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Xbox media centre: HAL 900

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Fleafa, 24 Aug 2003.

  1. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    This project will involve re-housing my modded Xbox into a custom built case so that it will look at home sitting underneath my amp in my sitting room. The styling will be similar to that of the Marantz range of separates amps.

    The dimensions of the case will likely be 440mm x 110mm x 280mm, which is about equal to those of my amp. It will be made out of aluminium sheet strengthened by L-shape alu. extrusions.

    The concept is to build an A/V media center capable of playing music, films, surfing the web (via linux), emulators, and maybe even the occaisional xbox game. :D

    The DVD IR dongle will be hard-wired into the box and will auto-switch off when a controller is plugged in to port 4 (tutorial).

    All ports will have an LED which will light up when a pad is connected(tutorial).

    A 'vandal resistant switch' without an LED will be used for the power switch.

    Instead of the LED a red ring of acrylic surrounding the alu. xbox jewel will light up as a power indicator.

    Switches will be fitted for various modchip functions.

    The rear panel will feature the standard xbox connections plus composite outs, aerial out and VGA out, giving me multiple output options.

    The front will also have a headphone socket with volume control.

    I won't be adding a USB hub or any USB connectors to the box for the sake of neatness. Instead I will be modding the cable of a USB keyboard so I can plug it straight in.

    This keyboard will be modded to conbtain a hub, to which the mouse will connect in order to cut down on cables.

    Below is an early render of the case concept. Expect more detailed versions in the near future.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 3 Sep 2003
  2. Beatbox

    Beatbox What's a Dremel?

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    Hi, looks cool already. :thumb:
    Does this mean you're planning to use the original X-Box hardware or not, because doing all that with that h/w would be quite something (if not impossible with current hacks, unless I'm wrong :blush:) ?

    Oh, and welcome btw! :D
     
  3. ReFredzRate

    ReFredzRate Relix Headshot!!

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but will the little lights be optical fibre?
    Looks like an amazing design already!
     
  4. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    I'll be using the original hardware entirely with an eXector 2.2 Pro modchip installed. Amazing modchips are available for the Xbox. This one can have up to 4 separate bios' to switch between. There are uses for this, such as enabling a VGA output from the original AV connector (tutorial).

    A custom dashboard (user interface) called EvoX is what I'll be using. With this it's possible to rip full games to the hard drive and run emulators for every popular console up to and including the N64. There's a media player available which plays DivX and Xvid (amonst other codecs) and you can run a server on your PC to stream data down the network to it.

    I'll be installing Gentoo Linux. This will allow me to surf the net from the comfort of my sofa. Almost all Linux apps are compatable.



    The little lights will be LED's and the ring will be a peice of acrylic tubing backlit by (most likely) an EL/neon wire.


    Also, I forgot to mention that the parallel port for flashing the modchip's bios will be mounted on the back panel.



    Thanks for looking :D
     
  5. maeterlinck

    maeterlinck What's a Dremel?

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    Looking good Fleafa, but then I know it is as i've been helping you design it all day :D

    Hurry up and finish the connectors for the front and make the cd tray move...
     
  6. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    Don't make me angry, Maeterlinck, you won't like me when I'm angry.


    I forgot to explain the design of the Xbox.

    Essentially, it consicts of a legacy-free (no PCI slots etc) motherboard with onboard sound and nVidia-designed video card. The brain of this is a 733MHz Celeron processor. My hard drive is a Seagate 20Gb thing which I'll be replacing with a Seagate Barracuda 80Gb. I was lucky enough to get an Xbox with a Samsung 616T DVD drive, which is the only one out of three which reads all types of media. The other two makes are Thompson and Phillips.

    The operating system is a cut down version of Windows 2000 with extra protection instructions. The bios prevents the loading of any non-Microsoft signed executables. To get round this one can install a modchip (I used the eXecuter 2.2 Pro). This essentially seems to work by 'hijacking' the data intended for the original bios and bypassing these security measures. Several different bios' are available. There is even a Linux bios, Cromwell, which is totally legal because it uses no M$ code.

    This is why it's possible to run modified windows applications and Linux.


    Say what you like about Microsoft, but this is one lovelly little machine just for the degree to which it has been hacked. Who would have thought that a piece of hardware made by Microsoft would be running Linux for greater functionality?
     
  7. maeterlinck

    maeterlinck What's a Dremel?

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    Don't make me laugh :cooldude:
     
  8. [GiB] Spawny

    [GiB] Spawny Xqpack Lovin

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    Posted with interest, looks like a great idea. Look forward to any updates along the way happy modding :dremel:
     
  9. banished

    banished Necromodder

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    Looks like a gerat project. I think that you should keep the front nice and clean as your mockup looks. To this point, I would say to add the headphone jack and volume control on the side right behind the lip to the front panel of the case. And I really like the look of the x-box jewel. It looks like the temptimg "Big Red Buttons".
     
  10. dragonfyre513

    dragonfyre513 What's a Dremel?

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    You said your going to mod your xbox console.... what exactly do you plan on doing? I assume you mean maybe making it taller or wider, but any specific ideas?
     
  11. Hwulex

    Hwulex What's a Dremel?

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    Err.. he's putting it a whole new case?! See the rendering above.
     
  12. dragonfyre513

    dragonfyre513 What's a Dremel?

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    ohhhhhh.... riiiiiiiiiiiiight....... stupid reading :wallbash:
     
  13. Merce

    Merce What's a Dremel?

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    Very original HTPC concept! :clap:

    Can't wait to watch it come together.
     
  14. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    lol, thanks for posting. I think this forum will help me commit to the project because of all the encouragement.

    I went to a computer fair with Maeterlinck in Bognor on Sunday. It was pretty small and most prices were pretty unremarkable. I did, however, manage to get a cheap USB keyboard and mouse bundle for £7, which I was reasonably pleased about.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    As I have no vinyl dye or black cable at the moment, I decided to simply mod the keyboard cable for now so that it would work with Linux. I will colour it and re-cable it when I get the materials. Incidentaly, how flexible is vinyl dye? Would I be able to use it on one of those cable strengtheners you get on plugs?

    I could do with some suggestions as to what I should do about recolouring the keys.

    I didn't modify the mouse cable because that will be plugging into the USB hub which I'll be installing in the keyboard. Looks as though it minght be a tight fit though:

    [​IMG]

    I cut the cable very near to the USB plug (this I came to regret) so I could have a long lead. I will, at some point, be replacing the lead with a longer, black one which should reach the length of my sitting room (I think the max length for USB is about 5m).

    I took apart an extension cable for an Xbox pad I bought from GAME (3 for £4.99). It's a horrible colour, but vinyl dye should see to that. It came apart surprisingly easily, although I broke an internal clip doing it. This won't matter (I expected it) because I'll be hot glueing it together.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    A fair bit of tugging allowed me to remove the strengthener and, surprisingly, the iron core too. I drilled a slightly larger hole through the iron core plastic and it fitted snugly onto the keyboard cable. The strengthener went without any modding. I then proceeded to solder the appropriately coloured wires together (at lest M$ managed to leave the cable colours intact). The yellow wire is not used. I'm pretty sure it's power for the rumbling as 5V may not be sufficient. Maybe it'll come in handy later.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    All done for now. The plug housing hasn't fallen apart yet and I haven't fixed it all, but I will. I think it's quite successful. :D

    As an after thought, I used the plug from the keyboard and the line socket from the extension to make an Xbox to USB pad adaptor. I'll most likely be using this for racing games etc. Thanks to my lack of foresight, I had to do some tidy soldering.:wallbash: It all worked out in the end, but is yet to be tested (need to download the driver).

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Having persuaded Maeterlinck to download 2 Linux distributions for me (GentooX and Dynebolic) we discovered that the former's rootfs file was corrupt in the .rar and that the latter only works on v1 Xbox's (mine is v1.2). So no testing for a while then.:waah:


    That's all for now. I should be off to B&Q to get some aluminium extrusion to use for the chassis today. Hopefully I'll be able to get to the alu. factory nearby and get them to make a smoothly bent outer case as I can't bend it to any degree of accuracy myself. I'll post plans shortly.


    I'll be trying to keep pictures down in the future for 56K'ers like myself, but if you want to view bigger versions plus some not shown go here or click on a specific picture.
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2003
  15. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    Didn't get anything done on Monday because of band practice and on Tuesday because I had to bury the rabbit (minute of silence please). It didn't take all day, but my Mum wasn't up to driving me anywhere and my car is in for its M.O.T.
    I wasn't feeling particularly motivated myself, anyway.

    Wednesday, however, was very successful. :D

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    First, I went along to a local sheet metal workshop at about 12:30 and got them to build the external box which will make up the outside of the case. The guy did it without his boss knowing so I had to go back and pay by cash. It's made out of 2 sheets of 2mm aluminium bent into 2 U-shaped parts. These were then stitch-welded together. This is not the tidiest method but I just told the guy to do what he thought best; it's not like I know anything about it.
    This messiness is not nearly as bad as it may seem. I'll be filling the gaps with some metal filler which can then be filed and sanded flush. Once painted, you should hardly be able to see it. The whole thing is surprisingly rigid.

    My second trip of the day was to my nearest B&Q to pick up some L-shaped extruded aluminium for the internal chassis. It is 1.5mm thick and measures 15mm by 15mm. They only charged me for one because I was holding them together. :nono:
    I also bought a hot glue gun, metal glue, dremel cutter discs and some superglue.

    The external case was finished by 4:00 along with a sheet of alu. for an internal shelf.
    The front and rear panels will be fixed to the chassis which will then work as a drawer, going inside the box. The two will then be bolted together.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Here's the latest mockup:

    [​IMG]

    More photos when my batteries recharge ;).
    I'll start sorting out the gallery I mentioned, but dial-up will slow my progress. :waah:
     
  16. sambo

    sambo What's a Dremel?

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    this is looking very very sweet.

    looking forward to see more picutres
     
  17. maeterlinck

    maeterlinck What's a Dremel?

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    looking good mate! this has to be the most motivated i've ever seen you :D

    (please don't hit me now...)
     
  18. sheardjr

    sheardjr Minimodder

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    .
     
    Last edited: 23 Apr 2016
  19. Fleafa

    Fleafa What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks for the comments!

    sheardjr - I appreciate your concern. You must take solace in the fact that he's gone to bunny heaven and is having lots of sex and chocolate (he liked chocolate).


    Yesterday, I have mostly been modding. :dremel:

    I started by filling those gaps in the join...

    [​IMG]

    ...and then sanding the sides back.

    [​IMG]

    I then cut the struts for the lower part of the chassis tray and also the sheet to go in the bottom.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    This is how it looks now:

    [​IMG]

    No glueing has been done yet, I'll do that in the morning.

    I need to know where I can get hold of black vinyl dye on the internet. What's a common make of vinyl dye?
    I also need to know what is a good make of black paint for metals.
    Thanks to anyone who can help. (I'll be trawling the archives anyway :()
     
  20. malcs

    malcs oops! i put a hole in the ***** :(

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    for the real professional finish get it black powder coated if you want a matt black finish -- like on all black set-top boxes etc... or get it black anodised :D
     

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