Modded XBOX

USB controller adapaters
USB XBOX Controller USB XBOX Controller

The controllers

The XBOX controllers use just USB cables with custom plugs on the end. As this is the case it is really easy to remove the connectors and replace them with USB plugs instead. Simply wire them up the same as a standard USB plug, ignoring the 5th yellow wire which isn't actually used.

As you can see from the pictures I also put a USB socket on the other end so I could still use them with the XBOX as well. I find they work really well with most emulators (really good button layout for SNES games) and there are drivers available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Additional rear connectors
XBOX rear connections
  1. USB Sockets
  2. S-Video Output
  3. Coaxial Digital Audio Output

Rear connectors

The back of the XBOX by default only has a A/V connector and the network socket, but I wanted to use higher quality connections other than composite for video and stereo for sound. Now I could have gone out and spent a load on the High Definition AV Pack, but instead I just used some connectors I had laying around and soldered them in, giving me S-Video and Coaxial outputs.

The USB ports were added in the same way as the controllers above, just soldered on to the front ports 3 and 4. This way all 4 front ports can still be used as normal and the rear USB ports for when I'm in something like Linux for keyboard and mouse.

Hard drive switcher

The XBOX has an 8GB formatted internal hard drive which, when it comes to wanting to store multimedia files, isn't that big at all. I wanted a way in which I could install a larger hard drive but still be able to use the original drive when playing over XBOX live (Microsoft would ban your XBOX if it was detected that you had swapped out the hard drive). Any one who has ever taken apart an XBOX knows that there really isn't much free space inside, especially not enough to be able to fit a second full size drive in the case. The solution I came up with was to go for a 60GB laptop drive and mount it side ways on the left side of the casing.

There is only 1 IDE channel on the motherboard with a single IDE cable connecting the DVD and hard drives. So to add my laptop drive I needed to mod this IDE cable to add an additonal IDE connector and from that run a 3.5" to 2.5" converter cable to plug in the laptop drive. Now all that needed to be done was to figure out a way to switch power between either the 8GB or 60GB drive. Which ever had power when starting the XBOX would then be used. I could have just put in a straight forward switch, but this would have been dangerous if it was switched by mistake while the XBOX was powered on. Luckly a friend of mine knows a fair bit about electronics and quickly knocked up a circuit diagram on a bit of scrap paper that he said would do the job. After getting the parts together and building it, it worked pretty much first time, I think the only minor change from the original sketch was using a slightly beefier capacitor.

So what I have now is that if I turn the XBOX on normally the original drive gets the power and is then used. Where as if the front button is held in while powering on, the relay is switched and the laptop drive is used instead. Accidently poking the front button while the XBOX is already on has no effect at all, which is exactly what we want.

XBOX inside pictures
XBOX rear connections inside XBOX hard drive switcher circuit board
XBOX hard drive switcher mounted XBOX hard drive switcher showing secondary disk