Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Discussion about Modding the XBOX, including hardware and software hacks.
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Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Tue May 23, 2017 10:13 pm

Just for the fun of it i will make a kind of a work log my latest project.

Some background story of my me and Xboxes. I am not new to modding them, just new to softmodding.

My first xbox was bought when i served compulsory military service. It was a standard black one, but it died on, and this was before i started thinking of repairing electronics by my self (Except PC's) So i got hold of a slightly used Crystal Edition from a friend. Soon after getting that one, i heard about softmodding them. My brother in law had done that to his xbox, and also did mine. It was loaded with XBMC ofc, and thats what got me into forums and sites that showed me cool casemods and other stuff i could do with the xbox. This was the time before i had Internet at my flat, so every time i visited friends or my parents i was on these forums looking for inspiration and printing page after page with tutorials. So the first thing i did to the xbox on the hardware side was 80mm fan mod, IDE cable upgrade and loads blue leds. Even in the controller ports. Sadly i dont have any pics of it here at work, i may have at home on my server though. Then this xbox got an clear ghostcase tranpslant, going for a more subtle and clean style this time. Black jewel, blue leds underneath. Ghostcase DVD mod, and blacked out HDD and made black covers to hide cables.

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Then the misses moved away to study, and she was used to the Xbox too, so i got online and bought a standard black one from USA. It finally arrived, and ofc i had'nt thought of the voltage difference, plugged the 110v Xbox in my 220v outlet. That fried the power supply, luckily in those days the llama site was live, and i got hold of another (110v) power supply, and i also bought a step down converter. My brother in law also softmodded this one and put in an bigger HDD. I did much the same as before, but since this was an 1.1 i also changed the fan on the GPU heatsink. 80mm fan at the back and IDE cable upgrade. This one i just got a custom jewel and pink leds underneath as case mods.

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After many years if (ab)use, they started to show they weaknes, with alot of HD files getting downloaded. So the daily driver got replaced for a Raspberry Pi running Kodi. The 1.1 got loaded with children movies and my sisters kids borrowed it. Made some changes to XBMC (Skin and master profile) so they could not do anything wrong, just watch movies. They still use it from time to time, but i think it is time for me to claim it back :) The Ghostcase one, was packed away for a while until we decided to set up an entertainment room, so finally i got it out again. I started really falling in love with the Xbox again, playing good old games and so on. So i decided i want to softmod one for myself to have at work. I started looking for a worthy candidate for this, so i got a Crystal One that sadly have bulging caps and is dead. On the plus side it is chipped and got a bigger HDD. So that will become a nice project later, changing caps. A perfect excuse to finally buy a decent soldering station.
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Then i got hold of a black one, a bit scruffed up and sticky DVD drive, but boots and is stock. So it will be my first softmod, when i have all the stuff i need.
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As is said earlier, i like project to make the evening go faster here at work. So I love to things that take a bit of time and that i find cool. So i started making a Xbox memory card a USB port instead.

Started out with an usb cable, that the metal shielding around the female USB plug was to bulky, so it would not fit in the memoy card case. The second cable had a thinner metal casing, but it got destroyed when removing the plastic on the outside and therefor it got rendered useless. So now i have a memory card case that has a cutout for the female USB, but no more cables to try. So the memory card is still functional, i did not desolder the connection yet. After figuring out that there may be hard to find a USB stick that will work with the xbox, and the fact that i dont have any more femalu USB plugs to use, i figured i will just make a USB to Xbox cable with the female plug that was too bulky. So in case my USB sticks dont work with the Xbox, i can put the Savegame exploit on the memory card and at least get to softmod the Xbox.
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And finally, i picture of the view out of my window here at the barge. This is my backdrop while writing this :)
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by Rocky5 » Tue May 23, 2017 10:37 pm

That blacked out ghostshell xbox :shock: me want :lol:
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Tue May 23, 2017 10:53 pm

Rocky5 wrote:
Tue May 23, 2017 10:37 pm
That blacked out ghostshell xbox :shock: me want :lol:
Yeah I am pretty happy with that one myself too. Sadly there are a couple of cracks in the case (Typical ghostcase), so I am hoping to get a hold of another one. But I can't get myself to pay what they now cost on EBay (Shipping to Norway is the killer), especially not right now when we just got our second child.

I was wondering of putting the Crystal case back on and look how that looks blacked out.
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by AZImmortal » Wed May 24, 2017 8:19 am

Since it looks like you're not afraid to solder, have you thought about going beyond softmodding and just flashing the TSOP (assuming you have a non-1.6 Xbox)?

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Wed May 24, 2017 4:57 pm

What are the benefits over softmodding?

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Wed May 24, 2017 9:48 pm

Made a USB to xbox cable today, to test USB stick on the xbox.

The soldering is not pretty:
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But you may understand when you see my weapon of choice for a quick and messy soldering job. We normally use it to cut ropes:
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OFC i had no luck, transfered the save game to the memory card (Will test USB sticks later) with xbox memory unit driver, xbox controller driver and xplorer360 installed on the computer. Every thing looks nice, until i put the game in. Since i tested the xbox and now the DVD drive has decidet to not read the discs. Mind you, i did not test it on the games i can use for softmodding, but still. I will try to clean the drive, and if that does not work i will have to change it for a working one,

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by shloader » Thu May 25, 2017 12:50 am

LudviG wrote:
Wed May 24, 2017 4:57 pm
What are the benefits over softmodding?
Not having to lock your Hard Drive is a big one to some. Plus you get to set your own BIOS parameters with either a config file or baking it in, thus controlling your startup even more.
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by AZImmortal » Thu May 25, 2017 8:25 am

LudviG wrote:
Wed May 24, 2017 4:57 pm
What are the benefits over softmodding?

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Besides what shloader said (unlocked hard drives is a huge deal), you never have to worry about something happening to your softmod that can leave you with a non-functioning box. Even if you delete your entire hard drive, you can always boot from DVD and start over easily if your Xbox is hardmodded (same can be said about setting up a replacement hard drive). There are other reasons (you can look up features for whatever bios you might want to flash) but having a brick-proof console is the biggest reason for me. There are also smaller quality of life reasons, like faster boot times. There are basically only advantages and no disadvantages to having a hardmod over a softmod. You do have to softmod before you can flash the TSOP though (or at least get an exploit running) so make sure that your softmod works.

Regarding your game saves, I know that you haven't been able to attempt the softmod yet since your DVD drive doesn't work, but make sure that you copy both of the game saves from the memory card to your Xbox (using the Xbox's built-in game saves manager) and run them from the Xbox. You can't run the saves from the memory card.

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by Rocky5 » Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am

I want to chime in on what the benefits of a bios replacement are.
  • Bios replacement:

    1) Unlocked HDD.
    ( You can just stick any HDD in the Xbox as it doesn't require it to be lockable. Softmods used to be able to do this but was removed due to the fact the stock kernel doesn't allow unlocked drives :lol: )

    2) Custom intro sequence, bios dependent.
    ( You can replace the Xlogo screen with custom models ( I made a few back in the day ) or customise the flubber/Xlogo colour or just remove the flubber and Xlogo screen. )

    3) Boot default.xbe or in some cases recovery.xbe from DVD drive without a HDD.

    4) No DVD drive
    ( softmods can do this by using a PCB from a DVD drive )

    5) No AV cable connected support
    ( it's a feature a softmod can't have, but not sure why you would need it )
That's it, everything else a softmod does and more.
  • Softmod:

    1) No hardware modifications

    2) Virtual DVD drive
    ( can also be added to specific bios, but requires a custom kernel patcher, basically you softmod the modified bios to add this feature )

    3) Virtual EEPROM
    ( this is used to protect folk from messing with there eeproms and bricking there Xbox, yes you can brick your TSOPPED/Chipped Xbox by arsing up your eeprom )

    4) Native dual booting
    ( bios can use a custom xbe file, but it doesn't work the same way softmods do it, the tray must be open for the second dash to load every time, softmods don't require this after the second dash has been booted once )

    5) Simpler to change kernel features, can be done on the Xbox.
    ( fan speed, partition types, flicker filter settings, force progressive video & eg.... )

    6) Allows you to TSOP your Xbox :lol:
    ( couldn't resist sorry )
note: x2 5035 I think has an app config live or something like that to change settings ( not sure how it works ) on the Xbox, but most bar 2 require you to reflash the bios to change these, the 2, ind-bios and x25035 use configs on the HDD that you edit via a text editor.
  • Basically:
    • Softmod:
      Simpler and more user features
    • TSOP:
      Boot protection
Now the argument about you can break your softmod is mute, ( especially from 2014 onwards ) as softmods are protected by default and require users to do 1 very specific thing, remove files from the unprotected C partition. ( equivalent of going into your C:\windows folder and deleting stuff on your PC, you know not to do it.) So if you never do that you won't have any issues. Even then if the softmod save is still on the Xbox you can load it and fix the Xbox.
( launching Xbox live via a live enabled game from a could boot won't update your dashboard if using my softmod )

You could also just as easily break a TSOPPED Xbox by reflashing the bios, or user error and pouring water onto the motherboard :lol: Basically it boils down to user error in breaking a softmod, it doesn't just break on its own.


In the end they both have there pros and cons. Do what you feel comfortable doing.


I may even add HDD password nulling to my softmod so every Xbox uses a 32 "0" key for the password thus making replacing a softmod HDD piss easy.
( basically if you have your eeprom.bin you can always fix a softmodded Xbox, this is backed up when the softmod is installed and you're told to keep it safe. It's a 256byte file so email it to yourself and keep it forever )
Last edited by Rocky5 on Thu May 25, 2017 11:33 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by AZImmortal » Thu May 25, 2017 10:36 am

Can current softmods run without an A/V pack connected? I'm not trying to argue or anything, I literally don't know.
Rocky5 wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am
4) No DVD drive
( softmods can do this by using a PCB from a DVD drive )
I don't know if it would be accurate to say that softmods can actually do this since you're still connecting the PCB (versus having nothing there at all). The PCB also has to be functional (which could be an issue for someone who's trying to run without their DVD drive because the PCB is fried).
Rocky5 wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am
5) Simpler to change kernel features, can be done on the Xbox.
( fan speed, partition types, flicker filter settings, force progressive video & eg.... )

...

note: x2 5035 I think has an app config live or something like that to change settings ( not sure how it works ) on the Xbox, but most bar 2 require you to reflash the bios to change these, the 2, ind-bios and x25035 use configs on the HDD that you edit via a text editor.
Those two bioses (X2 5035 and iND 5003) are pretty much the only bioses that hardmod users should be using anyway (unless you have an X3 chip, in which case you should be using an X3 bios), so I'm not sure that this can really be listed as an advantage for softmods. Using older bioses would be like using older softmods without Shadow C/virtual EEPROM; there's just no reason to use anything else.

I do agree that breaking a current softmod would require inordinate amounts of user intervention.

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by Rocky5 » Thu May 25, 2017 11:20 am

AZImmortal wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 10:36 am
Can current softmods run without an A/V pack connected? I'm not trying to argue or anything, I literally don't know.

added, forgot about that one. Pointless feature but I'm guessing that was for Linux users that wanted a headless server running? Not entirely sure why it's needed.
Rocky5 wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am
4) No DVD drive
( softmods can do this by using a PCB from a DVD drive )
I don't know if it would be accurate to say that softmods can actually do this since you're still connecting the PCB (versus having nothing there at all). The PCB also has to be functional (which could be an issue for someone who's trying to run without their DVD drive because the PCB is fried).

true, technically it's not a true no DVD drive hack, but it give the exact same effect.
Rocky5 wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am
5) Simpler to change kernel features, can be done on the Xbox.
( fan speed, partition types, flicker filter settings, force progressive video & eg.... )

...

note: x2 5035 I think has an app config live or something like that to change settings ( not sure how it works ) on the Xbox, but most bar 2 require you to reflash the bios to change these, the 2, ind-bios and x25035 use configs on the HDD that you edit via a text editor.
Those two bioses (X2 5035 and iND 5003) are pretty much the only bioses that hardmod users should be using anyway (unless you have an X3 chip, in which case you should be using an X3 bios), so I'm not sure that this can really be listed as an advantage for softmods. Using older bioses would be like using older softmods without Shadow C/virtual EEPROM; there's just no reason to use anything else.

the reason I listed that as an advantage is because you don't need to edit config files or use a PC with a softmod that's done properly. It can all be done on the Xbox with a simple menu system.

Now that's not to say that an experienced user can do ind-bios or x2 5035 config edits via UnleashX's text editor. I have done so many times, but it's no where as clean or as simple as in my case with my softmod, NKPatcher Settings.


I do agree that breaking a current softmod would require inordinate amounts of user intervention.
Check the NKPatcher Settings section
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by AZImmortal » Thu May 25, 2017 9:36 pm

The convenience of running a headless Xbox isn't just limited to traditional servers. Back when I didn't have extra sets of A/V packs, friends/family could give me their Xboxes to update without needing to give me their A/V pack, which can be inconvenient to unplug/replug depending on what's going on behind your TV.

Regarding the no DVD drive hack, if the reason that someone wants to run without the DVD drive is because their PCB is fried or because their DVD drive cable is damaged, then softmods have no way of working around that, so I don't know if you can really say that it's the "exact same effect."

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Fri May 26, 2017 5:22 am

A lot of interesting stuff here. Either way I will softmod the Xbox first, and see where I go from there. I got a dead crystal Xbox (need new caps), that has a chip. No idea what chip it is.

If I decide to hard mod later, what sources is used for chips?

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by AZImmortal » Fri May 26, 2017 10:41 am

LudviG wrote:
Fri May 26, 2017 5:22 am
If I decide to hard mod later, what sources is used for chips?
If your Xbox is anything but version 1.6, you don't need to buy a chip. You can flash the TSOP with a hacked bios and it would be like having a chip installed. If your Xbox is 1.6 (or if you still want a chip), someone else will need to answer your question because I'm not familiar with chip sources anymore.

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Fri May 26, 2017 8:54 pm

Ok, I did not know that, will have to look into it :)

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Fri May 26, 2017 9:11 pm

I am starting to think I should not soft mod an Xbox. I drove home from work yesterday, and brought the faulty Crystal one. I changed the DVD drive over to the one I am softmodding, and this one won't read discs either. Not just a stuck drive, it won't read. Hear it spins up and the laser moving over and over again........

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by shloader » Sat May 27, 2017 2:18 am

Rocky5 wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 9:06 am
I may even add HDD password nulling to my softmod so every Xbox uses a 32 "0" key for the password thus making replacing a softmod HDD piss easy.
That, I'm sure, would be a very appreciated addition.
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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by Tombstone » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:39 am

Just curious if you got that custom clear jewel off Ebay? I see some of them pop up on there every so often. Curious if they fit the Xbox correctly. Sorry if this is off topic.

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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:35 pm

Tombstone wrote:Just curious if you got that custom clear jewel off Ebay? I see some of them pop up on there every so often. Curious if they fit the Xbox correctly. Sorry if this is off topic.
I bought it from the Llama site back in the day. It fits very well, as long u cut the hole to the correct size off course.


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Re: Ludvig's first softmod, and other mods

Post by LudviG » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:32 am

Well, my first softmod is done :) some issues came up, was going to ftp the eeprom backup to my pc, but I can't get into the folder structure on the Xbox from Filezilla. The drives looks weird too, with dates first in the title.

It still has the original drive, so next for me is to research how to change the drive and install xbmc4xbox to the Xbox. There is a lot of tutorials out there, so if anyone got a very good one please point me in the direction of it :)

Also uploaded some pics from my nerd den at the barge at work. I live here half the year, so need something to do in the evenings. ImageImageImageImage

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