Should I hack my XBox? Why or why not? Which hacks?
December 29, 2003 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I got an Xbox for christmas, and I have been googling for Xbox hacks, and looking around I see a lot of people saying different things about it. Should I get a mod chip? Should I go with the software hack? Is there ways to hack the Xbox without resorting to using a pinout to plug a USB device into the controller? Who here hacks their Xbox?

What I want to do is copy games and install an upgraded HD, now or later. I don't mind not being able to play Xbox Live. I have been looking in this for a week, but forgive my naiveness anyway.
posted by Keyser Soze to Technology (8 answers total)
 
when I say copy games, I mean it in the DVD to the internal HD method.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2003


Get the Xecutor2 chip, all my friends [who have hacked their XBoxen] have used that one and have 120GB hard drives and games/media stored on them.
posted by j.edwards at 6:41 PM on December 29, 2003


I am looking at them right now, one here is under $50. Problem is, does the legal cromwell BIOS support the stuff I want? If not, anybody got a lead?
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:50 PM on December 29, 2003


I mod them. Get a chip. No chip == semi-permanent mod and possibly being unable to unlock your old XBOX HDD (meaning it becomes trash).

Trying to play Xbox live is a PITA with a modchip. You can make it work but the effort isn't worth it (to be sure it involves swapping in your old hard drive while you use Xbox Live).

No, cromwell BIOS is probably useless to you unless you have a real urge to use linux on the XBOX, however, for legal reasons, they're only sold with that BIOS. Ask the retailer to make sure they install the "suicide" cromwell BIOS. This BIOS has a built in flashing utility and will make your life easier.

Check www.xbox-scene.com, specifically here, for info on getting the BIOS you need. I reccomend Xecuter2 4979 for simplicity. Otherwise, you must follow these steps to make your mod successful (and easy):

- Set time on unmodded Xbox.
- Unplug and mod within NO MORE THAN 3 hours. Ensure your mod not only includes putting in the new chip, but also installing a new 120 Gig HDD (STRONGLY reccomended)
- Plug in xbox, load new BIOS
- Insert slayer's EvoX DVD (mentioned below).
- Install to HDD
- Enjoy!

In addition to the BIOS, you'll want slayer's evox installer. Search for it on google. The nfo has great links to an IRC download site. :-)

FYI, Xboxes can only read DVD, CD, DVD-R, DVD+r (sometimes), and CDRW (sometimes). They definately cannot read CD-R.

If you fail to do those things, and don't flash with Xecuter2 4979, you'll get an error 16 FRAG. To clear this, install your old HDD again, set the time, and then put in the new one. This is because the Xbox tries to load the dashboard when it forgets the time, and the capacitor in the Xbox only stores enough charge to run the clock chip for a couple of hours. Xecuter2 4979 skips this problem.

Oh boy, so much more I could say here. You'll need to know your Xbox version before buying a chip. Here's a good guide.

Version 1.2 and lower: Use any modchip. Build one for yourself if you like.
Version 1.3 and 1.4: You can either build one and get the missing LFRAME signal from the MCPx chip (*DIFFICULT*!) (see tightmod diagrams) or buy a modchip with 2 or more chips (one of them being a CPLD and preferrably bearing the name "Lattice").
Version 1.5: All 1.3/1.4 chips will work here, but you must add the missing +5v and Ground signals to the LPC bus. Note that since cromwell doesn't support the Focus video encoder on these boards, you won't get ANY video until you've loaded a different BIOS onto the chip.

Which chip? Your choice. The big benefit to chips larger than 256k is that you can hold multiple BIOS images. This is great when developing software. Not so great when you just want to use it as a media/game backup station.

Knockoff chips are notoriously difficult to flash. Avoid them.

Email me if you're lost. :-)

One last thing: The fewer connectors the modchip includes, the easier the mod. Oh, and for the love of god: DON'T BUY A NO-SOLDER CHIP. And, better yet, look for one that uses an IDC header (item labelled "head pin" on Keyser Soze's link). Oooo... also, USE A FLASH THE SAME SIZE AS YOUR CHIP. ie: 1 MB flash no good for 256 k chip.

HTH.
posted by shepd at 9:11 PM on December 29, 2003


Lots of good advice from Shepd! Particularly about setting the clock first. It took me several mods before I fully caught on to that one.

Just to add my experience: my friend and I have done about seven or eight mods, all of them with the Chameleon chip with the solderless adapter. The solderless adapter makes for a very easy install, and we've had no problems with them. (I even shipped two modded Xboxes coast-to-coast and was a little afraid the solderless adapter would come loose in shipment, but they both arrived fine.)
posted by llamateur at 9:32 PM on December 29, 2003


llamateur, the reason I try to dissuade people from using solderless chips isn't because of them shaking loose (they don't)... it tends to be the possibility of corrosion. All exposed, unsoldered connections tend to corrode over time (that's why, for example, the circuit board is covered in that green lacquer). If the corrosion gets between the pads and the pogo pins on the solderless chips, you can have problems with the xbox not "seeing" the modchip, causing various other problems. Generally, none of the problems are permanent, just that you'd have to open up the xbox to clean up the connectors.

I'm just a fan of connecting things the way they're supposed to be connected, I suppose. ;-)

Up to now, most people using solderless chips are happy. I'm just trying to think 1 or 2 years ahead here. I don't want disappointed xbox modders. :-)
posted by shepd at 10:47 PM on December 29, 2003


Thank you all for the very detailed help, this was more than I asked, but everything I needed.
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:03 PM on December 29, 2003


when i first modded my xbox, i pulled a flash bios out of a motherboard and used that. It's cheap (free), if you can find the right chip, but there's a lot of tiny soldering going on (like 30 points iirc).. There's instructions for identifiying flash chips that'll work on xbox-scene.com, as well as wiring diagrams and flashing instructions.
posted by duckstab at 1:38 PM on December 30, 2003


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