An Open XBOX Modchip Enters The Scene

Showing the modchip installed into a powered up Xbox, most of the board space taken up by a small Pi Pico board. A wire taps into the motherboard, and a blue LED on the modchip is lit up.

If you’ve ever bought a modchip that adds features to your game console, you might have noticed sanded-off IC markings, epoxy blobs, or just obscure chips with unknown source code. It’s ironic – these modchips are a shining example of hacking, and yet they don’t represent hacking culture one bit. Usually, they are more of a black box than the console they’re tapping into. This problem has plagued the original XBOX hacking community, having them rely on inconsistent suppliers of obscure boards that would regularly fall off the radar as each crucial part went to end of life. Now, a group of hackers have come up with a solution, and [Macho Nacho Productions] on YouTube tells us its story – it’s an open-source modchip with an open firmware, ModXO.

Like many modern modchips and adapters, ModXO is based on an RP2040, and it’s got a lot of potential – it already works for feeding a BIOS to your console, it’s quite easy to install, and it’s only going to get better. [Macho Nacho Productions] shows us the modchip install process in the video, tells us about the hackers involved, and gives us a sneak peek at the upcoming features, including, possibly, support for the Prometheos project that equips your Xbox with an entire service menu. Plus, with open-source firmware and hardware, you can add tons more flashy and useful stuff, like small LCD/OLED screens for status display and LED strips of all sorts!

If you’re looking to add a modchip to your OG XBOX, it looks like the proprietary options aren’t much worth considering anymore. XBOX hacking has a strong community behind it for historical reasons and has spawned entire projects like XBMC that outgrew the community. There’s even an amazing book about how its security got hacked. If you would like to read it, it’s free and worth your time. As for open-source modchips, they rule, and it’s not the first one we see [Macho Nacho Productions] tell us about – here’s an open GameCube modchip that shook the scene, also with a RP2040!

44 thoughts on “An Open XBOX Modchip Enters The Scene

  1. When you mention that there are other modchips based on the RP2040, I think you should also mention the Picofly for the Nintendo Switch. It does voltage-glitch the verification of the bootloader and there are no limitations on the firmware versions it works with.

    It works on the newer models of the Switch where you can’t exploit the recovery mode of the CPU anymore (Fusée Gelée exploit)

  2. Very awesome modchip maybe by ModXo. To clarify there has been open source modchips for of Xbox for years such as Openxenium.

    I left the Xbox scene a while ago it’s going backwards overall in my opinion and the childish drama 😅

    Unfortunately the ‘hacking group’ making the software that is loaded onto this use leaked kernel source code or leaked Microsoft XDKs to develop anything on it. This software is not in the spirit of open source and others cannot contribute without jumping through hoops to even download the firmware because of it’s shady background. This is not talking about the RP2040 firmware. Just what these people are forcing onto it.

    Shame the Xbox scene encourages use of this shady source code so strongly and actively shun people who try anything different. We are just rehashing the same old stuff from 2005 but on a rp2040 instead of a cpld.

    1. OpenXenium was in fact one of the first, but the software necessary to run it (XeniumOS) was never open sourced. PrometheOS, while open, does require the MS XDK to be compiled, just like XBMC.

      The community doesn’t shun anyone, and welcomes everybody. It’s the smaller subset of elitist users who shun the community as a whole, without proving their software is legitimate and would rather make posts such as yours without substance.

    2. To clarify, XeniumOS was never released as open, and Ryan never held the rights. Open Xenium only had FOSS hardware and CPLD. The OS was technically “stolen”. Modxo with Cromwell is actually open source. 100% top to bottom.

      Don’t worry, the scene doesn’t miss people with your disposition lol.

    3. While the OpenXenium was one of the first open hardware replacements, the firmware was closed source and never available to the community. PrometheOS is an opensource replacement, but does require the use of Microsofts SDK libraries to compile it in the same vein as XBMC/Kodi did. It’s unlicensed, not illegal.

      Every single Xbox solution requires Micrososft code to operate fully, and there is no currently available solution that is open source or entirely clean that gives us the ability to use an Xbox as an Xbox without it. Project Stellar even requires you to dump (or obtain) a bios from 1.6 models, that was not available on any prior revision, to just use the chip.

      The NXDK lacks DirectX support, which doesn’t allow us to compile lot of older home brew with modern PC’s and IDE’s with ease. Though, its been said that you can configure it to use the leaked XDK libs with it.

      The XDK leaks are a PITA, because it requires setting up virtualization for the full experience but there are projects and simple configurations that allow things to be compiled on modern systems. For example, this sample:

    4. “Shame the Xbox scene encourages use of this shady source code so strongly and actively shun people who try anything different”

      Quite the opposite actually. No one is shunning anyone for trying anything different. If anything, a lot of the people who go and develop things with legal SDKs are the ones shunning people and virtue signaling about it.

      Almost every modding scene has a shady side to it that may or may not involve using leaked source code, whether you like it or not. If it weren’t for the source code leak, the Xbox scene wouldn’t be what it is today. You wouldn’t be able to run a custom BIOS with all those features.

      1. Basically any time someone says “X community is awful” they always treat the actions of individuals as if it was something every single person in the community signed off on and agreed to, when the reality is that *every* community that is large enough is guaranteed to have assholes in it who behave atrociously and claim to speak for everyone.

    5. I would like to refer you to a specific mod-chip i purchased just to find out that it requires the 5838 kernel to function, which can only be dumped from v1.6 consoles, while my console is a V1.3. Now I have a paperweight sitting on my shelf.

      We’re talking about a 22-year-old system that’s starting to suffer from hardware issues like failing DVD drives and HDDs and capacitor issues.

      If the above news article doesn’t interest you, that’s fine. Go create something better and make it work the way you want. Otherwise, complaints about the leaked Microsoft XDK source code are starting to sound like a broken record stuck on repeat. People are just tired of hearing the same old thing.

      The moment DRM or copy protection is removed from a Bios or Kernel to allow any homebrew code to execute, whether it’s patched out or “Re-implemented” without DRM, it becomes a legal grey area.

      Without these things being made by various groups its just another piece of E-waste trash.

        1. It’s impossible to use an Xbox as an Xbox without using a BIOS that contains pieces of Microsoft’s proprietary code (currently). There are completely legal BIOSes that run Linux but other than allowing you to run outdated kernels on very outdated hardware, there’s not much you can really do with it.

    6. Is the problem that it’s based on a source code leak? Cause if so, there’s been tons of useful projects in open-source space based around source code leaks, I don’t quite see how it’s not in the spirit of open-source.

      1. It’s not based on any source code leaks. The chip solution itself is clean. PrometheOS is also clean, but requires the use of the XDK to be compiled properly.

        The portion of it that *isnt* clean is the CerBIOS modified xbox bios that was stripped down and made a lib given to Team Resurgent to be used sort of a micro-kernel to function on Xenium/OpenXenium/Aladdins and X3 modchips as a boot rom so we had a “modern experience” and didn’t rely on the old firmwares that were on these chips, or the dated cromwell/Xblast open source solutions.

    7. The good thing about all the open source modchips is the amount of different flavours that exist, meaning people can continue to advance the scene with slight change ups and sizes

      i’ve never understood this hate for “the xdk is tainted and anything made by it should not be used”, only a small amount of people are incredibly “righteous” in using NXDK (which last time i checked still cant do directX, making it VERY limited

      if it wasnt for xdk, xbmc/kody wouldnt exist!

      at the end of the day, you’re using a modchip to more or less play pirated games… no modchip no matter what the use will *only* be used for homebrew

      1. which is the problem, its not that the XDK is closed source, its that there is no legal license to use, so unless you are using NXDK, its all pirated software because it includes the XDK components.
        This means you then can’t sell the homebrew or even release it legally in a compiled form.

        N64 Homebrew scene had the same problem recently with valve telling someone to bugger off because they were using libultra rather than libdragon (atleast officially).

        of course as you say the people who are using those mod chip are in it for the priacy and aren’t going to give a damn whether they are pirating from a large corporation or an individual developer, so I have little sympathy when the law comes down on them either way.

        1. As far as I’ve seen, mods like this are also largely used for repairing the console, the homebrew scene, and adding cool adding features, even simply pairing a new HDD to the board. So, your assertion about “it’s all for piracy” is weird to me; projects like XBMC have existed and thrived for a while now. Let’s be fair, it’s not like OG XBOX game disks are this rare thing either.

          so unless you are using NXDK, its all pirated software because it includes the XDK components.

          That’s just not how it works to begin with. Even if it did, you might have noticed that MS had two decades to act, so it’s pretty notable how the observable reality itself disagrees with your assessment of the situation.

          1. it is how it works de jure, just because it hasn’t been asserted by the copyright holders does not a permission grant be made. The only reason for why people aren’t pursued is because it doesn’t make sense economically to go after people who are targeting an older platform and not profiting themselves from it, so you could say de facto it works differently but within the framework of the law it is still copyright infringement and thus “piracy”.

            It has a material impact because publishers won’t touch it as a result, you can make a value judgement either way as to whether that is a good thing or a bad thing but it is still a consequence of not using unencumbered permissively licensed software.

            Personally i’d be happy to enshrine in law a mechanism to ensure that all art falls into the public domain and be up for grabs after a reasonable period of commercial exploitation say years, but its unlikely to happen, so I’d rather just start from scratch to build a separate toolchain that respects users freedoms and doesn’t force them to potentially violate their morals in the first place.

          2. Daev, I understand your point about de jure versus de facto practices, but the reality is that the lack of enforcement effectively changes how the community operates. Just because the copyright holders haven’t pursued legal action doesn’t mean the practice is permissible, but it does reflect an implicit understanding that targeting non-profit projects on older platforms isn’t worth their resources.

            This implicit allowance shapes the homebrew and modding communities, allowing enthusiasts to continue their work without fear of legal repercussions, even if it’s technically infringing on copyright. While it’s true that this creates a gray area in terms of legality, it’s also true that these projects often breathe new life into old hardware and foster a vibrant community of developers and fans.

            The impact on publishers is undeniable; they are understandably cautious about engaging with projects that operate in this legal gray area. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the value these projects bring to the community is diminished. In fact, the passion and creativity within these communities often lead to innovations and experiences that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

            Using the XDK (Xbox Development Kit) does not make your source code infringe on copyright; it simply means that what you’re developing is unlicensed. This distinction is crucial. While it might be legally unlicensed, it doesn’t inherently violate copyrights, though it does pose challenges for distribution and commercialization.

            I appreciate your viewpoint on creating a legal mechanism to ensure all art falls into the public domain after a reasonable period. This could indeed encourage more open and permissive development environments. Until such a framework is established, however, the reality is that many in the community will continue to navigate these gray areas out of necessity and passion for their work.

            Building a separate toolchain that respects users’ freedoms and avoids potential legal and moral conflicts is a noble goal. The NXDK project is a great example of this approach. It offers a permissively licensed toolchain that doesn’t force users into legally or morally ambiguous situations, and it represents a significant step forward for the community.

            However, it’s also important to recognize that not everyone has the resources or expertise to start from scratch. For many, utilizing existing, albeit legally ambiguous, tools is the only feasible way to contribute and create. This doesn’t necessarily diminish their contributions or their respect for the law; it simply reflects the complex landscape of software development in the context of older platforms.

          3. Thank you Arya for the kind words! :)

            With over 24 years of experience in the legal sector for a hardware and software firm, I believe it’s crucial to address these issues with logic and facts rather than misleading or misinterpreted posts that only cause confusion.

            It’s a fact that any form of copyright or DRM circumvention cannot be deemed legal, no matter how the narrative is spun. This is a fundamental aspect of copyright law that often gets overlooked or misunderstood. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) specifically prohibits circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs) used by copyright owners to control access to their works. This includes making, selling, or distributing devices or tools that enable such circumvention.

            That said, it’s also important to understand the practical realities of the homebrew and modding communities for hardware that is deemed discontinued or no longer supported, in this case, for over 20 some years. These communities often find themselves in a legal gray area, not out of disregard for the law, but out of necessity and passion for keeping older platforms alive and vibrant. While their actions might technically infringe on copyrights or licensing agreements, as i mentioned previously they often do so without malicious intent or financial gain, focusing instead on creativity and innovation.

            Does one group doing something differently make it okay compared to another? No, it doesn’t. Both groups are relying on the circumvention of some sort of TPM put in place to prevent any form of unlicensed or unsigned code from being executed. It’s quite contradictory, especially when you advertise features of a product that you claim are legal but one of its purposes is to allow for unlicensed code to execute, along with advertised features such as ISO/CISO loading.

            You would expect measures to be put in place to prevent unauthorized copies of games from running instead of being a main advertised feature of the product you are selling. The moment you remove the security measures the vendor put in place to prevent this, Pandora’s box has been opened.

            Regardless in my opinion, it is still exciting to see what community-driven projects can come up with to extend the life of these consoles. From Atari to Commodore, and in this case the Xbox, it’s great to see that enthusiasts and developers are leveraging modern advancements and techniques for example using a RP2040 powered device to repair, enhance, and add new functionalities to these older consoles, ensuring they remain usable and enjoyable for years to come.

        2. It’s important to note that no piece of homebrew software developed for the original xbox has ever been sold for money or financial gain. The homebrew community has always operated with a focus on creativity and innovation rather than profit.

          Recently, there have been devices claiming legal compliance while selling hardware and software. However, these legality claims are dubious as no source code is available for verification. No one wants to waste time reverse engineering these products, making it a case of their word against others. The difference lies in transparency: some people openly state they use XDK software etc, while others push an agenda without clear backing just to make a quick buck.

          Until someone can provide me with instructions on how I can use my Stellar product on my non-v1.6 Xbox without illegally downloading the 5838 kernel dump, which was never available in any form other than a chip on certain xbox hardware revision, I consider both products equally problematic.

          The only difference is that one costs $100 USD+ while the other can be built for a few dollars and offers 90% of the features which have been available for free for over 20 years.

  3. As I understand it, all modchips for the OG XBOX have to replace the BIOS in some way in order to work. And because of this all of them have to rely on copyrighted Microsoft code if they want to be able to run any software built for the XBOX (be it original games and software or homebrew).

  4. The modchip isn’t open source. (The release is output files, the source files are closed, this is like calling a compiled EXE source code)

    And the only software shown running on it is stolen source code.
    The modchip is cool, not open source, but cool.
    That’s about it though, there’s nothing new or impressive about the BIOS shown on it.

    1. Thats entirely incorrect. Here’s the github, with the source for the packer to make any BIOS run on it, as well as the project to make it interface with an Xbox.

      If you’re talking about PrometheOS, the XBE is open source and available here

      It does require you to patch in Cerbios, which is a scene bios.

      Almost like how Stellar requires you to dump and patch a bios from 1.6’s that didn’t work on previous revisions of the console, in order for it work. Weird.

      1. What? Are you saying that the stock BIOS for each Xbox revision is not interchangeable between other revisions without some sort of patching?

        This information was taken from the XboxDev Wiki (, which is interesting. I wonder if any of the official 4XXX series Bios will work on my 1.3 Xbox.

        BIOS Version:

        Kernel Version: 3944, 4034, 4036, 4627 – Revision: 1.0
        Kernel Version: 4817, 4972 – Revision: 1.1
        Kernel Version: 5101, 5713 – Revision: 1.2 – 1.5
        Kernel Version: 5838 – Revision: 1.6

    2. I keep hearing people talking about stolen source code related to some scene stuff like PrometheOS. Do you or anyone have any proof of any code being stolen, or is this just an unsubstantiated claim used to debase a competing product?

  5. Upon further research, it looks like this standalone HDMI solution also requires the end user to apply kernel patches to scene release Bioses to utilize the advertised features of the product.

    From their support page:

    “Apply patch to BIOS by following the link to the patching guide for the corresponding BIOS patch. (Due to legal reasons we cannot distribute the BIOS files).” Support Page (

    I guess it’s acceptable for him to tell his customers they must source illegal BIOS images and dumps to use his devices, but it’s unacceptable for someone else to provide hardware that requires the same.

    Isn’t this the height of hypocrisy?

    It’s baffling how someone can openly instruct their customers to use pirated BIOS files and then turn around and criticize others for similar practices. This double standard only serves to undermine their credibility and reveal their true motivations.

    Why should anyone trust a vendor who imposes such contradictory requirements? The expectation for customers to engage in illegal activities while condemning others for the same is not just hypocritical, but it also highlights a serious lack of integrity and consistency. If their product truly offered value, it wouldn’t need to rely on such questionable practices to function as per their public statements.

    1. You could technically use the MakeMHz HDMI board with a stock BIOS but you lose out on some of the tweaks that have been added to improve video output (namely the patch makes the BIOS send over SMBus commands, firmware updates, and the current game to tweak video output). You can run without the patch but some games might not work properly but most do. Homebrew works fine.

      I’ll admit I’m currently working on an open hardware version of this product that can run both the proprietary firmware and open source firmware that will work with or without the BIOS patch. Some aspects of the design are the same (same microcontroller, same HDMI transmitter, same interfaces) but the overall design is different to reduce some cost and allow for easier development. The end goal is to produce something that is a complete drop-in replacement without having to run proprietary firmware.

    1. Softmods can be limiting for some modifications one might want to do to their Xbox. By necessity, the system needs to boot as a stock Xbox, which means hardware mods are out of the question.

      Modifying the bios and having the Xbox boot from cold into a modded environment immediately means you can do things like: remove the DVD drive, add more RAM, replace the CPU with a faster one, cut down the motherboard for a smaller system, and other things of a hardware nature.

      If all you want to do with your Xbox is upgrade the hard drive, rip your games to it, and play your games, a softmod is perfectly fine.

      Softmods can have some problems with certain hard drives though, since by necessity they need to boot stock (be locked), and how the softmod is triggered by an exploit in an older MS dashboard that needs to be present a perform a relay race of handoffs to give a good experience.

      Hardmods (deployed modified bioses) don’t have this issue as they generally have the security features patched out, so a locked hard drive isn’t a necessity. Homebrew or modified software can be immediately run from a cold boot.

      Modxo makes it more accessible than ever to deploy a modified bios to any Xbox with just a computer with a USB port and a soldering iron.

    2. Softmods are easy to break and make things like hard drive upgrades more difficult. A hardmod is always present whether it’s a modchip or a scene BIOS flashed to the TSOP chip. You can totally nuke the harddrive and the console will still boot to the BIOS menu.

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