DigiFusion FVRT100

Personal Digital Recorder

2. Hard Disk upgrade

The second most common upgrade is the hard disk, partly because the 40Gb (80Gb on the FVRT150) doesn't hold very much (about 20 hours, double for the FVRT150) and sometimes because the hard disk might fail after a year or so.

You can't just plug in any old hard disk you have to hand though, as the FVRT units are a bit finnicky about which disks they will accept. This is partly due to the fact modern, fast hard disks take too much power and the plug in power supply which is supplied with the FVRT100 is only just capable of running the original unit and hard disk; any increase in power requirement will cause the unit to remain stuck in "hold" as it boots up.

The original brand of disk in the FVRT100 and 150 is a Maxtor Quickview, with a 40Gb or 80Gb capacity respectively. The disk spins at 5,400rpm, comparatively slowly to the 7,200 rpm found in most desktop PCs. It is, however, very frugal with its power requirements and the Digifusion only comes with a relatively low specified power unit so replacing the hard disk with a high power requirement is often unsuccessful unless you make certain modifications (involving a soldering iron) to the unit. Not for the faint hearted (or those with a warranty!).

This thread, on the Digital Spy forum is quite informative regarding the experiences, trials and tribulations and successes that forum members have had in upgrading the hard drive. Worth a read, even if you're not particularly technical.

Forum member Loonytoon has a web page with photos describing the procedure, for example.


To successfully upgrade the hard drive consider the following points:

  1. You need a better power supply than the original plug in type (rated at just 2 Amps). The newer 3A model supplied by Digifusion is fine, but DigiDaves 5A model is probably even better.
  2. You need another hard disk, of course. Check the forum for their suggestions. If you are not technical and don't understand how to flash disk bioses then steer clear of those drives regarding such a course of action (Spinpoints, for example). I'd love to recommend the Maxtor 80Gb as a replacement for the FVRT100 40Gb but frankly I just find it too noisy.
  3. The maximum disk space that the FVRT100 series will recognise is just 137Mb, so even if you whack in a 300Gb it will only recognise less than half its real capacity. Most forum users advocate putting in a 160Gb disk so the maxium space is recognised with minimal waste.
  4. A replacement hard disk is almost definitely bigger, height wise, which means the lid may be a tight fit. If the disk drive touches the top of the case, although this may help with dispersing the extra heat generated by a bigger (faster) hard disk, it will also generate more noise.
  5. The fan underneath the drive is often the most cause of noise, not the disk itself. Read the forum for ideas on how to reduce this.
  6. If you replace the hard disk and then boot up only to get stuck with the dreaded "HOLD" message, you have discovered the 5 volt sag problem. To correct this may involve soldering in a couple of capacitors or using a different brand of disk. Digital Spy forum here discusses in detail, with forum member 180dukebox generously supplying pictures of his capacitor upgrade - example here.
  7. There have been multiple reports (and I can substantiate them) of a successful hard disk but then finding the replacement firmware on that disk is not being loaded - the unit will revert to whatever version is in its chip. No one understands why although it is vaguely suspected that a 7,200 rpm disk takes longer to spin up and therefore be ready for the unit when it wants to load that firmware. This can be corrected by flashing the unit with an updated version of the software, see the Firmware Upgrade page for details.

 

Replacing your original disk with a laptop disk

Why would I want to do this?

The original disk in your FVRT100 (and even FVRT150/FVRT200) is not particularly large; you must disregard the marketing blurb on the box that says you can record a huge number of hours on the disk; this would require the use of the built in compression feature, which is particularly bug ridden and is the cause of endless woe (such as the entire library being wiped suddenly). The quality of compressed recording is also woeful, far below that of VHS tape.

You can record at normal (SP) quality for about 20 hours on a 40Gb disk; about 40 hours on a 80Gb disk. To increase the capacity to a maxiumum of about 60 hours of recorded material you can install a disk of either 120Gb or 160Gb (the extra storage above 130Gb is just ignored). As mentioned above, the FVRT units are a bit picky about which hard disks they'll work with, but the fact of the matter is that they also run quite hot due to the pitiful cooling fan installed under the hard disk, and the very tight fit within the unit.

If, however, you replace the standard sized (PC 3½") disk with a slightly more expensive (£ per GB) laptop (2½" disk) you realise some instant benefits: far cooler running, both for the disk and the unit generally, lower noise, and no requirement for the (noisy) cooling fan. The unit runs effectively silently, perfect for the lounge and bedroom environments.

OK, how do I do this then?

Just follow these simple instructions: full pictures provided!

 

Links

[0] Back to main FVRT100 page

[1] FVRT100 Firmware Upgrade page

[3] Power Supply Replacement page

[4] Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions

Digital Spy Personal Video Recorders Forum page (select DigiFusion)

Mousemat (webcrazy.co.uk) home page (this web site)