Upgraded Apple TV to 250GB


I was tired of trying to squeeze exactly what I wanted onto my original 40 GB Apple TV. While the streaming worked ok, it was not perfect. I really wanted my entire library on the apple TV in the living room. I had been eyeing an upgrade, but held off until Apple TV take 2 came out. Once that was out, I gave it a couple of weeks, but finally gave in, picked up a 2.5″ EIDE drive for about $115 from OWC, and started the process.

I started followed the steps as outlined at this old engadget post, though this does not seem to work fully anymore, and I had to modify the steps near the end to get it to work.


The hardest part may have been the 1st step of peeling off the rubber bottom. I probably was not patient enough, and should have started with a putty knife. I ended up with a few small tears, but nothing disasterous. Since my unit is in a cabinet anyway, it doesn’t really matter… In fact, if the bottom does tear, putting on a four rubber feet may give it better airflow/cooling anyway. For now, I just put the sleeve back on with the tears.

I then had issues with my USB <-> IDE adapter… The power connection I have it is only for 3.5″ drives, and I couldn’t get enough juice with just the USB. My neighbor had a macally phr-250cc usb/firewire 2.5″ drive encolusre that he let me borrow, and that did the trick. Plenty of power on firewire. (I have since picked up a couple of the phr-250cc’s as they are pretty nice…)

Once that worked I made an image of the original Apple TV drive… From the terminal use diskutil list to find out which disk to use, and then the following command to make an image:

dd if=/dev/disk2 of=/Users/Sean/AppleTV.img bs=1024k (mine was disk3, and I actually did this on a different volume)

There is no progress indicator, but you can go in to the finder and do a get info on it, or use another terminal window and issue a killall -INFO <pid> and that will show you how many bytes have copied.

Once that is done, you disconnect the original Apple TV drive and connect your new drive. The engadget article says you can just do the following, which is copying the 1st part of the drive rather than the whole drive, to save time, but I tried this several times and had issues further in the process…
dd if=/Users/Sean/AppleTV.img count=1335 of=/dev/disk2 bs=1024k

So I finally gave up with that and found a comment later in the thread that just copied the whole drive as follows:

dd if=/Users/Sean/AppleTV.img of=/dev/disk3 bs=1024k

When that is complete, issue this:

diskutil list

diskutil eject disk3

And then:

gpt recover disk3
diskutil eject disk3

Then remove the old Media Partition based on what you see in diskutil list:

gpt remove -i 4 disk3
diskutil eject disk3

Then find the new start:
gpt show disk3

diskutil eject disk3

Then create the new partition, using the info from the last step.

gpt add -b 2732072 -i 4 -t hfs /dev/disk3 <== this number will vray based on your drive size

diskutil eject disk3

Engadget then has your format the partiion, but that did not work for me. Either the format would fail, or if it did work, the following steps would fail — either booting the Apple TV or trying to do a restore on it.

Instead, disconnect the HD, install it in the Apple TV, and power it up. When it has booted,do a Reset Settins and then Factory Restore. It will fill the media partition from the original size to all the space that is left on its own. One interesting thing is that it comes back on s/w version 1, but it upgrades to 2 with no problem.

I then configured iTunes to sync all 110 GB of my content, which took many hours.. I run mrtg on my base station, so you can se here I got around 25 Mbps via wireless to sync. I had a misconfig in which only 5 of my movies synced the 1st time, so that is what that second spike is…


It has been running fine and it is nice having everything there all the time, with another 120GB or so free to grow into. 🙂

Oregon Scientific Wireless Rain Gauge


This thing is a bit of a pain to set up — 8 screws to get into the outdoor units battery compartment! I guess that’s to reduce the chance of water getting in, but it seems a bit excessive. The other thing is the manual is terrible. I could not figure out how to get the indoor receiver to synch to the outdoor unit, until I went over and read the reviews on Amazon.com. Turns out the key is to hit the reset buttons with a paper clip on both units until they synch!

Now if only it would rain so I could see if it works. :-/ Seriously, I did test it by spraying water in and the counter does go up, so I guess that’s a good sign that it will work.


Home Network

I think things may be getting out of control. I have way too many devices and too many wires for my home network. At least I recently bought a shelf and moved it all out of a small cabinet, where it was getting too hot and way to cramped to work. Any time I needed to add a new cable for a new device, it was a nightmare trying to figure it all out. So I moved it all out and used velcro bands and twisties to keep the cables as short as possible. It’s still somewhat of a mess wire wise, and it would be good to get several 1′ and 2′ etherent cables.

Here’s a quick picture I took with my new logitech quickcam fusioin that I use for web conferencing/video chat:


And descriptions for each device:

  • Far Left on the floor: Belkin UPS with AVR
  • Top, hanging on wall: Another UPS, this one APC, with a USB into the PC for graceful shutdown.

Top shelf starting on left:

  • 160 GB USB 2.0 / Firewire external driveShared backup storage for various computers around the house. I built this by buying a cheap case and a simple IDE drive.
  • NetGear Wirless access point Used to get wireless signal to the rest of the house.
  • IOGear KVMP I use this to share one keyboard and mouse between the two main computers, my shuttle (see below) and my work thinkpad (not shown, it’s on the desk). I run the video direct from each computer to two monitors, so I’m not sharing the video. I do sometimes add a 3rd PC for short term work, in which cases I will share video on one of the monitors. This device also lets me share 2 USB peripherals.
  • Shuttle PC I built this a while back, runs mostly windows though does have debian on a partition. Had some problems buidling it, with voltage regulaters being replaced by shuttle once, and then having the motherboard completely replaced to fix some weird problems. Runs great now though the firewire ports seem to have a short. :-/

Bottom shelf starting on left:

  • NetGear 8 port Fast Ethernet switchSo that all my ethernet devices can talk to each other and get to the Net.
  • LinkSys Vonage RouterThis gives me a VoIP phone from Vonage, which works great. I do all my long distance and work calls from this phone now, for a low monthly flat fee. It has a WAN port that goes the DSL router and then an Ethernet port runs to the switch.
  • Sprint (Zyxel) DSL routerTo get to the Internet. It’s a bummer, but when I put this into briding mode instead of routing mode, so that my vonage router got the WAN IP, I lost the ability to run mrtg from my Internet server to my home network to monitor bandwidth usage, as the vonage box doesn’t support that. At some point I would like to solve that problem.

At least there’s a little more space. I’d like to add another shuttle type (small form factor) PC to run linux on, and I recently ordered a LinkSys NSLU2, which I will run linux on instead of the standard linksys firmware. Once you put linux on these, affectionaly known as slugs, the skies the limit. I plan to run an itunes music server, and ftp server, ssh, etc. I won’t move my things that need more stability that DSL here, such as my web server, mail server, etc. And then I’ll need at least one more, if not two, USB 2.0 hard drives to connect to the slug. So at that point I pretty much will be out of space.

What needs to happen is all these home devices need to be standardized to fit in a small home sized rack. 🙂

ihome ih5


I received the black ih5 for Christmas from my mom. We were looking to replace an aging and partial broken Nakamichi alarm clock/radio/cd player. There were two main reasons we wanted to replace that — the motor that lifted the CD cover was broken so you had to hold the back left arm as it raised and lowered, and the number of cables was ridiculous! There was a sub woofer, and a left and right speaker, with all the controls and CD unit built into one of those. But there were literally 10-15 cables to connect those 3 units, so all it did was collect cat hair and dust behind the bed.

So the ih5 is a nice replacement for that reason because there is just one cable for power. We hadn’t really used the CD player on the old unit that much recently, but now having the ipod there, it’s great to just turn on music in the room for a few minutes. You can also wake to the ipod, but so far the few times I’ve needed to use the alarm I’ve just used the buzzer.

The good:

  • ipod in the bedroom for lost of music
  • sound is relatively good for such a small unit
  • just one wire! 🙂
  • controls are all relatively intuitive

The bad:

  • The unit casts incredible light. It does have 3 settings, the highest of which is like a small black and white tv. Even the lowest setting is fairly bright so we have to cover it at night.
  • To control everything except on/off and volume of the ipod, you have to use the ipod controls. This unit would have been amazing if it would let you control everything via the alarm clock rather than the ipod. Maybe the next generation will have that.
  • The remote control is option and costs an additional $19.95.
  • Overall I’m happy with the unit and would recommend it to anyone with an ipod that wants music in their bedroom.