Modding my Xbox…

[ This item originated at my previous (now defunct) blog bradblog.info — copy retrieved from the Internet Archive]

A while ago I managed to lay my hands on a refurbished Xbox for a fairly reasonable price. Great, methinks. A game console and a DVD player, all rolled into one. And hey, it’ll even play music from the built in hard drive too¦ but not stock from the factory. No, my friend, you have to void the Microsoft warranty and mess with the happy technology that lies buried within your game console. Once you do that, you then have unlocked the power of your Xbox, and created a Monster¦here’s how I did mine¦

According to the folks on Xbox Linux:

The Xbox is a legacy-free PC by Microsoft:

  • Intel Celeron 733 MHz CPU
  • nVidia GeForce 3MX
  • 64 MB of RAM
  • 8/10 GB hard disk
  • DVD drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet

As on every PC, you can run Linux on it.

An Xbox with Linux can be:

  • a full desktop computer with mouse and keyboard
  • a web/email box connected to TV
  • a server or router
  • a node in a cluster

My Modded XboxWell¦yes, it is, so why not pry the cover off and see what’s under the hood!

With my trusty torx screwdriver in hand, I handily peeled back the four rubber feet and two warning labels, unscrewed the case and began my explorations. Now, I didn’t do this without first reading many excellent tutorials and guides, mostly from the good folk over at xbox-scene.com. You can never read too much.

My Modded XboxBut back to the task at hand. Case cover set aside, this was my first look at the innards.

The grey box on the left with the Samsung label is the DVD/CD Rom drive¦making the grey box on the right the 10GB HD. Both must come out before you gain access to the motherboard. More unscrewing.
My Modded Xbox

Thoroughly unscrewed now, here’s what the motherboard looks like. Mine appears to be a version 1.3¦it’s important to know that when you’re installing the mod chip, as each board has its own unique layout.. Power supply section over on the right, fan, CPU and Graphic processor the shiny silver things in the middle¦

My Modded Xbox

and the area we’re concerned with, under the hanging yellow cable bundle. This is where we’re mounting the pin header that the mod board will connect to.

My Modded XboxYes, that double row of holes.

My Modded XboxI guess before I get too carried away, I should introduce you to the mod board I selected¦the OzXodus Xenium (I know, where do they come up with these names).

The reseller I purchased it from shipped it overnight, Canada Post, triple-bubble-wrapped.

Very nice and it arrived in perfect condition.

My Modded XboxAnd here’s what it looks like outside of the anti-stat bag. Nice little unit.

Ok [here I left the article for a few weeks as life, yardwork, work, and other things happened], now that we’ve heated up the soldering iron, we’re ready for some hot metal-melting action!

My Modded XboxOf course, I was more concerned with actually soldering the pin-header to the motherboard than actually taking pictures of the process. Suffice it to say that after a bit of delicate work, one false start where the pin header pins kinda melted the plastic header and slid through (providing a less-than-adequate connection) I have success.

My Modded XboxMake note of this odd little blue wire. This is the D0 (Dee-Zero) wire. It can be soldered in numerous locations. This top-mount location is less than optimal, as the hole you have to find is very tiny, and not that great for soldering to. In the end, I ran a longer wire through a hole in the motherboard to an underside D0 spot that was larger and easier to solder to¦making a much better connection.

My Modded Xbox

And here’s my happy little toy installed and ready for testing.

My Modded Xbox

Viola!! It works¦and in the weeks since, I’ve managed to utilize the rather cool Xbox Media Center (one of the key reasons for doing this mod).

Very nice. Posted by Brad Grier at July 4, 2004 09:49 PM

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3 Replies to “Modding my Xbox…”

  1. Excellent mini tutorial and demonstration. This should encourage anyone who wants to Mod their XBox to actually have a go. Or at least research the subject more. BTW, good motherboard pictures.

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