Modding the 360

Before my xbox 360 even arrived I was thinking about modding it.  I think the ability to mod the 360 is another one of the tipping points that pushed me over the edge in purchasing the 360.  While you can’t currently use homebrew apps on the 360, I’m hoping you will be able to sometime in the future. After a week of having the xbox I decided to purchase a mod-chip for it.

Here’s a quick overview for those of you who found this post searching for answers to installing an NME 1.2 chip on your Hitachi (HL) 79fk in your Xbox 360 Elite console. Links to the documents that helped me through the process are included at the bottom of this page.

1. Be very careful scraping the epoxy off*
2. 470 and 220 coil on NME chip are not needed
3. Burn backups using an LG burner
4. Tweak DVD laser pot to around 3.0 kOhms
5. You can scrape off the coating on the PCB and solder directly to it for +5V and GND. Reference the Mod-Area guides.

 * The points on the board are tiny so verify the continuity and check for bridged points.
Xbox 360 Mod
 Someone familiar with the modding scene might ask why I decided to use a mod-chip instead of just flashing the firmware for free.  In fact, I’ve seen the question and seen people bashing others about the fact that they chose to use a mod-chip instead of  just flashing it. The Xbox 360 Elite (the one I got) comes with a new drive by Hitachi-LG (HL) that doesn’t allow direct flashing of the chip and while there are some rumors that a group is going to release a product shortly that allows the direct flashing of the on-board chip, I decided I really didn’t want to wait.

I read around the regular xbox modding places but found that my drive was too new and wasn’t listed as supported by any chip manufacturers.  However, a group by the name of Team Underdog had recently released a chip that said it had built-in “future-proof programming.”  I didn’t really want to be the first to pilot the chip on my $600 toy, but luckily an installation company in Canada (Mod-Area) already had tried it.  They were successful in modding the same version I had, so I decided I would try it.

There are lots of pieces to the puzzle when it comes to modifying this particular version and I had to make a lot of trips to the local electronic stores to get all the tools and parts.  All the guides are in a variety of different places and I didn’t read through them all at once so I had to make a lot of trips back and forth. Here’s a high-level overview of the major milestones in modding the 360 and the tools that were needed

1. Open the case – small prodding tool, custom-made case opening tool
2. Open the inner case – Torx 7 bit*, Torx 10 bit
3. Open the DVD drive – Phillips screwdriver
4. Remove the black epoxy – heat gun and scalpel**
5. Connecting the chip – solder, soldering iron, super-fine-point tweezers, thin and thick wire, double-sided tape***
6. Verify wiring / tweak laser – Multimeter
7. Create the backups – Special software, LG DVD burner

* I found out later I didn’t really need to remove these
** A hair-dryer won’t work. Be very careful here.
*** I also used a hot-glue gun to secure the wires in place – if you do this, make sure you don’t build up the glue too tall

I can’t say this enough: be careful when removing the black epoxy! I accidentally pulled up two of the traces and spent a good amount of time trying to fix it.  It was really stressful to see a 2 week old, $600 toy sitting there useless, but most anything can be fixed! One issue I had was making sure the chip was installed correctly.  I used the multimeter to verify continuity between all the points and adjusted the laser correctly, but there is no LED directly on the chip that lets you know if it’s working or not.  I originally burnt my backups using an NEC 3540a after updating to the latest firmware.  The backups burnt 100%, but would not boot on the 360.  After checking my wiring over a couple times, trying different firmware, leaving the DVD burner on its own IDE channel and all the other things I could think of, I decided to go out and get a new burner.  It was recommended that I get an LG burner, so I picked up the only one I could find at Best Buy for $90.  Sure enough, the backups with the LG worked 100%.  I thought it was a little crazy that I spent that much money on a burner today when I bought a similar burner nearly two years ago for only $40, so I ordered a new LG burner off for $30 that was almost the same thing. Hopefully it works!

As another note to those looking for some help with the install, I removed the 470 coil from the NME 1.2 chip and did NOT use it at all.  Also, the 220 coil that is included was not necessary either.

NME Installation - Hitachi Guide NME Installation – Hitachi Guide
Open 360 Without Marking Open 360 Without Marking
Open the 360 - AnandTech Open the 360 – AnandTech
XBOX 360 DVD POT Calibration XBOX 360 DVD POT Calibration


3 responses to “Modding the 360”

  1. Vikram Shah Avatar
    Vikram Shah

    Hey, I really want to mod my xbox 360 but i dont want to do it myself. I dont want to risk messing it up. So do know if there is anybody that will do it for me?

  2. Josh Lyon Avatar
    Josh Lyon

    Where are you located? You can sometimes find people locally that will do it for you. Otherwise you could mail it to someone and have them do it. You can check places like Craigs List or Xbox-Scene to find modders.

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