Blog, by date: 2009_mar
from the desk of travis johnson.
TiVo Router Project (from 2009/03/01)
My girlfriend's TiVo only has an ethernet port. Well, technically, it only has a USB port. We went looking for a TiVo compatible Wifi adapter but were less than successful. We did manage to find a USB-ethernet converter at Fry's Electronics, though. But this means it requires a machine there to bridge from Wireless to the wired port, which is a bit of a hassle on her Windows Vista laptop(though, honestly, what isn't a pain in Vista? </soapbox>).
Rummaging through my bone pile, I came across an older Thinkpad that I'd bought on Craigslist a couple of years ago. It would have been a great deal at 20 Thinkpad with no screen, no CD drive, and no battery…. but it turns out that this makes it pretty much perfect for a project like this(the other alternative was a robot controller… but I haven't managed to find time to learn how to write USB stepper motor controllers yet). I yanked the hard drive and put it in another machine(with a CD drive) and installed Debian's NetInst image for a trim Debian install, then polished it up with the wireless-tools, ndiswrapper, and the drivers for an old LinkSys Wireless-B USB adapter I had back in highschool and rescued on a recent trip home.
The next technical challenge was getting it onto the Wireless here at the University of Washington. Turns out that this is pretty easy too: They had the foresight to allow a long-term association with a device's MAC address via a web form. So, 15 minutes later I had the laptop on the wireless.
Next, since it's functioning as a router, it needs a DHCP server to provide the TiVo with an IP address, and a IP tables MASQUERADE rule to allow traffic back and forth. The DHCP server is easy enough, just an “apt-get install dhcp3-server” and minor config file authoring for that final touch. I also used OpenDNS to set up the DNS routing so that I didn't have to worry about forwarding DNS requests around.
All pretty slick. Now I just need to go over and try to find out if UW Wifi near the TiVo is strong enough.