Monday, April 2, 2007


For those who have heard of USDTV, they have gone out of business. That is bad news, because they were a great solution for people who wanted good quality channels without having to pay $50.00 or more per month. They offered all of the local channels in HD, and also had ESPN, ESPN2, Discovery, Food, Disney, Toon, and the MTN. I was able to watch last year's BYU-Utah football game live at home.

They discontinued their service and have allowed people to get their set-top boxes converted to be just a normal HDTV Tuner. I was able to get my hands on one of the USB flash drives with the software needed to do it. For those who may have the USDTV receiver and want to convert it, here are the instructions:
  1. Download this file. In the zip are two files: a shell script to make the USB flash drive and the software itself. Unzip both of these files into some convenient directory on
    a Linux machine.
    • cd to the directory where the software is.
    • Insert your USB drive into the USB port of the Linux machine (you do not need to mount it). Make sure that the directory /mnt/flash_drive exists.
    • Use this command to run the script: ./makekey usdtv_fta.fromService.
    • The script will format the drive, copy the software and unmount the drive. When it is done, it will tell you it is safe to remove the USB flash drive.
  2. Unplug power from your USDTV box.
  3. Insert the USB drive at the back of the USDTV box.
  4. Plug in power for your USDTV box.
  5. The conversion will begin automatically, and progress is indicated on
  6. When it is done, it will tell you that it is safe to unplug your box.
  7. Unplug the USDTV box again.
  8. Remove the USB flash drive.
  9. Plug in the USDTV box, and it will boot in FTA-only mode.
Note also that this is a complete refresh, so you'll have to do a channel scan, set the time zone, and other settings, but it's not too hard. Good luck.


Unknown said...

Hi, I am having troubles. Everything goes exactly as stated until I unplug my box, put the Drive in, plug it back in. Then it just loads as normal, and states I do not have a subscription? Any ideas? I could really use some help...


Unknown said...

Forgot contact info:

Unknown said...

The makekey script looks for /mnt/usb_drive not /mnt/flash_drive as the blog says. Otherwise, it works. For some reason, the script wouldn't format my flash drive, so just fdisk and mkfs your own ext2 drive.

Ashley Trebitowski said...

great tutorial, i get as far as running the script and get the message "A keychain is already mounted, exiting" any ideas...brandon (brandontreb[at]gmail[dot]com thanks

Dawg said...

Can anyone give a step by step as I have never used Linux before?

Oliver said...

Here is the best website with detailed instructions

Jacob said...

I'm on Ubuntu 8.10 and I was able to create the dir using sudo mkdir usb_flash but when I try running ./makekey usdtv_fta..... from the FTA_conversion directory I get:

rm: cannot remove '/tmp/makekey_log.txt': Operation not permitted
./makekey: 67: cannot create /tmp/makekey_log.txt: Permission denied
-e Unable to mount any partitions, exiting

If I try to do a sudo ./makekey usdtv_fta.... then I get

formatting keychain. please wait.
The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 38913. There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024, and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
-e Number of Partitions not 1, exiting.


Eric said...

Unfortunately, I am not a linux guru by any means, so I cannot help you specifically. However, the link that Oliver provided may have some troubleshooting information that may help.

However, recently, I tried to make another flash drive using this method on Ubuntu myself, and ran into some problems as well. I took it to a linux guru buddy of mine, and he was able to get it to work. Essentially, he formatted the USB drive, created a partition, then ran this command "tar -xvzf usdtv_fta.fromService.", which he found in the makekey script.

That seemed to work for me. Hopefully the same works for you. If you are familiar enough with linux, you could probably figure out enough by looking at the makekey script.

If all else fails, let me know. I noticed that you are in the Salt Lake area. I have my usb flash drive that you can borrow to flash your set-top box.

Good luck!