HD-FOX - Record on a 16GB USB stick

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
It is possible for the HD-FOX to record on a 32GB USB stick: see the original thread here. I have recently confirmed this, but not success is not universal: see here.
Recording on a USB stick with a capacity lower than 32GB has not been reported before. The unit reserves 20GB for time shift recording so will not allow anything smaller to be assigned as the recording drive.
It is well known on the HDR-FOX that, if you mount another HDR-FOX as an NFS share, the unit's drive space calculations are affected. In essence, it seems to add the free space of the two units together and then does the same for the used space. It is different on the HD-FOX in that the capacity of the attached USB device appears doubled. This made me wonder if the HD-FOX could be tricked into recording onto a 16GB USB stick. After doing some testing, I found that you don't need to have an NFS share mounted, or even have the NFS-utils package installed! Installing the network shares automount package is enough for the USB capacity to appear doubled, even if you don't have any active shares.
This is what I tried. I took a 16GB Sandisk 'Cruzer Fit' drive (about 1 year old, not sure if USB 2.0 or 3.0) and formatted as EXT2. I then connected it to a HD-FOX with custom firmware (1.03.02/ CFW 3.03) installed, after disconnecting the attached USB hard drive. I then booted the HD-FOX. The drive space chart is below:
16-1.jpg

I installed the network shares automount package. This caused the size of the USB stick to appear to be double its actually capacity. On looking in >Settings>System>Data Storage and the 'Select the HDD for PVR' option was not greyed-out. I selected it and it worked:
16-3.jpg
About 9GB is available for recording.

I tried a manual recording and it was successful:
16-2.jpg

However, once you reboot, the USB stick loses its record designation so you have to activate it again. So currently, timer recordings won't work. It might be possible to fix this though, perhaps by creating a script to run the 'assignhd' diagnostic at start-up, or by scheduling this as a cronjob? If anyone has suggestions I'd be happy to try them out.
I also tried this with a Transcend 16GB USB3.0 stick (about 3 years old) but it did not work. It seems that not all USB sticks will work. I noticed with the Sandisk USB stick that the format option was available in the HD-FOX Data Storage menu: both when it was formatted as FAT32 and as EXT2. I was able to format to EXT2 using the HD-FOX (maintenance mode). The option to format the Transcend USB stick was greyed-out when in FAT32 format, I could not format to EXT2 in maintenance mode and when formatted as EXT2 (using a laptop running Ubuntu) the option to format in the Data Storage menu was greyed-out: as was the 'Assign HDD for PVR' option. The 'assignhd' diagnostic also failed to make it recordable. The sample size (n=2) is small, but it does seem that if the HD-FOX cannot format the USB stick, it is less likely to be able to record to it.

Edit. After running the 'assignhd' diagnostic, a reboot is required to make a USB drive available for recording. The ability to record to a 16GB USB stick is not retained after a reboot, so running 'assignhd' would not have the desired outcome.
 
Last edited:
OP
MontysEvilTwin

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
I've seen the flaw in my plan. The assignhd diagnostic needs a reboot, and a reboot breaks the recording link. It might be made to work by storing the UUID in flash and updating the relevant database before the humaxtv process starts but it is probably not worth the effort of trying to make it work.
 
OP
MontysEvilTwin

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
Failed how? All it does is create 3 directories and a file, so what didn't it do and why?
The hard drive didn't get assigned as recordable. Thinking about it, a reboot is required after running this diagnostic and with a USB stick less than 32GB, the reboot would break the assignment. As to why the HD-FOX couldn't format one of the 16GB drives but could the other, and why the option to assign the former as the recording drive using the remote was greyed-out, but worked for the latter, I don't know.
 
OP
MontysEvilTwin

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
To clarify, running 'assignhd' creates 'Video', 'Audio' and '.tsr' folders in '/media/drive1' and saves the UUID in the file '/var/lib/humaxtv/ext_hdd_info'. Presumably then at start-up, the humaxtv process checks that the UUID in this file matches that of the attached USB drive and checks the drive capacity. If the UUID values match and the drive is large enough, it allows recordings to be saved on the drive. So whatever it is that the network shares automount (NSA) package does to make the drive capacity appear larger than it actually is must happen after the drive check has been carried out, requiring the drive to be assigned for PVR use with the remote control again.

Out of interest I set up a timer recording (AR) from the EPG. The HD-FOX came out of standby 18 minutes before the scheduled recording start. When it detected the AR signal it tried to start the recording, it failed and the unit shut down. So if the NSA 'trick' could be made to happen before the drive check by the humaxtv process it would probably make timer recordings work. This might not be easy to do and probably isn't worth the effort just to make a 16GB USB stick recordable. I think it is interesting though that we are still finding out new things about the HD-FOX.

If you have a HD-FOX with a 32GB or 64GB USB stick and you install the NSA package, I think there is a possibility that you will be able to use the full capacity of the drive for recording. For example, with a 32GB drive the HD-FOX will reserve 20GB for TSR leaving about 9GB of actual recording space. With NSA installed the drive will appear to have a capacity of about 58GB: minus 20GB of reserved space = 38GB. If you leave the time shift recording feature switched off you should then have the full 32GB (29GB of actual space) available. I am quite confident that a manual recording will work with less than 20GB of free drive space and NSA installed, as will a timer recording when the box is left fully awake. I am not sure if a timer recording from standby will work with less than 20GB free space. I might test this.

I had to do a bit of poking around to find out where the UUID is stored and find out exactly what the 'assignhd' diagnostic does: is there an easy way to get this information for the custom firmware diagnostics?
 
Top