Wireless TiVo Connection

How to set up a Series 2 TiVo with an Apple AirPort (802.11b) Wireless Network

Background

When my DSL provider went out of business, I decided to go with cable modem instead of getting DSL with a different provider with the goal of getting rid of my landline phone altogether. With that change, the TiVo was the only thing I had that still needed a landline phone for. I use my cell phone (Treo 300, recommended) for just about everything anyway so if I could get the TiVo to get data over the internet via our home network, I could cancel my landline phone and save about $20 a month which more than justifies the cost of the TiVo, right? One problem – our network connections are all upstairs and the TiVo is downstairs. We do have a wireless network though… so I figured I’d give it a shot. I read up a bit on the tivocommunity.com message boards – basically, you connect a USB-to-Ethernet Adapter to the USB port on the TiVo, then connect a Wireless Ethernet Bridge to the USB-to_Ethernet Adapter. It took too many hours of tweaking and trial and error, but it finally works. I am quite pleased. I decided to write up the steps I took in hopes that it will help someone else who is trying to set up a similar configuration.

NOTE: This will not work at all with DirecTiVo (there is no known work-around) until the USB ports are enabled on those units by TiVO and DirecTV. (added April 21, 2003)

I have gotten a lot of mail asking why I didn’t just get the Linksys WUSB11 USB-to-Wireless adapter or a similar product. Unfortunately, you cannot currently use a USB-to-Wireless adapter with a TiVo as there is no way to properly configure the adapter. You can read more on this at tivocommunity.com. Although to be honest – I did not try myself, I took other people’s word for it. If you somehow make it work, please let me know – it would be a lot cheaper and more convenient.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that the reason that the Linksys WUSB11 won’t work with Tivo is that the WUSB11 gets its power from the PC’s USB port. Since the USB port on a Tivo box isn’t a powered port you must use the USB to Ethernet converter (USB100M) and an external power source for the WET11. Thanks Brad. (added March 4, 2003)

UPDATE: I understand that the Linksys WUSB11 will be supported as part of the new TiVo Home Media option for TiVo Series 2 units. (added April 11, 2003)

My Network Configuration

I have a DSL/Cable modem attached to the uplink port of a hub. I have an AirPort Base Station (which is acting as my router/DHCP server) attached to the hub, along with my desktop computer. I have several laptops connected to the network wirelessly.

                          Desktop Computer        (TiVo with USB->Ethernet->Wireless)
                        /                       / 
 DSL/cable modem -- hub -- AirPort Base Station -- Laptop A
                                                \
                                                  Laptop B

Router: Apple AirPort Base Station serving DHCP
AirPort Network Name (SSID): "Alex’s AirPort" (for this example)

WEP Security: none (for the sake of this example, however running a wireless network without encryption is not a good idea).

Required Hardware

  • You need a PC (Virtual PC 5 worked for one reader) to run the WET11 setup program. Note to Mac Users: According to this article, you can configure the WET11 through a browser by connecting via ethernet, setting your computer’s IP to 192.168.1.5 and sub 255.255.255.0, then going to "http://192.168.1.225" in your browser. Thanks to Michael Dinsmore for the tip.
  • A USB to Ethernet Adapter, I used a LinkSys USB100M.
  • A Wireless Ethernet Bridge, I used a LinkSys WET11. Note: Several readers have informed me that firmware 1.43 is required for this to work properly.

Configuring the WET11 to be a DHCP client

  1. Unpack the WET11.
  2. Set the switch on the back of the WET11 to "II" (not "X").
  3. Plug the WET11 into your wired network. I plugged mine into my hub.
  4. Launch the driver/setup program on a PC (or virtual PC) connected to the network (wired/wireless does not matter). Download Page | Zip file – or you can try accessing the WET11 from a browser using the default IP address (see the screenshot in the setup guide).
  5. In the setup program – follow these steps:
    - select the WET11 and click "Yes"
    - enter the password (default is "admin") and click "OK"
    - choose "Infastructure" mode (not Ad-Hoc) and click "Next"
    - enter the name of your AirPort network into the SSID field ("Alex’s AirPort"),
    all other settings can be left as is, and click "Next"
    - choose "Automatically obtain an IP address (DHCP)"
    - enter your security settings, in our example we leave it disabled
    - review your new settings, click "Yes" to save the changes

  6. Note: Your network may go a little screwy at this point until you disconnect the WET11 in the next step.
  7. This is important: you must unplug the power from the WET11 for a few seconds then plug it back in again to save the new settings. The directions say to "reset" the WET11 – they DO NOT mean for you to hit the reset button on the back of the WET11, this undoes all the settings you just entered and restores the factory defaults.
  8. Unplug the WET11 from the wired network.
  9. Set the switch on the back of the WET11 to "X" (not "II").
  10. Now your WET11 is ready to go!

Let’s test the WET11 to make sure it is working on the network.

  1. Disconnect a computer from your network.
  2. Connect the WET11 to this computer with an ethernet cable (RJ45).
  3. Wait a few seconds and see if your computer is able to rejoin the network.
  4. If you get back on the network, you’re set to go, disconnect the WET11 from the computer. If not, try rebooting with the WET11 attached. If it still doesn’t work after rebooting, hit the "reset" button on the back of the WET11 and go back through the WET11 setup steps.

Connecting the TiVo

Now we need to connect everything to the TiVo.

  1. Unpack the USB100M.
  2. Plug the USB100M into the top USB port on the TiVo.
  3. Plug in the WET11 to a power outlet.
  4. Attach the WET11 to the USB100M with an ethernet cable (RJ45).
  5. Restart the TiVo: Main Menu > Messages and Setup > Restart or Reset System > Restart the Recorder.
  6. Enter new dialing settings: Main Menu > Messages and Setup > Recorder & Phone Setup > Phone Connection > Change Dialing Options
  7. Leave Dial-In Number as is.
  8. Set Dial Prefix to ",#401" (comma – pound – four – zero – one).
  9. Set Call Waiting Prefix to nothing, leave it blank or erase what you have there.
  10. Set Tone/Pulse to "Tone" (I don’t think this matters).
  11. Set ‘Phone Avail." Detection to "Off" (again, I don’t think this matters).
  12. Set Dial Tone Detection to "On".
  13. Select "Use these dialing options" (at the top of the screen).
  14. Select "Make Test Call.
  15. Cross your fingers, close your eyes, make a wish…
  16. Press the SELECT button…
  17. It worked right? I sure hope so… if not, pull the USB100M adapter out of the top USB port and insert it into the bottom USB port, then Restart the TiVo again (step 5 above) and go through the steps again.

If you still can’t get it working, unplug the WET11 from the TiVo and again verify that it is working when attached to a computer. To start over from scratch, you can hit the "reset" button on the back of the WET11 and go back through the WET11 setup steps.

I hope that this helps someone. If you know of another way to do this or have some related information, please let me know.