That DVR-633 is probably a doorstop, old friend. Pioneers in general don't throw up an "hddErr" on the front panel unless the HDD is beyond saving. In the case of 531-533-633 specifically it means the Grim Reaper has come for the unit, and the videos trapped within have joined the choir invisible: as Monty Python would say "it's an ex-dvd recorder". With the right software tools and computer skills, the videos could probably be harvested by connecting the bad HDD to a computer running under Linux OS- but this is really impractical for 99 out of 100 people. The task is such a pain that very few recordings seriously merit the effort required, and Pioneers are not as amenable to this kind of salvage as Panasonic and Funai anyway.
The HDD fault was most likely triggered by lack of use combined with one or more of the power surges knocking out the damned TVGOS software. You haven't said if your buddy had previously deactivated the TVGOS system: if so, a power surge could've switched it back on and the lack of broadcast pilot signal would then corrupt it after some weeks. If it was never deactivated, that means the HDD has been thrashing non-stop every night for years since the ATSC changeover, vainly trying to update its analog TVGOS data. Either way, "hddErr" means the recorder thinks the drive is no longer usable: and thats endgame for this model. Unlike other Pioneers, the 531-533-633 don't offer the option of simple drop-in HDD replacement: the new HDD needs to be formatted with the-now useless TVGOS software, because the recorder won't boot properly without it. Unfortunately DIY reformatting with TVGOS almost never works- a couple of people reported success with it early on (including me), but its very VERY difficult to pull off and the fix turned out to be rather short lived. I haven't seen an active link to the required software packages in years, so its likely a moot point regardless.
There's a very VERY small chance that a power surge may have simply wiped the tiny memory circuit that verifies the HDD is "blessed" by Pioneer during the startup process, resulting in a spurious error. You should be able to use the Service Remote and Service I.D. Data Disc you picked up for your own DVR-520 to rectify this on your friend's DVR-633. Initiate service mode on the 633, then go thru the motions of entering, deleting and matching the CPRM code printed on its rear panel. This sometimes clears unexpected "hddErr" issues, but its probably a Hail Mary Pass with this particular unit. Worth a try, tho: it can't hurt and might work if he's lucky.
Regarding the Funai units: they were all finally discontinued a couple years ago, once and for all. Current asking prices sometimes eclipse Pioneer and Panasonic, because the Funais have the coveted ATSC digital tuner. They go for staggering amounts at web dealers that claim to still have new old stock, and used ones fetch anywhere from $200-$800 in good working condition. Not worth it: at the cheaper end, we're talking models last made circa 2009, at the higher end are the newest models that were made from chewing gum and recycled milk cartons. Given the utterly absurd prices used DVD/HDD recorders sell for now, I'd recommend your friend look into a USB video import dongle for his PC instead. These work adequately for backing up a clean source like FiOS PVR: they aren't optimized for VHS input, but your friend apparently doesn't need that.
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Last edited by orsetto; 2nd Apr 2019 at 17:28.
Just to fill the details out, I believe this 633 spent nearly all of that time turned Off, so there should not have been all that TVGOS thrashing that you mentioned (?) None of the electronic devices that have crossed my path do much of anything, unless they happen to be On. But I imagine there could be exceptions . . . .
I guess I should not be surprised that the Magnavox / Funai / Walmart thing finally ran its course. Too bad -- I hate to see a worthwhile category like this go away. A crackerjack AV consultant that I briefly knew told me a couple years back that pro grade standalone Blu-Ray recorders did exist (and not just in New Zealand, or wherever those other accounts had them), but were rather expensive. Before I could ask for more info about that -- and a bunch of other things -- he dropped his private consulting biz to take a nice corporate job, and thereafter became inaccessible to me. I can tell you that I recently saw a claimed-to-be very-low-use 460 for sale on eBay (in this state), which auction closed at around $250. plus shipping. That would put it considerably cheaper than a lot of the prices you more typically see for these, or for the prices you are citing for the used Magnavox units. Still a roll of the dice, most likely. On the rare occasions we may see a 460 or 560 at such a price, the thought might cross my mind, but I did not really need a spare at this point, and my friend's problem had not yet become evident. He does need to turn in that old Verizon FIOS DVR box fairly soon though. I don't know much about the USB or "game capture box" subject, so I'm not a good choice for offering him any advice.
Funny that you mention the 633. This is very late breaking news, only a few hours old.
This last weekend I was (doing stupid things) and connected an SD to IDE adapter to my Pio 633 and discovered it could be "authorized" and record on an SD and microSD card. That is I replaced the HDD with an SD card slot.
In addition Peter with IsoBuster (just) found a way to read the videos and offload the content without having to first chunk up the video into 4.7 GB segments and burn to DVD. That is the SD card could be popped out and insert into any PC and read using his software to copy the MPG files to the PC at whatever length they were originally recorded. IsoBuster also started as a data recovery program, so it can deal with damaged hard drives and still recover content.. so this feature might also be useful.
You could certainly try the SD card approach.. the adapter has been on the market since 2010.. but your mileage may vary.. I found a CompactFlash adapter would not work.. which I still don't understand.. intuitively I would have expected CF to work and SD to fail.. but it was the other way around.
IsoBuster in its "released" form does not currently support the 50 odd DVRs we've been testing.. its only working in a pre-release alpha version and seeking feedback to catch edge cases. So if you'd rather wait to attempt recovery from a damaged drive .. that would be understandable. One other thing about IsoBuster is its much more than just a one trick app.. it has many features.. one of which is the ability to make a disk image, or extract "areas" of a hard disk as a disk segment.. so something to keep in mind.
ps. Good call by Orsetto about the EPG TVGOS on the 633.. and some odd news there. Peter is in the Southern Hemisphere of the planet and has no access to the actual hardware. We've been testing so fast moving from one DVR to another I totally and completely forgot to warn him about the EPG software unique to the 633 and its family of recorders. He found it anyway.. and in doing so "confirmed" that on a completelty virgin "fresh" drive or emulated drive "apparently" the recorder initialized the drive by writing a copy of the EPG firmware. On a non-clean drive I can see that the designers might have obviated or "skipped" doing that to preserve existing EPG data or Users timed recording settings.. and foobar'ed the initialization process. This would also explain why a clean SD card or microSD card worked normally.. and (Maybe) might explain why the CF card did not work.. I was using that CF card in a Toshiba RD-XS54 just prior to trying it in the 633 when it failed. The toshiba had initialized the CF card and so wasn't "pristine".. the 633 might have picked up on this state and errored on the side of not performing its "fresh" boot up maintence routines. (when I'm not testing so quickly.. I normally wipe the drive by writing all "zeros" to it from beginning to end, because some of these file systems actually begin at the end of the drive and count backwards to the top of the drive.) -- Interesting stuff to test when I get time, and doubly confirm (also since I was not thinking about the previous TVGOS problems.. I stupidly didn't expect a problem with TVGOS when plugging the SD card into the 633.. had I thought about it I wouldn't have even tried.). And we've just passed the 550 testing.. on to the 560.
p.ps. The Pioneer 530 by the way self identified itself as an x33 family member.. which was surprising. It doesn't have the TVGOS.. or Peter didn't mention it. And in every other way it behaves as a normal 633. I thought that was an interesting bit of trivia. The x33 generation appears to have actually been a tweaked version of the short lived x30 generation before the premature arrival of the x40 recorders. We are testing in a "non-calendrical" release order of these machines.. mostly based on user comments and apparent popularity of the recorders.. so finding the 530 identifies as a 633 is not of any significance. If we had added support for the 530 first, then the 633 would have announced itself as a member of the x30 family. -- As the x33 were entirely "locked" to the North American flirtation with TVGOS.. and especially with the United States.. the rest of the world didn't see the x33 models. It looks like an expensive gambit to corner the US market.. that didn't really play out well for Pioneer. -- Thus we have an unbroken chain of generations, x10, x20, x30, x40, x50, x60, x70 before they ended their run.
Last edited by jwillis84; 3rd Apr 2019 at 17:14.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 3rd Apr 2019 at 20:20. Reason: typoIgnore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
Eventually a couple of intrepid 633 owners managed to successfully scrape TVGOS off the HDD of a working unit, and transfer it to another HDD used to repair a dead 533. They were kind enough to post the scraped TVGOS firmware, and instructions how to perform a transplant. With their help, I accomplished this repair for a couple of my own 2005 Pioneers, and a couple 533s I repaired for other owners. BUT: the process is a nightmare- tedious in the extreme, s-l-o-w, fraught with crisis points, and more likely to fail than not. First you need to lay hands on the scraped, reverse-engineered TVGOS (plus a few other stray Pioneer firmware tidbits). Then, you need to connect the new HDD to the internal IDE of a PC running Linux. Using Linux tools, you zero the drive in a specific way, then alter the boot blocks and add TVGOS with the other tidbits (loading the TVGOS takes forever, BTW). When done, you transfer the HDD to the ailing recorder, do the CPRM dance with the Pioneer service tools, and pray it boots normally. Two out of three times, it doesn't, and you have to start the entire process all over again. If you do finally succeed, the repaired unit often fails again within weeks or months. At that point you look for the nearest brick wall, and smash the afflicted Pioneer against it gleefully until your hands are bloodied. These are the most spiteful, hateful DVD/HDD recorders ever made- bar none. I wouldn't even recommend them as paperweights today.
That said, it never occurred to me to test whether a 531-533-633 would record live video directly by hitting the record button, with no TVGOS loaded on a fresh HDD. Nor did I attempt to copy such a recording to a DVD, or get them offloaded with HDD recovery software. Since your experiment with a flash memory adapter worked for such basic recording, jwillis84, I suppose its possible it might work for seeker47's friend just as well with a blank HDD (since he only wants to directly back up the contents of a PVR). But IMO, it still seems a roundabout, overly complicated way to do the task: instead of blowing substantial money on a new HDD and full ISObuster license, it makes more sense to buy a $29 USB video dongle from Amazon. Connect that between an ordinary PC and the FiOS PVR, record the contents directly to the PC hard drive in the format of your choice, and burn standard dvds (if desired) right on the PC. Gambling that the Pio 633 would keep working indefinitely with no TVGOS, yanking the HDD out of the unit and then dealing with ISObuster to get the videos off it, strikes me as a needlessly complicated workflow.
For the simple task of seeker47's friend, anyway: of course I am glad to hear of your successful experiments with the SD card adapter, and that ISObuster has a new capability of reading recorder video in a near-normal manner. That's exciting news, and opens a potential new workflow for certain tasks. Although I'm completely confused now as to which of you is doing what to which Pioneer model. The 530 series (concurrent outside North America) used the standard international EPG system, located in the recorder motherboard (not the HDD), which would explain Peter's apparent success getting the EPG to work. But you said YOU played with an SD card in a "633" - and that unit definitely cannot self-install its EPG onto a new HDD (it may function in a limited fashion with an empty HDD, but the US/Canadian software-run TVGOS is a whole different species from the 530 Europe/AUS/NZ hardware-run EPG).
Last edited by orsetto; 3rd Apr 2019 at 17:54.
Interesting idea.. so if the TVGOS had been "removed" back in the day or disabled so TVGOS and Timed recording had not been possible.. and only a manual or an external "Input triggered" recording were used with say a satellite or cable box. They might have worked just like a normal Pioneer without any TVGOS problems.. basically reverting it to a 530/630. I wonder if the disk thrashing or always-on standby behavior would have continued or it would have simply shutdown and behaved itself. Since TVGOS is "gone".. I guess we will never know.
The only thing about 1:1 offloading is the time it takes. HDD:HDD occurs at a greatly increased rate of transfer. Its also media-less.
I'll be the first to admit removing the HDD is no piece of cake. But you'd only remove it once to connect to a PC for data recovery with IsoBuster and copy them straight to the PC disk.
If the recorder is used for new recordings.. you could install the SD to IDE adapter and a thin ribbon cable reader that snakes out between the cover and the chassis to insert and remove SD cards. I used a 128GB SD card, smaller than 160 GB but larger than 80 GB. This is theory.. I haven't completed this work flow.. and we're testing more DVRs. But the DVR is a standalone unit and doesn't involve the PC until the final step. Its also sunk cost. The adapter costs $15 today and a 128GB memory card is about $30.
I get its an open wound for some.. and not everyone has one of these to play with. EzGrabber is easy to find on eBay. I understand that can look more appealing.
Last edited by jwillis84; 3rd Apr 2019 at 18:11.
Unfortunately, the TVGOS software was insidious: despite being deactivated, under the hood it remained ever-watchful for an opportunity to re-assert itself. You could only deactivate it for 30 days at a time: if you forgot to renew the settings TVGOS would come roaring back on the 31st night, thrashing around and crapping the bed. It could also be re-activated by a power surge, a stray remote beam hitting at the wrong angle, bad luck, etc: anything. TVGOS was like the nonsensical illogical zombies on The Walking Dead: it could be half corrupted, the recorder all but seized, yet the stupid thing would STILL somehow manage to invoke its destructive update feature (because g*d forbid you don't see fresh adverts every day). So, yeah: spiteful hateful bucket of junk they were. I switched over completely to 450 and 460 Pios after that mess, and never glanced back.
Last edited by orsetto; 3rd Apr 2019 at 18:17.
The SD card swap of the HDD was on a 633 by me.. as a boring side project while I was waiting to hear from Peter. I didn't expect it to work and was shocked when it did. Peter doesn't have access to any DVR hardware. I make debug images and upload them to a common share point and he downloads them and works out how they work. He spotted the EPG ROM signatures and code in image that I uploaded to him and detoured around it to get at the recordings. Basically if its not related to the goal he automatically sets it aside for now. He asked me what it was and I recognized it immediately.
I've never attempted to activate or setup the 633 TVGOS.. I've been warned off going near by many forum postings. And Pioneer had some flyer about Initialize then decline TVGOS setup to permanently disable it. I noted it but discarded the flyer because I wasn't going near it. So I put a zero wiped SD card into the 633. that is.. I used a program on windows to write zeros into every byte space available on the SD card to make sure it was empty. Put it in the adapter in the 633 and used the service remote and ID disc to authorize it. It succeeded, then informed me I needed to format the disc. I did that. Then made a manual recording from the rear input. Then browsed the titles and played the recording back from the SD card. Then shut the 633 down and ejected the SD card and put it in my computer and ran IsoBuster on it. It identified the SD card as formatted with the PNR0 file system and used by the Pioneer 633 recorder, clicked on the recordings folder and it listed the recording. I right click and played it back, then right clicked and extracted to my PC.
Hope that clarifies things.
You are "correct" I did not attempt a Timed Recording, and I did not attempt a TVGOS Recording. I simply raised the remote, and pressed the red record button. Then raised it again when I was done and pressed the stop record button.
This is definitely a side project for now (the SD card thing, the CF card thing).. mostly the focus is on testing IsoBuster with as many Pioneer DVR models as possible in as short a time as possible. Before we get bored.
One thing I do want to test though is if multiple SD cards could be swapped in and out without re-authorizing them with the service remote and ID disc. the adapter "emulates" an EIDE disk drive and uses the SD card for storage. IsoBuster simply reads byte ranges.. it could a hard disk, or an image file.. it doesn't care. So there is a chance the SD Adapter is what is actually "authorized" and then we would never have to use the service remote or ID disc again.. something to test a little later.
Last edited by jwillis84; 4th Apr 2019 at 05:18.
No one to date has determined with certainty exactly where Pioneer stores CPRM flag on the HDD: on the media platters or in the controller board attached to the HDD housing. An easy way to find out would be to run your SD card test using a different IDE adapter: if a previously-blessed SD card boots with no alerts in the second (unblessed) adapter, you'd confirm the CPRM code is stored directly in the media.
Re your particular DVR-633: I have no experience of a brand new, never been set up unit. All the ones I've ever owned or worked on were previously-owned: in those units, there was no option to completely decline TVGOS during setup (the best you can do is postpone the inevitable for 30 days). The TVGOS data loaded in your SD card by your "virgin" 633 is probably not the entire system itself, but whatever formatting it needs to store adverts and updates. The machines themselves are incapable of loading their complete TVGOS operating system on a clean HDD: if they were, Pioneer would have had much less of a service nightmare back in the day (and I would still be using them myself). Your new experiments showing the unit will allow a straight record function, permitting transfer via ISObuster, could breathe new life into them as a specialized tool for precisely that workflow (I do like the 530/630 video encoder better than the 540/640). But full functionality with timer recording (and perhaps disc copy) cannot be restored this way: the machines require a Pioneer OEM HDD pre-formatted with TVGOS for that.
Last edited by orsetto; 4th Apr 2019 at 12:53.
Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
Ones like you found are probably what my guy was referring to. But I wonder if adding an HDCP stripper could fill in another major piece of the features puzzle ?
. . .
Machete (fairly crude, but gets the basic job done -- often enough), because the learning curve on apps like VideoRedo was a bit much for me. But this leaves me wanting to learn a lot more about jwillis84's experiments.
Originally Posted by jwillis84
It would be great though: the highly-techie "salvage material from DVR HDDs" always previously sounded well out-of-reach to me -- between the Linux, the possible proprietary encryption, the drive mounting, etc. -- but it seems like you have already made great strides in that direction. I think this is very worthy of continuing discussion.
Peter has suggested I do lots of concise but detailed video tutorials. I might do that.. after we get every last one of the Pioneers tested and supported.. we are very very close.. but the Euro models look like they will remain out of reach. The 515, 545, 555, 940 just aren't available for sale or barter any place. I feel sorry for those owners, this may be the last chance they'll ever have to be supported by an export tool. Once we move on we probably won't pass this way again. We finished up on the 550 and 560 models last night, then did the LX61D and LX70D. Peter says they are identical to the 550 and 560.
The IsoBuster alpha with this support may be released next week.
Its really not hard to use, its a windows program. You pick the drive by serial number and click on the big orange icon that says 'Pioneer 550H' or whatever model you have. Recordings show up by their Recording name in the box to the right. Everything else is in the Right-Click for what you pick. You can work on one recording at a time, or multiple.
I've no notions of returning to the SD card tests.. unless Citibear prompts me to get to it right away. Peter would like to see if the Sony HX750 or HX780 could be supported, and then quite a few Panasonics. Those might be the last of the easy ones.
Re: encryption.. nada.. none that could be found.. and we looked "hard".. maybe they encrypted their firmware, but we never touched that.. this was a grass roots from the ground up discovery model. All the video data was just sitting there in plain sight. It was the DVD Forum rules and organization patterns that had to be worked out. Not only are they not publicly documented, their own members don't follow the rules even between two near identical products... we can tell since a DVD-RAM has a lot of the same structure.. and they bend the rules all the time.
Last edited by jwillis84; 4th Apr 2019 at 16:16.
For example, I can all but guarantee the 515 file system is identical to the 510 and 5100. The 545 and 940 are variants of the more common 540/640. And the 555 is just a 550 with an extra tuner band and the cheaper 540 video encoder chip. You will find similar duplication among the various Sonys made between 2005-2009: the ones that look like Pioneers share almost all the same DNA. Operating interface is near identical, file system should be identical aside from Sony naming conventions. The only significant difference between Sony and Pioneer lookalikes from the same model years is the Sonys don't record DVD-RAM (out of spite toward rival Panasonic), and they don't require the Pioneer service disc or remote for hard drive changes (they do use the same service remote codes for some deep service diagnostics).
Right now many models are virtually indistinguishable from their siblings in the same year and from the same continent.
But the UK is kind of Wylie Coyote, and does its own thing sometimes.
I do wish I had a SONY for testing.. but it probably won't be in this alpha or this month. Maybe next month. But (if) the SONY actually appears filesystem "wise" to be a recognized Pioneer it will self identify and present the recordings.
IsoBuster doesn't scan the disc looking for pieces by default.. if it recognizes a "friend" it serves it up and lets you pick. So no disc I/O occurs unless its related to precisely the recording your playing or copying.
There aren't really any "buttons" or required "menu" items to select.. its mostly, pick, click, and right-click.. those are the operations, 1-2-3 your done.
Last edited by jwillis84; 4th Apr 2019 at 19:14.
Please don't overlook the 660 . . . unless it's a ditto for the 460 / 560 models. I have one of those in my collection, and orsetto probably does also, if you need someone else to test this for you. Would definitely like to see video tutorials, such as you mentioned. I see the Sony recorders up for sale on eBay with some regularity. Not sure what sort of prices they command, vs. the others. Never had one though.
Funny you ask... a really nice Canadian from Alberta helped me acquire a 660. I have not tested it (I will test it on Sunday) but we're basically done with all the Pioneer support, its complete, all models covered... except..
The alpha won't release today because we came across a hard drive from a 640 from Vancouver with over 320 recordings on it which seems to get lost after recording 256 and Peter would like to make sure that is included. I joked no one would have have 256 recordings.. but apparently I was proved wrong. The Universe loves to prove me wrong.
Peter also switched it up from identifying by specific model to ID by family, he found a 32 bit number which seems unique to a recorder based on the base unit from each family of recorders per year. So instead of 460 / 560 / 660 it would say x60 .. the only weirdos are the x30 and US only variants for x33 models. They look similar but the x33 comes with secret sauce that tends to mess things up unless you make allowances for it.
The Euros I keep worrying about "appear" to be variants of the x40 line but since I have no access to them.. I fear they will have poor support.. if they work at all. The problem is the EPG system.. and they have several.. "move" things around on the disk to make room for their very active "on disk" database which expands and contracts like someone breathing. In the US TVGOS is dead.. the beast is dead.. in Euroland and the UK the dragon is merely sleeping and could come roaring back to life... I just don't know. We're tip toeing around it and will see.
Dragons come in different colors and sizes (too).. so no battle plan suffers first engagement with the enemy. While we may have a corpse on the battlefield in the US.. its far from certain that we may not have future problems with the remains of different size EPG on different individual x33 recorders. We simply have not seen enough EPG remains to be certrain.. thats why user feedback would be very helpful.
Re: SONY ... yeah.. I'm trying to wrap my head around all the models. The HX900 looks like a good start, but (somewhere) along the line they turned into (maybe) Pioneer variants and might already be supported as a variant of the Pioneers we already know. I don't know SONYs so I could make a lot of terrible mistakes trying to take those on too soon. For example I don't know if the service remote I have is necessary for all models or only some.. I saw something about a yank and scream power cord monitor tango dance to get into service mode versus the remote for some models.. so its holding me back.. too much I don't know right now. And I don't know the name of any SONY gurus to search the forums for previous owners who talk about them yet. Additionally.. SONY survived the Pioneer apocalypse and continued making recorders after Pioneers demise.. so they may have families beyond what the Pioneers issued.. in which case we'll need to test with those to get the ID and add support for them. Its also entirely possible that SONY completely re-wrote the filesystem or tweaked it.. they did seem to meddle in the overall design.. so even more testing might be needed. I tend to think a few Panasonics like the EH80, EH75V or EH55, EH69 might get attention first. Their line is way too big to cover all at once.. but I know it "better" than SONY at the moment. -- all of this development has a shelf life too.. I have to travel to Boston at the start of May, and around that time Peter has to switch hemispheres.. so progress will grind to a halt at that time.
Re: Orsetto (one button to rule them all). I brought up the issue of an override button to try and force treatment as one model or another.. its not a dead concept.. but goes against the grain of the tool.. its been out there for a decade or more. Peter very much doesn't want it to become an "expert" or "technicians" tool.. it does one thing very simply.. and he wants to keep it simple and safe for anyone to use with very little experience. The menu button would add complexity. That said, Peter recognizes the 'need' perhaps in this case and is pondering it. The preference though is to make the tool smarter.. not require the user to 'become' smarter.
Re: video tutorials.. Sunday afternoon
Last edited by jwillis84; 5th Apr 2019 at 11:57.
Re: (Super-sized Big Mac) .. I'm not the coder.. that is Peter.. I'm a lowly hardware tester with notions of understanding these filesystems. From what I've seen and learned Peter's approach to the Pioneers has been to parse the Title table and relate that to an indirect entry table. These tables seem to grow in quantum jumps called 'extents'.. in theory they are infinite.. but in practice they break down.. we're not sure why.. the larger the jumps the more likely they entangle with existing tables and stop working. I could (guess) its a physical limitation in the microprocessors when jumping a long distance across the disk.. but yeah.. I'm no rocket scientist. Peter is conservative when coding resource allocation to keep IsoBuster fast and responsive.. so in a way he'd rather it fail than become a slow and lumbering burden to the end user. To that end he's asked my opinion of (how far) we should let this long chain go on.. and where should we stop and call it good enough. (another place where an advanced option might be to ask the user.. how far to chase this rabbit..). I think its currently set at 256, next stop would be 1024.. but he'd like to see the proof we need that before doing it.. so I'm trying to get the Vancouver data over to him by Sunday.. he will take a look and also look for signs of other collateral breakage from pushing the recorder too far.. corruption seems to occur when pushing these recorders beyond their limits and they themselves can't detect the damage very well. He's also eager to see the fragmentation this original user caused.. its a great real use example.
Re: SONY.. yes.. that's why I thought the HX900 might be a good place to grab on to and hold on for a while.. Orsetto's postings on the matter. I haven't identified anyone else to chase down their posts yet.. I think Orsetto did not own an actual SONY but only commented on them being really nice for the time.
Re: Magnavox.. yeah we got support for the 2160 and 513 in place.. but they are (expensive).. and I only had access to a couple for a brief while.. support is as good as we could make it. But the 865, 867, 868 is not included.. they report internally they are Blu-ray recorders not DVD recorders.. and suspiciously appear to be Panasonic "based" if not using components from Panasonic electronics.. though made by Funai.. so go figure.. that string ball is going to take too much time to unravel for now.. and the silly things are going for like nearly $1000 on ebay used! If funai sold them for that.. they'd still be on the market. I've strong reason to believe they are actually true HD recorders.. and if we could offload their content one day it would turn heads.. but like the Pioneer 940 they do have encrypted external auxiliary storage. Whether that is encrypted internally.. I don't know.. think not.. because the DLNA server serves full resolution.. some scary thoughts wrapped up in all of that.. we might not ought to go to that realm for a few years.
Last edited by jwillis84; 5th Apr 2019 at 12:33.
Yeesh... I turn my back to go to sleep and you guys manage to raise another 20 points...
Re the four Euro Pioneers in question: I addressed that above. Three of the four were 540/640 based, the fourth (555) is a hybrid of 550 and 540. Both Pioneer and Sony offered MANY more variants in Europe/AU/NZ during any given model year due to the much better uniform support outside North America for digital broadcasts, satellite and analog/digital EPGs. Most often, these variants involved what combination of tuner bands (analog, digital, satellite) with what combination HDD size and which encoder chip. Apparently Pioneer reserved the final chip mostly for its own x50 and x60 models, tho this wasn't consistent outside N.A. (some Euro Pios have the x50/x60 chassis but the x40 chip, seemingly to reduce cost on "budget" multiband tuner variations).
Sony and Pioneer only collaborated "officially" for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 model years. There was a transition period circa 2005 where Sony was already effectively selling the eventual Pioneer redesign, but there were slight firmware differences that might make those more Sony-ish. After Pioneer shot its foot, nose and head off during the global economic meltdown in 2008, Sony continued on alone with the hybrid Pio/Sony design for approx another year to 18 months. At some point circa early 2010, Sony gave up all pretense toward premium quality recorders, and began re-badging some pretty dismal Samsung DVD/HDD units. These were not well-received, to be polite: an ignoble end to a decent line of recorders.
The HX900 you speak of was the last first-gen Sony machine, after that came the x10, x15, and very popular x25 series that made Sony the best selling DVD/HDD vendor in Europe for the next few years. All machines up to this point were full-blooded Sony, using the very strange "unplug and replug AC power cord while rubbing your stomach and waving the antenna lead over your head" method of engaging service diagnostic mode. From the RDR-HXx50 onward thru x70 x80 and x90, you have combined Sony/Pioneer DNA. These use the Pioneer service remote codes, but not the CPRM system or I.D. Data Disc. The service remote is only needed (in some later Sonys) to initialize/format a new HDD, run diagnostics, or in rare instances of repairing/updating tuner or motherboard firmware. Sony offered its own branded service remote for this, but it is completely interchangeable with the Pioneer service remote (codes and corresponding button labels are the same). The service key combinations invoking various service screens is a little different in the Sonys: for instance, you NEVER want to use the rote "ESC + STEREO" key combo (required to do anything on a Pioneer) with a Sony. That key combo innocuously puts Pioneers into service mode, but can wreck the OS in some Sonys. Most likely this is due to the Sonys omitting the tedious CPRM process, which the Pioneers default to at the beginning of every service session.
The final wacky Magnavox 800-series recorders are bizarre hybrids with full HDTV recording to their hard drives, but very limited klugey dvd writing support. Totally useless to anyone with the slightest experience of older full-featured Pioneer, Sony, Panasonic or Toshiba DVD/HDD units. The dvd drive in these final Magnavoxes is all but vestigial: it may as well be just a disc player for all the limitations it has in terms of dubbing from the hard drive. The lunatic prices these units command is out of all proportion to their actual utility: I can't imagine wanting one for $200, never mind $800. And thats before you factor their absolute garbage build quality: the Funais were decently made up until the MDR-513, after that they got progressively more crummy in parts/assembly and tuner reliability.
Last edited by orsetto; 5th Apr 2019 at 16:30.
It's been awhile since I needed to take the front panel off a Pioneer, seeker47, but if memory serves the display is on a small daughtercard that snaps out after releasing a ribbon cable. I do have service manuals for most of the Pioneers and several Sonys, the display appears to be interchangeable within the same model years. The service manual indicates a part number for the display assembly, but this differs depending on model (I would ask which of your recorders is dimming, but at this point chances of acquiring the spare part are nil).
In my experience, there is some variability in display brightness among the Pioneers even new out of the box (some start out brighter or dimmer than others). If yours was on the low side to start with, it might be aging worse than some others. I thought there was a setting in home menu or the service mode where one could adjust panel brightness, but when I checked just now couldn't find any such reference in the two SMs I had close by (the only options mentioned are turning the front panel display on or off). Also, the 510 and 520 have a "dot matrix" display while later models use the traditional LED bars calculator-syle display. The older version was much brighter, and less subject to variation. Sometimes a failing capacitor in line with the display causes dimming: not sure if thats a potential issue with these units. I've never had one go so dim as to impact normal use.
I have thought about that..might be more power supply than display board. Easy swap. But if the display, maybe a raspberry pi fix. And i rarely look at the display. Press to record or stop and use the on screen display mostly. If the burner were still working its a bigger deal. Also swapping to CF or SD lowers the power supply load and runs cooler and quieter. Lots of hypothetical thinking going on.
Its a bit late to get a video of the process out this evening, 1:42 am Monday morning. We came across a HDD with 320 recordings from the 2008 Olympics.. a well used and chaotic drive that is begging for HDD repair and HDD Optimization.. which I'm withholding. Tonight we found / discovered, that Pioneers allow quite a few illegal character set characters to be used in their Titles, which was reducing the number of recordings that could be recovered.. we thought they were illegal.. now they are allowed.. so more are accessible. And we've discovered "micro" recordings which are far below 60 seconds.. trying to figure out if that is an error.. or should be accommodated. Its not as simple as you might think.. if its an error it could corrupt the larger non-corrupt recordings, if its not an error then they won't and should be accommodated. So more testing needs to be done. For everyday normal sized recordings it looks very very good. Summary is we're winding down this part and Pioneers that we have access too.. and a few PAL recordings have been tested.. though we don't have access to many of the Euro recorders.. so their EPG could mess things up for those users.. we simply can't tell. -- x10, x20, x30, x33, x40, x50, x60 N.A. supported, UK x60, x70 supported, Euro = untested
ps. a comprehensive list of models tested will be coming later, but in summary [all of them] as far as Pioneer in the US and Canada are concerned.. so yeah.. even if the DVD burner is dead as a door nail.. you can start thinking these could be used for SD signal to MPEG2 file conversion, as a viable workflow.
Last edited by jwillis84; 8th Apr 2019 at 02:35.
The small under-60-sec titles are most likely caused by either edits, or this too-full chaotic HDD not having enough contiguous room to record otherwise (as with a computer, the OS will spread a new title across whatever bits and pieces of free space it can find). So these fragments could be vital or disposable: hard to say.
Good point about the illegal characters Pio/Sony allow for title names: I'm so used to that it didn't even occur to me as a potential issue. If you hadn't found and compensated for it, this new tool would never work for me: I used those illegal characters all the time (its really convenient to have "/" available for a recorder title name). Oops.
Amazing progress you guys are making!
Peter is Mr. Fantastic with regard to adding support for really.. hmm.. flexible file systems?
He wanted to correct me the characters "Are not illegal".. they are perfectly legitimate for Pioneers use.. but have to be translated into something else in order to make filenames that can exist on other platforms.
And he's already talking getting ready to look at Panasonic support "this week!" but after the alpha with Pioneer support is released.
Peter also thinks I worry too much about Euro mode EPGs possibly skewing support for the Euro models.. but feedback from Euro users would certainly be welcome. The really nice feedback from Peter was that he sees the recorders in nicely well defined classes with their own pecularities but well defined support within the program.
I've been thinking of what to include in the video.. but its difficult to not go overboard.
For one thing its not "entirely" necessary to remove the HDD from the recorder to offload the recordings.. you can leave it screwed into the chassis and simply attach the data cable and power supply cable from a USB dock and connect that by USB cable to a PC... so in a pinch it can be minimally invasive. You can also choose to make a backup of the drive before extracting, using a feature of the dock that duplicates the drive to a backup drive.. or image it from Linux or OSX or Windows using 'dd' or 'HDDGuru Rawtool' in Windows.. there are so many options (before) even touching upon the subject of upgrading to a microSD card.
The supreme value of these recorders is they are dedicated standalone capture devices and encoders to MPEG2 with adjustable data rates. They don't tie up a PC, and they have built in TBC and Frame synchronizers exactly in tune with compensating for VHS and poor quality signal like you would get from a camcorder before the Digital transition. They are [Full bandwidth YUV 4:2:0 color space] no color compression like with DV video.. and they have built-in proc-amps on their inputs and outputs with some detail filtering.
Your insights on the under 60sec videos is valuable.. wish you were with us puzzling out this chaotic franken drive. we are down to 20 mystery recordings, they have metadata, but really strange pointers. It might be edit clips, or divided titles.. or the designers simply may not have thought anyone would ever do such a thing. And they could be aborted recordings when someone pulled the plug. We are reluctant to run Optimize for making them go away without a firm explaination. So I'm manually auditing them one by one to see if the material they point to makes sense.. is it a real recording or junk.. and then auditing other normal sized recordings to make sure including these doesn't damage the normal sized recordings by possibly hi-jacking blocks that should belong to other recordings... at least that's my loose interpretation of the concern. -- there is a case to be made for 'leave well enough alone' and support only well-formed recordings that make sense 99% of the time and ignore the rest. -- I mean come on.. the recorder hiccups and is going to (Repairing HDD..) mode simply by clicking on recordings "around the time" of one of these mystery recordings that may or may not show up in the recorders Title listings.. its like hitting an unseen pothole.
Last edited by jwillis84; 8th Apr 2019 at 10:21.
He's the one coding and doing this remotely over 7000 miles away without access to a single DVR.
Today we've been testing his latest adjustment to pickup all those micro recordings and they look for the most part sound and complete.. only one oddball out of 23 micro recordings. And one that is totally inaccessible for unknown reasons. Out of 320 recordings total.. that is phenomenal. Especially with the HDD going into Repair mode periodically. I really don't think its a hard drive physical failure but a logical storage problem with probably the one we know is extracting incorrectly.
My hunch is that that one recording was aborted during a power outage and its still referencing blocks either allocated to another program, or that should have been empty but were reused.