Fire TV Recast Teardown Guide — A look inside Amazon’s over-the-air DVR

The Amazon Fire TV Recast among the best ways to stream and record over-the-air channels through a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. It has a lot of great features, but the one thing I’m asked about the most is if there’s a way to pull recordings off of the device. Since Amazon doesn’t provide that functionality, it might be possible with a bit of creative exploration. The best way to do that is to access the device’s hard drive. To start things off, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to take apart the Fire TV Recast, as well as a close look at its components.

To get into the Fire TV Recast, you have to remove 4 Torx T10 screws located under the rubber pad on the bottom of the device. You don’t have to peel back the entire rubber pad, which is held down by a sheet of double-sided tape, to get to the screws. Just peel back each corner a bit and you’ll be able to remove the screws without disturbing too much of the rubber pad.

Once the 4 screws are removed, the bottom lifts right up. Just be careful not to snag or break the clear light pipe that redirects the LED light from the circuit board to the front of the Fire TV Recast. The circular stamps on this component indicate it was manufactured on August 6, 2018.

With the bottom removed, the underside of the sole circuit board is revealed. All components of the Fire TV Recast are attached to a plastic tray that slides towards the front of the device and then lifts free from the top housing. You can see the empty space along the front where the tray slides into to free itself from a pair of retaining clips.

Before the inner tray can slide free from the Fire TV Recast’s top case, a metal nut on the tuner’s coax connector must be removed.

A pair of retaining clips along either side of the back of the Fire TV Recast need to be pushed aside so that the inner tray can slide towards the front of the device. I found that pushing the upper case outward and the inner tray downward slightly was enough to slide the tray free.

Once the inner tray, and all of the components that are attached to it, have slid past the two retaining clips, the entire innards of the Fire TV Recast can be lifted up and out of the device’s upper housing.

With the components out, you can see how everything is mounted. A Nidec UltraFlo T80T12MMA7-57 80mm fan near the front, rated at a speed of 2,000 RPM and sound output of 17.5 dB, blows air into a chamber created by the tray housing and the circuit board. A foam gasket along the top of the tray helps keep the cool air from blowing past the chamber. Mounted upside down in the chamber is a standard 2.5-inch spinning hard drive.

To remove the hard drive, disconnect its SATA data cable and power cable from the circuit board and remove the 4 Torx T10 screws holding it in place. The drive will drop down and slide out of the tray. If you’re going to remove the circuit board, you can disconnect the fan cable also.

The drive in my 1TB Fire TV Recast seems like an off-the-shelf Western Digital WD10JUCT spinning 2.5-inch drive. It spins at 5400 RPM, has a 16MB cache, and a SATA/300 connection with a 3 Gbps maximum transfer speed. The drive in the 500GB Fire TV Recast is a Western Digital WD5000LUCT with identical specs. These are AV-class drives, which are made specifically for DVR applications, so that they can last longer when left on 24/7.

With the hard drive and fan disconnected, the circuit board can be released from the inner tray by pushing back a pair of large clips. Large metal plates, which I assume are aluminum heat sinks, cover the majority of the circuitry. The metal plates are all held down by spring-loaded plastic clips.

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21 comments
  1. Ian King says:

    Question: How much noise does the fan make?

    • AFTVnews says:

      It’s nearly silent. You have to put your ear right up to the Recast to hear anything. Even then it’s just a hum and you can’t tell if it’s the fan or the drive that’s humming. The fan is rated at 17.5 dB of sound, which I assume is at its max speed. A decibel scale I just looked up lists that as between “breathing 10dB” and a “quiet room 20dB.”

  2. Zeric says:

    Have you tried to mount the drive on a PC yet? If it is booting off the HDD vs booting from flash, there could be a lot possible mods/upgrades.

  3. Charlie says:

    5400RPM drive with 16MB cashe. I guess a silent SSD drive would be too much to ask. Amazon selling this drive for 77.00.

    • felix says:

      It’s not a good idea to use SSD drive as DVR storage.

      • Charlie says:

        Tell that to a Nvidia Shield. It considers mechanical drives like that as slow but readily accepts SSD’s without the warning. I’m sure there are people, who would agree with you and others, who would not.

        • tech3475 says:

          The reason why it may be bad is because the nature of SSDs with the usage of a DVR may shorten their life.

          There are various factors involved though e.g. usage, SSD type, etc.

          I suspect cost though will be the biggest reason why Amazon stuck with a HDD.

          In regards to the Shield, it depends on what you’re doing, for something like adoptive storage you’d want solid state while for something like media playback or Plex’s DVR, a HDD would likely suffice as well as offering better $/GB.

          • seeky says:

            The wear off of SSDs is overrated. Normal people won’t reach the lifetime. A 1TB disk has a min average lifetime of around 3000TB written. If you record permanent at Bluray quality 40MBit/s thats around 0.432TB a day. Your drive then has a lifetime of 3000TB/0.432TB=6944 days=19 years.

            No need to worry as these are worst case calculations.

          • tech3475 says:

            @Seeky

            Depends on the drive though as there are various factors, I actually looked it up and some drive failed at a fraction of some of the other drives when stress tested by one person, albeit these were 240-256GB drives.

            Also don’t forget that multiple tuners are involved which increases the data requirements and if things like caching are involved then that’s more data usage.

          • Charlie says:

            When you add storage to a 16GB Shield for DVR using Channels app as I do, it definitely prefers a SSD over mechanical drives, though it will format it for internal use once you bypass the, appears to be a slow drive warning.

            SSD’s are pretty cheap now and if a shared storage SSD gives me faster performance, but fails in a couple of years that’s OK. You did agree that adoptable storage probably should be SSD.

          • tech3475 says:

            @Charlie

            I looked it up and apparently for adoptive storage a HDD can cause issues.

            To clarify, when I said a HDD would suffice, I meant when used as external storage, not adoptive.

    • Jeff Ridder says:

      These drives are designed for video work with special firmware to handle streams. A faster SSD could do the same but the way flash memory wears out, you would be replacing the drive after a year and honestly they don’t handle streams like these spinning drives do. It speaks volumes that the drive can do all the while spinning at 5400 rpm.

  4. fred says:

    Is this the 4 or 2 Tuner version? Be interesting to see the difference in the tunes that can transcode

  5. Will says:

    I ran out of space pretty quick on my 1tb Recast. Went back to Tablo until they open up external usb support (or if possible I could drop my own 4tb drive in).

  6. Don says:

    Can the hardrive be upgraded to 2 or 3TB and then software reinstalled.

  7. Paul Chambers says:

    Looks like lots of headroom for a 15mm drive, so a 4 or 5TB 2.5″ might be a possibility. Won’t be A/V optimized, but that may matter less with a bigger onboard cache to smooth things out.

    Failing that, the 2TB hybrid SSD/HD Seagate drives may work well.

  8. Paul Chambers says:

    Does the drive have a GPT partition map? I’d hope so, in this day & age. Single partition for the whole drive? EXT4 filesystem?

  9. Calvin says:

    Is there anyway to put in a 4tb HD in the recast?

  10. Brian says:

    Why has nothing been added to this since Feb???

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