The Black Art of Xbox Mods

The Black Art of Xbox Mods

by Jonathan Harbour

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Overview

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780672326837
Publisher: Sams
Publication date: 12/28/2004
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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 http://www.jharbour.com.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

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.

Table of Contents

What You Will Learn

Conventions Used in This Book

I. THE XBOX DEMYSTIFIED.

1. Welcome to the Xbox Scene.

"Getting" the Xbox

Breaking into an Industry

Video Game Competition: The Other Side of the Coin

Learning Some Hard Lessons

Xbox Rumors Realized

Xbox Roots

Timing Is Everything

The Game Developer's Dream Machine

Bridging the PC/Console Gap

Promises, Promises...

Did Xbox Work Too Well?

What Can You Do with Your Xbox?

So What's the Spiel?

Summary

2. Disassembling Your Xbox.

Getting to Know the Xbox Hardware

The Case

The Motherboard

The Power Supply

The DVD-ROM Drive

The Hard Drive

The Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

Front-Side Bus (FSB)

Media Control Processor (MCPX)

Removing the Cover

Removing the Rubber Feet

Removing the Six Case Screws

Lifting the Case

Examining the Main Deck

Removing the Hard Drive

Removing the Hard Drive Tray Screw

Removing the Cables

Lifting the Hard Drive Tray

Removing the DVD-ROM Drive

The DVD-ROM Screws

Removing the IDE and Power Cables

Pulling the DVD-ROM Drive

Removing the Motherboard

Removing the IDE Cable and DVD-ROM Power Connectors

Removing the Motherboard Power Supply Connector

Removing the Motherboard Screws

Unplugging the Controller Port Cables

Removing the Case Fan

Removing the Motherboard

Summary

3. Identifying Your Xbox Revision.

Revision Notes

1.0

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

Methods of Identification

Manufacturing Date

Hardware Serial Number

Video Chip Verification

Xbox BIOS Version Number

Special/Limited Edition Exceptions

Halo Special Edition

Limited Edition Crystal Pack

Additional Exceptions

Summary

II. MOD CHIPS.

4. Introduction to Xbox Modding.

What Is a Mod Chip?

How Does a Mod Chip Work?

Are Mod Chips Legal?

The Modded Xbox

Why the DMCA Does More Harm Than Good

What Can You Do with a Mod Chip?

Xbox Media Center (XBMC)

Homebrew Games

Overview of Available Mod Chips

Xenium

Xecuter

SmartXX

XBIT

Aladdin

X-Chip

Before You Install a Mod Chip...

Summary

5. Installing a Solderless Mod Chip.

Solderless Xenium Installation

Locating the LPC

Fixing a Pre-Soldered LPC

Locating the D0

Installing the Solderless Adapter

Installing the Mod Chip

Booting Up the Mod Chip

Summary

6. Installing a Soldered Mod Chip.

Removing the Motherboard

Installing a Pin Header (All Revisions)

Preparing to Solder

Locating the LPC

Removing Pin 4

Inserting the Pin Header

Soldering the Pins

Installing the D0 Wire

Xbox Revision 1.6 Mod Chip Installation

Double-Checking the Revision

Installing the Pin Header

Rebuilding the LPC

Installing the LFRAME Wire

Troubleshooting

Problem with the D0/LFRAME

Problem with the LPC

Other Problems

Summary

III. SOFTWARE MODS.

7. The Xenium Operating System.

Overview of the Xenium O/S

The Xenium O/S Main Menu

Launch

Disk Tools

EEprom Tools

Settings

Reboot

Recovery

Power Off

Summary

8. EvolutionX Dashboard.

What Is EvolutionX?

Installing the EvoX BIOS and Dash

Acquiring EvoX

Installing the EvoX Dashboard

Installing the EvoX BIOS

Creating a Custom BIOS

Using the EvoX Dash

Tweaking EvoX Dash

The EvoX Dash Interface

Creating Your Own EvoX Skins

Summary

9. Avalaunch Dashboard.

Installing Avalaunch

Customizing a BIOS for Avalaunch

Copying the Avalaunch Files to Your Xbox

Adding Avalaunch to the Xenium O/S Launch Menu

Running Avalaunch

Avalaunch Features

The Main Menu

XBox Media Player

Games

Applications

Emulators

File Manager

IRC Client

Telnet Client

Settings

Reboot

Shutdown

Summary

10. Xbox Media Center.

Overview of Xbox Media Center

Installing Xbox Media Center

Installing the XBMC Files

Installing a Hacked BIOS

Running Xbox Media Center

The Main Menu

My Programs

My Files

My Pictures

My Music

My Videos

Weather

Settings

Summary

IV. MAJOR HARDWARE MODS.

11. Replacing the Xbox Case.

Stock Cases

Tearing Down the Old Case

Replacing the DVD-ROM Tray Panel

Assembling the New Case

Aftermarket Cases

Assembling the Aftermarket Case

The System Jewel

Summary

12. Upgrading the Xbox Hard Drive.

Overview of the Swap

The Stock Xbox Hard Drive

The Replacement Hard Drive

Connecting Both Hard Drives

Master/Slave Settings

Connecting the IDE Cable

Connecting the Power Cables

The Hard Drive Upgrade Wizard

Running the Drive Upgrade Wizard

Formatting the New Drive and Transferring Data

Verifying the Upgrade Process

Summary

13. Lighting Up the Case.

Cosmetic Xbox Modifications

Cold Cathode Lighting

How About a Glowing Jewel?

Removing the Cold Cathode Bulb

Gluing the Light to the Case Cover

Custom Lighting with LEDs

Creating Your Own LED Light Show

Building the Main LED Wire Loom

Putting It All Together

Examining the Cold Cathode Light

The Custom LEDs

Summary

14. Cooling Down Your Xbox.

Software Cooling Solutions

Setting Fan Speed in BIOS

Setting Fan Speed in XBMC

Active Cooling for Your Xbox

Hard Drive Cooling

Finding Room in the Case

Installing a Hard Drive Cooling Fan

Summary

Appendix A. Xbox Resources.

Xbox Information Sites

Mod Chip Manufacturers

Xbox Hardware Sites

Xbox Software Sites

Index.

Preface

Introduction

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 anyspecific 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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