these partitions are non-standard, do you think Ghost can even read the original partitions on the 120gb drive?"

It won't touch it -- *all* PC operating systems "sign" the MBR (sector 0), where the partition table is stored, with "55 AA" at the end of it. The 6412's is signed with "56 AB".

In addition, no partitions are defined in the normal places, but the MBR itself is not blank.

To be precise, there are non-zero values between offset 0x102 and 0x13C -- which, on a PC, mean nothing. The rest of the MBR, other than 0x1FE and 0x1FF (again, 56 and AB), is zeroes.

It's quite possible that the partition table is there, rather than in the "right place" -- I will test out that theory soon. It *is* approximately the same amount of data...

"So basically my goal was to mirror the 120gb drive over to the 250gb drive, leaving everything the same except the size of the partition that actually contains PVR data."

Not going to happen, that I can see. Not only that, but I'm quite certain that ALi component doesn't do 48-bit LBA, meaning large disks (>137 GB) are out of the question.

Furthermore, none of the partitions on the disk are of a common filesystem -- although references are made to GPFS, which may or may not be the same GPFS invented by IBM (a high-performance filesystem for mainframe applications).

alexburke 01-21-2005 03:36 AM

Top-quality late-night Googling turned this up this juicy morsel:
http://www.opencable.com/downloads/s...I01-040524.pdf

alexburke 01-21-2005 03:42 AM

This may or may not be the GPFS used in the 6412:
https://www-1.ibm.com/industries/med...leSystem_1.pdf

5*General 02-01-2005 03:38 PM

I have a Maxtor 4r120L0-QV 120g, in my Moto 6412 and I am looking at a Maxtor 5a300j0-QV 300g, (QV=Quickview) a 5c drive.

I have seen them on pricegrabber.com for as low as $213.00-$250.00

Just info

zeroendless 02-01-2005 04:54 PM

alexburke,
Thanks for the update, keep up the 'good' work!!

Bill 02-02-2005 01:26 PM

Far easier to simply rent two and you get 4 tuners. However, happy tinkering.

zeroendless 02-02-2005 03:35 PM

NO the same, Bill.....

i got two and don't mind another 3 or 4 but if i could just bump one of them to 400GB, that would be great. Then, i don't have to clean up the room every single day for another program. No worries over wrong remote control over another. I deleted wrong program forgotten both were on at the same time, yike! That happend few times before...

walford 02-02-2005 06:08 PM

The rumor is that the upgrade to the 6412 to support additional HDDs via the USB port will be released by summer. That should resolove the issue, however, not all standard PC hard drives may be eligable since the HDD manufacturers used to make drives just for the DVR market that used less power (less heat) and which could have their read after right check disabled to increase throughput rates to what DVRs required since a dropped bit is not a big deal to a video recording and not all current retail drives may provide this capability.

rlsmith 02-02-2005 06:52 PM

It would surprise me if the cable companies would allow you to connect a random USB drive to the STB. I would think this would raise maintenance concerns, and in addition they would want to profit from an upgrade opportunity (i.e., they will charge more).

rogo 02-03-2005 01:27 AM

".... and not all current retail drives may provide this capability."

Yes they do. People have used whatever drive they've found to upgrade Tivos and Replays and have not had any problems.

walford 02-03-2005 07:47 AM

Quote:


Originally posted by rogo
".... and not all current retail drives may provide this capability."

Yes they do. People have used whatever drive they've found to upgrade Tivos and Replays and have not had any problems.

Thats why I said "may" and not "do"
There have been recent announcements (CES show) by Maxtor and Seagate of new drives made specifically for PVR add ons which is the reason for my caution. It is true that these new drives may only be quieter than the standard ones to make them more acceptable for the PCR market.
I too have previously upgraded a D* Pvr with a retail drive and had no trouble.

shooks 02-03-2005 04:22 PM

alexburke,
Thanks for digging into this. I'm glad to see someone is working on it.

Do you know if the IDE controller will support 2 drives? That seems to be a standard feature of IDE controllers. The fact that the diagnostic menu tells you how many drives are installed leads me to beleive it may support more than 1. Maybe if you install a 2nd 120GB drive it will format/initialize it and work. It would probably require switching the IDE cable or getting some kind of IDE splitter.

What do you think? It's worth a try...

jacmyoung 02-04-2005 01:03 PM

Give me a 400GB drive I will slap it in and try for anyone who is curious

WiFi-Spy 02-15-2005 12:12 AM

any updates??

Fresco 02-25-2005 02:32 PM

Hi everyone,
I just recentrly purchased a moto 6412 off ebay (without doing enough research ahead of time) so now I have a cable box with no GI number. For those who have gone to the trouble of opening up their 6412, would you be able to tell me if there's a sticker (or perhaps a stamp) of the GI number on the inside of the casing somewhere? I'm wondering if it's worthwhile opening mine up.
Thanks in advance.

Paul Clancy 02-26-2005 07:57 AM

No number on the bottom? Sounds like a "hot" deal.

Paul Clancy 02-26-2005 09:01 AM

BTW regarding the external hd option ...does the 6412 have a usb 2 port ? My 6208 has usb 1.1 and firewire. Would usb 1.1 provide enough throughput to dump hd to an external drive? I doubt it. An external firewire drive would be more likely.

5*General 03-02-2005 06:17 AM

Quote:


Originally posted by Fresco
Hi everyone,
I just recentrly purchased a moto 6412 off ebay (without doing enough research ahead of time) so now I have a cable box with no GI number. For those who have gone to the trouble of opening up their 6412, would you be able to tell me if there's a sticker (or perhaps a stamp) of the GI number on the inside of the casing somewhere? I'm wondering if it's worthwhile opening mine up.
Thanks in advance.

Does it have a S/N on it, or any other numbers

Call Motorola at 1-877-466-8646,
1.) Ask them if they ever sold one without a GI number?
2.) Ask if there is a GI number in side of it.

Does it work? (hooked up to cable (cox/comcast))

eMail the seller and ask them why it does not have a GI number, and ask them if it is HOT (ouch).
eMail ebay with the problem and ask for there help.

moyekj 03-02-2005 03:28 PM

Haven't tried this personally, but for someone willing to try this could be a way to accomplish a hard drive upgrade:

Step 1 - Clone filesystem from original drive onto your new drive
1. Download Slackware Linux boot image and make a boot floppy using PC
RAWRITE (Win XP version)
http://ncart.scs.ryerson.ca/pub/slac.../RAWRITEXP.EXE

BOOT IMAGE (Slackware)
http://ncart.scs.ryerson.ca/pub/slac...otdisks/bare.i

Open a CMD window under WindowsXP and type:
RAWRITEXP.EXE bare.i a:

2. Pull out the 6412 IDE hard drive
3. Pull out master hard drive from PC and replace with 6412 drive
4. Insert another new higher capacity hard drive as a slave to the 6412 drive
5. Boot up PC with Slackware Linux boot disk
6. Clone 6412 drive to slave drive from command prompt as follows:
dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb bs=16K
7. Pull cloned drive from PC and set it back to master and then insert in 6412 and check that 6412 can boot up.
If this works OK then the 6412 will boot up normally and should behave no differently than with the original drive - note you will not have additional recording space yet since this is an exact clone of the original drive.

Step 2 - Factory reset the 6412 with your new drive in place
1. DCT6412 should be turned on
2. Press Cable, Power off, Select, Select to bring up Diagnostics Page
3. With diagnostics page showing press Replay, DVR, DVR, DVR, Live (or Replay, LIST, LIST, LIST, Live)
4. 6412 now should show "Clr" in the LED display.
5. Press Select to proceed with the reset (and presumably Exit to cancel).
6. The 6412 should now reset and download a bunch of data from the headend

Hopefully following the factory reset the unit now has re-partitioned the hard drive to take advantage of it's full size.

Like I said, I haven't tried any of this but thought I would post it here for "brave" souls to try.

smyrna 03-03-2005 01:29 AM

just another suggestion has anyone tried to just hook up a slave 120 to it just to at least double recording space?

moyekj 03-03-2005 07:35 AM

smyrna, that was going to be my next suggestion:
1. Hook up a second hard drive (I think size doesn't matter, but keep it <= 120G in case bigger drives are not supported) as a slave to the first - setting jumpers accordingly on the second drive
2. Boot the unit back up and factory reset as outlined in step 2 in my previous post in this thread.
3. Enter diagnostics page:
Turn unit on
Cable, Power off, Select, Select
Go to module d13 (PVR/HDD Status) and check the information there to see if it worked.

scooterboy 03-04-2005 06:47 AM

Quote:


Originally posted by moyekj
Haven't tried this personally, but for someone willing to try this could be a way to accomplish a hard drive upgrade:

[snip]

Hopefully following the factory reset the unit now has re-partitioned the hard drive to take advantage of it's full size.

Like I said, I haven't tried any of this but thought I would post it here for "brave" souls to try.

So where did this procedure come from? Did you make it up? You say you haven't tried it but has someone else?

moyekj 03-04-2005 03:40 PM

Quote:


Originally posted by scooterboy
So where did this procedure come from? Did you make it up? You say you haven't tried it but has someone else?

Yes I made these up and as far as I know nobody has tried these. These are some things I would try myself if I owned the 6412 outright instead of leasing it from the cable company. Since I don't own the box I'm not able/willing to try these myself (since it involves opening the case and breaking the seal). I'm not claiming any of these would actually work - just trying to spark some ideas for anyone that is willing/able to try a disk space upgrade, which is the main theme behind this thread. I think there are some users that actually own their own 6412 box instead of leasing from a cable company (for example Shaw cable in Canada ) so there may be volunteers from that camp able/willing to try something.

scooterboy 03-04-2005 03:57 PM

Quote:


Originally posted by moyekj
Yes I made these up and as far as I know nobody has tried these.

Oh ok, I just didn't think that was made clear in your post. Usually when this type of mod instruction is posted, it's after it's been proven to work. I didn't want anyone to assume this procedure had worked, screw up their 6412 trying it, and wonder why they now had a Motorola doorstop.


moyekj 03-05-2005 08:14 PM

Bump.

Whiteblazer01 03-14-2006 01:18 AM

has anyone got this to work yet? I had a customer that upgraded his hard drive in his Tivo box, so I wanted to upgrade my dct-6412 box. I mod xboxes and put higher capacity hard drives in there, so I would like to do the same to my dvr box.

cooljoe04 08-28-2006 09:58 PM

As a preface, I would like to give a brief description of my background. I am new to this forum. I am also a computer nerd, for lack of a better description, who has moved into cutom home theatres installations. My main background is networking, this is why I will get into detail about the networking later. I have noticed as a generality, computer people do not do home theatre, and home theatre people don't do much with computers. I am lucky enough to be bridging that gap. I am hoping a few computer people will read this as well as the many HT readers in here will. My co-workers understand home theatre which I have been learning through them for the last year+, and I handle the networking. We are just starting to do some Control4 installations (Control4,com) which work out great for me, as they utilize both HT and networking.

I would like to start off by stating that I do not own my cable box. Opening it is not an option, thus drastically limiting what I can do. I have read through the forum thus far and am glad that I am not the only one not satisfied with the boring old 6412's options and wanting to spruce it up a bit. I have seen a lot of information as to adding additional hard drives via IDE, etc. But I have not seen any questions pertaining to the USB or ethernet jacks driectly.

I would like to find a way to either add an additional hard drive via the USB for increased storage, or have the ability to pull information off of my cable box onto my PC to free up room for additional recording. It is not my intent to reproduce or sell any of the information. Just simply to get it off of the DVR's drive without losing it, to allow for more recording. With a USB port, ethernet port, and serial ATA port all installed in this DVR, this seems like it should be pretty easy, but I have had many problems so far.

After reading the motorola website's information on the cable box, I gathered that the 6412 has an integrated cable modem designed for future use. This explains the ethernet jack and a possible use for the USB.

I have been told by the local cable company that the USB port, SATA port, as well as the Ethernet jack have all been diabled. To a certain degree, I believe this, but at the same time, I don't. I must test it for myself to find the true answer. I have tested everything but the SATA port, as I do not have a SATA drive or card in my PC. Below are my tests.

To test, I took an ethernet cable and plugged it into the cable box, and the other end into a network switch which all my computers are conencted to. When I plug into the network switch, all three lights on the switch light up signifying that it has a link, connection, and activity with the box. At my house, I have both DSL and Cable internet. I looked at the DHCP clients for the cable and DSL routers both to see if the cable box it pulling an IP from the routers. Neither showed the box as a DHCP user. This tells me that the cable box has a static IP address; however, I do not know what it is! Obviously the network jack has SOME sort of function or it would not be showing a connection to my switch, meaning it is not disabled entirely. Does anyone have any idea how this jack works, or what the IP address is if it WILL work? Or if I can copy media through it? Or if I can even program the box through it?

Next, I have interpreted from the forum that the USB port on the 6412 is simply a 1.1 rather than a 2.0 which poses a problem for fast dumping of media. A question I did not see answered anywhere though, is the USB an input only to the cable box for an additional hard drive, or a output only of the cable box to allow a connection to a PC for instance, or will it support 2-way communications? It is seeminly disabled as an output as I can get no connectivity to my PC, but I have not tried it with a USB hard drive thus far to see if it will work as an input.

I suppose the biggest question of all, is assuming that the cable company is not lying to me about all the afore mentioned jacks being disabled, is there any kind of programming that I can get into externally to enable the USB, ethernet, or SATA on my box?

Any help on the topics would be a help. Thanks in advance.

scanpa 08-28-2006 10:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooljoe04 View Post

As a preface, I would like to give a brief description of my background. I am new to this forum. I am also a computer nerd, for lack of a better description, who has moved into cutom home theatres installations. My main background is networking, this is why I will get into detail about the networking later. I have noticed as a generality, computer people do not do home theatre, and home theatre people don't do much with computers. I am lucky enough to be bridging that gap. I am hoping a few computer people will read this as well as the many HT readers in here will. My co-workers understand home theatre which I have been learning through them for the last year+, and I handle the networking. We are just starting to do some Control4 installations (Control4,com) which work out great for me, as they utilize both HT and networking.

I would like to start off by stating that I do not own my cable box. Opening it is not an option, thus drastically limiting what I can do. I have read through the forum thus far and am glad that I am not the only one not satisfied with the boring old 6412's options and wanting to spruce it up a bit. I have seen a lot of information as to adding additional hard drives via IDE, etc. But I have not seen any questions pertaining to the USB or ethernet jacks driectly.

I would like to find a way to either add an additional hard drive via the USB for increased storage, or have the ability to pull information off of my cable box onto my PC to free up room for additional recording. It is not my intent to reproduce or sell any of the information. Just simply to get it off of the DVR's drive without losing it, to allow for more recording. With a USB port, ethernet port, and serial ATA port all installed in this DVR, this seems like it should be pretty easy, but I have had many problems so far.

After reading the motorola website's information on the cable box, I gathered that the 6412 has an integrated cable modem designed for future use. This explains the ethernet jack and a possible use for the USB.

I have been told by the local cable company that the USB port, SATA port, as well as the Ethernet jack have all been diabled. To a certain degree, I believe this, but at the same time, I don't. I must test it for myself to find the true answer. I have tested everything but the SATA port, as I do not have a SATA drive or card in my PC. Below are my tests.

To test, I took an ethernet cable and plugged it into the cable box, and the other end into a network switch which all my computers are conencted to. When I plug into the network switch, all three lights on the switch light up signifying that it has a link, connection, and activity with the box. At my house, I have both DSL and Cable internet. I looked at the DHCP clients for the cable and DSL routers both to see if the cable box it pulling an IP from the routers. Neither showed the box as a DHCP user. This tells me that the cable box has a static IP address; however, I do not know what it is! Obviously the network jack has SOME sort of function or it would not be showing a connection to my switch, meaning it is not disabled entirely. Does anyone have any idea how this jack works, or what the IP address is if it WILL work? Or if I can copy media through it? Or if I can even program the box through it?

Next, I have interpreted from the forum that the USB port on the 6412 is simply a 1.1 rather than a 2.0 which poses a problem for fast dumping of media. A question I did not see answered anywhere though, is the USB an input only to the cable box for an additional hard drive, or a output only of the cable box to allow a connection to a PC for instance, or will it support 2-way communications? It is seeminly disabled as an output as I can get no connectivity to my PC, but I have not tried it with a USB hard drive thus far to see if it will work as an input.

I suppose the biggest question of all, is assuming that the cable company is not lying to me about all the afore mentioned jacks being disabled, is there any kind of programming that I can get into externally to enable the USB, ethernet, or SATA on my box?

Any help on the topics would be a help. Thanks in advance.

Look in your STB diagnostic page for the IP address of your STB Modem.

For /\\/\\otorola DCT series STB:

with the STB & TV on, do the following.

Power off the STB and press ok/select within 2 sec.

cursor down to d05 for STB addresses & d14 for the built in Modem.

*note in areas not testing the Home Media service, it will more then likely not have any info in the d14 menu.


Comcast will not be enabling the eSata port till they fix a software issue that has to do with copy protection & encoding / encryption for external data storage.

Sunil 08-29-2006 03:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by scanpa View Post


Comcast will not be enabling the eSata port till they fix a software issue that has to do with copy protection & encoding / encryption for external data storage.

Any idea when that will be?

Thanks
-s


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