This blog is for all my Hawaii television addicts.
Since I rarely have time to watch live television, my Oceanic Time Warner DVR is constantly filled to max capacity. This means I’m always battling my inner demons on what shows I have to erase… Rock of Love, A Shot at Love, Flavor of Love… you know, all the good stuff. To solve my problem, I’ve finally decided to invest the $150 to upgrade my DVR and increase its total number of recording hours.
Luckily for you, I’ll walk you through the steps to upgrade your own DVR!
Before you can upgrade your DVR, you’ll need to make sure that you have the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD. Just match what your DVR looks like to the one in the picture. It’s not that hard. This is what mine looks like: the front and the back. I do know for a fact that Oceanic has a few versions of their cable boxes out in the wild. I’m pretty sure you can upgrade (some of) the other models as well, but I’ve personally only upgraded the 8300HD. So if you want to be ballsy and upgrade a different cable box, feel totally free – just be warned that this guide won’t apply to you. I’m not even sure if you can still turn in your old cable box because of the demand for HDTV in Hawaii, but calling up Oceanic can’t hurt.
Aside from owning an 8300HD, you’ll need three additional components to make this upgrade work. I’ve included links to where I purchased the following items. Fear not, I don’t make any commissions on these links so feel free to buy these products from anywhere you see fit.
- 1 external SATA enclosure (I used a KingWin from Fry’s for 30 bucks.)
- 1 SATA/IDE harddrive (I used a Maxtor 500 GB for about a 100.)
- 1 SATA to eSATA cable (I used a 6 ft cable from Monoprice.com for 5 bucks.)
Here are a few pictures of the aforementioned items.
First, make sure your 8300HD is turned off. Place the hard drive into the external enclosure. Next, after connecting the external SATA enclosure to the 8300HD (with the SATA to eSATA cable), power the external hard drive before turning the DVR box back on. Note, it’s extremely important that the external SATA enclosure be turned on prior to the cable box being powered on. Once booted, the 8300HD should recognize a new, external data source and prompt you to format the new drive. The following message should appear:
Once formatted, you should see a success message:
Voila! DVR Upgraded!
There are numerous benefits to increasing your DVR’s total recording time.
- No more having to rush home because you forgot the DVR is full.
- No more making those life-altering decisions about what movies to delete.
- Being able to store almost a year’s worth of reality crap is fun!
Of course, there’s the almost 4X increase in the DVR’s recording time as you can see by the following before and after pictures. Not bad!
There’s no such thing as a free pass in life… so here are a few of the cons.
- As I wrote earlier, the external hard drive needs to be powered on before your cable box. This means one of two things. Either you always turn the external drive on first or leave it on permanently. Since I know I could never remember to do the former, I’ve decided to leave the device on permanently – meaning a slightly larger electricity bill. As someone trying to get off the grid, that makes me sad.
- You can’t rip the recorded video off the external hard drive. Unfortunately, the data is encrypted. Unless you’re a cryptographic expert, worked on the 8300HD, or have a few Beowulf clusters, deal with it. You won’t be able to share your recordings.
- $150 bucks is a lot to spend on easing one’s mind, but I think it’s money well spent considering the prices here and here.
Of course I couldn’t have upgraded my DVR without the Internet. Here’s a link to the forums and guides I read to assist me along the way. Check them out, some of them are quite interesting.
- Scientific Atlanta 8300HD User Guide
- AVSForum’s SA 8300 HD Tips & Tricks — SARA thread
- Scientific Atlanta 8300HD SARA eSATA Database
Finally, check out my flickr set if you need to see any more pictures!