Getting TiVo online wirelessly via Airport

Every now and then technology fazes me, especially when something had been working perfectly, and then, for no apparent reason, stops. Getting Y’s TiVo online wirelessly via her AirPort Express is one recent example. I finally figured out how to get things working, but man was it a royal pain in the tuchus.

In her old place, everything worked perfectly. It was a relatively simple setup: Comcast cable internet to an AirPort Express, with a PowerBook 15″, my occasional MacBook, and TiVo, all connecting to the AirPort wirelessly.

When she moved to San Francisco, the setup remained the same, and when everything was first connected, everything worked as expected. I was even able to connect my Wii to her network without a problem. Then something went horribly wrong. Suddenly neither the TiVo nor the Wii would talk to her network. The Macs were fine.

I spent hours troubleshooting this. I changed passwords. Encryption protocols. Network names. I rebooted every single device in the network chain, multiple times. I Googled. I changed passwords, encryption protocols and network names again.

Things were starting to get desperate: TiVo had run out of programming information, and wouldn’t record anything new. Oh no! It was time to redouble my troubleshooting efforts.

I found stuff online saying “Use WEP, 5-character passwords”. No luck. 13-character passwords. Nothing. I even found stuff saying use the hex-equivalent passwords instead of the ASCII passwords I’d entered. Still no go.

After another hour of trying last night, I managed to got the Wii back online. I’d entered a WEP 128K, 13-character password on the AirPort Express, and entered that same password on the Wii, and boom, it was online.


Alas entering that exact same password didn’t help the TiVo. Hrm. Well, at least I knew the network was working. I went to bed, determined to try again the next morning.

Today, after a few attempts, inspiration struck, and I tried the hex version of the 13-character password. Lo and behold! Success!

What’s odd here, of course, is neither Y or I recall entering the hex version of a 13-character password on her (or my) TiVo when we’ve set this up in the past, nor does it explain why it worked then stopped.

I can only attribute this failure to TiVos poor support for wireless networks. If you’re trying to get your TiVo connected to a wireless network, and it’s failing, try these steps:

1. Set your wireless router security to WEP 128K; for an AirPort network, open AirPort Admin Utility and under the AirPort tab, choose “Change Wireless Security”:


2. Get the hex equivalent password (again, for AirPort, within AirPort Admin, choose “Base Station > Equivalent Network Password…”


3. In your TiVo, go to TiVo Central > Messages & Settings > Settings > Phone & Network > Change network settings. Select the name of your wireless network, and for the password, use the hex equivalent your router gave you (e.g. “89796A6877756D77516F672131”). Enter this carefully! Fortunately, it’s only 0-9 and A-F, so you won’t have to scroll around TiVo’s text entry too much.

4. If all goes well, after a minute or two TiVo will connect to the network, get a network address, and connect to the service, and start downloading updates. As I write this, TiVo is now 73% of the way through “Loading info”.


Technorati Tags: , , , ,