DirecTivo ethernet

Dear Lazyweb,

How do I configure my DirecTV DVR R10 (DirecTivo Series 2) to phone home using the Linksys USB200M ethernet adapter plugged into its USB port, instead of insisting on a land line?

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--(19%) "> It is running system software 6.1-01-2-521. I plugged in the land line and forced a daily call, and it does not seem to have upgraded it, so I guess that's the latest they're willing to give me.

When the machine boots, it contacts my DHCP server and gets assigned an ethernet address, so the software is at least considering the possibility.

It also seems to do this periodically:
tivo.5353 > 0 [3q] PTR? _tivo_music._tcp.local.[|domain]
tivo.2190 > <broadcast>.2190: UDP, length 109

Note: setting the dialing prefix to ",#401" does not do it. It still tries to use the phone line and says "no dial tone".

I have googled; I find a lot of people answering the question "how do I do this with a standalone Tivo", but not with a DirecTivo. I have talked to DirecTV phone support; the guy was a dick.

Update: Ok, I think the plan now is to try and put a new drive in the Philips and return the R10. The R10 DRM is egregious. Also (I'm not totally sure about this but) I think the picture is less sharp on the R10 than it was on the Philips: maybe the R10 has a piece-of-shit S/Video encoder?

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45 Responses:

  1. bdu says:

    I get the impression that DirecTV ordered this feature to be canned in their models... so any attempt to get this working would likely be deemed "hacking" by DirecTV phone support.

    Not that this excuses any of the bullshit, but yeah.

    • supersat says:

      I wouldn't be surprised if <lj user="jwz"> suddenly got a nastygram from their lawyers demanding $3,000 or so.

      The last time I looked at DirecTV, it required a phone line for its PPV jackfest and other things. Even if you don't use PPV, the box needs to tell DirecTV regularly that no PPV programming was ordered.

  2. zonereyrie says:

    Officially they don't support networking at all. They need to be hacked, even the R10 with 6.x. It is interesting that it is running TiVoBeacon (2190), I'm not sure what the other is, unless that's the TiVo demo music and photo server.

    I'm posting this from my Treo on a bench in Epcot, so my research access is limited. Check the info page for the <lj comm="tivolovers"> community for links. I'll see what I can find when I'm back at a real system.

  3. peruano says:

    Maybe it is time to use the betamax recorder instead.

  4. violentbloom says:

    hurm I have it working on my standalone 5.4.1-01-2-595 tivo burner, same usb adapter (which sucks ass, did your cable fall out? cause that's why mine wasn't working, tape has helped but generally I have to hold it while it makes the damn call so that it doesn't drop the connection-what a stupid design.)
    if you want to call, I can walk through my settings and you can compare yours.

    • jwz says:

      Standalone Tivos and DirecTivos are completely different beasts with different software.

      • violentbloom says:

        the gui isn't different however.
        as long as it's series 2 it should work.

        • jwz says:

          Yeah, it is. DirecTV modifies it in a bunch of ways.

          • violentbloom says:

            *eye roll*
            maybe it's just you

            • sc00ter says:

              No, it's not just him.. DirecTV has control of the features that go into the DirecTiVo. Regardless that it's a Series 2 they do not officially allow HMO, Networking, or other Series 2 features (like folders for the now playing list).

              • violentbloom says:

                my tivo burner doesn't have folders in the now playing either, and what does that have to do with seting up the dialup? nothing.
                the burner version isn't *exactly* like the standalone either. but it's not a "different beast entirely" it's based on the same codebase and so is the directtv.
                I managed to figure it out anyway by comparing it to a known working version.
                I'm sure you're all very clever and much smarter than me.
                but I've got my toys setup and working :P

  5. If you're willing to lose all your season passes and ratings and possibly for a bigger drive, you could go with a PTVNet Upgrade Drive, which comes pre-loaded with all the software needed to use the USB Ethernet dongle.

    All of those programs are likely available elsewhere where you should be able to upload them to your DTiVo via the serial cable or some other kludgey means.

  6. joe714 says:

    The R10 is the Series 2.5 DTivo. The prom on it has closed all currently known exploits you can use on the older ones to get them to load a compromised kernel. Without that, you can't use the USB ports. The only option with that model is to pop the prom off, flash a new chip with a compromised prom that'll boot an unsigned kernel, and solder the new prom in.

    You can do the daily call over the serial port with a null modem cable and a PC running a PPP server, instructions here, or just ignore it. The DTivos really don't need to call home, and other than a nag screen after a month will work fine. I've had one go over a year without making a call.

    • jwz says:

      If that's the case, then how come specifically claims they can sell me an upgrade kit for the R10? Are they lying?

    • otterley says:

      I've read that this will do the trick, if you don't mind slinging a bit of cable and spending a few dollars.

      Here's the cable you need. (Scroll down to "TiVo Null Modem Serial Cable")

      Apparently you can hook this up to your Mac via a USB-to-serial adapter, and then run pppd(8) like so:

      # sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1
      # pppd /dev/tty.usbserial0 115200 <myip>:<tivoip> proxyarp persist maxfail 0 local passive

      Then change your TiVo's dialing prefix to ",#211".

      Good luck!

      • jwz says:

        Why do you believe that would work with an R10? Because there's a thousand sites that say that setting the dialing prefix to ",#410" makes it use ethernet instead of the modem, and that doesn't work. Surely they would have disabled ",#211" at the same time.

    • jwz says:

      The DTivos really don't need to call home, and other than a nag screen after a month will work fine. I've had one go over a year without making a call.

      But they absolutely fail to function if they haven't been plugged into a land line once. After bringing a new one home, you can't even go to the "season pass" page without making the call first.

      The only reason I'm even asking these questions is that I want to cancel my land line. I only ever use my cell phone, so I'm paying PacBell $40/month for "DirecTV insurance", basically.

      Because the next time my DirecTV box dies -- which, if the pattern holds, will be in 18-24 months -- I'll bring home a new one and be totally unable to boot it. I'd have to first take it to the home of someone who has both A) a land line and B) DirecTV. (I think that a land line alone is insufficent: the thing seemed to want to have both a satellite signal and the phone call to finish running setup.)

      DRM is costing me an extra $40/month. That's so awesome.

      • strspn says:

        Well, if VoIP supposedly works, how about this?

        FAQ says, "...Tivo, Satellite TV systems, and modems will ONLY work if your cell phone supports an analog cellular service or communicates using DTMF (Touchtones). Digital voice networks do NOT support analog data transmissions. Older analog cellular service combined with an analog cellular phone may support the transmission of data but will only do so at VERY slow data speeds. Note: Data transmission is not supported by technical support and will not be honored as a return excuse."

        • jwz says:

          Uh, doesn't the part you quoted say "this doesn't work with any cell phone manufactured in the last ten years"?

          • strspn says:

            No, plenty of cellphones fall-back to analog when they don't get a sufficient digital signal, or the local digital is crouded, and some can even be forced into it with option settings.

            They might even support pulse dialing.

            • lohphat says:

              Verizon and Sprint support AMPS, but if you're like me and are faux Euro-trash, I only rely on my quad-band GSM-only tumor generator.

              • jlindquist says:

                Verizon and Sprint phones support AMPS. Most Verizon infrastructure offers it too. Analog service on a Sprint phone is provided by somebody else under a roaming agreement. I would never recommend AMPS as anything but a short-term solution to a short-term problem, since it's scheduled to be turned off in the next couple of years.

                For a while, shipping S2 TiVos didn't support USB-802.11 adapters out of the box, you had to dial them in to get a software upgrade. My sister also abandoned her landline, and I wasn't going to tell her to buy a USB-UTP adapter to use only once, so off to a friend's house she went. That was three days of upgrade phone assist hell I don't care to relive.

                But unless you have use for a VoIP bridge box, it sounds like bumming a friend's landline is the best remaining option.

                • cfs_calif says:

                  I would not rely on AMPS beyond February 2008. FCC will then lift the mandate for the cell phone companies to support it and they really don't want to support it.


          • DTMF tones are signalled in-band. They should work fine with cellphones. Certainly every phone I've ever bought here (in the UK, admittedly) has produced DTMF tones when you press keypad buttons, once a call is connected. Otherwise you'd be unable to use menu-dialling customer "service" phone lines from your mobile phone, which would be a crying shame.

            • bear_cat says:

              DTMF is sent out-of-band on everything except possibly AMPS. When you press a button, the phone sends a control message over the traffic channel to tell the network to synthesize some DTMF (speech codecs would otherwise either break it). Many phones also synthesize DTMF out the speaker to confuse you.

      • korgmeister says:

        Small question? How close is your next door neighbour, does (s)he have a landline and are you on good terms with this person?

        Because a *really* long phone extension cord (for example, I have a 15 metre one for reasons I won't go into right now) and a small favour from your neighbour may solve your problems.

        I always preferred solutions that involved social engineering as I'm pretty mediocre at tech stuff.

      • joe714 says:

        I'd have to first take it to the home of someone who has both A) a land line and B) DirecTV. (I think that a land line alone is insufficent: the thing seemed to want to have both a satellite signal and the phone call to finish running setup.)

        You need both a signal and phone, but not at the same time. I've done this one myself. Go through guided setup hooked to a dish until it tries to setup the phone. Pull the power, take it somewhere with a phone and power it back up. It'll skip dish setup this time, go into the menus and do the phone setup. Then take it back home and enjoy.

        Or you can use ppp on the serial port for the initial setup as well.

        • forthdude says:

          I can verify this with the R10. Coincidentally, I just picked one up yesterday and just assumed (why, why don't I ever learn) that it wouldn't need to dial home to work (my previous old Sony model hasn't made a call in over a year).

          When it insisted on making a call during setup I had to scramble around for a cable (I use VoIP with a cordless, all located about 50' away from the R10). Of course the cable is a foot short of reaching the R10 with the satellite cables pulled taunt. So, unhooked the dish, made the call (after slowing it down to 9600 baud, ",#096", to work over VoIP), disconnected the phone, reconnected the dish and all was well.

          Now, my question is: Why the hell would DirecTV -disable- features that they presumably got for free from their software? I mean, what's the motivation? Seems like there will be more and more overlap between the groups DirecTv/Tivo users and those without traditional phone service.

          • wfaulk says:

            Supposedly because they'd then have to support them. And have you called DirecTV support lately? “Dick” may describe Mr. Zawinski's tech, but “untrained idiot” is probably a more universal descriptor.

      • cryocone says:

        My Directivo modem broke years ago, and networking never works right for me. But there is a hack which I applied which stops it putting up the nag screen if you haven't dialled out. That worked fine for me. They don't send out a signal to blast your smart card if you haven't dialled in.

        I think your plan should be:
        *downgrade the software to something like 2.5 or 2.5.1
        *get networking working
        *apply the patch I was talking about

        Also check out the message boards. They have a lot more hacking talk than the forums.

        Sorry, but getting this working is going to be a big steaming pile of confusion. But I'm sure it would be thoroughly entertaining see you try. I would pay to watch. Maybe you can do it on stage at your club while people from the dance floor shout out 'suggestions'.

        • joe714 says:

          You have a Series 1 DTivo. Things have changed since they released them.

          The only software version that runs on the R10 is 6.1. You can't downgrade to any other version. And you can't compromise the kernel because if it's not signed the prom won't boot it. Earlier series 2 boxes had a flaw where you could add code to the end of the kernel past where the signature covered and trick the prom into booting the unsigned code, but they fixed that in the R10. The kernels contain a ramdisk as part of the signed portion that checks the filesystems on disk, and if there's any evidence of things that TiVo didn't bless, it wipes the partition and reinitializes it.

          There's no known way short of soldering in a compromised prom to run anything TiVo didn't bless on the R10, including the fakecall.tcl hack.

          What you might be able to do, although I don't believe all the tools currently exist, is to take the drive out of the tivo, boot a linux box with it attached, and reset the appropriate flags in MFS that fakecall.tcl sets to indicate the initial setup call was already done. I don't believe there's enough MFS tools that'll run outside the Tivo to do it though.

        • cryocone says:

          I see that Mike Homerisms are creeping into Tivo. Yet another reason to block the software upgrades.

          Isn't a regular commercial kinda like a pop-up ad anyway?

      • irilyth says:

        I have a landline for the sole purpose of hosting my DSL connection, and managed to crank it down to $12 a month, mostly by getting measured-rate service. If you have unlimited local calling, and a "long distance plan" that isn't free, those are good places to start.

        (And yes, it's idiotic that you have to jump through these hoops in the first place. If jumping is worth saving the few bucks, then hey.)

  7. drstein says:

    I had a DirecTivo a while back before I moved, and I've had great discussions with DirecTV and people at Tivo about it.

    The jist of it was that the USB ports are pretty much useless, and DirecTV has no plans at all to make them be anything but placeholders. Kind of weak, but.. :(

  8. _dwm says:

    The first packet is a service query packet. (It's using the multicast DNS service discovery protocol aka Zeroconf, Rendezvous).

    Can't help with the main problem, though.

  9. willco says:

    Affirmative on the crappy S-Video. Ditto for the RF modulator output. The A/V outputs are OK, but not excellent. I think it's a quality control issue.

    Resucitating the Phillips may be your best bet, though I hear praise for the Samsung SIR-S4000 series.

  10. warewolf says:

    It also seems to do this periodically:
    tivo.5353 > 0 [3q] PTR? _tivo_music._tcp.local.[|domain]
    tivo.2190 > .2190: UDP, length 109

    That's multicast DNS, also known as the TiVo doing Apple Rendezvous announcement, IIRC. That's for the Home Media Option and Home Media Extensions I mention here