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Mounting a second drive in a TiVo using Weaknees' Twinbreeze kit

twinbreeze.jpg In the previous stage of the upgrade process I covered how to prepare a new 120Gb drive for a series 2 TiVo. I purposely left out the steps where you install the drive back into the TiVo, saving that process for this review.

The first TiVo I upgraded last year was a Directv comibnation tivo/satellite receiver, and it was designed to handle two hard drives (but shipped with one). Adding a drive to that machine was no problem, since it was already pre-drilled for the drive and there was even spare IDE cables and power connectors available. The series 1 and series 2 standalone TiVos require a special bracket however, making things a bit trickier (I don't know if series 2 directivos have the bracket for a second drive still).

There are other kits out there for adding a drive, but I decided to go all out, picking up Weaknees' TwinBreeze kit with the optional fans and PowerTrip. After checking out the options, it seemed to have the best fit and finish, and they offered additional things to help keep my upgraded TiVo running safely. I had heard some horror stories on the TiVo boards about kits that used velcro and adhesive to hold drives, and how they weren't very sturdy.

The kit runs a bit on the expensive side, at $58 for the full package with everything. You could conceivably buy just the $29 bracket and pick up your own cables at a place like Fry's or CompUSA, but I took the easy route. Cooling is always a problem when adding an additional drive to a small space, so the additional fan for the bracket is a nice addition along with the quieter replacement fan in their optional cooling kit. The PowerTrip is necessary if you are using a new series 2 box made by Tivo. TiVo decided to downgrade the power supplies to a very low 38 watts (the power supply in standard PCs is probably 200-300 watts), so the powertrip staggers the startup of the two hard drives, making the wattage hit a bit easier on the small capacity supply.

0_twinbreeze-kit.jpg The Weaknees Kit

The kit is straightforward with nice printed directions that feature photos, and you can download a full color pdf version of the same from their site. I installed the small bracket fan early so I didn't have to do it later when it was inside the TiVo.

The Install

The first order of business is to attach the two drives onto the bracket and is pretty simple to do. The only trick is making sure the new second drive is pointing in the right direction (I messed this up the first time around).

1_drives-mounted.jpg Two drives mounted

2_installing-drives.jpg Two mounted drives, from the bottom

Next, you attach the IDE cable to both drives, and feed the cable down the hole between them (which is right above the connection to the motherboard). This was easy to do, but complicated to explain in directions and I had to read it through a couple times to figure out what drive got which connector.

3_ide-cables.jpg IDE cable attached to the drives

Once that's all connected up, you need to get the power cables connected to the drives, with the PowerTrip connected between the cables and the motherboard. The bracket fan requires a connection as well, and I ended up with a bit of a rats nest of power cables.

4_bracket-installed.jpg All cables attached, including the PowerTrip

Next, the large plastic bracket slides neatly into the old hard drive bay using an ingenious design. The last step is to secure the bracket to the TiVo. With most series 2 machines, there are brackets on the side to make this easy, but on my personal TiVo (model 24004A), there are no brackets and a couple screws are required to form a bracket (the red arrows point to the bracket holes that do not have anywhere to screw into.

5_needed-brackets.jpg Non-existent brackets for the opposite side (arrows show where special screws will attach)

In the absence of brackets, two long screws are used with spacers, and they attach on the bottom side of the tivo.

6_screw-spacers.jpg Screws passed through, with spacers to hold them up

7_screwed-through.jpg shot from the side, showing small bolt on the bottom that tightens the screw

When the bracket is firmly in place, the drives are connected to IDE and power cables, you're done. The kit included a replacement fan for the factory fan, but unfortunately, my 24004A unit has a larger fan that the replacement doesn't fit.

8_install-complete.jpg Everything secured and complete

Once the bracket install is complete, the cover can go back on and you're ready to plug it back in and enjoy your new upgraded TiVo.

9_done.jpg The last screw

The Verdict

With the second drive in place (and set to run quiet per my earlier instructions), there was only a slight increase in noise from the additional fan and drive. As for temperature, I moved my TiVo off the floor, and onto a speaker cabinet with some short spacers to give it air flow from the bottom. Previously, the single drive stock tivo ran around 38 degrees Celsius. With the new setup it has been running right around 32 degrees Celsius for the past week, even during a heat wave (and sans air conditioning in my new home).

The kit is a tad expensive but is very sturdy, with everything firmly bolted in. It took about 20-30 minutes to install the drives onto the bracket and the bracket into the TiVo. The illustrated instructions were clear and complete, making it a painless process. I'm very happy with the purchase and with the second fan, the temps are running great, so I'm confident this TiVo will run smoothly for a long time.

Update: In a follow-up post, I covered the question of whether you should do this yourself or pay someone to do it.

by Matt Haughey July 28, 2003 in Product Reviews, SuperTiVo Project