Our favorite XBOX to HTPC hacks

Let’s face it, the original Xbox is ugly. It might have looked cool when it first came out but now most would be embarrassed to display that old beast with the rest of their entertainment hardware. This is unfortunate because the old girl still has some life in her. If you have tools, time, and talent you can give the box a facelift and bring it back to see the light of day. We’ve got six of our favorite Xbox to Home Theater PC hacks after the break to inspire you.

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Repair or improve your NES

There’s a warm place in our hearts for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s too bad we don’t have that hardware sitting around anymore. But if you do there’s a chance it needs some TLC and there’s always room for a blue LED mod. [Raph] has a wonderful collection of NES hardware repairs and hacks that you should take a look at. These include replacing the power supply, fixing the cartridge connector, monkeying with the CIC chip, adding a reset button on the controller, converting the audio from mono to stereo, and yes, swapping in a blue LED. Oh, and as a side note, [Raph] gets a bit of extra hacker ‘cred for including “coded manually using VIM” at the bottom of his page. Classic.

Gorgeous portable N64 built to order

[Hailrazer] is at it again with a new portable N64 build. He’s done the impossible by improving upon his last design. The LCD screen is now mounted flush for a cleaner and smaller case. The controls draw from a lot of different sources; a gamecube stick for durability, a 3rd party N64 controller for buttons, and a PlayStation controller for the shoulder buttons that serve as L, R, and Z (either hand). There is a breakout box that allows two controllers to be plugged in. Combine this with the TV out feature and it acts as a console or a handheld. His in depth demonstration is embedded after the break.

The build log (linked above) details every part of the hack so that you can try to do this yourself. The relocation of the expansion slot requires patience and solid soldering skills. The case work is an art in itself. We speculate that this commission comes somewhere close to $1000 but it’s hard to put a price on quality craftsmanship. We’ve seen smaller, but these features and finished look can’t be beat.

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19th century all-in-one PC

…well not quite, but Victorian-styled nonetheless.

In the same vein as his previous creation, [Jake] decided to steampunk his new monitor. However, this time around, he managed to squeeze a full pc into the retro case. A custom aluminum chassis had to be designed and safely house the disk drives and motherboard behind the monitor.  Since the 350W PSU was a bit too clunky to mount behind the screen, [Jake] rebuilt the base of the unit around it. The P4, 250GB SATA hard drive, and gold painted cooling fan allow the machine to run Kubuntu “Gusty Gibbon” smoothly. Coupled with a typewriter-inspired keyboard, [Jake’s] got a cutting edge antique setup.

Make a Mac on the cheap

We’re not usually the type for PC case mods, but when we received the tip for the Macbook Mod of hiding a Macbook inside of two Linksys routers, we decided to make an exception on three accounts. [Tyler’s] original intent was acquiring a Mac, the total price for a full functioning system was a little over $200, and Macs aren’t PCs.

[Thanks Bluewraith]

But what if you want the mac experience and not the nitty gritty hassle of fixing logic boards, searching for long lost components, and modding a case? Then buy a Mac you might like [Useless Ninjas’] super cheap modification of an MSI Wind into Leopard running brute for only $240.

[Thanks Flyordie2]

Gamecube to go


[Hailrazer] built a handheld GameCube so he could take his gaming with him. The final product is quite nice, providing a large display and about 3 hours of play time on the lithium polymer batteries.

Starting with the case from a Kidz Delight Datamax game, he used Bondo ABS cement and plastic bumper filler to alter the case but still provide a professional look. The display is a five-inch PlayStation One LCD Screen from which he also incorporated the speakers. At least four controllers were cannibalized for use as the buttons, sticks, triggers, and directional pad. Our favorite feature is the totally exposed optical head mounted on the back.

We’ve embedded video as well as a picture of the optical drive after the break. This goes so far beyond just making the GameCube an all-in-one system. If you like this build, check out the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast mods on [Hailrazer’s] YouTube channel.

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Cheap and flimsy PC case provides no protection


[Rafael] tipped us off about a “case mod” he completed for his PC. The email he sent provides no details and the link just shows five pictures of his computer in a “dead file” container (we’re guessing he doesn’t want to be an Internet sensation). What we get out of this is that he took a corrugated plastic box meant to house old files on shelves, and thew a set of computer parts inside of it.

This would be a great hack if [MacGyver] needed a computer to defuse a ticking bomb while trapped inside of a room built completely out of metal. The plastic provides protection from shorting out the motherboard but, other than low cost, that’s the only upside of this hack.

The downside here is obvious, there’s no protection from physical damage. In fact, a good bump might flex the box enough to slam the motherboard into the PSU housing. And what’s with the external WiFi fob? We could understand the point of this a bit better if it could blend in with a rack of archived files in the back room.

We give this one an ‘A’ for creativity, a ‘B-‘ for execution, and an ‘F’ for longevity. This should have been built in an acrylic case sized to fit perfectly in the yellow plastic box. But what does your unorthodox PC case look like? Let us know by sending in a tip.