XBOX Modification: TSOP flashing with custom BIOS

The fact that you can reflash the original Xbox BIOS with one of your choice by making a smaller hardware modification is hardly news to most of us interested and/or involved in the homebrew scene, but it was something I myself had never done, and as I picked up a very cheap Xbox for 300 swedish kronor about a week ago opportunity presented itself to not only get a personal glimpse of the internals of the original Xbox hardware, but also to learn how to solder. I first ran the exploit located in the save game handling of the original Splinter Cell to conveniently check the hardware version of the Xbox and learned that it was 1.0 – the oldest and sometimes referred to as “the noisy” version of the Xbox. I won’t bore you with the details, as they are all posted in this excellent guide, without which I could never have pulled this off. These guides for disassembling the Xbox were also highly informative. I had expected the solder points to be somewhat bigger than they were, the picture below doesen’t make their miniscule size justice, so I have added an approximate scale.

The soldering part was pretty difficult and I suggest getting a little bit of practice first if you’ve never soldered – I used a broken video card to practice on. In the end, the mod went well! I rebooted and reflashed using the Xecuter2 BIOS without issues. Watching that bar slowly fill up as it was flashing was a somewhat scary experience. I’m not sure what to do with the machine now. I was thinking about installing a minimal *nix distribution to play around with load balancing between the Xbox and my file server, perhaps making the Xbox handle the SQL database. But that’s another day, and another blog post. For now I’m off to relive some memories by playing the first establishment of Halo. Master Chief reporting, over and out!

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