XBox 360: Repairs and ripped out hairs

Posted: November 11, 2009 in hardware, technology
Tags: , ,

We’ve had an xbox 360 for a while now, in fact we have two, one upstairs for me basically and one downstairs for the kids. The upstairs one gets used mostly for watching movies and avi’s and the occasional bout of gaming, while the one downstairs get used a lot more for gaming and also for watching dvd’s and avi’s and up until a couple weeks ago it was all going along swimmingly. That was until i got told, very casually that the downstairs one stopped working. i was a bit stunned. In hindsight i think i know why it was kept quiet, but i’m jumping ahead of myself.

I trudged on downstairs and tried to power on the console.  No luck.  Not even a noise, no lights, nothing.  I moved the console upstairs thinking possibly its the power supply, but it didn’t start using a different power supply either.  I checked xbox online with regards to warranty and as i feared, it was out of warranty and because it was not the RROD (red ring of death) the extended warranty that Microsoft has did not apply. I could send it in for repairs, but the shipping and handling and repair fee would have amounted to nearly a new arcade console, so i wasn’t about to do that.  So throwing caution to the wind because i figured its already broke, what more harm can i do, i decided to fix it myself.

There are a ton of videos out there dealing with the RROD and various fixes, etc, but all i wanted to now was how to open the console up without breaking anything important.  There are no visible screws.  I found a great video that explains in detail the process of popping off the front, removing the end vent covers and prying open the case (here’s the youtube link).  I’ll try not to bore you with the details, and be forewarned the prying off of the case is not for the faint of heart, but thankfully i did not break anything, even though the creaks and snaps you hear as you remove parts sure sound like you are destroying the clips holding everything together.  You’ll need to be patient and use a very small awl or philips screwdriver to pop the clips in the vent holes and a small slot screwdriver to help pry at times if you decide to try it.


I tore it all apart, thinking that if worse comes to worse and i have to “frankenstein” something back together then oh well, so be it.  When something breaks around here, i enjoy (maybe a little too much) trying to figure out why.  I’ll take apart pretty much anything that is broken or working incorrectly or not functioning as well as it did when new.  I love getting inside them and tinkering which may be why my kids don’t like to tell me they are sick… hmmmm…, anyways, I continued removing the covers, removing the screws beneath, popping off the last piece of the cover, taking out the optical drive and heat vent, and finally even removing and then carefully inspecting the motherboard.  It was driving me nuts because i could not figure out what was broken.  There didn’t seem to be any melted or bad solder joints, no loose parts, no frayed or damaged wires, etc.  It wasn’t until i was looking at the USB ports on the front of the console i noticed the little black isolator normally in the middle of a USB port was missing. I decided to put most of it back together again and plug it in to test a theory i was having.  Sure enough, when i plugged in the console the power supply brick light would flicker ever so slightly.  I hadn’t noticed that before.  Its so faint a flicker that if you are not watching carefully you might just miss it.

xbox360-002When i looked inside the top USB port on the front, i noticed the little gold tabs were bent over and the black plastic separator was missing as i mentioned.  Was all this because of a short in the USB connector?  With a small screwdriver i bent the connectors back away from the side so they were not touching any more.  I plugged the console back in and sure enough, solid amber light on the power brick and when i pushed the console power button, green light on it and the power supply.  A short.  All that dismantling and time and effort spent and it was a short in the front of the console – something that was completely exposed all the time and required no removal of any parts.  argh.


I think i know why it was kept quiet, probably someone tried to plug something into the USB port and did it backwards, forcing it in and breaking the connector inside the port, after which the xbox shorted out, stopped working and they wandered off to do something else. Not wanting to take the blame i can only guess.  I put a small piece of electrical tape over the broken USB port, and put all the covers back onto the console. Putting it back together is way easier than taking it apart, and with a number of satisfied clicks, ended up using all the parts and not having any screws left over.  Thats always a bonus.  So, in the end, the simplest answer was the solution, although the geek in me liked tearing apart an xbox to see how it ticked and what was inside, from now on, i’ll check the simple fixes a bit better before gutting my xbox like a fish.

Now to go test it out, have to make sure its working completely don’t you know.  The dishes can wait, this is work and it must take precedent.  Come on Sam Fisher, my old friend, lets see what you can do.



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