Which DVR? With the newer software versions on the HR20, they now work without sat hookup. Its a feature that was designed to work when the sat goes down in weather or power loss but does work in offline mode.
I have an old Phillips SD DVR and wanted to use it in the bedroom where there wasn't a Directv connection. First the DVR tried to connect to a satellite, which of course it couldn't. On each step I told the DVR to skip what ever it was trying to do and move on. Eventually it got stuck on trying to find the satellite, but I also got the message that I could watch what was recorded on the hard drive while the DVR continued to search.