02 Jul

Smart Home Media Project – Phase II – Hack That Xbox

Yes, I will now be referring to these efforts as the Joseph Baxter’s Smart Home Media Project ™.  There’s no way I’ll be able to resist coming up with some sort of logo for that, I’m sure. 🙂

So, now to the part that, quite frankly, spooked me a little.  Yeah, the Myth stuff was fairly hard, and my Linux knowledge is somewhat lacking, but it was just computer stuff.  Nothing really too far outside of my comfort level.  But this – hacking an xbox?  That’s something only DJ Micro can do!

Well…it turned out to be far easier than I thought.

The hardest part is actually getting all of the ingredients together.  The hack itself only took 10 or 12 minutes.  So, here’s the list to follow my (borrowed) method.

Hardware:

  • Original Xbox
  • M/F USB Extension Cable (that you don’t want anymore)
  • Xbox controller dongle (that you don’t want anymore)
  • Xbox DVD Remote Kit ($6.00 used on ebay)
  • Any USB memory key / thumbdrive (preferably 512MB or more)

Software

Step One

The first thing I did was get a cat5 cable behind the TV cabinent.  This may seem like an obvious step to someone who uses an Xbox or 360 to play games on Xbox Live – but I don’t.  Nor do I care to do so, that’s why I’m hacking it.

Please Note:  If you hack your Xbox you will probably be banned from Xbox Live!

The next step was to solder up a USB-to-Xbox adapter.  Since I rec’d 4 wired controllers with the used Xbox, I sacrificed one of the off-brand ones to this step.  I cut the cable a few inches beyond the actual Xbox connector.  I also took a USB extention cable and cut off the female end.  This is essentially the walk thru posted here–but with a different goal.  (The writer of that article wanted to play PC games with an Xbox controller.)

xbox_01_wires

Actually, I guess if you solder up the two remaining pieces, you could still use the Xbox controller…but who cares? 🙂

Throw away the yellow wire and then solder up the remaining ones:  red, black, green and white.  If you don’t want to solder, just twist them together really well and tape them individually.  Ordinarily I would stagger my solder joints so that they weren’t in one big wad next to each other…but this project wasn’t worth the effort.

xbox_02_wrap

I individually taped each joint and wrapped as much of the foil and the mesh as possible back around it the cable.  Two or so layers of tape put some rigidity back into the product, to keep from snapping wires next to the solder joints.

xbox_03_finished

Now a quick test.  Plug a different controller and the new cable into the Xbox with no disk in the drive, insert the USB key, and boot it up.  Under Memory you should be able to drill down to see the memory key in Port 2 or whatever.

Step Two

usbview

The Action Replay software won’t just work with any old memory key…you have to configure it to see the USB key you are providing.  Plug in the USB key and load up USBView.  You need to grab a few hex numbers to put into the Action Replay configuration file.

Once that is done, then you have to load the Action Replay driver on your system and set your USB key to use it rather than the generic Windows driver.

Here is the tutorial that spells out exactly how to do all of this.

Lastly, you can start up Action Replay and work on transferring those exploit files.

Step Three

actionreplay

Follow the guide here to complete the hack.  The hard work is over.  Obviously the difference is that the author paid for an Action Replay kit and I used my mad skillz.

XMBC doesn’t “install” exactly, it really is just a matter of copying files over to the Xbox via FTP.  But, anyway, once that was done I started it up via the Evox menu.  It had a really well done theme that was filled with Xbox controller images…  Cool, but not what I wanted.  So I went in and configured the simple, tasteful, blue skin.  If I could have figured out how to kill that stupid scroller from the bottom of the default theme, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.  And my wife likes the blue one better anyway.

Step Four

I wanted to load XBMC automatically on boot.  So, I followed option one of this article to make that happen.

Final Thoughts

This was remarkably easy to do…up to this point.  Now I’ve run into some trouble working with the MythTV Python script, so I’ll cover all of that in the next posting.  I have the feeling that I’m about to learn a lot about Samba network shares.

See you, Space Cowboy.

3 thoughts on “Smart Home Media Project – Phase II – Hack That Xbox

  1. What sort of usb drive are you using? I have been having a mother fraking hard time getting my xbox to read mine.

    I have tried the 2 and 4 GB Kingston Data Travelers which resulted in some sort of infinite 0.25 sec long loop of a dimming screen and the menu selection sound effect for as long as the thumb drivers were plugged in,

    The following resulted in a “memory unit you inserted isn’t functioning; it may be damaged” message for me: PNY Attache 256MB usb stick, and a SanDisk MobileMate SD+ Memory Card Reader coupled with either: a Canon 32MB SD Card or a SanDiskSDHC 4GB Card. I have checked the list over at xbox-linux.org but since the 2GB Kingston Data Traveler was listed as working when it didn’t for me (they WERE right about the Attache), I was hoping for some other known working one prior to trying another one (ergo my question here) on their list since most of the other xbox tutorial related stuff is a couple of years old and is spotty on the usb thumb drive stuff or refer back to xbox-linux.org … kthnxbye

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