My 750 gig Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Cave Man, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Ok, not really. But it can be. And for pretty cheap.

    For those who've been following this forum for the past few weeks you've seen a couple of threads about connecting a 3.5" drive to the Apple TV. I have done it, and it works.

    First thing I did was to put the ATV drive image onto the 3.5" drive using a commonly-employed method. I have an image of my original 1.0 ATV drive sitting on my Mac's hard drive. After I put the image onto the 3.5" drive, I used iPartion to expand the Media partition of the drive. This made a clone of my original 40 gig ATV drive, except for the larger Media partition.

    Balamw turned me onto the 2.5" to 3.5" IDE adapter and I found one at PC Connection for only $4.70. I had to punch a hole in this adapter with a pin (below the 'x' in photo atv1.jpg) to take a pin from the ATV logic board, but that's all I really had to do. I connected a standard ribbon cable that ships with all IDE internal drives between the adapter and an old IBM 80 gig drive that I had laying around, gave it a power source, and that was it.

    All one would have to do is buy a 750 gig PATA drive (the largest currently available), the adapter and a cheap external enclosure to power the 3.5" drive - all for about $160. Put the ATV and new drive in a place that would be protected from accidents and you'd have a lot of hard drive space. Who knows, you might even be able to initialize two 750 gig drives as a single 1.5 TB volume using master/slave configuration off of the drive. Tiger (the ATV's OS) supports it, so I suspect it would work.

    My ATV has been put back together with its rather anemic 160 gig hard drive. Not sure if I'll go ahead with a permanent mod. But who knows? Now that we have 720 content and Handbrake 0.9.2 with AC3 audio, it might be worth while. :D

    And I guarantee you, if I were buying an ATV today I'd pick up the 40 gig model and spend the savings on a 750 gig external drive.

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  2. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    (Edit: please ignore - usb cannot supply juice to 3.5" drives.)

    Does anyone know if the USB port on the ATV is powered? I'm going to need a power source for my 3.5" drive and would like to tap that port if if supplies voltage.

  3. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    SATA drive for the ATV?

    I'm curious to know if there are any crazy people out there (besides me). I came across this bridge:

    It allows a SATA drive to be connected to a PATA interface. Since the 2.5" PATA drives max out at 250 gigs, it might be possible to put a 2.5" SATA drive (current largest is 500 gigs) into the ATV. I'm not sure if there's enough room for this adapter (and perhaps other one above) plus the SATA drive. Hmm....
  4. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Or you could not play McGyver and just put external hard drives on your AirPort Extreme Base Station and put all your videos on there. In essence, I have a 1040 GB ATV by doing this (not counting HDD space on the iMac).
  5. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I don't like to stream. My AC3+AAC movies stutter when streaming. Plus, I don't want to compete for bandwidth with other wireless users in my home. Finally, I love to tinker! :D
  6. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    eSATA for the Apple TV

    (Edit 5/15/2008: The PATA2SATA controller doesn't work with a ribbon. Instead, pick up Syba's controller, for less than $15 at various places.)

    Ok, so maybe 750 gigs isn't enough. :) I think I'm going to need 1 TB. Of course no such drive exists with a PATA interface that the ATV has. So...I needed a SATA interface, preferably eSATA so that I can buy a fanless stand-alone aluminum enclosure eSATA drive.

    I bought the StarTech IDE to SATA adapter (PATA2SATA) from PC Connection ($28) and connected it to the 44-pin to 40-pin adapter. I had to provide it a source of current, apparently both 12v and 5v - it's not documented. (I don't suppose anyone knows of 12v and 5v lines that are accessible in the ATV?) I connected it to a 2.5" SATA drive that I had imaged my Apple TV hard drive on and it booted up just fine.

    The adapter is smaller than the hard drive, so it should fit without any trouble at all. However, I need a right-angle at the logic board's PATA interface to clear the bottom panel, so I'll need to buy a 44-pin M/F extension ribbon. I've found a source, but shipping is more expensive than the cable. At any rate, I'm going to see how this works out and I may make it a permanent solution.

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  7. MikieMikie macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Newton, MA
  8. Volante macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2008
  9. lowonthe456 macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2007

    can you elaborate on this? I currently have an airport express but could go that route. I haven't yet purchased an :apple:tv becuase the 40 gig fits my price point but i'd ideally want to rip *ALL* of my DVD's into my :apple:tv to make it a media server.

    I get disappointed tho as it seems more and more that a mini is a better investment becuase of the weak hd capacity of the :apple:tv. I don't have a bunch of money to spend so I want to spend it wisely.
  10. OlBlueHair macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2008
    I have airport express, which is G, not Wireless N, and it streams fantastically with zero problems...Here is what I do:

    Mac Pro has a 500 GB external connected to it. Leave the computer on. Stream to your 40 GB Apple TV. That's all there is to it.
  11. tronic72 macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2007
    I agree 100%. No need for that sort of storage unless you like to take your ATV away (holiday house, nanna's house etc)

    My 2c
  12. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Or unless you've got a laptop which isn't on all the time, gets taken to work/away with you on business etc. etc. In that case you're either looking at buying a mini to act as a server or syncing your content to the ATV (or both).
  13. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    I thought the ATV Hacks open up the USB port so you can add any standard USB drive to it...

    Got to love a hacker though! Just upgraded the CPU in my iMac, messed up my wireless though :eek:
  14. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Not to mention competition for bandwidth. We have three wireless Macs in our house. Smoother ff/rr, etc. And if 720/DD content becomes available, it might be ugly over wireless.

    Did you check your antenna wires?
  15. ratter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2008
    I came || this close to hacking into my 40GB ATV soon after I got it. But when I looked at what I had unused G4 ibook and a 500GB external drive, I ended up using the iBook as the media server with the media stored on the 500GB drive. Stowed it all down in the basement next to the furnace.

    The iBook is connected via 100BaseT ethernet to my N network. My main machine is a MBP, which I didn't want to dedicate to media server duties. I rip DVD's on the MBP and copy them to the iBook via file sharing and then use screen sharing to remotely add the movies to iTunes on the iBook.

    Performance is great. It only takes a couple of seconds for a movie to start, and ffwd/rwd works very well. Skipping between chapters is instantaneous. And I also like the fact that if I decide that I want a second ATV in another room, it's just another 200$ and all my media is ready to go and I don't have to hack the 2nd ATV.

    I have 60ish DVDs ripped so far. It's nice to still have 300+ GB left on the external. Plus, I can use the external for normal backup duties too.
  16. ceehjayem macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2006
    This is a pretty cool trick. I have over 250GB of videos at the moment and would like to at least have a TB just for my videos. Awesome work.
  17. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Cave Man, did you every go ahead with your mod ? I am looking into something similar and like that sata to pata bridge chip you linked to.
  18. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I've just spent the last hour trying to get it to work, but I've encountered a problem that I can't figure out. If I connect the SATA controller directly to the logic board (via a 44-pin to 40-pin adapter), my SATA drives boot just fine (both 2.5" and 3.5" eSATA). But if I put a 44 pin ribbon cable between the logic board and the adapter, then the ATV acts as if the drive is missing (question-mark drive icon). I metered the voltage off the 44-pin adapter and if it's connected directly to the logic board I get 5v through the line (from the ATV's 44-pin bus - see photo). However, with the cable in place, the voltage drops to 4.2v. I wonder if that is enough to cause the problem? It may be that there's insufficient voltage through the cable to power the SATA controller.

    At any rate, I connected my 500 gig Seagate eSATA drive to it (sans ribbon cable) and it worked perfectly well. It was amazing how fast I could forward/reverse scan and jump between chapters. It was also nice to see 460 gigs available. :D I want this to work, but I need to resolve the voltage problem.

    BTW - StarTech informs me the SATA controller only needs the 5v line; the 12v line is apparently a dead end.

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  19. zainjetha macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2007
    How come its 750 and ur TV shows 450? Id much rather get a mac mini and hook it to a 1TB external and go from there.

    Oh and keep my warranty.
  20. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    You might re-read my previous post. I have a 500 gig eSATA drive.

    I have that, too (see my sig). But the ATV is much more convenient for our TV setup. Plus, it autodetects if I'm using my DD receiver or just the TV, then selects the proper audio track (AC3/AAC). The Mini (or any Mac) cannot do that.

    You must be new to the ATV. Mine's over a year old - and out of warranty.
  21. vansouza macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2006
    West Plains, MO USA Earth
    Good Lord...

    What is the USB port for on the :apple:TV? I thought it was for an external drive... was I wrong...?
  22. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    That USB port is for "diagnostic" purposes only (according to Apple). But you can mod the ATV's OS to permit it to take an external drive. Not sure how its performance is, though. I can't imagine it's as fast as PATA or SATA (which is extremely fast).
  23. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Awesome Cave Man ... Simply Awesome. SO I assume you spent the 16 bucks on the controller then. :)
  24. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    I was thinking eSata as well. with a proper setup and a dremel, you could have a decent hack allowing you to simply plug into an external eSata drive enclosure (which are becoming very plentiful). Nice.
  25. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    EDIT: sorry, just reread and realized you are already trying to use a ribbon cable hence the power issue. Sorry.

    Sorry to keep in hitting on this, but I am very interested. Cave Man it looks like your using basically this right off the connector on the atv logic board. which of course means everything is pointing straight up (actually down, but considering your atv is upside down of course in your picture, its actually up). Which of course means the bottom of the atv cannot be re-attached at this point. Ultimately of course the final solution would be great if the bottom could be reattached to the atv and most of the connectors kept inside the atv except for a hole made for the cable to the remote drive ( eSata is my thought here). So instead of the adapter you ended up using, I wonder if something like this could be used since you could fold the extra ribbon cable up inside the atv and possibly fit your PATA to SATA Bridge inside as well. Since the atv's internal drive wouldnt be needed, do you think there would be room ? I realize that this does not solve your voltage issue, but I am curious on your thoughts on this. Would be great to just have an eSATA connector coming out of the atv. Then any external drive with eSATA, USB 2.0 interface would be extremely easy to work with. USB 2.0 for the drive formatting on the mac, and the eSATA interface to plug into the atv.
    Thoughts ?

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