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"E01" is a generic hard drive error code that Pioneer recorders will display for a handful of reasons. Having repaired and upgraded many of these units, in my experience the error is not usually "fatal" - E01 on the front panel does not necessarily mean your HDD is dead or corrupted. I'd say 4 out of 5 times, E01 indicates a problem with the HDD connection rather than the HDD itself.

Later Pioneers of the x50 and x60 series, along with their clone the Sony RDR-HX780 (and many other brands of DVD/HDD recorder), have problematic SATA connections between their motherboard and HDD. The connection comes loose over time, and/or the pins oxidize, creating data interruptions that trigger the E01 display to alert a technician to check anything and everything HDD related.

There is virtually no factory-authorized service for the x50/x60 models in USA because they were officially sold only in Canada. If you live in Canada, any service center that handles Pioneer and/or Sony recorders should be able to investigate and repair this for you. But if you live in USA, you're on your own: these units are orphaned unsupported products. Some independent repair shops might be capable if you ask around, but if they show the slightest hesitation or appear never to have seen a DVD/HDD recorder, forget it.

There are some DIY tricks you can attempt that might clear the E01 error. The most common issue is degraded SATA connection: unplug the power cord, remove the top cover, then unplug/replug the red HDD cable (at both HDD and motherboard end) several times. If you're lucky, that might be enough to fix the issue, although it may recur weeks or months later. Replacing the HDD SATA cable altogether can be helpful, but finding a suitable match for the original cable can be difficult.

Sometimes fooling with the cable isn't quite enough: the E01 error gets "stuck" in Pioneer motherboard memory and won't completely clear unless you drop the unit into "service mode" and tinker with certain HDD settings. Doing so requires a special "service remote" and "service data disc type 2." Use of these is discussed in many related "Pioneer HDD Upgrade" threads here on AVS and elsewhere. Briefly, a generic version of the remote is sold by several specialty dealers for $25-$55 while an image of the service dvd can be downloaded by contacting the moderator of PioneerFaq website. One then carefully follows the procedure used for "replacing" the HDD (clear a code number, re-enter it, insert the dvd, reboot the recorder).

While the service tools are fairly simple to use, they're EXTREMELY dangerous and can wreck the recorder if you don't stick to the instructions exactly. They also fail to fix this "E01" error in roughly 30% of cases I've handled. Some very stubborn units develop a persistent E01 error that returns every few days. At that point , significant disassembly is required to check all ribbon cables and connectors. Removing and re-installing all ribbons may help, if not replacing them with new ones can be tried (although determining which one is "bad" is a tough DIY task, and finding exact replacements may be impossible).

Worst case scenario, the recorder motherboard has gone bad and the unit is toast. A poor connection between crucial circuits may have developed related to the new type of solder used in recent electronics, which literally self-destructs and shorts out circuits as it ages. The timetable varies: some products can go ten or more years, a few may fail within five years. Unfortunately this new "environmentally safe unleaded solder" is unreliable, unpredictable, and just plain no good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have opened the Pioneer. How does the red wire HDD Cable unplug?
As I pull on it, it does not unplug. The other end is tight against the hard drive, how do I unplug it, too?
 

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The red HDD SATA cable is rather perverse: simultaneously so tight mechanically that its very difficult to unplug, yet prone to loose internal connection and oxidation.

Given the short length and cramped arrangement inside the recorder chassis, it can be tricky to get a good grip on the plug ends. The plugs do eventually come out, but you need to firmly clasp them between thumb and forefinger, then wiggle the plug from side to side until it suddenly releases. This is easier to do at the motherboard end because the plug pulls straight up, removing the other end on the HDD is harder due to the awkward angle. Never pull on the red cable, only the black plastic plug ends.

If your fingertips are the least bit slippery, try wearing a latex glove over them for added grip traction. If you are EXTREMELY careful you could use pliers, but don't try this unless you have excellent dexterity or you might damage the plastic plugs (or worse, the circuit board).
 
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