Mod Your Motorola Standard Definition PVR (DVR) With a Bigger Harddrive.




My box is the PVR-3080 model which means it's the standard definition. It's extremely easy to upgrade your Motorola PVR (DVR) with a bigger harddrive. (Definitely a 1-banana project on the Shade Tree Howler Monkey scale)

The stock harddrive is an 80 gig SATA and it just wasn't big enough for my needs. Ok, actually it was fine... I just like taking things apart and tweaking them! The specs claim you can record up to 60 hours of Standard Definition programming. However, I maxed the harddrive and was only able to hit about 42 hours of record time. The shows were a pretty even mix of 30min, 60min and 120min recordings.

Step 1: Items You'll Need.

To do this upgrade you'll need the following:

-A screwdriver
-A rotary tool (Dremel tm) with a grinder bit
-3 PC harddrive mounting screws (optional)
-A bigger SATA style harddrive (approx 160 gig recommended)

A quick note about the harddrive: I have read that you should only put 160 gigs worth of drive space in this box because it can only use that much - anything bigger is a waist of money and unused drive space. However, I bought a 250 gig drive because it was cheaper than smaller drives I was looking at and it works fine. At 99% full my new drive is holding 100 hours of recordings. Remember that that the original 80 gig could only hold 42 hours. The drive is 3 times bigger but is obviously not able to hold 3 times the amount of recordings. So the 160 gig rule seems to hold true.

Step 2: Open Your Digital Box

Stop here if you are concerned about this!


Opening the PVR is relatively easy to do as there are only 3 security screws and 1 anti-tamper plastic tab (looks sort of like an arrow head). Lucky for us we have anti-anti-tamper tools! What I originally did was grind off the screw heads with the rotary tool. In retrospect, I should have just ground a straight line across the screw heads so I could extract them with a flathead screw driver. Either way works but the second way, you don't fiddle around trying to get the screw stumps out before you can put it back together with new screws. Next grind off the plastic anti-tamper tab or cut it with a utility knife.

The top should slide back then pop up and off after this step is complete.

Step 3: The Guts!

Unplug the power and data cables from the harddrive. They are circled in yellow in the first photo.

Next remove the 4 mounting screws from the harddrive mounting bracket. They are circled in red in the second photo.

After removing the harddrive and bracket from the circuit board, flip over the bracket and remove the 4 retaining screws that attach the harddrive to the bracket.

Pop in yer new drive and reverse these last steps. By the way don't forget to re-attach the cables to the drive when re-assembling. It might sound obvious, but guess who (in his excitement) forgot to do this and couldn't figure out why he couldn't record anything!?!

Also this is where you can use the 3 PC screws to re-attach the box cover if you mangled the original security screws.

Almost there...

Step 4: Great Success!

Reconnect power to your box and of course the coax cables. The box should flash the front display for a moment then go black. Give it a few seconds to format the new drive then hit power. You should be back in business now. Mine fired up right away - as will 99% of all boxes.

If for some reason it doesn't load up, it is most likely having trouble getting going with the firmware. Call your cable provider and ask them to "refresh" your box. Failing that they can "hit" the box to try to push it back online.

Finally if that doesn't work, you can manually reset the box by holding down a combination of the buttons on the front of it. This wipes the firmware completely and re-downloads it from your provider. I won't get into that here, your provider can explain this to you.

Let me know what you think!

Ryan, out.



    • Arduino Contest 2019

      Arduino Contest 2019
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest

    15 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Haley, but you've got to update these links. Most of them are dead. Driving me cray cray. Geez!
    For anyone still looking to continue or contribute to this DVR hard drive hack, here's the right links.
    If they stop working, I've included the MPN. If you can't find them with one company at least you know what they are called so you can look elsewhere.

    DVR HardDrive Screwdriver: MPN 3.8mm-4.5mm-tamper-resistant-bit
    Anti Tamper Tab: MPN n-usa-security-pin
    DVR official screws: MPN security-screw-8

    Get it all separately or get the complete set that includes everything:
    MPN security-screwdriver-bit-set-105

    Especially found this article helpful, it breaks down all the parts

    If you think the bic pen is the way to go, then jog down to the local mega mart, pick up some matches and bic pens. burn and enjoy.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    When you replace your hdd in the Motorola DCH6416/5380/000/160 model, hold down the Power and Format buttons on the front to force a format of the new drive and a reset of your DVR.

    Be patient. It can take up to 2 hours to get your program listings back. (This will not save any programs saved to your old drive, but will get your new drive online.)

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Just in case you want the manuals for the DCH6416...

    some important items you will need if you want to leave the dvr original to return it to timewarner or comcast:
    Plastic anti-tamper tab you can get them here:

    original motorola dvr screws, trust me if you dont change these back you will get busted:

    one more thing, get the right tool to open it here:

    that should make things right. very good tutorial, make sure you read through it. :)

    3 replies

    you mean the screws for the Motorola dvr, a quick search gave me this...

    let me know if that helps


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The boxes used by cable companies just like this model are sent from Motorola in Mexico using a Linux based program that when you try to read it from a windows based pc, forget about it and unless you have the exact "secret" version of linux they used on these boxes, you won't be able to transfer to your pc and the formatting used on these boxes and hard drives do not allow for copying straight from HD to disc.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The HD DVR already has a puny 160GB HDD, so swapping another 160GB into it is a waste of time.

    What all us Verizon FiOS HD DVR users NEED is the means to drop-in a 500GB or larger HDD.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Oh that's too bad! In our system the original HD boxes only had 60 gig drives. Seems like an oversight to limit the boxes to 160 gigs.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Did you see if you could get the recorded shows off of the old hard drive? I would be interested in seeing what format they are in, or if the files are even accessible.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I tried reading the old drive with my PC but it couldn't read anything. Also by connecting to the PC it corrupted the shows because when I put it back in the PVR it had been wiped.