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June 9, 2008

XBox Project, Phase 1: The Materials

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A while back, LifeHacker posted an article on how to turn your xbox into a killer media center. Since that article, I have dreamt of such a thing. About a week ago (shortly after receiving a bunch of b-day money, muwhaha :D ), I decided to take the plunge.

The goal is to take an original XBox, make some small modifications, and install an alternative dashboard in order to unleash the full potential of this small computer. To start off, I'm going to splice an XBox breakaway cable with a USB extension cable. This will create two new cables: XBox male to USB female, and USB male to XBox controller. This will allow me to use a compatible flash drive as a memory card, and the XBox controller as a PC game controller. And, when I need two-player functionality, I can plug the USB ends together, re-enabling XBox compatibility on the controller. I'll then use the flash-drive-as-a-memory-card idea to install an alternative dashboard using a security loophole in a game.

This all rests, of course, on the idea that mass-reported internet information is accurate. In this case, that the XBox controller is a modified USB device. Since many people report this as having worked (both the controller on the PC and the flash drives on the XBox), I'm going to assume that this is accurate.

This all, however, does not come free. Here's what I've spent so far:

  • XBox - $60. Also came with four games, two controllers, and the DVD playback kit.
  • MechAssault - $17.10. Disc # MS02301L, one of the three games that allow you to softmod an XBox.
  • 2 6-ft USB Extension cables - $6. I'll only use one, but you can never have too many USB cables :)

All of these came from eBay, and prices listed include shipping (all prices are USD). The MA game was actually a $19 BIN auction, but PayPal gave me a 10% off coupon code. I should be able to resell it (if I want to) for $20-25 after I'm done. XBoxes, based on my experience, go for $50-70, depending on what they come with, usually controllers. I should be able to recoup some of the XBox cost by selling off some of the games and the DVD kit once I have XBMC installed. Regarding the USB cables, I'm actually going to use a black 2-ft USB extension cable that I already had, but I had to buy something to replace it. And, if anything goes wrong, you can buy extra breakaway cables for $2-5 from eBay. A local gaming store may also have them.

Additional stuff I will need include:

  • Electrician's Tape - Since I don't currently have a working soldering iron, nor am I confident with one :)
  • Scissors - to cut apart the cords
  • 1GB SanDisk Micro Cruzer, U3 capable - to use as a memory drive. I've already got one of these lying around, and have long since removed the U3 junk.
  • Cable strippers - depending on how I decide to strip the cables (strippers, scissors, razor knife, teeth, etc :) )

The materials needed

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