Presenting Hackit – got a better idea?

I came back from a quick road trip with a trunk full of hackable hardware. After grabbing a little caffeine this morning, I thought we’d try something different for those slow Sundays. I’m going to come up some interesting hacking kit, point out a few classic hacks for it, and challenge you guys to come up with something better. Every so often, we’ll be sending some of said hardware to the most worthy of commenters. Read on to check out our first ‘Hackit’ challenge.

Let’s start things off with a classic: The TiVo. TiVos got some major interest as soon as the words ‘Linux’ and ‘TiVo’ were uttered together. The hacking scene for the hardware has some odd quirks. Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about hacking them is buried in the forums at deal database. Most of the hacks are geared toward video extraction or adding features like networking or on screen caller ID.
Today, older TiVo’s are dirt cheap. Just about every sattelite/cable/fiber company will provide a DVR for a small fee. So, what can we do with all that nice, integrated video hardware? Make a cheap disguised file server? Roll your own security DVR? Use them to stream video feeds from inexpensive cameras? Re-work the faster one’s into networked media players? Or is there a better way to slave them into a MythTV network? (I’ve never been into the latter since my local cable is junk and the dual tuner sattelite units are cheaper per tuner.)

So, got a better idea? Lets hear it.

55 thoughts on “Presenting Hackit – got a better idea?

  1. so will… we’ve had a lot of interesting ideas so far. what is your take on them?

    to comment 49…

    “it looks like the Tivo
    isn’t an ideal platform for much at all”

    but, it is still an interesting, relatively compact piece of hardware that is pretty flexible and has a large and knowledgeable enthusiast community

    more importantly, the old ones are becoming obsolete fast, so if you have one already (i don’t though), you might be able to do some cool projects with it instead of just tossing it in the trash

    if your goal in doing a project is only the end result, you might be better off getting exactly the hardware that your project requires. however, theres definitely something to be said for implementing a project using scrap components that weren’t meant for what you’re doing.

    minimize cost by maximizing creativity… and plus, its fun to tinker even to no practical end

  2. I think you should use them as a Network Media Player (cough iTv cough), and install a HTPC frontend (we all love linux). MythTV or something like that. Be able to stream internet radio, music from other machines, stick some legally (had to say it) ripped movies on there, etc etc. I mean we all love HTPC’s, and Tivos just look so nice sitting next to the other equipments. Oh and maybe stick on a web browser and wireless keyboard for kicks, like the MSN TV. I’m a fan of doing everything from the sofa, so use that as the end goal. I’m what most like to call lazy. Integrated home automations would be totally awesome too.

  3. 21. Put it inside something (i.e. wall, tv, oversized surge protector… as long as it wouldn’t look odd to have ethernet cables coming out) and hook it onto your network to save your warez and Bittorrent gains to it, that way when the government comes to take your down, they don’t find a thing. Could also be used as a DMZ in a Code Red situation.

  4. I’ve been using my series 1 Tivo for about 7 years now. Luckily I bought a lifetime subscription for it so I’ve never had to worry about fees.

    If you want to run your own programs on it most of the work has already been done for you. The cross compilation tools are available so that you can port anything that doesnt require a gui.

    With networking enabled it is pretty easy to take a video file and insert it into the Tivo. This is a great thing for the kids/girlfriend/wife since they usually don’t want to watch the latest Greys Anatomy on the computer.

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