April 27, 2010 9:47 AM   Subscribe

I now have a TIVO and a DirecTV antenna. Can I connect them together to do anything cool?

Well, my uncle gave me an 18 Inch x 20 Inch Triple LNB DIRECTV Multi-Satellite Dish Antenna -- KT1820BXLNB... and a TiVo TCD649080 Series-2 80-Hour Dual Tuner Digital Video Recorder. It seems to me that the antenna could be connected to the Tivo, and maybe pointed at the right spot in the sky for some free channels? Can the Tivo be used as the satellite tuner? Am I dreaming, or do I need to sign up and pay for two different services, and/or throw these items back in the trash?
posted by shipbreaker to Technology (8 answers total)
What you suggest is not legal.

You have to pay for (or steal) Direct TV service.

You have to pay for TIVO service in order for a tivo unit to be anything other than a DVR.

You'll need to pay for some sort of service (cable or direct TV) , either one will probably provide you with a DVR, making the TiVo useless.
posted by HuronBob at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2010

Nope. The DirecTV satellite feed is encrypted and you need a subscribed account for the video to be decrypted in the receiver. Even if you did subscribe, TiVos don't get the programming data to accurately control and record DirecTV receivers.

You could sell them on ebay or take them apart for parts or take them to an e-waste recycler, but please don't just put them in the trash.
posted by sharkfu at 10:06 AM on April 27, 2010

The tuners in the TiVo are for tuning terrestrial analog TV, while DirecTV is a digital broadcast. And the frequencies and all that are wrong. The TiVo also won't produce the power necessary to run the LNB, which is in the antenna part of the dish. And then (as others point out) the DirecTV signal is encrypted and needs an access card to decrypt.
posted by kindall at 10:11 AM on April 27, 2010

Someone gave me a series 2 TIVO with lifetime service. Here's what I did:

Got an over-the-air digital tv converter box (with the coupon it was $15, but coupons are over).

Got an IR blaster cable from TIVO for $7. Plugs into TIVO and positions in front of digital converter's IR sensor for the remote control. Allows TIVO to change channels on digital converter.

Got the wireless adapter from TIVO for about $45. A suitable substitute may work for less money, but this one has the cute TIVO logo on it. This connects to my wireless internet router and gets the programming information from TIVO service.

Transferred the TIVO account from former owner. Maybe not necessary if you have all the passwords and junk.

Put up exterior terrestrial TV antenna to receive digital OTA television. I live in the city and even the most expensive indoor antenna was not adequate.

All this done and BAM! TIVO'd over-the-air digital TV. No more cable/satellite bill. Directv dish languishing unused on roof.

Depends on whether you can get OTA digital signal so YMMV.
posted by Fortnight Bender at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Plain' ol D-link USB wifi dongle works on our Series 2 TiVo for network access. Paired with an OTA antenna as Fortnight suggests it would work just fine.

Without lifetime service, the TiVo runs something like $12-$18 a month or so for subscription fees. We have always paid for lifetime so not sure what the cost is now. Good news is that lifetime travels with the TiVo, not the owner. Bad news is that your Series 2 might not have had lifetime service from the prior owner.

TiVo's site says it doesn't work with satellite. As far as I know, there's no way to make it do so.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2010

I don't think you can buy lifetime service anymore. I paid $12.95 a month for service for mine.

Without the service, you can hook it up to your existing television system. It will pause live TV, and that's it. It will not record programs for you. It will not download the guide with upcoming programs. It will be very limited functionality.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:19 AM on April 27, 2010

The 649-series dual-tuner TiVo is technically cable-only, though if you have a converter box in the middle, especially one that outputs to composite or S-Video, you can wangle it with OTA. The S2 TiVos are also pretty much useless without service: you can pause/rewind/forward live broadcasts, but you can't record -- some S1s can be used as manual digital recorders.

You could conceivably set up something like pyTivo and use it as a media server, uploading digital files, though it's probably more hassle than a HTPC these days -- plus, I have no idea if it works without activation.

You're not going to get it to play nice with the DirecTV dish.

Don't trash them -- see if craigslist (or, at a pinch, freecycle) will dispose of them to people who can put them to use.
posted by holgate at 12:09 PM on April 27, 2010

aabbbiee - We bought an HD TiVo earlier this year, with lifetime service. It's still available. Not sure if you can buy it for an existing system or if it needs to be purchased with a new one though, and it may only have been available because we were already TiVo owners.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:07 PM on April 27, 2010

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