Home > Uncategorized > A Defect with the HD-PVR will eventually fail for all

A Defect with the HD-PVR will eventually fail for all

Wow, it’s been a rough month for my Media Center and this was the last thing I needed.  This morning when I switched to a channel that uses the HD-PVR, it gave me a “Weak signal” message and the blue bling light was going off and on.  Also it would on occasion show a frozen, but distorted video frame of the correct channel.  I assumed the satellite receiver was cutting in and out.  It was raining at the time so I thought maybe the picture is breaking up, so I switched over to the HDMI output on the Satellite receiver and it was crystal clear.  Uh oh.  Then I thought, maybe the SPDIF cable that feeds the audio to the HD-PVR got pinched.  When the digital audio goes out so does the video on the HD-PVR, but replacing the SPDIF cable didn’t fix it.  Then I noticed something odd.  The blue bling light was ever so slightly flickering.  I didn’t recall it ever flickering.  Then I noticed the power LED was doing it too.  So, I disconnected everything from the HD-PVR except the power, then power cycled it.  Still flickering.  I thought, it’s almost like it’s not getting enough power.  So, I tested the power adapter with my digital multimeter and it was putting out 5.16 Volts (it’s supposed to be 5VDC 2A output).  I guess that’s ok, but I still thought the power adapter was not right, so I borrowed the 5VDC 1.0A power adapter from my HDHomerun and the flickering was gone, but it would not start streaming, which is exactly what I would expect from an under powered device.  OK, so I decided to go to Radio Shack to get a replacement power adapter.  Threw DSC02256the kids in the car and off we went!  When we got to Radio Shack they had one, for $40!  Ridiculous!  A power adapter like that is worth no more than $10.  So we went to Arby’s for some food then home.  OK, now I went digging into my parts and found an old USB hub with a power adapter that had the perfect output.  So I cut the plug off the suspect power adapter and spliced it to my replacement.  I tested with a multimeter to make sure it was positive on the inside and negative on the outside and plugged it in….  YAY!  It lives.  The HD-PVR was running perfectly once again.  So I thought, what happened to the old one.  I have nothing to lose, so I cracked it open with a vice and whoa Nelly!  What I saw just made me DSC02260angry, so angry.  A capacitor had popped and another two were bulging.  And these are not the high quality metal cased Japanese ones…  oh no, these where the plastic wrapped cheapies commonly associated with Capacitor plague.  If you haven’t heard about it, here is my cliff notes version (go to wikipedia for the longer version): basically, a Chinese company stole the formula for the chemicals that go into the capacitor but they didn’t know what they wDSC02262ere doing and got it wrong.  But, they were able to undercut everyone because they didn’t spend any money on research and development.  So, their crappy mix found it’s way into a massive number of electronics, making them all ticking time-bombs.  The whole thing just makes me so angry.  Anyway, it is highly probable that all of the adapters that come with the HD-PVR will have the same problem eventually.  If your power adapter looks like mine below, be aware of the symptoms.  It is also likely that it could cause streaming to stop intermittently as the capacitor loses its capacitance.  I very nearly bought an new HD-PVR before I figured this out.  I wonder if this is to blame for some of the problems I’ve (and others) had in the past with the streaming failing sometimes.  It’s possible that if you pick a high bit rate for encoding and it draws more current, that the bad capacitors will not be able to provide enough power causing the streaming to stop momentarily.  It could also explain why some people never see the problem and others are plagued by random failures.  Just speculation.  And, it doesn’t completely explain everything because I have had solid/reliable performance for the last 6 months leading up to this failure.   

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jesse
    April 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the blog post. I just now (like in the past 20 minutes) have had an HDPVR fail in the exact same failure pattern — I found you by googling “hdpvr power cable failure”. Bothers the hell out of me, because I have an HDPVR c.2008 which has been recording nearly 24/7 with no issues. This one is c.2010 and has failed already! I was smart enough to try switching the cables and nailed it down to one of the NetBit bricks you show in your picture.

    I’m now pretty confident it was responsible for the strange behaviour we’d see sometimes — failing to start, getting stuck “on” while recording, I-frame wonkiness …

    The cap plague problem has bit me now more than twice… between PC power supplies and Samsung TVs and now the HDPVR power cable.

    I hope I can find something to replace it, because I’m not comfortable DIYing a power cable as you have done. $40 is not so bad compared to a new HDPVR which is what I was prepared to do.

  2. April 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Jesse,

    I’m glad the post was helpful. It’s always reassuring to see others are seeing the same issues. I decided the wire nuts are not a long term solution for me, so I just bought a couple of AC Adapters on ebay. I’ll post back here if they work. Right now, I think these are the specs:

    Output 5V DC 2.0 Amps (although I prefer 2.5 or 3 Amps)
    Barrel Plug: 5.5mm outside diameter and 2.0 or 2.1mm inside diameter (Negative outside and Positive inside the barrel)

    It looks like the Sony PSP and a D-Link router use the same specs. I bought one of each because the Sony probably has high quality components, but the D-Link puts out an extra 0.5 Amps which may add to stability…

    I ordered both from within the USA, so they should get to me within a week. We’ll see what happens…

  3. April 28, 2011 at 1:01 am

    OK, I got the D-Link 5V DC 2.5 Amp (output) adapter and the plug is a perfect fit and configuration for the HD-PVR. The model number is AF1805-A. They sell them right on Amazon. I got mine on e-bay for a bit less here:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200596043518

    I’ll also try the Sony when it arrives…

    • April 30, 2011 at 12:15 am

      Just got the Sony PSP adapter, but the barrel plug is way too small. I thought I had check the specs, but I clearly screwed that up. Meanwhile, the D-Link adapter is working well and appears to be a viable replacement!

      • Unfortunate
        November 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

        Hello. I’m aware this topic is very old. My PVR recently crashed, and I assumed it was the power supply. So I bought a d-link power supply, and it wouldn’t work for me. The blue LED on the front just blinked.

        Anything else I could try?

  4. September 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Hi valkyrie,

    how’s your D-Link adapter holding? Do you still get any sudden crash or is it 100% reliable?

    • September 2, 2011 at 8:47 am

      It’s still working perfectly. My HD-PVR has been powered on continuously since I replaced the power adapter and it streams for probably 2-4 hours per day.

  5. November 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    You ROCK! I was ready to throw it away when all it needed was a power supply.

  6. Wayne
    January 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    How do you crack these suckers open? I just had a second one fail on me and I want to check it out. I tried using a screwdriver but it just damages the plastic.

    • July 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I just stick the thing in a vice and clamp down until it breaks open.

  7. Fred Hamilton
    May 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    The same thing happened to me! I had a 2A USB charger, so I cut up a USB cable and spliced it into the cable from the original power supply. All is well, Thanks!

  8. July 3, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

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