Nightingale, the 2005 Pioneer can be forced into manual timer mode but you need to prepare it first: it works rather differently than the later x40-x50-x60 models that most AVS members have now. To operate the 531-533-633 under strictly manual timer settings in the absence of a TVGOS data signal, the first thing you need to do is kill the automated TVGOS function so it doesn't randomly interfere with your manual settings:
1. Reset the recorder (press and hold "record stop" and then "power" buttons on the front panel). The recorder will turn off after a brief hesitation while it resets. Turn it back on.
2. Perform basic recorder setup from the initial setup menu (date, time, and any other features you activated like the MN recording speed facility).
3. When TVGOS setup screen appears press Enter
4. Choose "Canada" and press Enter
5. Set Postal Code to A, 0(Zero), A, 0(Zero), A, 0(Zero) and press Enter
6. Choose "Yes" in reply to the do you have cable question and press Enter
7. Choose "No Cable Box" and press Enter
8. When final confirmation screen appears, select the bottom choice, "No, repeat Setup process."
9. Repeat steps 4 thru 7
10. This time when you reach the end, choose "yes, end setup" and press Enter three times to exit the TVGOS system.
You've now "disabled" the automatic TVGOS system: the recorder will stop turning itself on to look in vain for the no longer available TVGOS signal, and it will obey any manual timer entries you input. The following is a basic overview of how you enter and navigate the manual timer screens of the Pioneer 531-533-633:IMPORTANT: you must immediately set a "permanent" repeating manual weekly timer event, preferably a show you would record every week anyway. If you don't follow any weekly shows, you'll need to set a "dummy' placeholder timer- something that won't get in your way like "every Wednesday 5AM to 5:15AM". Any unwanted recordings can simply be deleted from the HDD afterward. There must always be one manual timer entered into the system, or the automatic TVGOS signal search will "wake itself up" and start trying to download the nonexistent guide data. If this happens, you'll have to repeat the whole reset procedure again.
11. Press Timer Record to get back into TVGOS.
12. The TVGOS screen will appear, but with no automated program grid data. The left side of the screen will either show a "record options" panel where you can set manual timers, or it will show two generic TV Guide logos. If you see the timer setting panel, skip to step 14, but if you see the two TV Guide logos instead then you'll need to make the timer screen appear by following step 13 first.
13. You then get into the manual timer screen by pressing the Menu button on your remote. New timer options will appear on the left side of your screen: use your arrow keys to highlight the New Manual Recording button and press Enter on your remote.
14. You'll note today's date highlighted in yellow- this is where you start setting a manual timer. Use the number keys on your remote to set the month (02 for February etc). Use the arrow keys to move thru the following fields, and the number keys to input any needed numbers. The exception to this is the am/pm setting: these alternate by pressing the right arrow key, once you've selected am or pm you move to the next field by pressing the down arrow key. When you get to the bottom "Frequency" field, press the right arrow key to select "weekly" instead of "once". With "weekly" highlighted, press Enter on your remote.
15. The timer you just set will appear on the right side of the screen as a blue bar, and the manual setting screen on the left will disappear and be replaced by two generic TV Guide logos. At this point you can either use the TVGOS navigation system to look at the details of the timer you just set, you can press Menu on your remote to program an additional new timer recording, or press Timer Rec to get out of the TVGOS system.
It takes a few tries to get the hang of manual timer entry, mostly due to the confusing way the am/pm setting works differently than you'd expect and the number-entry fields using the number keys on the remote instead of the arrow keys (which move you from one field to the next). Entering additional timers or changing/deleting existing timers also takes some study, its not the least bit obvious how to go about this because the brain-dead TVGOS designers assumed nobody would ever set a manual timer (so didn't bother to make the system very user-friendly). You'll find a combination of hitting "menu" on the remote and using its arrow keys will let you accomplish anything you want to do, its just a matter of figuring out the weird logic.