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  1. Member
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    Hi everybody,

    I would like to know if there is a way to mount the hard disk from a Pioneer DVR 540HX on a PC in order to access the video files stored in it. From the pioneerfaq.info site I've learned that the Pioneers use an OpenBSD file system but there are no instructions on how to mount it. Has anybody done it?

    My problem is that the hdd is full and I was wondering if there is a faster method to backup the recordings than the DVD route.

    Thanks
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  2. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by vcruzmed
    Hi everybody,

    I would like to know if there is a way to mount the hard disk from a Pioneer DVR 540HX on a PC in order to access the video files stored in it. From the pioneerfaq.info site I've learned that the Pioneers use an OpenBSD file system but there are no instructions on how to mount it. Has anybody done it?

    My problem is that the hdd is full and I was wondering if there is a faster method to backup the recordings than the DVD route.

    Thanks
    This is one area of DVDR "research" that has always lagged. I've never heard of any video geek / hacker who has made some useful breakthroughs in this area. My strong suspicion is that Orsetto or Hkan would tell you that even if you solved the file system, you'd still be dealing with proprietary formats and possibly some encryption (?) It would be great if there was a way, but I doubt this is going to be a rewarding avenue to pursue.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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    Hi Seeker47,

    Sure, dealing with the file format is the second part of the problem. I'm hoping for the best on this issue. If the DVR is able to copy the recordings to DVD at high speed then the internal format should be fairly similar to an MPEG2 transport stream. But the only way to find out is to access the files.

    Thanks
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    If the disk uses an OpenBSD file system and you have good computer skills, it should not be too difficult to mount it. Here is a suggestion for mounting an OpenBSD file system under Suse Linux, but this should work as well on non-Suse versions:
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_mount_a_BSD_file_system_on_a_SuSE_Linux_System
    Here is a link to an FFS driver for Windows:
    http://ffsdrv.sourceforge.net/
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  5. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by vcruzmed
    Hi Seeker47,

    Sure, dealing with the file format is the second part of the problem. I'm hoping for the best on this issue. If the DVR is able to copy the recordings to DVD at high speed then the internal format should be fairly similar to an MPEG2 transport stream. But the only way to find out is to access the files.

    Thanks
    Should YOU happen to be the one to make the great discovery, please publish it here, and maybe also with HKan's site. I'm sure many would be grateful.

    For speed and convenience of getting stuff off the HDD, I don't think we're going to beat the native capabilities of the DVDR. But this could have major implications for rescuing material from a compromised DVDR, or if the HDD is starting to fail.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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    Thanks for the links. However, I'm concerned about this bit of info from http://www.pioneerfaq.info/english/dvr630.php?player=DVR-630H&question=recover_hd. If it's true that to put the hdd back into the DVR I need the service remote and disk, then it is not worth the effort for me. May be if the hdd is not modified in the process, the DVR may accept the hdd back but how can I be sure that any of this software doesn't write to the hdd?
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    Originally Posted by vcruzmed
    Thanks for the links. However, I'm concerned about this bit of info from http://www.pioneerfaq.info/english/dvr630.php?player=DVR-630H&question=recover_hd. If it's true that to put the hdd back into the DVR I need the service remote and disk, then it is not worth the effort for me. May be if the hdd is not modified in the process, the DVR may accept the hdd back but how can I be sure that any of this software doesn't write to the hdd?
    Good point. When I'm doing something risky with a HDD, I prefer to first clone it -- to another identical model -- and then do my experimenting on the duplicate. But with a procedure as delicate as this, even that might be too risky . . . unless it was a desperate situation with little left to lose.

    The service remote (or a substitute for it) and the service disk are probably obtainable, though.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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  8. You're wasting your time. There is no way to mount the hard drive from any "major brand" DVD/HDD recorder into a PC and get any practical use out of it. It is one thing to know you can mount it under some version of Unix/Linux, but mounting it isn't the problem: handling the files is. They are not neatly identified and organized like they would be on a PC hard drive, they're a freaking mess. A single half-hour sitcom recording is often comprised of 50 or more files, scattered all over the drive with random gibberish file names. In five years of following this topic on several forums, I have only heard of two people who managed to mount a Panasonic and Pioneer recorder HDD in a PC, and salvage some videos from them. Note I said "salvage", not "play", "back up" or "use in any practical manner". And the salvage operation took weeks to piece together a single hour of video.

    There are a lot of people out there under the delusion these recorder mfrs are stupid and can be outwitted. Forget it: they didn't dare bring DVD recorders to market until Hollywood could be assured wise-ass computer geeks couldn't just slap the hard drive into their PCs and have a blast streaming 160GB of network and cable TV onto the internet. Recorder hard drives are locked down every which way from Sunday and the files are completely useless except in the recorder. In many cases, such as Pioneer, removal of the hard drive will also break the secret handshake that lets the recorder read it, you can't even put it back in without a service remote and/or service DVD to reset the handshake: these machines are DRM'd to death.

    Confusion arises because of the way DVD/HDD recorders are marketed. It is a mistake to assume just because they have ridiculously large hard drives they can be used as a quick-n-easy home theater PC with hot-swappable storage. These recorders only have large hard drives because smaller ones are no longer made, otherwise bet your ass we'd still be dealing with 40GB recorders. The hard drive feature is intended as temporary timeshift space and a scratch area to make editing easier before burning the final DVD- nothing else. No matter how mfrs try to "spin" these recorders, their primary purpose is to burn DVDs from their hard drives. If you want a home theater PC, with easily backed up hard drives and standard file formats, build one or buy one. Meantime, dub your recorder hard drive TV shows and movies to DVDs as soon as possible after recording: if the HDD tanks, you'll lose everything on it.
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    Hi orsetto,

    Thanks a lot for the info. You have saved me a lot of time and pain. I'll just resign myself to backup to DVDs.

    Now it's time for me to look for a new recorder that supports easy backup. Three years ago when I bought the Pioneer there were not many options but things are different now.
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    well dvd's could not be copied!!!! And look today... They brought out Blue-Ray....even that have been cracked....They brought HD tv even that got cracked....so there will be a way...why would they allow ?HDD machines to be so full of Sh*t...if dvd are all over the world i will find a way and come back with it.....Just watch
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  11. Originally Posted by Triad123
    i will find a way and come back with it.....Just watch
    Why bother? If your recorder is broken, and you have irreplaceable videos on it, maybe its worth struggling to extract those videos from the hard drive. Otherwise, again, why bother? Even if you crack the recorder OS, the drives are not exactly easy to navigate or easily hot-swappable. If you want easy fast digital backup and jukebox features, get a PC. Someone on another video forum claims to be a software engineer, and that he "wrote a simple Unix app in a couple hours this weekend" that identifies and assembles all the title-specific video fragments on his Panasonic dvd/hdd recorders HDD when used in a PC. I'll believe it if he makes his software available for download.
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    i have a pioneer 420h-s that has developed power issues adna cost to repair has been estimated at 200.00 +. I am not particularly bothered about the unit but I do want to rescue videos stored on it from my camcorder. is this possible & does anyone know how?
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  13. It is not possible without some combination of difficulty and expense. As noted above, the HDD files are not readable in anything but Pioneer recorders: period. Your choices are: pay to have it repaired, repair it yourself, or get another similar Pioneer that still works and transplant your HDD into it.

    The cheapest option is to try and repair it yourself. As a starting point, look at the power repair instructions for the model 530/630 series here at pioneerfaq. The power supply board and fuse in your 420 are slightly different but the repair process is similar. The pioneerfaq.info website does have complete Pioneer repair manuals available for specific models like your 420, make a small donation to help keep the site running and I'm sure Hkan would try to assist you. He is known worldwide as the Pioneer recorder "guru", having helped hundreds if not thousands of us keep our Pioneers operational.
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    Over the years many emulators have been made for lots of hardware, even older gaming platforms. I'm sure one can engineer one for the Pioneer. However, the hardware issues involved from removing the drive, and the ratio of complexity to demand would not be worth it for anyone in the know. I would think Vcruzmed would be better off burning or looking into other solutions.

    Which leads me to a question and hopefully it's not too off topic. I can always start a new thread if so.

    As some of you know, I use the DV-Out port on my 520 - no relying on a burner that is limited and my HDD is empty once a week. I love the migration to my PC in this manner. As well this way, a 520 breakdown would have an "endurable" data loss.

    But a breakdown would be felt in that I have been hard-pressed to find another solution. I would use the 520 forever for SD if I knew it would last, but now that it's nearly 7 years old, I keep thinking one day I'll find it dead. Kind of like a pet you loved and lost.

    Is there any solution on the market that can record from TV, is stand-alone (no PC resources needed) and where the content can be easily migrated to PC later via USB or external hard drive by just copying? I may be asking too much, and although the movie studios would frown on it, I have no need to break copyrights or need to make money off any of the content. It's just for simplicity in my life.

    I did find this though:

    http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5269

    The HD unit sounds like overkill and the SD one records to a proprietary format. Is there anything else?
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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    Originally Posted by PuzZLeR View Post
    As some of you know, I use the DV-Out port on my 520 - no relying on a burner that is limited and my HDD is empty once a week. I love the migration to my PC in this manner. As well this way, a 520 breakdown would have an "endurable" data loss.

    But a breakdown would be felt in that I have been hard-pressed to find another solution. I would use the 520 forever for SD if I knew it would last, but now that it's nearly 7 years old, I keep thinking one day I'll find it dead. Kind of like a pet you loved and lost.
    Since the HDD on this model can be replaced -- kind of an elaborate procedure, but documented and doable -- once we leave aside the burner, as you have done, there are really mainly two (nearer-term) failure scenarios that occur to me. One is a bad power surge, which you can insure against with a reasonably good power protection unit (Monster, Panamax, or something like that) ahead of it in the chain. Ideally, you would have been doing this from the git-go, as it can enhance the lifespan of your valuable or important electronics. (Some insist this has unfortunate performance consequences for high-end audio gear, but that is not what we're discussing here.) The other thing most likely to fail are capacitor(s) inside the DVDR. (If I'm wrong about this, I'm sure Orsetto will set that right.) I have not visited Hkan's site in some time, but my impression was that this capacitor-replacement business was something that was sure to be critical to us -- someday -- and that it should have received much better coverage there.

    Originally Posted by PuzZLeR View Post
    Is there any solution on the market that can record from TV, is stand-alone (no PC resources needed) and where the content can be easily migrated to PC later via USB or external hard drive by just copying? I may be asking too much, and although the movie studios would frown on it, I have no need to break copyrights or need to make money off any of the content. It's just for simplicity in my life.

    I did find this though:

    http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5269

    The HD unit sounds like overkill and the SD one records to a proprietary format. Is there anything else?
    In part, that may depend on your definition of "easily migrated." You have gotten the DV-Out process down pat with your 520, but I would have to see for myself how that might go, before I would pronounce it easy (for me). Right now, I'd say the xfer process I use from my DirecTV boxes into the Pioneer DVDRs is pretty transparent, given the right cabling setup. Earlier generations of DISH or Tivo boxes apparently had ways of getting stuff off of their HDDs (presumably in a usable format), although with some caveats or limitations. SD only, of course. In the case of DISH, I think you had to have a particular, DISH-supplied outboard HDD with your subscriber key in it, which relegated this to playback only: probably not a case where you could do anything later with that content in your PC. Tivo has eliminated the S-Video OUTs in their latest generation of boxes. It seems that passthrough taps -- for any other device besides your tv -- are now on the endangered list. Manufacturers cutting corners, or pressure from Hollywood ? Probably both. Bad news for us weirdo hobbyists ! The kind of thing I took for granted for years with the Motorola cable boxes and now with the ones from DirecTV are likely on the way out, so I say hang on to the ones that may be working for you for as long as possible.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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  16. The most difficult failure point in the Pioneer 520 is the burner, if you don't care about that the rest is easy to maintain. As seeker47 notes, the power supply in the x20 series had a few bad production runs that were prone to early burnout. But this was more common in the non-HDD 220 and 225 than the 520, and in any case if yours hasn't failed in seven years of hard use its probably pretty bulletproof! Though its still a good idea to download the repair info from pioneerfaq and/or the repair manual.

    The HDD is easily replaced if it fails, BUT the replacement needs to be EIDE and those are getting somewhat scarce in the size and specs needed by the 520. Try to find new-old-stock 160GB Western Digital Caviar WD1600BB HDDs and stash one or two. You'll also need a service remote, service disc, and HDD replacement instructions. The instruction PDF can be found on pioneerfaq here. Use the email link on the site to ask Hkan for help in downloading an image of the GGV1256 service/ID data dvd. The Pioneer service remote is long since discontinued and frightfully expensive, but Sony has dropped the price on their clone of it to as little as $12 thru its service parts network and about $25 thru third-party retail remote dealers. The Sony part number is J-6090-203-A. One dealer I've found sells it here. (seeker47, take note: I know you were looking for an affordable service remote!)

    As far as alternatives to the 520/PC combo go, the most popular is a current TiVO HD connected to a PC via ethernet. While the subscription is a recurring cost, you get the flexibility of SD-on-DVD, HTV-on-AVCHD-DVD, BluRay, DiVX, or whatever format you manage to convert the TiVO data dump into.
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    The HDD is easily replaced if it fails, BUT the replacement needs to be EIDE and those are getting somewhat scarce in the size and specs needed by the 520. Try to find new-old-stock 160GB Western Digital Caviar WD1600BB HDDs and stash one or two.
    I did stash a couple of PATA 320G drives. (Probably also a 200 and a 400.) However, these have probably been sitting in their shrinkwrapped boxes in storage for as long as 3+ years now. That may not be so good. Ever heard of something called "stiction" ? Supposedly, one needs to power a drive up and let its platter(s) spin, at least once or twice a year, or it could wind up stuck by the time you finally do. I don't know that I really believe this, but the fellow who told me about this is generally well informed. Guess I'm going to find out.

    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    . . . The Pioneer service remote is long since discontinued and frightfully expensive, but Sony has dropped the price on their clone of it to as little as $12 thru its service parts network and about $25 thru third-party retail remote dealers. The Sony part number is J-6090-203-A. One dealer I've found sells it here. (seeker47, take note: I know you were looking for an affordable service remote!)
    Thanks. And this one avoids losing its memory, when the batteries die ? I thought the one I messed up was either a Sony or a Radio Shack learning remote, but I'd have to dig it out since I don't recall.

    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    As far as alternatives to the 520/PC combo go, the most popular is a current TiVO HD connected to a PC via ethernet. While the subscription is a recurring cost, you get the flexibility of SD-on-DVD, HTV-on-AVCHD-DVD, BluRay, DiVX, or whatever format you manage to convert the TiVO data dump into.
    I was so focused on the "regular" cabling options that I forgot about ethernet and Tivo-to-Go, which must be what you're referring to.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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  18. Originally Posted by Seeker47 View Post
    I did stash a couple of PATA 320G drives. (Probably also a 200 and a 400.) However, these have probably been sitting in their shrinkwrapped boxes in storage for as long as 3+ years now. That may not be so good. Ever heard of something called "stiction" ? Supposedly, one needs to power a drive up and let its platter(s) spin, at least once or twice a year, or it could wind up stuck by the time you finally do. I don't know that I really believe this, but the fellow who told me about this is generally well informed. Guess I'm going to find out.
    Like many bits of electronic folklore, the "stiction" issue is significant but somewhat over-exaggerated in regards to current HDD technology. There are quite a few people now storing all their A/V media on swappable HDDs that they let sit unused for months until they want to watch something on them. Few of them have complained about stiction. I don't doubt it can be a problem, but as you say powering it up and letting it spin for a day or two twice a year probably helps keep the lube distributed evenly. I recently installed a sealed "new old stock" HDD mfr'd in 2006 in my Pioneer 510 recorder, works a treat with no problems. (Yet... knock wood.) If we hang on another five years, we can just dump our HDDs into cheap gigabyte solid-state thumb drives and forget mechanical issues like "stiction".

    Thanks. And this one avoids losing its memory, when the batteries die ? I thought the one I messed up was either a Sony or a Radio Shack learning remote, but I'd have to dig it out since I don't recall.
    Yes, the Sony J-6090-203-A is a dedicated service remote permanently hard-coded with the Pioneer service signals. It will not forget them if the batteries die, unlike your Sony "universal learning remote" which held the service signals in volatile memory that could be lost.
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  19. Member Seeker47's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Yes, the Sony J-6090-203-A is a dedicated service remote permanently hard-coded with the Pioneer service signals. It will not forget them if the batteries die, unlike your Sony "universal learning remote" which held the service signals in volatile memory that could be lost.
    Yes, I did get one of those Sony's, while they were still available . . . and have it, somewhere. For anyone still interested at this late date, that link you posted years ago now goes to this"

    |Substitute for SONY J6090203A Master DVD Player Remote Control"

    "The original SONY J6090203A Master Remote Control is substituted by ANDERIC RMC12008 SERVICE remote control and comes with our compatibility guarantee.
    Substitute $21.95"

    Hopefully your comments about the Sony part will still apply to it.

    Also, in regard to the original title of this thread -- and a question that came up repeatedly in others -- if one can get video files from the DVDR burned onto an optical disc, they can from there be ripped to a computer's HDD easily enough, for archiving or further manipulation. That would be good practice for important material, or sub-par optical discs whose further longevity is in question.
    When in Las Vegas, don't miss the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum http://www.pinballmuseum.org/ -- with over 150 tables from 6+ decades of this quintessentially American art form.
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