The original Xbox was a console based on PC architecture that launched back in 2001. That was long before HDMI became a defacto standard for home AV systems. However, it’s possible to mod the Xbox to output lovely crisp digital video over HDMI for use with modern screens, as covered by [Modern Vintage Gamer].
The mod, originally known as XboxHDMI and later XboxHD+, is a pure digital output mod, and was developed by [Dustin Holden]. Unlike other solutions, it doesn’t work by converting the console’s existing analog output. Instead, it captures pixel data straight out of the GPU and pumps it out over HDMI, along with 5.1 surround sound, too.
Mods like these have become popular in recent years for multiple reasons. Original HD output cables for older consoles are often hard to come by, and many used analog outputs that are no longer suitable for using with modern screens. For those that don’t want to keep older CRTs and flat screens going for older consoles, digital video output kits are a great way to keep using your old consoles well into the future. Video after the break.
Continue reading “HDMI For The Original Xbox”
Flight simulator software has been available for about as long as desktop PCs have been a thing, but modern incarnations such as 2020’s Microsoft Flight Simulator have really raised the bar — not only graphically, but in terms of interactivity. There’s a dizzying array of switches and buttons that you can fiddle with in your aircraft’s virtual cockpit, but doing it with the same keyboard that you use to hammer out code or write Hackaday articles doesn’t do much for immersion.
Looking to improve on the situation without having to shell out for an expensive sim panel, [Michael Fitzmayer] decided to convert a broken Manson SSP-8160 lab power supply into a fairly good approximation of the KAP 140 autopilot system which is used in one of his favorite aircraft, the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo-Porter.
[Michael] gutted the piece of equipment pretty thoroughly, only leaving behind the case itself and the illuminated button panel on the front. The original displays were replaced with TM1637 seven-segment LEDs, and a pair of new rotary encoders are mounted where the stock knobs were. The whole show is run by a STM32F103 Blue Pill, which conveys the button pressing and knob spinning to the game by mimicking a USB Human Interface Device.
A fascia applied to the front of the power supply blocks the original text and labels, and really makes the finished unit look the part. [Michael] admits it’s not 100% accurate to the layout of the real hardware, but it’s certainly better than trying to enter heading and altitude information with the controller.
Oh that’s right, did we mention he’s actually using this on the Xbox Series S? While we generally see this sort of sim hardware hooked up to a tricked out gaming computer, we appreciate that he’s trying to bring some of that same experience to the console world. While the one-way communication of USB HID does bring with it some limitations — for example the hardware needs to be manually reset at the beginning of each flight to make sure the physical displays match what’s shown in the virtual cockpit– there’s still a lot of potential here.
For example, you could design and build your own flight yoke, pedals, and throttles rather than spending hundreds on a commercial version. It sounds like [Michael] is just getting started in the world of affordable console-based flight simulation, and we’re very eager to see where he goes from here.
When Microsoft released its first entry into the video game console market with the Xbox, a lot of the discussions at the time revolved around the fact that it used a nearly off-the-shelf Intel CPU and NVIDIA GPU solution. This made it quite different from the very custom consoles from Nintendo and Sony, and invited thoughts on running custom code on the x86 console. Although the security in the console was hacked before long, there were still some open questions, such as whether the secret boot ROM could have been dumped via the CPU’s JTAG interface. This is the question which [Markus Gaasedelen] sought to answer.
The reason why this secret code was originally dumped by intercepting it as it made its merry way from the South to the North Bridge (containing the GPU) of the Xbox was because Microsoft had foolishly left this path unencrypted, and because the JTAG interface on the CPU was left disabled via the TRST# pin which was tied to ground. This meant that without removing the CPU and adding some kind of interposer, the JTAG interface would not be active.
A small issue after the harrowing task of desoldering the CPU and reinstalling it with the custom interposer in place was to keep the system integrity check (enforced by an onboard PIC16 MCU) intact. With the CPU hooked up to the JTAG debugger this check failed, requiring an external injection of the signal on the I2C bus to keep the PIC16 from resetting the system. Yet even after all of this, and getting the secret bootrom code dumped via JTAG, there was one final system reset that was tied to the detection of an abnormal CPU start-up.
The original Xbox ended up being hacked pretty thoroughly, famously giving rise to projects like Xbox Media Center (XBMC), which today is known as Kodi. Microsoft learned their lesson though, as each of their new consoles has been more secure than the last. Barring some colossal screw-up in Redmond, the glory days of Xbox hacking are sadly well behind us.
We’re big fans of repairable hardware here at Hackaday, so much so that when we see a company embracing the idea that their products should actually be serviced rather than thrown in the trash, we like to call attention to it. Yes, that even includes when it’s Microsoft.
This community has had a mixed relationship with the Redmond software giant, to say the least. But we’ve still got to give them credit when they do something positive. Not only are they offering a full selection of replacement parts for both the standard and Elite Xbox controllers, they’ve also provided written instructions and step-by-step video guides on how to install your new parts.
For those of you who stopped playing console games when the controllers still only had two buttons, this might not seem like such a big deal. But considering a new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller will set you back a dizzying $180, it’s not hard to see why some folks would be excited about the possibility of swapping out the guts of the thing for $50.
Of course, these parts were already available from third party sellers, and iFixit naturally has repair guides for all the different flavors of Xbox controllers. Nothing about what Microsoft is doing here makes the Xbox controller fundamentally any easier to repair than it was previously. But the fact that the company isn’t treating their customers like adversaries is a step in the right direction.
Valve has been similarly open about the internals of the Steam Deck, though their presentation was a bit dramatic, and even Sony provided an official teardown video for the PS5. We’re not sure why these companies are willing to pull back the curtain when it comes to gaming hardware. Whatever the reason, we’re certainly not complaining.
Continue reading “Microsoft Now Offering Parts And Repair Guides For Xbox Controllers”
If you’re looking for a controller for your computer or mobile device, you could certainly do worse than one of the latest iterations of the Xbox pad. They might not be perfect, but they’re fairly well-made, not particularly expensive, use standard USB and Bluetooth interfaces, and even have decent support in the open-source community. So if you’re gaming on Linux or working on any other kind of retro gaming rig it’ll likely be plug-and-play.
This wasn’t the case with the first generation Xbox controller, though, and although its proprietary connector was actually using USB, the controller scheme wasn’t as open. This is [Tom]’s effort of upcycling his original Xbox controller to work indistinguishably from a stock Xbox 360 controller.
For those asking why anyone would want to do this, [Tom] is actually one of the few who enjoyed the original bulky Xbox “Duke” controller that released with the console in 2001. It wasn’t a popular choice in the larger gaming community and a year later Microsoft released a smaller version, but we all have our quirks. A Teensy 4.1 is attached to the end of the controller cable and acts as an intermediary to intercept the proprietary signalling coming from this controller and convert it into something usable. Since the controller doesn’t even show up as a standard USB HID device it took a little more sniffing of the protocol to decipher what was going on at all, but eventually some help was found within this other driver that gave [Tom] the clues he needed to get it working.
There were some other headaches to this project as well, especially since USB debugging USB connections while using USB isn’t exactly a streamlined process, but after a couple of breakthroughs the Teensy pass-through interface began working and [Tom] can use his controller of choice across multiple platforms now. If you’re looking to upgrade in other ways take a look at this build which seeks to recalibrate, rather than replace, an older Xbox controller experiencing drift on its analog control sticks.
Continue reading “Transform An Original Xbox Controller To A 360 Controller”
Home consoles were never intended to be made portable, though enterprising hackers have always pushed the boundaries with various tricks and innovative builds. [Robotanv] hasn’t built a fully handheld Xbox Series S, but he has demonstrated one neat trick: making one run on a USB powerbank.
The project starts with an Anker USB-C powerbank, chosen for its ability to deliver a mighty 140 watts. It’s hooked up to a ZY12PDN USB-C trigger board, which enables the powerbank and tells it which voltage to output. It’s set up to run at 20 volts, which is too much for the Xbox, which prefers 12 volts. The reason for this is that the only way to get the full power out of the powerbank is to run at its maximum voltage. A buck converter is used to step down the voltage to 12 volts.
As for the console itself, a lot of disassembly is required, but minimal modifications. Just two wires connect the power supply to the Xbox’s motherboard. Subbing in your own 12 volt supply here is enough to run the console without any problems.
Running the Xbox off the powerbank, along with an external screen, [Robotanv] is able to play Cyberpunk 2077 for an about hour before the juice runs out. While we’d love to see the whole setup duct-taped together into a ersatz Xbox portable, it would probably be a little messy. [Robotanv] has big plans for the future of the project, though, and we can’t wait to see what those are. Continue reading “Running The Xbox Series S On A USB Powerbank”
Anyone who’s owned a game console from the last couple of generations will tell you that the machines are becoming increasingly like set-top computers — equipped with USB ports, Bluetooth, removable hard drives, and their own online software repositories. But while this overlap theoretically offers considerable benefits, such as the ability to use your own USB controller rather than being stuck with the system’s default, the manufacturers haven’t always been so accommodating.
Take for example the removable hard drive of the Xbox 360. It was a bog standard 2.5″ SATA drive inside a fancy enclosure, but as explained by [Eaton], Microsoft went to considerable lengths to prevent the user from upgrading it themselves. Which wouldn’t have been such a big deal, if the Redmond giant wasn’t putting a huge markup on the things; even in 2005, $99 USD for 20 GBs was highway robbery. Continue reading “A Look Back At The Xbox 360’s Hard Drive Security”