03
Aug
15

DGTech PVR Tear down

Having done some cleaning up recently I have finally started to make my workspace usable again. So today I decided to take a look at some hardware I’ve been meaning to tear apart for salvage. My old DGTech DG-HDPVR5009 set top box that doesn’t tune into signals properly anymore.

DGTech PVR

I got this unit about 7 years ago and it had served me well for quite some time. It had a 500Gb hard disk in it so I could store quite a large collection of recordings and two tuners so I could record and watch TV at the same time. Unfortunately it started having trouble receiving recently. Lets look inside.

PVR insides

There’s not much to the insides of a modern device like this. From the look of the available space they could have made this much smaller. A Seagate hard disk dominates the space obscuring the view of the mainboard and to the left is the power supply.

PATA to SATA

Upon removing the hard disk I found this IDE (also known as PATA or ATA) to SATA converter. This one allows a SATA device to be used with a more traditional IDE interface card. Most converters I saw in the day were the other way around, and in a device like this I would have expected a direct SATA connection instead.

Converter chip  Here is the converter chip that does the work on the adapter. It is a JM20330 JMicron part. I couldn’t determine much from the data sheet except that it supports CD/DVD drives as well as the usual hard drives. It appears that this chip was made on the 29th week of 2008.

The PVR main boardThe main board on the right here is fairly minimalistic. What looks like two RAM chips are over to the left of the main SoC which has a heatsink attached. It must do most of the work as there are few support chips any where else on the board. you can see a couple of the buffer chips at the bottom right which are used to provide the IDE interface.

Not much to look at here, and not much to salvage apart from the expected hard drive so far.

VFD display

Until I took the front panel apart and found this VFD just begging to be hacked. This board has all the front buttons, the display and the IR receiver all in this one handy package. The two plugs just below the display are the interface, the 3 pin one connects to the power supply and the other to the main board. I suspect this will be a simple serial interface of some kind that we could perhaps hack for our own purposes.

Display Controller?On the flip side of the board there is what appears to be a micro-controller. It is however a VFD driver and controller chip. With its data sheet and a bit of work I might very well be able to get the display to work. Although what exactly I’ll do with such a display I haven’t worked out yet.

In the end I’ve at least salvaged a useful hard drive, SATA adapter, some wiring and perhaps a usable VFD. The other components are less useful as I don’t have the skills to hack SMT or the chips on the mainboard. I may be able to use the chassis to mount the front panel and any project inside, but it does take up a bit too much space. I’ll have to sit and think about what the ultimate fate of this device will be.

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