XBox Mods
November 17, 2004 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I want to get an XBox, mod it, stick a HD in it and then use XBMC, MAME, UAE and other various emulators and stuff. Honestly, how easy is this to do for a so-so technical person? What are good web resources? Or am I going to get myself into a whole world of pain?

When I say "so-so" I mean I can assemble a PC from components, format, partition and network it - but stuff like soldering chips onto motherboards is way out. I'm in the UK (London) if that helps.
posted by ralawrence to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are some solderless mods out there, where you just screw an assembly down to the motherboard that has contacts in the right places. I've heard that with them you may need to solder or unsolder one or two places, instead 10 or 20 or however many a normal XBox mod needs. I've also heard you can do what's known as a TSOP flash by connecting some traces with conductive ink, then flashing (I don't know how).
posted by zsazsa at 6:14 AM on November 17, 2004

Older X-Boxes can be modded without a chip by using a game like Mechwarrior to overflow the buffer. There are a few other threads in AskMe about this. I bookmarked this one a while back. I'm currently planning on buying a second, used X-Box for this and using a copy of Mechwarrior plus a USB key to dump Linux onto it. I don't think there's more to it than that, but the process to get Linux on there seems fairly intense.
posted by yerfatma at 6:24 AM on November 17, 2004

Response by poster: Sorry forgot to also ask: Is XBMC, XMAME and the ilk actually any good? Could i end up spending a lot of time and effort on something which ends up with a load of half-baked, buggy and/or over-complex applications that I simply won't want to use?
posted by ralawrence at 6:33 AM on November 17, 2004

I know two people that have tried doing a hardware mod themselves, both of whom have lots of technical experience, and both of them managed to ruin their X-Boxes beyond repair, so tread carefully!
posted by chill at 7:07 AM on November 17, 2004

Pre-moded units are readily available on ebay, although I think they call them "Enhanced", so as not to alert the ebay smite drones.
posted by Optamystic at 7:26 AM on November 17, 2004

I am itching to do the same actually, just for XBMC. My problem: wifi connectivity. What's the cheapest way to get an xbox on to a 802.11g WLAN? the best I could come up with is this pocket router (which is marginally more expensive than a bridge but far more useful).
posted by costas at 7:39 AM on November 17, 2004

I'm with chill on this one . . . I have heard X-Box ruination stories galore from people I work with who are otherwise competent, intelligent people. I suppose it's possible that they're dumbasses and managed to fark it up despite its simplicity, but that wouldn't be my first theory; I think it's just tricky stuff, and people are consistently surprised at how delicate and unbelievably tiny the internal XBox components are.
posted by littlegreenlights at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2004

MAMEoX works wonderfully.

Also, google Slayers auto installer. I dont think I'm permitted to say any more!
posted by neilkod at 8:37 AM on November 17, 2004

Just FYI, Media portal is an open source port of XBMC for regular PCs ... currently in quick development. I drive it via my DVD's remote via Winlirc and Girder.
posted by magullo at 8:39 AM on November 17, 2004

Assuming it's modded already, the easy part is installing the dashboard & bios. Nowadays you should simply be able to auto-load these from a DVD.

Not all that much more difficult than installing software onto windows. One more step up in difficulty, but not really hard.

When installing programs to your XBOX that aren't backups of original games (those install with just a couple of button presses) you need to connect your XBOX to your computer through the network, FTP to it, and drop the necessary files to the necessary folders. Then you can enjoy.

In some cases you may have to edit C:\evox.ini to list your new software. It's a simple and well laid out text file.

As far as modding goes, your choices are going to be with a modchip (soldered or not) or without (dashboard hack or TSOP flash). You can do whichever you feel most comfortable with, each way has its ups and downs. The least reliable method is a solderless modchip. Flashing your TSOP and dashboard hacks run the risk of leaving you with an XBOX that needs repair if you don't follow instruction precisely. Bad soldering will leave you with a trashed XBOX, too. HTH!

I wish we could sticky some questions...
posted by shepd at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2004

I'm all for the solderless modchip. It's worth it. The first Xbox that I remember someone modded was with done with solder and it acts up from time to time. We used a solderless one that works perfectly. Software was a breeze. I think I use the emulators more than play the xbox games.
posted by rodz at 10:04 AM on November 17, 2004

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