NEC PC-FX Laser Pickup HOP-E1

NEC PC-FX Laser Pickup HOP-E1

I’ve been struggling with a weak PC-FX laser for quite some time. What kept me from changing the laser or pickup unit was that having to take apart (and put it together later) the PC-FX is something you wouldn’t wish your worst enemy. However, getting close to the drive unit is surprisingly easy, just follow this guide.

First you need a replacement laser. I chose the complete pickup unit (Hitachi HOP-E1), it’s available for about 15€.

Turn the PC-FX upside down and unscrew the four Security Torx screws. Although they seem to be T12 screws a T10 driver works just fine.

pcfx_laser02

Then remove both side panels and look at the left side. At the top you see the three connectors for laser, motor and lid sensor. Remove the front panel by carefully bending the three plastic clips at the left side, then turn the PC-FX around and bend the clips on the right side. I’ve marked the three clips for removing the top panel too in this picture.

pcfx_laser03

Front panel removed:

PC-FX front panel removed
PC-FX front panel removed

Top panel removed (don’t forget to unplug the lid sensor):

PC-FX front top removed
PC-FX front top removed

Unscrew the four Philips screws, unplug the motor cable and carefully lift the CD drive unit. Then unplug the laser pickup cable from the mainboard.

pcfx_laser06

PC-FX CD unit removed
PC-FX CD unit removed
PC-FX CD drive unit
PC-FX CD drive unit

Turn around the CD drive unit and remove the plastic case by bending the four marked clips:

PC-FX CD drive unit
PC-FX CD drive unit

Unscrew both Philips screws that hold the glide rod of the laser pickup:

pcfx_laser10

Now is a good time to take a look at the cable of the new pickup. There is a solder blob, virtually a transport lock. If you don’t remove it the laser won’t work.

Hitachi HOP-E1
Hitachi HOP-E1

Then unscrew the Philips screw on both pickups and exchange the plastic parts. Insert the glide rod into the new pickup and put everything together. Before assembling the panels I strongly recommend a function check (this is how I noticed that I forgot to remove the solder blob…)

pcfx_laser12

6 thoughts on “NEC PC-FX Laser Pickup HOP-E1”

  1. Thanks for this guide, really helpful. I too installed a new laser as I was under the impression mine was getting weak – stuttering FMV sequences and disc read error messages.

    After fitting the new laser though, all these issues still remain and nothing has changed. Is there any other part of the console that needs replacing or repairing to get past this?

    1. If the issues remain then it’s probably the game disc. Try to make a copy with a pc and play that…

  2. Thanks for the guide!

    I followed it and installed a new pickup only to find that it became even worse at reading discs. I had to put the old one back in. It reads originals fine but not burns. The new pickup for the most part wouldn’t read either, after all sorts of attempts, spindle adjustment, etc. Maybe I got a crap pickup, it was a Chinese shop on ali…

    I was surprised to see there was no visible screw for changing the laser focus/height/trim/etc. Do you know if there’s no way to adjust the pickup settings?

    Guess I’ll give another go next time I find a pickup for cheap.

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