Monday, 5 September 2011

Xbox 360 PS3 PC Case mod

Hi there, my names Timofiend, or Tim as that's my actual name, and this is my explanation of how I created the Xbox 360 and PS3 in a PC case mod. Its still a working title, as the project remains unnamed as of yet (suggestions welcome) I apologise in advance if I tend to ramble sometimes and randomly change subjects, but I will try to keep it as ordered and clear as possible. Also sorry it took a day or two longer than I said it would to get this online, I moved house yesterday and did not have much time to write up. Also I have no internet at this new house, so I have a wireless tether to my phones 3g connection -which made uploading photos a nightmare. I hope I manged to let everyone know who asked to be notified, sorry if I missed you I had a very long list of people to message and was rather tired when I wrote it.

My contact details are at the bottom of the article. Also I warn you this is quite a long article, but I may have skipped over parts or not gone into enough detail at points by accident, so feel free to email me with any questions regarding any part of the project, or if you want photos of specific things, or anything else you might want to know for that matter.

First things first, for the most part this is not a tutorial on how to do this project yourself, but an explanation of how I did it. I am by no means a professional, and if you choose to follow what I did that's fine by me, but don't hold me responsible for any dead consoles or ruined cases that might result :) Having said that, I will try to explain exactly how I did everything step by step and give helpful pointers so that if anyone is looking to recreate this, they should be able to follow it almost as a step by step guide - and I am sure many improvements could be made by a determined individual ready to take on a project like this.

A little bit about me and the project to start with. I have been on summer holidays, after having just finished my first year studying Computer Games Technology at the University of Portsmouth. I was contemplating doing some kind of console modding for fun during my free time, and after a few different ideas I decided on this. As I have not been working much this summer, the project was done on as tight a budget as possible, although as you will see it did not go totally to plan in the budgeting department. The project was solely for fun, just to see if I could do it - so please don't bother telling me its a pointless or stupid thing to do, because I don't care.

Okay now onto the good stuff - how this creature came into being.

Firstly, this is a list of tools I used throughout the project, in no particular order. If you were looking to recreate something like this, these would be your best friends.

Basic tools:

  • Pliers (I had a good strong pair of needle nosed pliers, they are absolutely invaluable)
  • Side cutters (I had a large pair for clipping bits of plastic etc, and a smaller pair for cutting wires etc. one large pair would do really)
  • Screw drivers. You need a lot of these. A set of many varying sizes of phillips and flathead screwdrivers would be good. Also Torx screwdrivers, for opening the consoles - I believe both sizes 10 and 8 are necessary (will confirm this later in the post) but it would be good to have a set of multiple sizes) A really long phillips would also be handy, but may not be an absolute necessity. 
  • Hammer (you always need a hammer.)
  • Sets of  nuts and bolts, I will go into detail later on about particular sizes that are useful.
  • Glue - Epoxy, super glue, contact adhesive. They are all very useful at times.
  • Electrical tape and lots of it.
  • Wire strippers would be good, but if you're handy with the side cutters they aren't totally necessary. 
  • A vice is also quite useful for bending metal along a nice straight edge.
  • Scalpel good for cutting and shaping plastic, amongst other things.
  • Sand paper for cleaning up edges of plastic etc (files could come in useful for that as well).
  • Rulers and pens etc for measuring stuff 

Electric tools/more specialised ones

  • Electric drill, with a set of different sized drill bits. This is an absolute necessity, you will get nowhere without one of these.
  • Soldering iron - I used a 50w adjustable heat iron, although any one would probably do, it is mostly used for soldering wires together. You would also need solder, but I figure if you've got as far as owning a soldering iron you probably already know it needs solder :)
  • Dremel rotary tool. If you are as inexperienced as I was with a dremel then you will need a nice amount of replacement blades heh, and other ends such as ones designed for sanding etc. I think usually a Dremel comes with these, but I am not 100% sure, so you might want to check if you are buying one.
Im pretty sure that was all of the tools I used. One more thing you will need is a lot of space. I commandeered my mother's dining room, which had a very large table I used as a workspace, although this quite quickly spread to include most of the floor as well. Somewhere outside to work would be good as well, as cutting metal and drilling etc tends to leave quite a mess and is best done outside.

As for materials needed, I will list what I used here (plus where I got them, although if you are not in the UK this may not be that helpful), although at later points I may mention something I forgot to add here. Most of the raw materials can be found quite easily online, and if you know a local model shop (such as somewhere that sells parts for model railway enthusiasts and model builders) these shops are a goldmine of random useful bits and pieces.

Main materials:
  • Xbox. I originally began this project with an old xbox I had lying around, although I was forced to change this as halfway through it decided to die on me. I ended up buying a new 4gig Xbox Slim for £135 from Amazon. For anyone attempting this project I would suggest using a slim, as it not only is smaller and easier to fit in, but the stock heatsink/fan assembly is a billion times better than that of the original Xboxes.
  • PS3 I used an 80gig full size PS3, if possible I would suggest using a slim, purely because everything is smaller and would be easier to fit in, but what I have documented here is an older full size PS3 because  I already had one and I was not up for buying a brand new one.
  • Tower case I used the cheapest case I could find with a design I liked, it cost me £18 from ebuyer, I will link to it below. I would suggest buying a slightly more expensive case if you can afford it, as the low price of the case I bought was noticeably reflected in the build quality. A full tower case would be good, but I fit it all into a mid case. Most cases have a pretty similar design anyway so what I did could most probably be quite easily replicated on a case of your choice. This is the one I bought
  • ATX PSU This will be used to to power the consoles. Depending on what model of Playstation you are using, you may be able to power both consoles from this PSU and forget about including the playstation psu in the case. I will go into more detail about this a little bit later on. I used a 450watt supply I stole out of an old computer I had. It has an AC in and an AC out, meaning you can plug it into the mains but also plug another appliance into it. This is not strictly necessary, but it means you dont need to have more than one plug going to the mains. I will talk more about this later. The main thing is to make sure it is poweful enough for both consoles, whether or not you end up using the playstation's psu as well, it would be good to have one that can power both. 450 watt is enough.
  • 2 lcd screen temperature sensors One for each console, I bought these ones - 
  • Set of nuts and bolts of varying sizes I bought something along the lines of this it will be invaluable.
Other materials that are useful:

  • Strips of brass (or other kind of quite malleable metal), these can be used to make all sorts of useful things such as frames to hold drives, latches to keep stuff together, etc etc.
  • Sheets of plastic. I bought a few sheets of thin white plastic from a model shop, which I used to make the back plate for the case. They were only a pound or so each, about 40cm by 15cm or so, just make sure they are big enough to cover the back of the case.
  • A couple of switches. I bought a couple DPDT switches (dual pole dual throw), although I only used one in the end and used it as single throw rather than double, but the DPDT ones were easier to get hold of and are useful in case you want to use them for another purpose as well. I bought them from a local model shop, but I'm sure you can get hold of them online very easily, they cost next to nothing.
  • Wire. I bought 3 types, 2 thick gauge rolls for high power lines (you could technically do it with one roll, but i bought red and black so I never mixed up cables with disastrous results) and a thin gauge wire for extending various cables for components of the consoles, so they could be moved to other locations. The thinner gauge general purpose wire I bought was 16/0.2 gauge ( such as this: ) and the thicker wire was ... a thicker gauge.. which I cannot remember right now - but I shall mention it when I talk about actually using it. The main thing to remember is when extending the wires is that whatever new wire you are using should be at least the same gauge as the wire you are extending.
Cables and other stuff I bought/had lying around

  • Sata cables - I used two, you may want to use 4 if you want to move the xbox hard drive (if you have one, i didnt) and the ps3 hard drive ( I left mine plugged straight into the mobo)
  • Usb Extension Cables - As many cables as ports you have. I used two, but bought 4. The xbox is conveniently placed so that I didnt need to extend the usb ports anywhere, and I only need the two on the back. The two on the front I dont use, but if you want to use those as well, remember to get extension cables for them. I bought 30cm male to female USB extension cables, you can find these quite easily by googling. 30 cm should be long enough, although if you can get 50 it would probably be useful, just in case your case is bigger than mine.
  • Ethernet port extension cables I bought two 50cm extension cables, only used one, they can be quite easily found on google.
  • HDMI Extension cable I bought one 50 cm extension cable, just remember you need male to female not male to male(that goes for the other extender cables as well), you can find it on google. 

Okay, that pretty much covers the tools and materials, if I do mention anything else while documenting this and forget to add it to the list, feel free to email me and ask about it if you want.

The Build

Now down to the actual building part of it. I tried to photograph every part of what I did, but there were points where I forgot to photograph stuff, and as I wasn't really thinking of writing something that could possibly be used as a guide/tutorial some of the photos are not as close up or step-by-step as they could have been. I will try to describe as best I can, and possibly go back and take more close up photos for certain parts. If you do want to see something in better detail that I havent covered well here, just email me and let me know and I shall try to do it for you. My email is at the bottom.

First things first, time to pull apart the PS3 I did this first because I hadnt pulled one apart before, and was excited to see what it was like inside. I wont go into detail about how to strip down the console, as there are many resources online which show you how to do that. My stripdown of the ps3 is fully photographed in this imgur album:  (sorry the pics on there seem to be in the wrong order, I dunno how that happened, but it should be quite obvious which order they were taken) If you want a full tutorial on how to take it apart, gilksy has a good video tutorial of him stripping down the same model I used, an 80 gig PS3, that can be found here:

I gotta mention here I started the project using an old xbox from 2005, and switched to the new slim partway through because my old one died on me. I will go through exactly what I did before switching them over anyway, because it was good to learn. 

So having stripped down the PS3, I pulled apart the old xbox. Which as most of you probably know isnt exactly the most complex of tasks. Get the covers off and then all you have is a motherboard, dual fan thing, and a dvd drive. I have no photos of that, as I've done that enough times that I didnt even think to photograph it this time. 

I moved on to powering the xbox with the ATX supply, which is relatively simple and just involves soldering the correct wires from the ATX supply to the same wires from inside the xbox cable. There are loads of tutorials online to do this, so I wont go into it much, although when I switched to using the new xbox slim I then had to redo it, and as I hadnt seem a tutorial on doing the new one I documented and photographed it as I went. You can find all of that in an xbox-scene post I made here:

Heres a random photo of it working with the newer xbox, for people who dont really care about the tutorial but like seeing pictures of stuff :)

Having got the xbox working with the ATX supply, I started trying to get the playstation to run off the atx supply as well. This proved to be rather more of a problem than I had anticipated. Having seen quite a few people do it online in youtube videos etc, I figured it would be easy. The problem I ran into was a small 3pin white plug that runs from the playstation psu, to the motherboard. With some models it is 4 pin, some it is 5, with my model it is 3. The problem I first ran into was that no one had done it with a 3 pin plug before, and so I needed to figure out what exactly was going on with the 3 pins. By bridging the two outer pins, you can turn the psu on, and measure whats going down there. After some very confusing results, I gave up trying to figure out what was happening, as my multimeter was giving me less than simple information. I cant remember exactly what it was, but it was not just standard 5vsb/12v/ground or something along those lines which was what I was expecting.

 I decided I would not be able to accurately replicate whatever that cable was doing, and so it would be safer just to put the ps3 psu in the case as well, to avoid possible damage to the mobo from me ignoring that cable, or trying to replicate the inputs and not doing it right. 

To be able to have the ps3 psu in the case, I needed to run cables between the plug on the motherboard and the socket on the psu. I used the thicker gauge wire to do that.The wire is soldering onto some thing strips of brass, which have been slightly bent with pliers so that they stay in the plug sockets. You may be able to just make out that I marked on the psu which hole was which so they didnt get plugged into the wrong sockets. For those of you thinking this looks rather dodgy, I did create a slapdash sort of plug using tape to hold them safely in the socket and to ensure they could not come into contact with each other or anything else.

I also extended the 3pin cable that went from the psu to the motherboard, with the thin gauge wire, by literally cutting each wire and extending it by 15 cm or so.

I pulled the socket out of the ps3 case when you would usually plug the mains cable in, which you can literally just push out of its holder. I then extended the cables to the psu, so that the plug could be at the back of the PC case and the psu further toward the front:

Next on the list of things to do was deal with the case. The very first thing I did was cut out the 2.5inch drive bays in the middle of the front of the case, and the 3.5 inch bays below those. This was done using a the Dremel, and cleaned up a bit with a sanding tool and a drill (some of the bits of metal were riveted in) The end result looked like this:

This gave me a bit more room to manoeuvre and make plans. Although, I just read through my "work log" and pretty half of the shit I was planning in there got changed halfway through or completely reorganised, and so I shall pretty much just document what I did rather than half made ideas that didnt come to fruition.

The next step I took was to mount the xbox motherboard on. This meant drilling corresponding holes on the side of the case (the bit you can see in the pic above) with where the mounting holes on the motherboard were. I then used a few standoff screws (3 stacked on top of each other) at each hole, to hold the board up off the case. Ignore the power supply randomly in this picture, I'm not sure what I was doing at the time but it seemed worth taking a picture apparently.

I positioned it as close to the back as possibly, mainly so the plugs on the mobo would sit close to the back of the case and save me trying to extend them to places.

The next step was to cut the top 5.25" bay off, to make room for the ps3 bluray drive. It is, awkwardly enough, wider than a standard bay. But still thin enough to fit in nicely, as long as you cut the bay sides off. So I cut the sides off, and used a spare piece of metal from the other bays I had cut out, to create a shelf for it to sit on. heres an action shot of me rocking the dremel like a pro.

The gloves arent totally necessary, but it makes it easier on the hands when holding a dremel for long periods of time. Also I do not recommend using sunglasses as safety goggles as I am in this picture. If you are going to do this use real safety goggles, because metal dust is bad for your eyes. Also if the cutting disc breaks, it pings out at quite a high speed and has sharp edges, so you could well blind yourself.

The result was a shelf like this:

Which happily fit the blu ray drive like this

As you can see the xbox drive is also in there. This drive is slightly thinner than a normal drive, and so doesnt fit in the bay well. What I did was use another spare bit of metal I had taken out of the case and shaped it into a tray (wide enough to sit in the drive bay nicely) and then screwed the xbox drive onto it (using the screws that hold the dvd drive casing together) 

With the old xbox drive, I had to cut the plastic legs off to do this, the legs can be sawn off with a small hack saw, I just dremeled them off because I'm lazy. When I replaced this drive with the one from the new slim xbox, theres no need to cut legs etc off, as it doesnt have any. You just need to drill the holes and screw it in :) I then screwed the drive chassy I had made into the drive bay to hold the drive there securely.

Having sorted the two optical drives, it was time to put the ps3 psu in. I literally used two brass strips and some screws to hold it in place, using two handy screw holes in the psu that were there already, and drilled a couple more into the bottom of the case, measuring how far over I could put it to make room for both the xbox and ps3 pretty much either side.

Now the major problem, having done all that, was to somehow mount the PS3 motherboard on the other side of the case from the xbox board. I still needed to be able to get to the xbox though, in case problems occured. And I didnt want to mount it on the actual case wall, because i would want to be able to pull that wall off. So with some help from my dad's magic well of ideas he calls his head, we created a hinge design, so that the ps3 motherboard would be able to swing open and closed.

Its quite hard to explain how the hinge worked, so heres a picture and a (bad) drawing which should hopefully explain it all. Also ignore the poor spelling of screws, the fact that I first put an e in there, then replaced it with an apostrophe - both of which are appallingly wrong, shows how late it has got while I've been writing this.. The photo is before the hinge got cleaned up and painted, but that's the essence of it.

This allows the ps3 motherboard to swing out to access everything behind it. It is supported underneath by some blue plastic feet which can be seen in quite a few of the pictures of the case when it is almost finished, and also held by a metal latch to stop it moving around.

So the project so far had looked like this. The random metal strip on the blu ray drive holds it in place, and the power cable from the blu ray drive has been extended with the thin gauge wire and 15 mins with a soldering iron.

Then after attaching the ps3 mobo to the hinge, it now looked like this:

It was now time for the first official test, to make sure I hadnt accidentally destroyed both consoles somehow. Ignoring cooling for the moment, I plugged it all in to see if it worked. Success!

So now thinking I was all in the clear, I started considering cooling methods. Unfortunately, I tried turning the xbox on again shortly after, and was struck down in the blaze of glory, by the dreaded RROD. Thinking it was probably something I did, I turned it off for a while, tried it again, same problem, checked all connections etc, but couldnt figure out where I had gone wrong. I checked the secondary error code, and was given 0141 (if I remember correctly, it may not have been exactly that one). Having seen the same error before with a few other Xboxes over the years, knowing it is usually the gpu problem all the old ones had, I came to the conclusion that it had literally been on its last legs anyway and it probably wasnt something major that I did to finally cause it to die on me. It powered up normally again once or twice, but went back to the rrod soon enough.

I decided enough was enough, I did not want to complete the project just to find the xbox was dead, and so after a little browse around online I ordered a new one. 2 days later this arrived!

I turned it on just to check it worked, redid the atx power supply mod using the new cable they brought out with this new Xbox Slim (linked to the xbox scene post earlier on where I documented that part). Then straight away ripped it open to see the insides, with a little help from Anandtech's article here:

Unfortunately, in my excitement at having a brand new toy to dissect, I completely forgot to take photos. The only one I have which shows the new xbox having been taken apart, is this one, which isnt particularly good but its all I have of this part of the project.

So having recieved and dissected the new xbox, I replaced the old dvd drive with the new one (pretty much just unscrewing the screws, changed the drive over, screwed back in, job done) and extended the power cable for that drive as well. I then decided, as Microsoft had been so good as to create a chassy to hold the motherboard, I would just use that to hold it, and attach that in the case. Much easier than remounting the new board, as it was smaller than the old board it was rather awkwardly placed and would not have had enough support.

So as you can see in this picture, the new  xbox went straight in the case, screwed into the bottom of the case, with a spacer halfway up the case (in the screwhole where the fan dampener's leg would have screwed in) which holds it steady and at the right distance from the side of the case. I placed it close enough to the back that I could use most of the ports without really having to change much.

The nut you can see toward the bottom left of the fan is part of the spacer arrangement holding the xbox chassy at the correct distance from the side of the case. The casing on the bottom right has been slightly cut away to allow for the psu to fit nicely. The blue plastic things are the feet that the ps3 motherboard rests on.

Also, as you can see, I removed the fan dampener and plastic hard drive holder. This was because the dampener was awkwardly sized and placed, and I had no hard drive to put in the hdd holder. These could probably be left it, although a few bits might need to be sliced off with a scalpel to make it fit properly. If I want to put a hdd in for the xbox, it is a simple case of mounting it in a drive bay, under the xboxes dvd drive and then running a sata cable to it etc.

To set up the front panels, it was literally a case of taking each panel out and measuring/cutting holes to fit. As you can see in the picture I simply cut a hole the same shape as the xbox drive tray, and it slides in and out easily. I used a dremel to do the basic cut, and then sanded it down to smooth it out.

The same was done for the blu ray drive in the panel above, and it was sprayed black. The PS symbol was just taken off my ps3, drilled a small hole in the panel and glued it in place. The two temperature sensors were quite easily fitted, just cut two holes the right size in the panel and stuck them in. They are powered by the atx supply.

Another point to mention was that, as you can see in the picture above, the blu ray drive (although not actually in place in the picture) has been moved down a bay. This was because it is nigh on impossible to find an extended version of the 60way 0.5mm pitch flat ribbon cable Sony used to connetc the bluray to the motherboard. Where the drive was originally, in the top bay, the cable was rather strained and I thought it would not be able to handle that stress for long. I just unscrewed the shelf the drive was sitting on, cut off the sides of the bay below and reattached the shelf as it was before, one bay down. This gave the cable a little more leeway. Also, if anyone has any ideas on how to get hold of an extended version of that cable, I would appreciate you letting me know :) I heard someone did cut down an 80way cable to a 60way, and apparently it worked. I could not find any 80way 0.5mm pitch cables either, so I couldnt try that.


I know this has been a major issue a lot of people have mentioned. The general opinion seems to be that it will overheat very quickly and easily. I disagree, although running Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 on both consoles for hours at a time might not be a good idea.

The way I have attacked the cooling problem, is by throwing fans at it until it went away. There is a 120mm fan on the front (the blue light) which sucks air in. There is a 90(?)mm fan on the back blowing air out. The top fan out of the two black and red side fans is connected to the atx supply, and blows air in. The bottom fan is connected to the playstation 3's fan plug, which I connected by cutting the plug off the old fan and connecting the 12v and ground to the new fan. This also means it runs at full speed continuously, rather than the controlled speed of the original fan. I cut the grid of holes in the side that the fans are blowing through using the Dremel rotary tool, having marked them out beforehand.

The bottom side fan has a shroud on the inside of the box, as you can see in the picture below, which redirects air to flow through the heatsinks. It may not be quite as efficient as the original setup, but it keeps the playstation cool which is the main issue. The shroud was built out of thin white plastic bought from a model shop. Much kudos to my dad here for major help with the design and actual building of the shroud.

The new xbox slim's stock fan and heatsink assembly, which can be seen in a few of the photos above, is a lot more efficient than the previous models. I left that on, and shall be monitoring closely the temperatures of both consoles to make sure it is not overheating.

This is the cooling system, and I realise some people will probably say it is not good enough etc. It is working, and I have had no problem so far with excess heat. Having said that, when I inevitably try to do something like this (but better) again, I may try to water cool everything.

The backplate was not shown in the original pictures, there wasnt really any reason for that I just didnt think to put it up there at the time. I should have done though, as it did look like the wires were just loose and sticking out the back, which they were not in the final product.

The backplate was cut out of white plastic as well, and then sprayed glossy black. The holes for each plug were measured up and marked out on the plate before cutting them out and attaching the plugs.

The area around the plugs was reinforced with a short brass rod, and a strip of metal holding the plugs together/in place. The main problem I had here was that the hdmi extender was quite poorly designed, and quite a lot of effort had to be put in to push the plug in and out. The  plastic was not strong enough to take this without reinforcement, so the rod and metal strip were epoxied in place to strengthen it.

Although you cant actually see the strengthening measures in this photo, they are on the other side of the plugs. The backplate was glued in place, at first using contact adhesive, and then again using superglue as the contact adhesive was not sticking well.

Pretty much almost finished

So that is pretty much everything I did, if there is anything you think I missed out or you would like clarification on or any questions at all, feel free to email me. My address will be at the bottom of this post. There are a couple of issues I still want to work out, and so I would not consider this project completely finished until I sort these out.

The main issues are:

  • Lack of physical button to turn on either console or to eject discs. This is probably the largest problem with the mod as it is at the moment. I do plan to try and add these in though. The reason I havent done it yet is that i was having a lot of trouble extending the ps3's touch screen buttons, there seemed to be a lot of interference and other stuff going on that would mean the button was constantly turned on or didnt work at all. I still need to play about with those for a while before i will be able to get it to work. The new xbox slim also has touch screen buttons, which are even harder to mess about with that the playstation's as it seems. They are connected via a ribbon cable to the faceplate, and I have not worked out how to replicate what is happening there. If anyone has any idea on how to do this, or anyone knows a lot about these buttons, please send an email my way :)
  • 2 Power supplies - although I slightly worked my way around the problem of having to plug it in twice, as you only need to plug the atx psu into the mains and the atx psu sends power to the ps3's psu. I would still prefer to have both consoles powered by the single atx psu. I plan to accomplish this in the next project when I get around to it.
  • Have to take side cover off to get to xbox sync button. Although this is relatively simple, as it is not the fan side of the case but the other side, and the button can be reached easily, I would like to have that extended to outside of the case somehow.
  • Cooling system isnt quite as efficient as it could be - maybe water cooling next time.
I think that's about it for main issues. If anyone has any others feel free to let me know (apart from the issue that you might not like the case I picked, don't bother letting me know about that.)

So if you succeeded in reading through the whole of that, well done, it took me long enough to write that hopefully someone will read the whole thing and make it worth my while :) I will update with answers to questions and more detail in places if people ask me - that's if i can update google blog posts. This is my first one so I'm not quite sure, but I shall figure something out. 

Thanks very much for the love and compliments I received, was much appreciated. I shall let you all know when the next project is on the go :)

If anyone wants to contact me, you can email me at or message me on reddit, my username is timofiend

Hope y'all enjoyed reading and seeing this as much as I enjoyed making it, cheers :)