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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Build an Xbox to USB dongle! (ver.1)

In this tutorial I will show you how to make an xbox to USB dongle... and make it look factory made!

There are several different ways to make an xbox to USB dongle. This is one that I came up with a few years ago. I take no credit in its originality because I'll bet that a hundred people have done it this way before me... buuut this belongs in my tutorials list, right? Right.

First off we need to gather our tools to make this sexy beast:
-soldering iron
-solder (I used lead free)
-side cutters (or "dykes" if you're bold)
-adjustable pliers
-hot glue gun (optional)
-old rag (optional)
-x-acto knife (not pictured)

Next we need the ingredients to make this:
-xbox break away dongle (or "pigtail")
-USB cable (.99 cents at a local dollar store.. or even cheaper at your favorite thrift store)

Now that we have everything we can get started.
If you're particular, like me, you won't want teeth marks on your new dongle. What I did was wrap it with the cloth and use the adjustable pliers and gently "crack" it open enough to get an x-acto knife in there. Remove casing and set aside.

Next you're going to want to use the side cutters and snip off the cord right at the "boot".

And this is what you should be left with.

Now pry back the metal shielding and you may want to make note of what color wires go to what pins, then de-solder. Set aside the "boot" / shield / extra wires. (we need those later)

Use the side cutters and clip off the extra wire and metal shielding from the boot on the fatter end. Once you have just the boot, start pushing through the wires and clear the hole out. After I got it clear it still had the default plastic sheath in there. We want to get rid of that. I used my x-acto knife, on the fatter end, and rotated it back and forth until it came out clean. Set aside for just a moment.

Determine how much of a lead you want on the USB cable and snip it! (I usually go with the length of the original stock dongle)

Now you should clear your work area of everything except whats pictured below.
-top plastic shield
-bottom plastic shield
-USB cable
-xbox socket

Thread the USB cable through the "boot", cut back (1/4 inch) the white plastic on the USB cable, strip back and tin the individual wires.

Now I ran into a snag with this particular project. All 4 wires are black. The company that made this USB cable cut corners and used the same color on all wires rather than using the industry standard of red, white, green and black. I made a note of what pins are what color on the female end of a USB port and used a homemade continuity tester to figure out which wires are which. I used my netbook to power the +5v needed. (I'll post an "make" for that another day)

Now that I got everything all figured out and soldered up, it's time to put everything back together. Optionally you can shoot a squirt of hot glue over the solder points. Or if you broke the clips that hold the two plastic shields together, use the hot glue to fasten it back together.

Now I have a pair of homemade USB dongles that look like they came from M$. (except they're white)

Plugged into XBMC, Memory unit mounted in Port 2, slot 0... Success!

Remember kiddo's, your xbox can not read anything above 4gb. That's not all you can use this dongle for. If you have a keyboard or mouse that you want to use in Linux, this WILL do the trick. Also remember to save the end's of each cable that we cut off. We can and will use them in other projects!

I hope this was helpful!
Thanks for reading,

EDIT: (thank you Heimdall) Typically when you do this mod all you have to do is match the colors:
red to red (+5v)
white to white (data +)
green to green (data -)
black to black (-5v[GND])
He suggested that I show THIS DOCUMENT so you, my readers, have a better understanding about xbox to USB conversions or vice versa. I had forgot to mention color to color out of frustration from having to stop and figure out the pinout. Won't happen again... next time I will make sure to get better USB cables ::wink::