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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Build an Xbox to USB dongle! (ver.1)

In this tutorial I will show you how to make an xbox to USB dongle... and make it look factory made!

There are several different ways to make an xbox to USB dongle. This is one that I came up with a few years ago. I take no credit in its originality because I'll bet that a hundred people have done it this way before me... buuut this belongs in my tutorials list, right? Right.

First off we need to gather our tools to make this sexy beast:
-soldering iron
-solder (I used lead free)
-side cutters (or "dykes" if you're bold)
-adjustable pliers
-hot glue gun (optional)
-old rag (optional)
-x-acto knife (not pictured)

Next we need the ingredients to make this:
-xbox break away dongle (or "pigtail")
-USB cable (.99 cents at a local dollar store.. or even cheaper at your favorite thrift store)

Now that we have everything we can get started.
If you're particular, like me, you won't want teeth marks on your new dongle. What I did was wrap it with the cloth and use the adjustable pliers and gently "crack" it open enough to get an x-acto knife in there. Remove casing and set aside.

Next you're going to want to use the side cutters and snip off the cord right at the "boot".

And this is what you should be left with.

Now pry back the metal shielding and you may want to make note of what color wires go to what pins, then de-solder. Set aside the "boot" / shield / extra wires. (we need those later)

Use the side cutters and clip off the extra wire and metal shielding from the boot on the fatter end. Once you have just the boot, start pushing through the wires and clear the hole out. After I got it clear it still had the default plastic sheath in there. We want to get rid of that. I used my x-acto knife, on the fatter end, and rotated it back and forth until it came out clean. Set aside for just a moment.

Determine how much of a lead you want on the USB cable and snip it! (I usually go with the length of the original stock dongle)

Now you should clear your work area of everything except whats pictured below.
-top plastic shield
-bottom plastic shield
-USB cable
-xbox socket

Thread the USB cable through the "boot", cut back (1/4 inch) the white plastic on the USB cable, strip back and tin the individual wires.

Now I ran into a snag with this particular project. All 4 wires are black. The company that made this USB cable cut corners and used the same color on all wires rather than using the industry standard of red, white, green and black. I made a note of what pins are what color on the female end of a USB port and used a homemade continuity tester to figure out which wires are which. I used my netbook to power the +5v needed. (I'll post an "make" for that another day)

Now that I got everything all figured out and soldered up, it's time to put everything back together. Optionally you can shoot a squirt of hot glue over the solder points. Or if you broke the clips that hold the two plastic shields together, use the hot glue to fasten it back together.

Now I have a pair of homemade USB dongles that look like they came from M$. (except they're white)

Plugged into XBMC, Memory unit mounted in Port 2, slot 0... Success!

Remember kiddo's, your xbox can not read anything above 4gb. That's not all you can use this dongle for. If you have a keyboard or mouse that you want to use in Linux, this WILL do the trick. Also remember to save the end's of each cable that we cut off. We can and will use them in other projects!

I hope this was helpful!
Thanks for reading,

EDIT: (thank you Heimdall) Typically when you do this mod all you have to do is match the colors:
red to red (+5v)
white to white (data +)
green to green (data -)
black to black (-5v[GND])
He suggested that I show THIS DOCUMENT so you, my readers, have a better understanding about xbox to USB conversions or vice versa. I had forgot to mention color to color out of frustration from having to stop and figure out the pinout. Won't happen again... next time I will make sure to get better USB cables ::wink::

How to remove an xbox faceplate

In this tutorial, I will show you how to remove the faceplate from the front of an xbox AND how to remove the P/E (power / eject) board.

First your xbox should look like this. If it does not, please read THIS before you start.

Next I want you to locate the yellow, 10 wire, cable located on the inside of the xbox, just behind the faceplate, and remove it. (gently)

Now, move to either side of the xbox and find where the faceplate latches to the chassis. In this case I started on the right side. Use a flat head screw driver and gently pry outward.(away from the metal cage) You may have to un-clip 3 retainers on the inside of the xbox. Pay attention to the yellow 10 pin and guide it through the oval shaped hole. If you yank at it, it WILL break the P/E board. (it has happened to me in the past and was a nasty fix)

If you did it right, it should now be independent of the case.

While we have the faceplate off, lets go one step further and remove the P/E (power / eject) board from the faceplate!

First off, the P/E board in held in place with 2 stationary clips and one retention clip. Locate the retention clip. It will be in the center, bottom, and look like the picture below. Using the flat head screw driver that we used earlier, gently push down on the tab until it clears the board. Using your thumb, on the other side, push in the power button. Then it should "swing" out.

Now the the face plate is off you're free to add USB ports, LED's etc.. the possibilities are next to limitless. Also you may want to consider swapping out the P/E LED's with a different color OR adding dual LED's ::wink::

LED removal / replacement, USB port's and LOTS more tutorial's coming soon!

How to open an xbox!

This project is dedicated to Greg the delivery driver. I hope this helps you out brother!

You would be amazed at how many people get an xbox and want to start modding but just don't know how to open it. This tutorial is going to be the most simple tutorial in my arsenal.

First you want to make sure you have the right tools.
-1) Torx 20
-2) Torx 10
If they have a magnetic head, awesome. If not, you may want to consider having a driver on hand that does have a magnetic head or something like THIS (I have a small phillips with a magnetic head that I use)

Next we want to take our xbox and turn it over...

Use an x-acto knife, Swiss army knife, butter knife, or your fingernail... and pry up the "feet" just enough to expose the screws. Repeat on all 4 corners.

The center screws would normally be hidden by the FCC sticker and the bar code sticker but as you can see this box has been open before. It's easy to find the screws. Use your finger and feel where the screws are. Then all you have to do is push the Torx 20 through the sticker and back out. (please don't try to remove the sticker completely unless you know what you're doing. It can make a nasty sticky mess that will attract hair, dust and dirt for eternity)

Now that you have all 6 Torx 20 screws backed out, set them aside. Flip your xbox back over and carefully "pop" the lid up, slide off and set aside.

You're done with the Torx 20 for now. Right in the center, under the IDE cable, there is a single Torx 10 screw that holds both of the "caddy's" together. You can get to it now, but it's good practice to remove the power molex and IDE cable from the hard drive first. Next you want to unclip the power cable from the lower right corner of the hard drive caddy. Remove the Torx 10 and lift out the caddy, hard drive and all. Set aside.

NOW we move to the DVD drive. There are 2 Torx 10 screws that hold it to the chassis of the xbox. They're located on the outer right and outer left of the front of the drive. The one on the right is easy to see and easy to get to. Remove and set aside. The one on the left is recessed down in a nice little "cubby". Use your Torx 10 to back out and use your magnet tip to grab the screw. Make sure not to drop it into the case because it could (however highly unlikely) knock loose vital components or short out points on the mother board.

Next we have to remove the IDE and 12 pin, yellow, power/signal cables from the back od the DVD drive and lift it out.

There you have it. Now you have access to the motherboard, power supply, controller ports, faceplate etc... Please stay tuned for my up and coming "How to remove an xbox faceplate" and other useful tutorials!

Thank you so much and happy modding!