EDIT- 6/28/18: I have now completed the addition of the large heat sink and it is running cool. See my post below for details.
I’ll open with the disclaimer that this solution is not for everyone, and there are easier ways to keep your Tablo cool enough. Since my warranty is up, I live in the south, and I’ve had a few heat related issues, I wanted to try out an idea to properly solve the heat issue on the Tablo. Under normal operation in my equipment room, it gets hot to the touch. After having some issues I learned here to stand it on its side, but this is not a long term solution.
I cannot add any pics here since I don’t see a way to attach them, and apparently Photobucket no longer allows forum links. Looking for a better solution and liking to over-engineer things, I looked at the parts involved.
The bottom of the Tablo is a thin plastic cover that has low grooves that terminate in vents on either side. It has 4 legs that press a steel heat plate against the upper case and hold the circuit board in place. Under this is a steel plate that acts as a heatsink. It is attached via thermal compound to the circuit board. The plastic cover acts as an insulator since it does not conduct heat as well as metal. This of course keeps us from burning our fingers worse when we touch it. The various laptop cooler/heatsink (defroster tray) suggestions here make use of this and reduce the heat to a decent level, but are not the best thermal solution since the plastic insulates some of the heat.
Since I had a number of computer fans leftover from various projects, I found an 80mm one that would fit in the center of the plastic cover. The idea here is to mount the 80mm fan so it will cool the steel plate via airflow. To do this, you have to remove and drill the plastic cover. I marked the mounting holes for the fan and then drew diagonal lines from them to find the center. After I did that, I used a 3" hole saw to cut out the center hole. Tip: Use a slow speed portable drill and clamp the plastic in a vice and support it with your free hand. I tried using a drill press w/ machinist vice and snapped off two of the legs. Then drill out the 4 mounting holes to 13/64" and use regular computer case fan screws to mount the fan. The best fan to use is a USB powered one, but since mine was a 12V case fan, I used an old power supply via some adapted wiring.
This fan is high RPM and too noisy, but stage 2 will involve a better heatsink to replace the damaged plastic cover. I’m thinking a 7 x 4.5" bottom unit will screw on and I can use nylon standoffs in the holes to provide proper clamping pressure. I’ll likely use a tall (3.5") heatsink so I can use it as a base and then install the 80mm fan on one end.
I’ve had my Rube Goldberg setup running on its side for several hours now and the bottom is cool.I noticed when getting channel info the Tablo does not seem to lag as bad as it had been doing. Using a laser thermometer in a 77 degree ambient room, with the fan on, the plastic cover measured 81.5 degrees.
Turning the fan off and waiting just 5 minutes returned a temperature of 87 degrees. With the TV on and tuned to a local channel, I saw 98 degrees after 5 minutes (10 total w/o the fan).
Turning the fan on, it dropped to 89 degrees in under a minute. After 2 minutes it was around 83 degrees.
My conclusion here is that the heat plate as designed is inadequate. With a proper heat sink and a fan, the device should last far longer.
EDIT- Here’s a pic of the installed fan. Thanks for the tip on how to upload, I’m not a fan of icons.