[TUT] How to make a Portable Laptop Xbox 360 [TUT]

[size=30]This is a 3 Part Text Tutorial on how to make a Portable Xbox 360 Laptop

If you have any questions please either PM me or send me a message on AIM [/size]
AIM = airbornllama

My friend (Aden) and I posted this on TTG as well!

I am going to be making more of these and selling them. The reason for this post is for those who want one, but want to know how its made, and maybe make one themselves!

[size=20]Credits to Ben Heck

This takes a very long time to make, and each part is very long, (too long for one thread), so I had to split it up into 3 different threads (links will be on this post).


How To Make An Xbox 360 Laptop Part 1
(Text Tutorial with Pics)

---------------------------------------- [details=Text Tutorial Part 1]

[size=25]The making-of How-To for the Xbox 360 laptop will be in three parts. In today’s segment we’ll discuss the parts list, stripping down an Xbox 360 motherboard, and modding / reattaching the DVD and hard drives. The next installment will cover case design, construction and hacking the LCD display, as well as wiring the video. Part 3 will then describe wiring all the separate parts together, troubleshooting, and finishing up the unit. Full design files will be including along the way. Let’s take a look and prep to get started!

Can’t make an Xbox laptop without some parts, so let’s see what we’ll need.[/size]

Parts list


  • Xbox 360 Premium system - Or whichever version you wish. With the Elite you could, in theory, make an HDMI-DVI converter and input that into a LCD. The model LCD we used had DVI but, of course, the XBox we used is still analog. Rats.

  • Westinghouse LCM-17x1 17-inch widescreen monitor - Same as on the first Xbox laptop we did in 2006. However, by the time we started construction on the second laptop, these have all but disappeared from the stores. Thankfully there were some still available online, namely from places like eBay. Alternatively, most 17-inch widescreen LCD monitors should work. They’re plummeting in price since the 19-inch LCDs are dirt cheap these days. This monitor also gives us a sound amplifier and built-in speakers we can use. The resolution of this screen is 1280 x 768 so it fits the high def resolution of the 360 nicely.

  • Xbox 360 WiFi module - Here’s half the cost of the project alone! Ha ha, we kid, we kid. But when you’re making a “portable” unit, the less wires the better. I’ve seen these adapters sell used for as low as the “bargain” price of $75. I’ve heard certain model “thumb” USB WiFi adapters work, but we haven’t tested any as of yet.

  • Small, flat USB keyboard - we suggest one such as this. If you can find one with a built-in USB hub that’s even better since you’ll actually gain a USB port by using the keyboard.

  • Male headers - These are used to interconnect things between circuit boards. You can pull them off old motherboards or buy them new.

  • Ribbon cable - As usual I’d suggest the type from old floppy drives and IDE disks. However, for rewiring SATA connections it’s best to have thin (as in Ultra ATA 33 and up) solid-strand wire. You can tell if it’s solid or stranded by bending the cable – solid wire cable holds its shape much better than stranded.

Tools you’ll need today


  • Soldering iron - As usual we suggest a low wattage type to avoid damage to parts.

  • Desoldering iron - To remove parts, and is also useful to solder large items that the lower wattage iron can’t handle.

  • Dremel tool - With the ever-important cutoff wheel to slice up things.

  • Wire clippers, small screwdrivers and tweezers - All very handy.

  • X-Acto knives - Again, quite useful for doing delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) hacking work.

  • Multimeter - Or “voltage meter”, whatever you’d like to call it. Very useful for detecting circuits to discover pinouts.

[i][/i]Stripping down an Xbox 360 motherboard[b][/b]

I’m not going to cover how to take apart the somewhat Pandora’s Xbox-esque 360 case since it’s covered elsewhere on the 'net. We’ll start by assuming you have it disassembled and down to the motherboard and drives.

[i][/i]Removing parts from the motherboard[b][/b]

[size=25]We don’t need to get into how to desolder in this article since we’ve covered it before. Some tips on removing these parts from the motherboard:

  • It is important to note that the Xbox 360 is RoHS compliant, meaning it uses unleaded solder.

  • In general it’s tougher to desolder parts in the RoHS world, so for best results apply some new solder onto a pin, then heat it with the desoldering iron for longer than you normally would (so about 4 seconds) before sucking up the solder.

  • Be especially careful with pins that connect to inner ground or power planes, they’re also difficult to remove. This is also true of the ground connections on a jack that connect to the main surface of the board, such as a USB jack.

  • Use a clean, brand new desoldering iron tip for best results. Heat up a pin for a little longer than normal to ensure all the solder in the through-hole is melted before you try and suck it up.

Side RoHS conspiracy theory - While we were doing the Wii Laptop hack we noticed it was very easy to desolder parts off the motherboard, unlike most other modern electronics. Could the Wii have been non-RoHS compliant, thus explaining the shortages?[/size]

The front USB ports. It connects with two rows of pins (for the USB signals) and metal tabs off the shielding on the side. The best way to get this sucker loose is to rock it back and forth slightly while heating the large metal mounting tabs. It also helps to chop off any plastic posts from the plug that are going through the board. The photo above shows the pinout for future reference. The left column of pads is port 1, the right column is port 2.

Here’s one of the memory card connectors. It uses a pinout much like USB, but uses +3.3 volts instead of 5. Since these take up a decent amount of space it’s best to remove them, but use the pinout above should you desire to reattach them remotely.

Next comes the top-mounted hard drive connector. Be sure to desolder all of the pins before you try and pry it off, you don’t want to damage any of the thin traces on the motherboard for the data signals. We’ll cover how to wire directly from here to the hard drive a little later on in this article.

[size=25]One one the trickest parts to remove is the remove Ethernet / USB port. Shown above “s” the pinout for the USB portion of it.

To the left of this is the big audio / video port. Since this port is fairly thin it won’t get in the way, and since it has so many pins it would be quite difficult to remove if you tried. Connections to it can be made via a hacked A/V cable (as with our Xbox 360 VGA hack) or by soldering to the points on the bottom of the board. More on this, as well as removing and rewiring the big power input jack, in Part 2.[/size]

Capacitor Flattening

Even in this high-tech age of supersonic jets and microwave ovens many electronic devices still employ large electrolytic capacitors (“caps” for short). These are the can-shaped objects on a circuit board, usually colored blue or dark brown, and are usually the largest components as well. While we can’t remove them we can “flatten” them over to save some vertical space.

[size=25]Flattening caps:

  • Decide in which direction you’d like to flatten the cap. Keep in mind that if you’re flattening many caps you’ll need to make sure there’s going to be room to lay them all down.

  • Heat up the leads on the cap at the bottom of the motherboard (also called the solder side). Once they’re hot, you can bend over the cap. You can heat one lead, bend the cap a bit, heat the other lead, bend it, wash rinse repeat until the cap is tiled over on its side.

  • In some cases you may need to move the cap and not just bend it over. Desolder the cap and then use small bits of wire to attach the leads to the original spot.

Be sure to check polarity when working with caps. On the motherboard one of the leads will be marked with a “+”, this is positive. The other lead may have a white stripe as shown above, this is negative. On the cap they’ll be a strip on one side or end – this indicates the negative terminal. Check that you rewire caps correctly. Doing them wrong can result in a 3 red lights of death scenario, though if you go in and fix the caps you’ll be ok. (So the 3 red lights aren’t always a death knell.)

Hacking up the WiFi module

Next let’s hack up the worth-its-weight-in-gold WiFi module. Like many electronics these days, it’s literally glued together (which is why we don’t feel bad about our own hot glue fetish). It does take a bit of work to crack it open, though.

Start by using an X-Acto knive to cut a groove along the seam of the module on one side. Make several cuts until the groove is deep enough to fit a screwdriver inside.

Next, as you may have guessed, stick a flat headed screwdriver in there and twist. This should pop open at least a portion of the shell. Once you have a bit of purchase you can wedge the rest of the shell off. Just don’t push the screwdriver in too far or you may damage some of the components.

[size=25]Here’s the WiFi module with the shell opened. Not much too it really. Not let’s rewire the plugs to make it easy to use in a laptop portable.

Here’s the original USB port. As you can see it plugs into the PCB via a mini-USB port, similar to a digital camera. Desoldering this port would be a bit tricky, so we’re simply going to attach new wires for the USB connection on the other side of it.

Shown above is the solder side of the mini-USB jack.

  • Using a multimeter, test the each pin inside the big USB jack while it’s connected to this PCB to see which pins on the back of the board are which.

  • To identify them, first find which pin on the big USB port is ground. This should connect to all ground points / shielding on the WiFi PCB, including the shielding of the mini-USB jack itself.

  • Once you’ve found ground, the next 3 pins over are Data +, Data - and then +5 volts.
    Solder a piece of ribbon cable to the pins on the mini-USB port and mark the opposite end of the cable for future reference. Typically we suggest black magic marker for the ground wire and red for +5 volts.

Next let’s extend the WiFi antenna wire. It starts out fairly short but with some careful modding we can change that.

  • Cut the wire at the middle section. This wire contains an outer shield (ground) and an inner coated wire which is the signal itself. This is very much like the WiFi we hacked back during the Wii laptop tour de force.

  • Strip a small bit of plastic off the inner wire and dab some solder onto the wire. Twist the stranded shielding wire together and solder it into a single piece as well. This is the kind of work where you’ll be glad you used a low wattage iron and not something that melts everything within a two foot radius into mush.

  • Solder a length of wire to each of these connections. For best results cover each connection with a bit of thin heat shrink tubing (available in the electric aisle of your friendly neighborhood hardware store).

Re-attach the snap connector to the other end of the wires in the same fasion. Take care with this type of soldering since with the short existing wire there’s not much room for mistakes.

The hacked WiFi module. Note on the right side I’ve attached a 4 pin male header to the end of the USB wire. This will allow me easy connections to the rest of the motherboard further along in this project.[/size]

Modding / reattaching the DVD and hard drives

[size=25]Now let’s modify the DVD drive to fit in a smaller case, and prep the hard drive as well.

Start by using the Dremel cutoff wheel to remove the extra length of the 4 black plastic posts on the bottom of the DVD drive. Cut them off so they’ll flush with the base of the drive. The holes remain inside the post, allowing us a way to secure the drive to the final case. A size 8 screw will fit tightly into it.[/size]

Extending SATA cables for the DVD and hard drive

[size=25]In the original Xbox 360 the DVD drive sits atop the GPU heatsink and has a stubby SATA cable for its connection, along with a power cable very similar to the one for the DVD in the original Xbox.

The stubby SATA cable from the 360.

To place the DVD drive beside the motherboard for a laptop we’re going to need a longer SATA cable. One option is to simply buy one, but even a short cable might be too long and bulky for the confines of a case. Here’s how to hack the existing cable into a longer one:

  • Start by cutting the SATA cable in half length-wise. Note that the cable is in 2 halves side-by-by, one half is the A+ A- signals, the other is B+ B-. You can peel these halves apart like string cheese, which is fairly tasty unless it’s sat in your lunch pail too long.
  • Using an X-Acto knife, carefully slice away about 1/2-inch of the plastic covering. This will reveal a tin foil like material.

Carefully peel this away to reveal 2 bare wires (both are ground) and 2 coated wires (data signals).

Solder a piece of solid wire thin ribbon cable with 4 strands to the SATA wires. This preserves both the ground signals and the data (either A or B). Use a minimal amount of solder for the connections. Insulate the connections and repeat the procedure for the other half of the cable.

Reconnect the other end of the cable to the ribbon cable in the same way. To place the DVD player as seen in this laptop you’ll need to extend this cable by about 4 to 5 inches. The cable should now be ready to go![/size]

DVD drive power connector

[size=25]The other cable going to the DVD drive is the power connector. It also includes an “Eject” signal.

This consists of a group of black wires with a white plug on each end. It’s longer than the DVD’s SATA cable but still, in stock form, not long enough to move the drive very far. Note that the pinouts at both ends of the cable are the same, thus the wires “flip”, or cross each other from end to end. You can tell which way the cable is meant to be inserted by the small tabs on the side of the plug. More on this later.

The cable cut in half. Doubles as a modern art spider.

Cut the power cable in half. Don’t worry about keeping track of which wire goes to what, it’s pretty straightforward. Strip a bit of plastic off the ends of the wiring and “tin” them with a bit of solder.

  • Cut (2) lengths of ribbon cable with 5 strands each. About 5-inches long should be good.

  • Solder each of the ribbon cables to the 5 wires on both sides of the plug, as shown above.

  • Insulate the wires with electric tape or small bits of heat shrink tubing. Of course you’ll need to remember to slide the tubing on before you make the connection. Regardless, heat shrink tubing gives it a nice clean look when done. We usually do ours with a lighter, the tubing shrinks before the wires burn.

  • Connect each of the plug ends to each other with the ribbon cable. In this photo the tabs are placed as such to have their tabs both on the right, to ensure the connections are made correctly.

  • Note that the plugs are the same shape and have the same pinouts. Thus, the 5 wires on the “Left” side of the first plug connect to the 5 wires of the “Left” side of the second plug. This is what causes the wires themselves to “flip” or criss-cross between the cables.

The finished extended DVD drive power connector


Hard Drive Connector

[size=25]Now it’s time to extend the connector for the hard drive. This is similar to the DVD method but we have to determine some of the pinouts manually.

Above you can see the pinouts for the 360’s hard drive. There’s really only 6 wires to make the connection since most of the pins are ground. For this example we’ll use some standard size stranded ribbon cable for the ground and power, and thin, solid Ultra ATA ribbon cable for the data, like we did with the DVD drive.

You can take apart the Xbox 360 Hard Drive enclosure with the same type of tools required for the main case itself. Inside you’ll find a 2.5-inch SATA laptop-style drive, a power / data plug going into it (item above on the left) some short wiring and then the plug which goes into the top of the Xbox (right).

  • Cut the wires off close to the Xbox plug end. We’ll be reattaching them by color code and pin testing, so no need to check how they connect on the Xbox plug.

  • Twist and solder together the white, blue and yellow wires - these are all +5.

  • Likewise, connect black, green and orange together, these are all ground.

  • As with the DVD drive’s SATA cable, peel back the foil on the other wires to reveal the data lines and their ground wires. Unlike the DVD cable it’s not very clear how to rewire the data lines, we’ll cover that shortly.

As with the DVD drive, solder a piece of 4-strand ribbon cable to each data strand. 2 of the wires will be ground, 2 data. We’ll determine which signals they are in the next step.

Here’s what the extended hard drive SATA plug/cable should look like. We’ve used a bit of electric tape to insulate the data connections, thin heat shrinking tubing would have also worked if we would have had some around. For this project we’ve added about 5-inches of length, and without the aid of prescription drugs.

Pinout of a SATA plug.

  • We need to discover what the pinout is of the wires on the other side, but it’s kind of hard to fit the probes of a multimeter into a jack like this. Use a small bit of stiff wire (such as that clipped off a resistor) to insert into each pin of the jack for easy testing.

  • Use the multimeter to test which wires at the end of the newly extended cable are A+, A-, B- and B+. You may find it handy to label them using different colored magic markers, or by putting a bit of Scotch tape on the end of the wire and making it with a pen.

  • Solder the cables to the motherboard using the pinouts shown at the beginning of this section, as well as making the +5 and ground connections.

Here’s how the extended SATA/power cables should look when soldered to the motherboard. Notice how we’ve “doubled up” the ground and power with 2 stranded ribbon cable wires each. This ensure enough current gets through. Sure it’s just a 500mA laptop hard drive and not, say, an electic pizza oven, but it’s good to make sure anyway. Alternatively you could use slightly thicker gauge wire but that’s not always as convienent, and tends to be a bit stiff and unwieldy.

Also note that the 2 ground connections per data cable had been soldered to ground (lower connections on the left and rightmost sides). You can never have enough grounds!

Once you’ve had a chance to make sure that it’s working properly it’s a good idea to “lock down” the wires with some hot glue. You don’t need to cover the connections, just glue the wires down someplace nearby. What this does is keep the wires from pulling or breaking free of the motherboard since the “hinge point” becomes where you’ve glued them down, not at the connection point. A good general-purpose tip for any kind of electronics hacking.

Here’s the final combo unit. We have the DVD drive with the hard drive attached at the rear. On top of this is the WiFi module we hacked earlier, and everything has convienent ports for connecting to the main motherboard. This modular approach is a big help when assemblying and troubleshooting a unit. The extra time it takes to add plugs and ports now will save time later when you don’t have to desolder or cut wires later.[/size]


You can find the remaining two parts on the second page of this thread!

And credit goes to…?

omg this must have taken you sooo long great job and good tutorial

My friend and I (Aden) posted this on TTG as well!

Thanks to Ben Heck for help with a good portion of this tutorial!!

Nice tut (:

Interesting idea! I liked this when I saw it back on my hardware forums about 2 years ago. Ben Heck does some awesome work!

Should be a Stickie! Nice TUT!

hah, i agree

Thanks and the other two parts are bein posted right now

Great tut. The only problem is that I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that nobody on here will ever do this haha
It’s a lot of work.

Rather just buy one which has the xbox slim with 24/26inch hd screen also has laptop built in. And with a switch so goes from xbox screen to laptop screen and also can do half screen of each. :smile:

Stolen Tutorial he claimed ben heck only helped with a good portion of that tutorial when that tutorial is Ben hecks word for word on his site

It’s a nice tutorial but nowhere near practical.
Half the people on this forum can’t solder properly.

I always thought that was fake, but I guess not. Nice.

----------------------------------------------- [details=Part 2 of Tutorial]

We’re building an Xbox 360 laptop – exciting, right? In part 1 of this series we covered removing ports from the Xbox 360, and rewiring both the DVD and hard drive. Now today in part 2 we’ll get to the meat and potatoes of the case design, heat sink modification, the start of the case construction and the hacking of the LCD monitor and power supplies. Ready to rumble?

Files used

[size=25]Here’s the file we used to design this Xbox 360 laptop. You can examine it and see how a lot of the parts went together, and even use it to cut your own templates and designs, either by paper and hand or using a CNC machine. Check out Will O’Brien’s articles for more information on “roll your own” CNC devices (part 1, part 2, and part 3 here).

Download the art (Adobe Illustrator)[/size]

Case Design Concept

[size=25]As with most of Ben’s projects, we’ve got a case designed using Adobe Illustrator. The main theme is to make something as thin as possible. Thus, the first thing we need to look at are the thickest parts of the unit, because of course the unit can only be as thin as its thickest piece.

As with the original model XBox 360 Laptop, the DVD drive has been set beside the motherboard, rather than over it as in the stock 360 form. This leaves the CPU’s heat sink as the tallest part of the unit (not shown). For now we’re going to assume that we can rebuild it to be no taller than the DVD drive, allowing us to move on with the case design.

This drawing shows the target look (bottom, obviously) and above that an exploded view of the two halves. The top half is only 1-inch thick and will contain the LCD monitor. There are two ways to look at these kind of hacks – you can either make it easier on yourself and not slim down parts (such as the monitor), and end up with a bigger/thicker unit, or you can spend more time compacting components and likewise have a smaller end product. You can use the same drawings and plans, just plan to make the side walls a little taller if need be.

Here’s a top down view of the main component layout in the bottom half (where all the action is).

  • The DVD drive and motherboard should be obvious. Note the (2) Xs on the motherboard, these indicate the location of the heat sink clamps found on the bottom of the board. We’ve drawn all this up for you so you can take our files and use them as you please.
  • To the upper left is the hard drive. You can see the SATA data/power cable indicated on the right side of it. There should be plenty of room to run cables in this case, and still stay out of the air path.
  • Over on the right is the USB port we removed in part 1, now tilted to offer side ports.
  • In the middle you can see a faint rectangular outline - this indicates the relative position of the keyboard, which we’ll get to later.
  • At the top and slightly to the right is a long black rectangle - this indicates where a bank of fans will be to blow air out of the system.
  • To the top right is the power port, which has been desoldered and extended to the back of the case in this example.

This is the broken down view showing only the side walls. You can find this in the main art file. Note the notches on the inner left side - these allow the side mounts of the DVD drive to slide in.

For the laptop we built, we routed the walls using a material called Sintra (also goes by Komatex). This is a PVC plastic that you could think of as very high density Styrofoam. It routs well, is strong, and it easy to machine later. A drawback is it usually only comes as thick as 0.75-inches, so to make a 1.5-inch case we had to cut 2 pieces and double them up.

Here’s the bottom plate, which I cut from 0.080-inch thick aluminum. This gives the unit a good solid base for us to build upon, even if the rest of it is plastic. It also keeps the unit from bending due to its weight and size. (Still not as heavy as a water-cooled version though.) Again you can cut this by hand (well, rather a metal sheer, drill press and corner cutters) or rout using a CNC machine. As before you can find this art in the main file.

Here’s the base aluminum piece routed. Sand both sides well with a medium grit paper, this will allow paint and glues to stick better. This is kind of obvious, but don’t sand it anywhere near open electronics as you might get small bits of conductive particles flying through the air.

Here you can see we’ve attached the plastic walls to the aluminum base. Don’t scream, but in our example we used copious amounts of super glue, then reinforced with a bead of JB Weld. It was a helluva lot easier than the all aluminum welded case we did back in 2006.

The workability of the Sintra/Komatex plastic comes in handy here. We can use new, sharp X-Acto knives to slice open any holes we might need, as indicated in the photo above.

Next we have the bottom half lip. This is attached on top of the walls and provides the support for the keyboard and control plates. You can find the template for it in the main art file.

For this example I’ve cut the lip out of 0.125-inch thick acrylic and super glued and JB Welded it to the top of the lower half walls. It contains screw holes which we’ll use to attach the inner plates later on. For this example these pieces have been painted green with Krylon “spray paint for plastic”. Costs a bit more but allegedly it’s better.

Next we have the top half of the case. It is assembled very much like the bottom half, only sort of in reverse.

  • Start with the main top plate, made from 0.080-inch thick aluminum. As with the other aluminum, sand it well to receive paint and glue.
  • Behind this attach the top half walls. These are similar to the walls on the bottom half but have a total depth of 1-inch. (In this example, two layers of 0.5-inch thick Sintra material)
  • At this point paint the top half of the case the color you desire.
  • Finally, attach the top lip to the front of the aluminum. This creates and opening inside the case when the lid is closed for the keyboard and control plates on the bottom half of the units (the top and bottom lips match up).

The top half of the case, with side walls, aluminum plate and outer lip.


Modifying the CPU heatsink

[size=25]Alright now that we have the case built we can modify the heatsinks. As mentioned before the stock GPU heatsink isn’t a big deal but the GPU is a different story. To make it fit in our case (that is, be no taller than the DVD drive) we need to reduce its height by modifying it. The following is how we did it – which is sure to be controversial, so Iweinvite you to invent your own methods or use off-the-shelf parts if possible. (Discuss!)

The main item holding the heatsinks in place is an X-shaped piece of metal on the bottom of the board.

  • Pry up 2 corners on the same side by inserting a thin flat headed screwdriver into the gap outside the screwhole and bending up.
  • Once 2 of the corners are plied off the mechanical retention is loosened and you can lift the other 2 corners off by hand.
  • Unless you wish to put your own thermal paste on it you do not need to remove the GPU heatsink.

You’ll notice the heat sink doesn’t lift right off, you need to twist it a bit to remove the seal of the OEM thermal paste. Remove all of the steel fins from the heatsink. This will leave only the copper base and the heatpipe, which we will build upon.

To recreate the heatsink we’re using 1/2-inch copper pipe coupling, as seen above. These are available at your local hardware store in the plumbing asile, and are usually about 30 cents each.

  • Using a Dremel cutoff wheel, slice about 20 of these couplings in half length to create “half moon” shapes.
  • Solder or JB weld (depending on your skill, ours sucked, so we JB-welded) the pipe pieces in 2 rows (one row on either side of the heat pipe) to the base of the copper heatsink.

Side view of how we reworked the CPU heatsink. Flame away.

Here we can see the reworked CPU heatsink on the motherboard, slightly ahead of the section on how to reattach it. Regardless, this shows the “doubled-up” GPU. Bending the heat pipe lower made the end stick out further, so as shown above this has been attached to a spare Xbox 360 GPU that was laying around. Most of the heat from the CPU travels through the pipe, so with this we give it even more metal to sink into. Since there was room some additional copper pipes have been attached to the CPU heatsink as well.[/size]

Reattcahing the heatsink

[size=25]Attaching the CPU heatsink back to the board isn’t a big deal but there are a few things we can do to make the best of things.

Arctic Silver, with the No Mess Applicator!

Here’s some Arctic Silver thermal compound. Putting a bit of this between the CPU die and heatsink will provide a good thermal connection. Be sure to carefully clean the old thermal paste off the die first, which we’ve found is best done with 90% Isopropel alcohol, cotton swabs and toothpicks to remove the little bits.

Copper pipe thread sealing tape

Notice that when you place the heatsink back onto the board it’s not completely tight fitting, even if you put the X brackets back on. This is because the posts are slightly smaller than the holes in the motherboard, allowing some flutter. A good trick is to get some copper pipe sealing tape (also available at your friendly neighborhood hardware store) and wrap a few inches around each post.

Place the heatsink back onto the board and the new thin layers around each post will keep them from shuffling about. We can now place the X bracket back on and be done with the heatsink hack.[/size]

The Xbox 360 needs more fans (and not just in Japan)

[size=25]The XBox 360 in stock form uses a fairly passive technique (at least in my opinion). It sits in the back of the 360’s case and pulls air through the GPU and CPU heatsinks using a plastic tunnel of sorts. Since we’ve changed the heatsinks it’s a good idea for us to create a more active cooling solutions.

Here we can see the front 3 fans, each 30 x 30mm square and 10mm thick. They are Digi-Key part #259-1396-ND. 2 of them push air directly through the CPU heatsink, while a 3rd pulls it through the GPU sink. It would have been nice to have the GPU fan in front like the CPU but there isn’t quite enough room once the Ring of Light is installed. These fans are all 12 volt DC and are wired to the main 12 volt input near the power plug, thus they turn on and off with the Xbox. More on this wiring in Part 3.

This will bring fresh, room temperature air though the heat sinks, but we’re also going to want to purge the now-heated air from the case itself. We’ll do that with some rear fans, like in the stock Xbox 360.

We can use slightly larger (and thus cheaper and more effective) fans for the rear of the case simply because we’ll have more vertical height this time around (the full 1.5-inches, allowing 35mm fans to fit easily). For the rear three fans this example uses Digi-Key part #259-1392-ND. Find a hole drilling bit that closely matches the size of the circular opening of the fan. Drill the first hole in the space reserved for the fans (check the art files for details).

- Now, plunk your first 35mm fan down over this hole, then set the next fan beside it. This will allow us to gauge where to drill the next hole, and so forth. We also also measure the distances with a dial caliper or accurate tape. - Once the 3 main air holes are drilled, use a 1/8th-inch bit to drill out the 2 mounting holes in each fan. This will allow a proper, non-hot-glue-related way to secure the fans to the case.

A view of the installed fans, from inside the case. Their positive and negative leads will be tied together and attached to the original stock fan connection.

View of the the fans from the outside. It’ll be a bit, hm, “ambient” with the sound of air flow, but can’t be much worse than those Hitachi DVD drives, right?[/size]

LCD hacking

[size=25]Alright now let’s move onto the hacking of the LCD. This isn’t for the faint of heart, so you’ve been warned. But take your time and keep your work area fairly clean (to avoid screen damage) and you should be ok.

The Westinghouse LCD monitor in its true form. A decent enough monitor.

Shown above is the Westinghouse monitor in normal, pre-BenHeck form. We choose this because it’s the same model we used last time, thus we knew what to expect. If we had to guess, most monitors of this general shape and size will be similar inside (no guarantees, though). Despite the myriad brands, most of them have the glass from Sharp and drive video using a “Genesis” chip. (No, not the one from Sega.) Let’s take this sucker apart!

The first part is easy, just find and remove all the screws you can from the back. Some are hidden under plastic hinge covers, just pop those off. Occasionally a really sneaky manufacturer will put screws under stickers. Can you believe that? To add insult to injury these stickers usually say something like “Stop!” or “Warranty void if you break this seal!” Ridiculous. Of COURSE we’re going to void the warranty, don’t you know why we buy anything at all?

Hey remember those cheapo models they used to have back in the 80s? (Not talking about Kathy Ireland here.) They were called “Snap Tight” or something like that – model kits you’d just snap together. This (and many) monitors are like this. Much of the case has just been snapped together.

- To unsnap it, insert a flat head screwdriver inside the side slits and twist. It's best to do it near an end and not the middle, so you can get some leverage once you're in there. - Sometimes you have to press fairly hard, and it'll usually marr the case a bit when you twist. The idea is: if you get it open, it's meant to create evidence should you try and return this bad boy to the store. Again, the nerve! - Unsnap both sides, then you should be able to pull the entire back of the case off.

OK we’re in. Remember most LCD monitors are very similar. They’ll have a metal RF cage that contains the electronics, probably an external headphone jack (if applicable) and below this another metal assembly holding the LCD.

Inside the cage. Here’s where it might vary a bit between the models, but we’ll stick with describing this one for now.

  • On the left you have your AC/DC power supply (insert cheesy 70’s song reference here), which is connected to the cold cathode bulb inverter circuit – this lights up the screen. Many screens will have the inverter board and power supply separate, but the inverter is almost always separate from the driver board.
  • Driver board, seen on the right. This is where it all happens. Inputs on the bottom, decoder chip in the middle, connection to the LCD on top. To the upper left on this board is the audio amplifier, usually indicated by 2-4 large capacitors, a through-hole large DIP style IC and a headset.
  • Unscrew these boards from the LCD glass. You may also need to remove the screws on the VGA / DVI inputs to get the board free of the metal plate.

- Above we see a close-up of the connections on the driver board. Note that a small piece of metal was between the amplifier and the motherboard. This came loose when we removed the board, so you'll want to reattach it with a small size 4 screw and nut. This allows heat to sink off the amp and into the board. - Other connections in this area of the board are noted. We'll come back to those later, but one thing to mention right now is that if you don't have the headphone assembly plugged in the sound won't get to the speakers. This is because it tries to pass through the headphones first and then to the speakers. This is typical of most devices with both a speaker and headphone jack.

Here’s the monitor with the boards removed. As shown in the little box, bend down the plastic tabs to release the glass and frame from the plastic front. Again, most LCD screens are assembled the same way.

Ok, it’s free of the plastic frame. To remove the glass from the metal frame, remove the four screws from the corners as shown in the insert box. Carefully lift the remaining glass and aluminum portion from the main frame.

The resulting LCD glass should look like the above. This should fit into our test case, but if it’s a bit too tight you can actually hack it further. Please note that this point you can damage the glass, so take care if you decide to go this far.

At the top of bottom of the LCD you’ll see little metal tabs. Bend these out using a small screwdriver.

- Carefully pull back on the outer metal frame whilst pushing in on the LCD glass. (See arrows.) - This will reveal the main black plastic frame and the edges of the LCD glass. Take care not to let the glass tilt out of the frame. The edges of the glass are what we need to worry about - should they crack or get damaged the signals won't work on the glass and it'll be dead. Again, only hack this far if you absolutely have to. - Side note: these tips are handy if you're making one of those [DIY LCD projector things](http://www.engadget.com/2006/12/13/how-to-hd-projector-wrap-up-and-review-aka-part-7/).

The hacked LCD monitor sitting in the top haf of the case.


Hacking up the LCD electronics

[size=25]Ok, here’s another tricky part of this project. We’re going to split the inverter from the power supply, kind of like one of those Siamese twin surgeries you might see on TLC (the medical procedure and motorcycle channel as we call it). The idea is: the inverter is thin enough to fit inside the top half of the case, along with the LCD, but the AC/DC power supply is fairly thick and we’re going to want to graft that onto the Xbox 360’s power supply.

Click here for a larger version of this.

Use an X-Acto knife to make a scoring groove down the middle of the board. You’ll need to weave between some circuitry near the plug, check the larger version of this image for a better look.

The split board.

Close-up of the connections on the inverter half

- There are 3 things that need to be reconnected between these two boards: 5 volts, 12 volts and ground. - The 5 volt and 12 volt signals are indicated by a pair of green things that look like resistors - they are actually fuses. We'll need to desolder them in order to split the boards, but leave them attached to one board or the other. This is where we'll attach our power wiring later on. - Ground is the copper plane on the edge of the power supply half.

Here’s the parts side of the inverter. We’ve attached 3 power wires to it, +5 volts, ground and +12 volts. Each of these is connected to two pins of the cable going to the main driver board. The remaining two wires (green and yellow) are most likely signals to turn the inverter / light tube on and off.

Shown above is the power supply side of the split circuit board. The upper fuse gives us +12 volts, the lower fuse (which has been bent up and covered with hot glue) is +5 and ground is connected to the outer thick trace of the circuit board.

Solder side of the power supply. Ground is found on the thick trace along the edge of the board.

For the power supply side attach the 3 power wires using 12-14 gauge wires that are at least as long as the cable between the power supply and the 360 - these will be combined with the main power cable.

We’ll graft this power supply onto the Xbox 360’s power supply a little later on. Let’s go back to the LCD driver board…

Desolder the VGA and DVI connectors. It’s helpful to use tweezer to tilt the pins back and forth after we’ve sucked away the solder - if they can all move then the part is ready to be pulled free.

- Using the techniques discussed in part 1, flatten all the large caps on the driver board. It's ok if they go off the side, there's plenty of room. - Note in the middle of the board we've also tilted the power input sideways. This is to keep everything thin enough to fit into the top half of the case. - We'll cover the rest of the wiring to this board later on. [/size]

Grafting the Power Supplies Together

[size=25]After our separation surgery it’s time to do the opposite and stick two things together. By attaching the LCD’s power supply to the 360’s we’ll keep all the high-voltage AC stuff outside the system and in its own box - a modified version of the 360’s power supply brick.

Here is the stock Xbox 360 power supply. It’s a good idea to leave this unplugged and unused for several hours before you start messing around inside. Open it up by removing the four screws. It’s actually quite easy to crack into, unlike a lot of similar things on the market.

Inside the power supply you’ll need to desolder 2 spots to lift the metal sheild off. It should then appear as above. We’re interested in the right hand side, where the wall power plugs in.

- Solder pieces of thick wire (I used 10 gauge) to the spots shown above. These are direct connections to the AC power inputs. The red wire is our earth ground (the middle prong of the AC port) Note the indicator lines -- the wires aren't attached to the AC plug in a left-to-right fasion as they appear. - You can double check the solder spots with multimeter. In this case, as seen in the above photo, we've soldered the left prong to the white wire, right prong to the black and as mentioned the middle ground to red. - Once you have the wires attached solder the metal shield back onto the power supply. The wires should have enough room to still stick out on the end. - Place a few layers of thin plastic (from either the hardware store or cut-up packaging) over the metal shield to prevent short circuits on the LCD's power supply.

- Desolder the AC port from the LCD's power supply. - Place the LCD power supply on the top of the 360 power supply. The plastic will insulate the pieces from each other. - Note that in this position the AC power port for the LCD is in the same orientation as the 360's - with the middle ground prong up. - Connect the 3 power wires from the 360 to the LCD's power supply. Note that in the photo above that they criss-cross. In the above example the white wire (left prong) is connected to the left side of the fuse - this is the same as the left prong and was done because the original solder through-hole was damaged during desoldering. - Wiring the power supplies together in this fashion has the same effect as plugging them both into the same power strip.

- Get a piece of 1/16-inch thick, 1-inch wide aluminum strip from the hardware store. They usually come 6-8 feet long and you'll only need about two feet, but it's not that expensive. - Bend the aluminum around the perimeter of the top half of the power supply case (the half you removed). - Use the Dremel cut-off wheel to make gaps for both the AC power port (right square hole) and the power cabling to the XBox (left, circular hole).

In the above photo we can see the 3 power wires (5 volts, 12 volts and ground) coming off the LCD’s power supply. Remember to make these long enough to reach the Xbox 360 power plug at the end of the cable.

Tips for bending metal:

  • Mark off where you want each bend to be by placing the metal against the power supply. Because of the way metal bends it’s better to mark it a lttle short than right on since metal tends to bend a little outside of where you’d like it to.
  • Attach the strips to a table or workbench with C-clamps and bend against the egde, using a hammer to tighten up the curve.
  • If you have a friend or relative who’s any kind of machinist, have them do this for you.

Here’s the metal strip at the power plug end. Ok, it’s not perfect, but we never claimed to be some sort of metal working geniuses.

  • Secure the metal strip to the top half of the power supply’s case. For ours we used small bits of super glue to hold it in place intially, then went in with a layer of JB Weld for the permanent bond.
  • Remove the electronics from the case and spray the whole thing a new color to match the rest of your project (in our case, black). Any old spray paint will work, we used some slightly more expensive “Appliance Enamel”. The main goal is to make the aluminum match the rest of the power supply.
  • Finally, reattach the halves of the case together using 1.5-inch long size 4 screws. These will reach through the top portion to the original screw posts below.


Thus far we’ve slimmed down the Xbox 360 motherboard, started building the case, hacked up the LCD and modified the power supply. In part 3 we’re wire everything together, attach the accesories and get this puppy fired up! Stay tuned!


Why didn’t you just put them in one thread? o.O

hah, lol

nah, its real :smile:

What i think?

Three letters.

---------------------------------------- [details=Part 3 of Tutorial]

[size=25]Alright after a break we’re back with part 3, the final installment in this Xbox 360 “How-To” series. Today we’ll be wiring up the LCD screen, installing the parts into the case, modding the keyboard and attaching all latches and USB ports. The end begins…

Notice: Just to clarify, this article refers to the original Xbox 360 and does not cover the Elite, as Ben has yet to crack one of those bad boys open[/size]

Parts you’ll need


  • USB port, male (full size type A) - Digi-Key part # 151-1082-ND.
  • VGA port - It’s best to just desolder and use the one that’s already on the LCD screen circuitry. You can also find a VGA-style DB-15 jack at your local Radio Shack if you insist on paying for it.
  • Slide switch 3 position - Digi-Key part # SW336-ND. This will be used to select the video mode. It’s panel mount, so it attaches to our rear A/V panel using screws.
  • Slide switch 2 position - Digi-Key part # SW116-ND. Panel mount again. This will be used to switch power on and off for the built-in LCD, if you wish to have this as an option.
  • RCA jacks - For the rear A/V panel. See our “Xbox 360 VGA mod” article for more info, link further on in this article.
  • USB keyboard with hub - we bought one from Tiger Direct, more details when we get to that section.
  • Green 3mm LED - Any type will work. In this example we’re using it as a “contast on” light that will go just below the Ring of Light.
  • u 6mm tact switches[/u] - Digi-Key part # EG2495-ND. We’ll use these for the eject buttons and other controls.
  • Male headers - Digi-Key part #A26525-40-ND. This is a 80 pin male header that you can break apart and use for many things in your laptop.
  • Female headers - Digi-Key part # A26488-ND. This is a 14 pin receptacle that will be of good general purpose use.
  • Shielded VGA monitor cable - It’s best to scavenge one of these off an old monitor or cable. It needs to be shielded (metal mesh wrapped around the inner wires) but try and find one that’s not too thick or it’ll have trouble bending with the lid.
  • Dark plastic screen door material - Find it at your local friendly hardware store. This stuff is good for covered air vent holes and making them look nicer.

Once again, please reference the main art file for the case design and templates.

Download the art file (Adobe Illustrator 10)

Several topics and techniques will be referenced to our past articles to keep this particular entry somewhat shorter than a Stephen King novel.[/size]

Rewiring the Keyboard

[size=25]For this mod we’ve choosen a mini USB keyboard from Tiger Direct. Here is an example of one. These types of keyboards are quite simple and consist of a key layer and a small circuit board which contains the required circuitry. As an added bonus this keyboard also has a USB hub, which means the keyboard uses one of the ports from the 360 but gives you two in return. What a deal.

The keyboard disassembled. An added bonus is how thin it is. At this point a person might wonder, “could we use a laptop keyboard?” and to this we’d say we’re not sure. It might be possible, but much like the LCDs from laptops that everyone wishes they could use, portables parts are often quite customized and thus not useful outside of them.

The back of the keyboard. The circuit board has been attached to the keyboard’s frame in its original position. When this is centered on the laptop it won’t hit the tallest items in the case (the DVD drive or the heatsinks).

Here’s the important bit - a close-up of the circuit board. Some things to look at:

  • On the left are the (2) USB ports that are part of the built-in hub. Not all mini keyboards will have this hub but it’s a nice bonus if you can find one.
  • In the near-middle is the keyboard connection. This consists of traces on the board which clamp onto the plastic keyboard grid via a piece of metal and a rubber spacer to press against the contacts. Normally this clamps to the keyboard case, here it has been secured with a paid of size 4 screws and nuts.
  • On the right is the main USB connection. This is where we’ll wire a ribbon cable to connect directly to the Xbox 360’s motherboard, specificially, to one of the front USB connections.

- Attach an 8 pin female header receptacle directly to one of the USB hub ports on the circuit board, this locks it down and keeps it in place. Bend the other 4 pins out. - Solder wires from the other USB port to the bent out pins. This puts all 8 connections on the one header. - Attach an 8 pin male header plug to an 8 wire ribbon cable and mark which ends are +5 and GND. (See previous article about this). This cable will need to be about 12 inches long. - Finally, attach a 4 wire ribbon cable to the USB port that will go to the Xbox 360. - Note - don't worry about rewiring the Number lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock LED's - in our experience the Xbox never lights up any of these.

The wired keyboard PCB

Alright let’s attach the front USB connections. Remember if your keyboard doesn’t have a hub and you want more connections you’ll have to get a separate USB hub which may or may not require its own power source.

- Attach the original 2 port USB piece from the Xbox to the "USB plate" that you can cut from the main art file, as shown above. (You can also just install it in the side of the case if you make some holes) - Along with these 2 ports we've added a third port using a standalong male USB jack. This will connect directly to the other front USB port on the motherboard. This gives us 3 free ports, same as a stock Xbox, even though we've installed a Wi-Fi adapter and a keyboard. Slick eh?

The front right end of the unit, with USB ports.

- Secure the USB port assembly to the case as seen above. - Connect the 8 wire ribbon cable from the keyboard's USB hub to the dual-port USB assembly. - Connect the single USB port to one of the front USB ports on the main motherboard. - Connect the other main port to the keyboard's USB hookup. - "Front USB port header" indicates a female header that has been wired to the motherboard. This allows us to attach other things, like the keyboard and USB ports, to male headers which can be easily plugged and unplugged into the system. [/size]

Wiring the audio and video to the Xbox 360 and back port

[size=25]Next let’s work on the all-important audio and video portions of the project, starting with the rear A/V panel. One problem with, well, most consoles since the NES is that they don’t have clearly defined ways of attaching multiple types of inputs because they want to sell you a cable for each type. So while we’re making this laptop let’s put a bunch of ports on the back.

Size up the position of the A/V plate on the back of the case. If you go by the drawings there should be a gap for it between the fans and the left hinge. You can find the templates for the panel in the drawings as well.

Once we’ve decided how we’re going to place the panel we can begin cutting holes. For this project we’ve used the high density Komatex / Sintra plastic so it’s actually possible to cut holes with a sharp X-Acto knife and a little patience. (Elbow grease helps as well.)

The best way to attach the A/V connections is to use an original Xbox 360 video cable plug. At this point it would be a good idea to go back and take a look at our Xbox 360 cable-hacking article located here.

Basically we’ll want to wire up every connection that we feel we’ll need off of this port. In the case of this example, it’s everything but the TOSLINK optical port. One difference from the older article is that we’re going to connect a portion of a VGA monitor cable to this port.

Yes that’s right the hot glue gun is back, in all its worn-out glory.

For best results remember to put a thin line of hot glue along the connections so they won’t pull loose or break while we’re working on the rest of this mod. You can also use heat shrink tubing or electric tape.

- Here's an important step - make a list indicating what each wire does by color. - You'll find in the VGA cable there should be 3 wires thicker than the others, these are best used for the R G and B lines. - Some cables have a 4th thick wire which usually goes to H-Sync. - You'll also notice that most VGA cables have several "unused" wires, since VGA technically only needs 5 + ground. These are typically for monitor identification (for an OS) but here we can use them to send audio signals to the LCD half of the case. - Connect the outer shielding of the VGA cable to ground. - The component video jacks wire to the VGA spots on the plug in the order of their color. Red to red, blue to blue and green to green. (Component uses different terms but for our purposes this is fine).

Here’s the VGA port and select switch mounted on the rear A/V panel.

There should be plenty of room to run our wiring and double-up the connections to both the monitor cable (going to the LCD screen) and the rear panel connections. The 3 position selector switch allows us to select which video mode we’d like to use - composite, component or VGA.

Wiring the 3 position video selector switch.

- The "Pins" refer to the Xbox 360 video connector, again see the [VGA mod article](http://www.engadget.com/2006/11/14/how-to-turn-a-standard-xbox-360-video-cable-into-a-vga-cable-fo/) for more details. - Connect GND from the A/V port to the 2 pins indicated above. This sets the video mode by pulling the desired pin low when you move the switch. Since this switch has dual poles it isolates the top and bottom, allowing this manual switching to work. - As shown, sliding the switch to the left engages component video (YPbPr, also used for analog HDTV), the middle is standard yellow-jack composite, and to the right is VGA, for either the built-in screen or external monitor. [/size]

Connecting the LCD screen

[size=25]Next we’ll connect the LCD screen portion (lid) to the main unit.

Above we see the LCD screen as it was at the end of part 2. It’s all encapsulated, we need to get connections to it. Let’s make sure it’s secure first…

- Place bits of material, such as wood or plastic, beside the screen and secure it to the lid case using JB Weld or superglue. We'll call these attachment spacers. Make them the same height as the LCD assembly, which will be about .5 to .75 inches. - Attach flat pieces of plastic to the LCD frame and place the ends over the attachment spacers. Drill a small hole through both so you can secure them together with a screw. - We sanded the surfaces of our plastic pieces to create a better grip (for the glue) and then hot glued them directly to the LCD frame - Repeat this for at least 4 corners of the LCD to ensure it will be secured inside the lid. - Place the lid portion of the case on top of the main portion to make wiring the next few parts easier.

- Connect the wires from the monitor cable (coming from the Xbox) to the VGA spots on the LCD's circuit board, as shown above. This will vary by LCD model, but just search for "VGA pinout" on Google to double-check your connections. Here you can plainly see the thicker wire the cable has for the main video signals. - Secure the wires to the LCD frame using hot glue or whatever you're most comfortable with. Plastic zip ties can work as well. The idea here is that when the lid is opened/closed the cable will bend, or shear if you will, at the spot you secured it and not at the connections to the circuit board. If the circuit board connections move too much they will eventually break.

- Run the 5 volt and 12 volt power lines for the LCD through the 2 position slide switch. Since it's DPDT each of the lines will switch together but be isolated. (See diagram below). - Connect ground directly to the LCD's circuit boards as described in Part 2.

Wiring the LCD main power switch. As shown, sliding to the left is screen off, to the right is screen on.

Next up is the monitor control panel. For the Westinghouse model screen used in this example it’s a fairly simple matter – each switch has 1 wire going to it, the signal, and then the other side is ground. Thus in this case we’ll need 8 wires - 7 signals and 1 ground.

- Determine the pinout of the control panel's connector by plugging it into the LCD's circuit board and testing the buttons with a multimeter. There may be some unused pins on the connector, ignore these. - If you wish, find the pinouts of the power LED to rewire it as well. (We didn't in our example because we always believe it's pretty obvious if the screen is on or not.)

- Connect thin ribbon cable directly to the control panel port on the circuit board, then label the other ends as shown based off the pinouts you discovered with the multimeter. This makes it easier when we wire the new control panel a little later on. - Be sure the ribbon cable is long enough to reach into the bottom half of the unit and into the area where we want the new screen controls to be.

Click here for a larger version in a new window.

- Above we see the LCD's circuit board wired to the rest of the Xbox. - As mentioned in part 2 if there's a headphone jack for the screen we'll need to make sure this is connected since the audio will pass through it. If the headphone jack is disconnected no sound will get to the speakers. - Connect extension wires for the speaker as well. Typically speakers on a device like this will have two wires each, so don't combine the grounds or you might not get good results. - Run all the "between sides" connections through a length of heat-shrink tubing. This gives it a nice clean look, but be sure you've got all the connections you need before you shrink the tube down to fit! - There should be two wire bundles between the halves -- the monitor cable and another cable bunch containing the powered speaker signals, control panel wires and the LCD power wires.


Making the lid latch

[size=25]Now that we’ve sandwiched the halves together we need a way to latch it. You can find the drawings of the latch we designed in the art file.

- Here's the latch from a couple different angles. The basic idea is a notch is going to fit into the tongue from the top half of the unit and hold it in place using a common ball point pen string mounted on a screw. - When you press the front of the latch it pushes the notch back allowed the tongue and the top lid to open up.

- Here's a view inside the case with the LCD removed so we can see it. Note the hole we've put in the tongue. This is where the latch will go. - Mark off the latch's position then drill a hole in the front of the case for the lid button. We made ours about 1/4-inch diameter. For a lid button we can use a rubber stopper or anything really that will fit and look decent.

Top view, the latch in place. To secure it, use a bit of superglue first, then go back around the edges with something stronger like JB Weld to lock it in place. Also be sure the latch will have enough clearance for the motherboard to go underneath.

The completed latch assembly. Again, this is how we did it, feel free to come up with a method of your own.[/size]

Reworking the ring of light

[size=25]Ok, now we’re getting into the inside of the laptop, specifically the control area.

Shown above is the Ring of Light assembly from the Xbox 360. In part 1 we reworked the jack that this goes into on the 360. By extending that with a ribbon cable we can move the Ring of Light to any new position we like.

Here we’ve attached a small 3mm T-1 green LED directly to the 3.3 volt power input on the Ring of Light. Much like the USB this voltage will always be present if the system is plugged in, even if the console is off. Thus this LED functions as a “ready” light, kind of like the omnipresent red LED found on most electronics. In our example laptop it will glow through the clear acrylic lid latch button.

The top of the Ring of Light. We’ve built a new acrylic button that has a small tab at the bottom which will press the surface-mount tact switch located in the center – power.

Here’s the Ring of Light assembly mounted in the front lower plater for the final unit. This piece of plastic should be 1/16th-inch thick. We’ve also added the screen door material to the large air holes to give this piece a nice finished look.

The Ring of Light jack, extended from the motherboard by a ribbon cable.

Note: Be careful that the Ring of Light assembly doesn’t run into your heat sinks or fans as it will be in the same area inside the case. You may need to put the GPU fan on the opposite side to accomodate this.[/size]

Installing the speakers

[size=25]Alright let’s install the speakers. These will go in a piece of plastic very much like the one used for the Ring of Light.

- Crack off the main shell of the speakers using the same techniques from part 1 when we gutted that nefarious Wi-Fi adapter. The speakers themselves are not very thick and are pretty standard for electronics of this size. Be sure to note how the red and black wires are connected as this is important for the speakers to work properly. - You can also use old laptop computer speakers as they are usually quite similar.

Here’s the new LCD control panel as seen from inside. (The laser cutter went a little hog wild there, pardon the smudges.) For this new panel we’re using the 6mm tact switches. Info on wiring those can be found throughout many of our articles so we won’t repeat it here. Most recently it was discussed in “Making a PS360 Controller.”

Shown above is the control panel plastic piece with the tact switches and speakers. When mounting the speakers, especially the right side one, be sure they won’t hit anything inside the case such as the hard drive or power input connector.

Close-up of the speaker plate when mounted to the case.

A good plan is to secure an item with a tiny bit of hole glue, see if the whole assembly is going to fit, then fully secure it if it does. Saves a person a lot of frustrating “tear down” time.

Here’s a closeup of the buttons that were made for the new controls. “M” stands for “Menu”, not “Manwich” in case you were wondering. You can find the drawings and templates of these buttons on the main art file. Remember, everything in the file is actual size so if you copy / paste a piece into a 8.5 x 11 document and print it it’ll come out actual size, for reference.

The main panel of the laptop consists of 3 plates - the top and bottom ones we just worked with and a center plate for the keyboard. These have screw holes which allow them to be secure to the sides of the case, but to keep things tight in the center it’s a good idea to add tabs.

  • Using small pieces of plastic, cut small tabs that will fit at the edges of each plate, as shown above.
  • Superglue these tabs to the underside edges of the plates. This will allow the plates to “interlock” in the middle and support each other.
  • We can also put spacers under the middle keyboard plate so it rests against the DVD drive or the top of the heatsinks / fans.

Final assembly

[size=25]Ok, just a few things left to do, starting with the DVD drive.

Place the DVD drive in the case and mark off where you’d like the new eject button and IR sensor to go.

- Take the drive back out and glue a new tact switch and the original IR sensor to the front based off your markings. - Connect a 4 wire ribbon cable to them as shown above. The wires are ground (2), IR data (1), IR power (3) and eject switch.

Wiring the eject switch and IR to the motherboard.

- Place the DVD drive back in the case and check that the eject switch and IR lense line up to the holes. - Use the designs from the art file to create an eject button to place in the hole. If you're careful you can use a tiny bit of superblue to attach it directly to the switch.

Top view of the DVD drive mounted in place. Once we’ve verified everything is working properly the front “Xbox” drive plate can be attached. It may require a spacer in case the end of the drive tray is slightly recessed from the front of the case.

Use a large machine screw, size 10 or 12, to latch the hinges together. As with the Wii laptop how-to, we can increase the friction by adding in toothed washers and spacers.

Here’s a close-up of the cables between the 2 halves of the unit. The white cable (not the one we ended up using in case you’re wondering) has the monitor signals and audio, while the other cable has power and the LCD control panel wiring.

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Above is a view of the inside of the case with everything installed. We can see the DVD drive on the lower left, hard drive and WiFi adapter above it, heat sinks in the middle and the cable for the Ring of Light near the bottom. The WiFi adapter has been wired to the rear USB port, and the three rear fans to the original Xbox 360 fan connector.

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Another view of the case in its open, yet final form.

Here’s a close-up of the connects near the A/V port on the final unit. Note how a header has been used as an easy connection “hub” for both the rear USB (so the Wi-Fi can be plugged in) as well as the front eject switch and IR.

Close-up of the GPU and CPU heatsinks, with fans. If the keyboard is slim enough there should be enough room for everything. Note how some small adhesive heatsinks have been placed on the front memory chips. Be sure that the orignal “heat cushions” on the memory chips on the bottom of the board can contact the case and transfer heat to it.

The bind switch on the front of the Xbox needs to be accessible for connecting controllers. The easiest way is to put a disc of plastic against it with a post on one end, similar to the lid latch, as shown above.

The post can then come out the front of the unit. In this example laptop we’ve used one of the air holes for it, so it’s kind of hidden. You can also rewire it and move the switch elsewhere if you’d like.[/size]


You now have been taken through the most extensive making-of guide for an Xbox 360 laptop ever written. This information will come in quite handy for your own hacks and should give you the basis with which to create your own Xbox 360 projects.[/details]
----------------------------------------------- [details=Finished!]
Note: The xbox 360 laptop in this video was made by a professional so yours may very but you get the same basic thing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3LYdZMifTI]YouTube - Xbox 360 Slim Laptop - New Colors!

This is how yours should look. mine will be cleaned up but this is how it should look


You can only have up to 60,000 in one thread

I had to end up puttin them in 3 otherwise i could not get them all into one or even two threads


Yes, but ive made 3

and im going to be making more and selling them

this is just for those who want one, but dont want to pay, so if they want to make it

but yea, hah :smile:

All 3 threads have been merged, you can find the spoilers to the final 2 parts on this second page!

Also, AIRBORN LLAMA, I’m sure you know by now, there is no B/S/T here. So you will not be selling them!

Make sure you give credit where it’s due and don’t steal it from others!