The Black Art of Xbox Mods

The Black Art of Xbox Mods

by Jonathan Harbour

The Xbox is an exciting and fun video game console - but that's only half the story. Inside the case, Microsoft placed a customized PC that you can push well past the limits of Halo and NBA Live. In The Black Art of the Xbox Mods, gamer, programmer and midnight hacker Jonathan Harbour show you how to crack the case, strip your Xbox down to the

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The Xbox is an exciting and fun video game console - but that's only half the story. Inside the case, Microsoft placed a customized PC that you can push well past the limits of Halo and NBA Live. In The Black Art of the Xbox Mods, gamer, programmer and midnight hacker Jonathan Harbour show you how to crack the case, strip your Xbox down to the motherboard, and take control from the inside out.

When you're finished, you'll know how to install a mod chip, boot up in a new operating system, and run cool third-party software. You'll also learn how to trick out your Xbox with case mods, glowing lights and other features to let the world know your Xbox has come a long way since you brought it home from the superstore.

With hundreds of pictures and step-by-step instructions, The Black Art of the Xbox Mods isn't for the faint of heart. But, if you want a 300GB Xbox that plays CDs, DVDs, and glows like an alien spacecraft, then this is the book for you.

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The Xbox might be described as a powerful, proprietary PC that has been customized exclusively for running games. This book will help you to maximize the potential of your Xbox video game console by showing you how to modify your Xbox in various ways. You will learn how to disassemble your Xbox, right down to the motherboard, and you will learn about each component inside the Xbox case.

Several chapters are devoted to the most important part of Xbox modding: choosing a mod chip and then learning how to install it in your Xbox. The mod chip allows you to run third-party software on your Xbox that is normally limited exclusively to licensed retail games. By being able to run custom software on your Xbox, you will be able to transform it into a powerful media center capable of playing music files (such as MP3) and video files (such as MPEG2, Divx, WMV, and Xvid). All of the Xbox mod chips currently available work on the same principles, so you will find the coverage of the material applicable to whatever mod chip you use (or plan to install while reading this book). Although this book addresses several of the major mod chips currently available, it focuses primarily on the Xenium mod chip.

I chose this mod chip because it comes with an excellent operating system with features that will assist with upgrading the hard drive and installing your favorite Dashboards and software. All of the mod chips currently on the market are similar, so even if you're using another mod chip (such as SmartXX, Xecuter, X-Bit, X-Chip, or Chameleon), you will find the topics relevant and helpful because the focus is mainly on the Xbox itself, not on any specific model of aftermarket hardware.

Several chapters are devoted to the installation and use of custom Dashboard software—which is somewhat like an operating system for your "modded" Xbox, allowing you to take advantage of software you have installed. For that matter, the new Dashboards provide a way for you to copy software to your Xbox from your PC using a local area network (LAN) connection. Most custom Dashboards come with an FTP server, so you will be able to log on to your Xbox as if it were a computer on the Internet and then transfer files to your Xbox hard drive. Some Dashboards also provide a SAMBA/SMB server that allows you to treat the Xbox hard drive like a shared network drive.

For you to get the most out of your Xbox, this book will also teach you how to upgrade your hard drive. You will be able to install a new hard drive in your Xbox—replacing the original hard drive—with up to 300GB of storage space, which is plenty of room for anything you want to do with your Xbox.

The hundreds of photos in this book will help to guide you through each subject area—from identifying your particular revision of the Xbox (did you know there are seven "unofficial" versions?) to installing a mod chip to upgrading your hard drive. Everything is fully explained, and each subject area includes dozens of photos that illustrate each step of the process of modding your Xbox.

No matter what you plan to do with your Xbox—from turning it into a monster gaming rig or a media center computer to acting as a hub for your big-screen TV and entertainment center—you will find the information you have been looking for in this concise, fully illustrated, thorough, and step-by-step guide to Xbox mods. This book is part hardware and part software, and there is equal treatment of both. You will learn how to fully customize your Xbox from a functional perspective, as well as from a cosmetic perspective. And you will learn how to modify the software to match the exotic changes you have rendered on the physical appearance and functionality of your new "super" Xbox.

So, if you are just browsing at a bookstore, flip through the pages and see for yourself how every subject is completely explored and explained, and every step of the process is completely laid out for you. I'm sure you will find this book an excellent addition to your library and an indispensable reference that you will keep an arm's length away at all times. This book is not just a guide; it is a reference, with all the major features and specifications of each revision of the Xbox, as well as all the major mod chips at your fingertips.

What You Will Learn

There are 14 chapters in this book, organized by major subject. Here are the main subjects that you will find in this book:

Part I: The Xbox Demystified. The first part of the book provides introductory material that will get you heading in the right direction for modding your Xbox, with an overview chapter on the "Xbox scene," another on disassembling your Xbox, and a chapter on how to identify your Xbox revision.

Part II: Mod Chips. The second part of the book explains how to choose the right mod chip for your needs and then how to install a typical mod chip, with illustrated explanations for the major Xbox revisions (an important consideration because mod chip installation is different for some Xbox versions).

Part III: Software Mods. The third part of the book gives you an overview of the aftermarket software that is available for your Xbox, including a tutorial on using the Xenium O/S, EvolutionX, Avalaunch, and Xbox Media Center.

Part IV: Major Hardware Mods. The fourth part of the book covers hardware mods, or modifications that you can do with your Xbox system components, including how to replace the case, upgrade the hard drive, and how to install lighting and cooling gear.

Conventions Used in This Book

The following features are used in this book to highlight portions of text that are important. You will find note, tip, and caution boxes here and there throughout the book.

Note - This is what a note looks like. Notes are additional information that is related to the current subject without interrupting the text.

Tip - This is what a tip looks like. Tips give you helpful pointers related to the current subject being covered that may save you some time.

Caution - This is what a caution looks like. Cautions provide you with guidance about what to do or not do in a given situation.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Author

Jonathan S. Harbour has been an avid gamer and programmer for 17 years, having started with early systems such as the Commodore PET, Apple II, and Tandy 1000. The first console he disassembled and tried to hack was the Atari 2600. He holds a degree in computer information systems and enjoys writing code in several languages. Jonathan has experience with several platforms, including Windows, Linux, Pocket PC, and Game Boy Advance. Jonathan has written nine books on the subjects of game programming, application development, console programming, cross-platform programming, and now console modding. He maintains a website dedicated to these subjects at

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