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How I saved my HR-20

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by Goldenjet, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. Goldenjet

    Goldenjet New Member

    Jul 6, 2013
    Hi all, new member here. So excited about saving my HR-20-100 that I thought I'd share my story and perhaps the same method could work for someone else. First off, several months ago, I was beginning to have symptoms of a failing hard drive. Notably, picture freeze and skipping, and every now and then the receiver would reboot itself and I would get error message indicating hard drive failure (I forget what the code is). Tried formatting and error checking the disk during reboot, and even software update, but the problems persisted until the receiver would never completely boot up, and would only show the hard drive error. I had a Western Digital external Sata drive that I hooked up, and sure enough this brought the receiver back to life, and everything worked perfectly, for a couple of months. Then suddenly, the receiver would start going into power saving mode, even though I had power saving mode disabled, and I would often find the directv logo floating around the screen like a screensaver. And then it happened......after a power failure in my home, the receiver just kept rebooting itself up to the second screen (almost there, just a few more seconds). It would hang on that second screen and reboot itself again, and again. Tried pressing record and arrow down, and tried software update, but that didn't work. Could never get to Disk check or format, it just would never get there. Tried unplugging. for minutes, hours, days, and still nothing. Tried allowing it to reboot itself for 24 hours, hoping that one of these reboots would work, but it never did. Finally, with nothing to lose I opened up the unit. Nothing looked fried on the power supply, nor the main board.So I figured I would test with a voltage meter if the power supply was supplying current to the internal hard drive. I unplugged the power cable that connects the power supply to the internal hard drive, and bingo! With the external hard drive still connected, the receiver booted normally and has been working perfectly ever since. I know it was a pure fluke, and I'm really not sure what the problem was. All I know is that with that power cable to the internal hard drive removed, the receiver is as good as new. My best guess, would be that there may have been a short in that cable preventing any hard drive from being detected, or a problem in the section of the power supply that powers the hard drive. The power supply is otherwise fine as it is powering the unit, and the external hard drive gets it's power from the wall outlet, not the receiver. At this point I am curious, but not curious enough to tempt fate and start playing around with it. I'm going to leave well enough alone, and just enjoy my programming. If anyone has had a similar experience, or decides to try this method, I would love to get some feedback. Thanks to everyone for keeping these boards running, I've learned a lot from the many experts that post here.
  2. PCampbell

    PCampbell Icon

    Nov 18, 2006
    The internal hard drive may be bad and dissconnecting it allowed the external drive to work. You can replace the internal drive if you want, I assume the recever is not a lease.
  3. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

    Jul 19, 2005
    The internal HDD was probably drawing too much juice since it was failing overloading the power supply. When I have a receiver that begins to fail, I order another one and dont record anything more on the failing box but just jhope to keep it running long enough to watch any recordings I may not have watched yet. I highyl suggest you do the same. Why would you hang on to a failing dvr when Directv will replace them for next to nothng?
  4. PCampbell

    PCampbell Icon

    Nov 18, 2006
    Good point CC, when they start to go bad they dont go good again.
  5. Goldenjet

    Goldenjet New Member

    Jul 6, 2013
    Correct, this receiver is owned not leased. Not sure about your theory though, because when an external hard drive is connected, the receiver is supposed to bypass the internal drive and connect directly to the external one. That's what it was doing when I first connected the external drive.
  6. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    The internal hard drive is bad. When it gets bad enough even if your using an external, for some reason it kills the thing. Disconnecting it has bypassed the issue. You migh tas well pop that external drive into the unit directly since you own it and you will likely be fine. I had that happen once a while ago and that fixed the issue.
  7. squarej

    squarej Mentor

    Jul 25, 2007
    Is 2TB the largest drive you can replace the internal drive with?
  8. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

    Jun 24, 2007
    Northern VA
    Is 2TB the largest drive you can replace the internal drive with?

    On the HR2x receivers, yes.

    - Merg

    Sent from my iPad using DBSTalk mobile app
  9. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

    Aug 31, 2002
    When the x drive is connected, the system tries to mount that drive first, and if successful, does not mount the internal drive. If the x drive is missing or there is an issue with the eSATA connection, the internal will mount. So only one is mounted at a time (boo!), but both are powered at all times.

    If you have just the internal connected and that does not work (not indicated in your one-paragraph post, IIRC) that can point to the PS or the drive. It sounds like you had the x drive connected at all times. If you connect an x drive and that is problematic, and then disconnect the internal and it starts to work, that points to either the internal drive or the PS as well.

    But, a HDD drawing too much power is a very unlikely failure scenario. What might be more likely is a problem with the PS.

    What often happens to the PS is that the electrolytic filter caps dry out. These caps are there to smooth out the AC ripple into pure DC with no AC ripple component riding on top of the power. When they dry out, their value changes (fewer microfarads) and they do not filter the AC ripple as well. And this is dependent on the current draw. It may be that when you have one HDD connected, the PS is still under the Mendoza line and the ripple is not enough to futz with the microprocessor, yet with two drives connected, it is over the line, and the microprocessor will cause the unit to show some of the same symptoms of a failing drive (stuttering, dropouts, spontaneous rebooting even).

    You might want to lift the hood and visually inspect the filter caps (these will be the two largest can-shaped capacitors there) to see if there is any visible leakage or doming. If so, replace them. If not, you still may have aged capacitors that are creating ripple. It is pretty easy to see on an analog VOM (one with a true needle gauge); set for AC when measuring the output DC, and if the needle moves at all, there's your AC ripple.

    You can also bridge one of the caps briefly with another cap using clip leads (best to get two large caps of nearly any comparable size and bridge both; IOW, connect another large cap in parallel with each filter cap on the circuit board) and see if problems go away. If so, replace the caps. Be careful with the testing; electrolytics are polarized, meaning if you hook them up backwards, exciting things can happen.

    I was once nicknamed "sparky" in our shop when I replaced a cap and put it in backwards. I had my face 2 inches from it for about 45 seconds trying to see if I could find other issues, after plugging the unit back in and it still not working (I think it was a b&w monitor). About 5 seconds after I sat up straight, KAPOW! I was lucky enough to have good timing, but it still really got my attention. Coworkers still like to remind me of that whenever I get too cocky.
  10. Goldenjet

    Goldenjet New Member

    Jul 6, 2013
    Tomcat, Thanks for the reply, and insight. I may not have mentioned it in my original post, but I did try rebooting the unit with only the internal drive connected, and the results were the same, being the receiver would reboot itself after the second screen. So having one or both drives connected yielded the same result. Once I disconnected the power cable to the internal drive, that's when the receiver came back to life and has been working perfectly ever since. So yes, the problem lies either with the PS or internal HDD, but at this point I'm not going to press my luck and start tinkering with it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If the receiver should start acting up again, I will open it up and try testing the power supply and hard drive, and I would then post the results here. Thanks again for your help.
  11. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    to test your HDD on a PC (best way to find out its problem), use MHDD self-bootable CD, get SMART data before and after Scan with Remap=ON
    or try Victoria on Windows PC (it's free program) - see a few posts here, where users like you did use it and ask questions, posting snapshots ...

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