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Upgrading the HDR-FOX T2′s internal 500GB hard disk

March 2nd, 2011 13 comments

It looks like blogging is easier and faster than authoring pages in the wiki, so I will start here and learn wiki authoring later…

Recently, my internal HDD on the HDR T2 was getting full, especially because I was recording more programmes from the HD channels than the SD ones. So I decided to upgrade the internal drive for more recording capacity.

WD15EADS

Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB HDD

I was ready to purchase and upgrade to a 2TB HDD, but after a bit of researching, I found that the HDR-FOX T2 can only deal (internally format) a drive up to 1TB in size. I also read that the 2TB hard disk technology is a bit roppy and the 2TB size of HDD is still waiting to be proven on reliability (at least 6 months ago – see here).

So I opted for a compromise – a 1.5TB HDD. This size drive should last me until a 2TB or 3TB become standard ;) So I went for Western Digital WD15EADS from scan.co.uk for about £60. Even though I really ought to have sourced out a drive designed to be used in a PVR – a ‘CE’ hard disk.

Next thing to do was to disconnect the HDR T2 and pop off the lid and install it…

Underside of HDR

Humax warranty seal

Warning! Of course the HDR T2 is protected by a warranty seal on the bottom of the unit, so the warning is: Do not open up this box to replace the hard disk as this voids your warranty! And remember your warranty last for 2+ years!

Nevermind I say, I have two other Humax PVRs (the 9200T bought in 2006, and the FOXSAT-HDR bought in 2008), both have had their internal HDD replaced and they are still going strong…

3 screws hold lid in place

Make sure you unplug all the cables from the HDR, especially the power and aerial before opening. Also make sure you earth yourself to remove static electricity on you body.

So there are 3 screws holding the lid on and they are at the back (see pic). A Philips screw driver will uncrew them. Slide the box back and lift up.

The inside of the Humax FOX-HDR T2 is wonderful sight – with shielded twin tuners, heat-sinked processors, standard SATA and power connectors and the enclosed HDD with fan.

There are 4 screws holding the HDD enclosure to the motherboard. Disconnect the fan power connect from the motherboard by squeezing the clip, before unscrewing the four screws and lifting the enclosure up slightly.

Inside the HDR T2

With the enclosure lifted slightly, undo the HDD’s SATA and power interface, before removing the enclosure completely.

The 500Gb internal HDD is a Seagate Pipeline HD2 hard disk – a special ‘AV’ or ‘CE’ disk designed to be used in a PVR. If we were smart and had enough money, we would replace like for like. Ideally we would put a 1TB/1.5TB/2TB Seagate Pipeline HD2 drive in place of the 500Gb. But instead we thank Humax for using a stardard 3.5″ HDD (some PVR makers use 2.5″ ones which cost twice the price to replace) and that we are able to use any 3.5″ in the HDR T2.

My replacement is the WD15EADS and others which are known to work in the HDR T2 are: Samsung HD204UI SpinPoint F4 and WD20EARS – both are 2TB.

Undo the four screws holding the HDD in the caddy, and then replace it with your chosen 3.5″ disk. Notice the blue vibration dampening gromets…

1.5TB HDD hooked up

From the picture, you can see that I’ve just hooked the 1.5Tb disk instead of putting it in the caddy and replacing, as I needed to test whether it would work with this disk. It is known that the HDR can not format a 2TB drive, but maybe it can a 1.5TB drive… After hooking it up, I booted the HDR and it informs me that it can see the drive and I ought to go to the Data Storage menu to format it…

HDR T2 detects the 1.5Tb drive

Formatting the internal HDD

Unfortunately, I think I did not leave it long enough to find out whether the HDR could format the drive or not. Maybe this is the same mistake others who’ve installed a 2TB drive made too..? This thought is with hindsight, because I stopped the formatting process thinking it was taking too long. I then plugged this 1.5TB drive into my Ubuntu Linux PC to format the drive, only to realise that the format process does take a long time, as the drive it so big!

Screengrab of ubuntu desktop with original 500GB HDD

I also plugged in the original 500GB HDD from the HDR T2, to inspect the partitions. Above is a screengrab of the desktop with the 3 partitions of the hard disk and dmesg log. The HDD is partitioned into 3. The first partition is 1GB for the EPG. The third partition is 10GB for streaming applications (such as iPlayer, I suspect) and the second is the size of the rest of the disk and is for the recordings, photo, music and buffer…

I need to partition my 1.5TB HDD in the same way.Three partitions: a 1GB, a 10GB, and rest of HDD partition. I’m going to use the gparted paritioning utility included with ubuntu to do this. The first partition has to be the 1Gb one and the last parition has to be the 10Gb. The middle partition will be the rest of the HDD, and this will be the usable storage for  your recordings, photos and music.

Partition new HDD using gparted

Doing this using Gparted will be in a wiki article I will post, as you can use this for formatting a drive in EXT3 to be used on the FOXSAT-HDR or HD-FOX T2.

It was at this formatting stage that I found partitioning 1.2TB of space in EXT3 format takes a long time – over 20 minutes! So this fact left me wondering if I had left the HDR-FOX T2 formatting my 1.5TB replacement HDD, it might have done so without me having to plug it into a Linux PC to manually format…