Just before I went to college I was given an Xbox as a gift and was finally introduced to the world of Halo. However, I was quickly bored with the game and didn’t have much use for the Xbox, until I found out about the new phenomenon of Xbox moding.
For those who do not know about Xbox moding, it is the process of installing a chip onto the Xbox motherboard that forces it to load an altered BIOS. This allows owners to load 3rd party software into the Xbox like a Linux OS and multimedia programs that turn the Xbox into a very cheap Home Theater PC (HTPC).
I took it a step further. I decided to custom build a new case for my Xbox as well, something bigger to allow me to add a hard drive or two. You can go to the pictures section to see the construction process.
I cut windows into my DVD drive so you can see the disk spinning, added many LEDs to illuminate the box, used a relay system to wire adapters to the USB header internally without taking away the front USB ports. Basically, if there is something plugged into the front port, the relay attaches that device to the USB header. If the port is empty, the relay attaches the internal device to the header. This allowed me to install an internal USB IR receiver for a remote control as well as a add an internal wireless Xbox controller receiver to the Xbox.
I also added another relay that switched power between two hard drives on the same IDE channel. The Xbox only has one IDE channel with the hard drive and DVD as slave. Therefore, I had to custom make a 3 device IDE cable and use the relay to make sure only one hard drive is powered on, selectable by a switch from the front of the Xbox.
The result is a box that functions both as a regular xbox, and a inexpensive HTPC that can store movies or stream them across a network, rip and store CD’s, stream Youtube… etc.