Xbox G4
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Xbox G4


Overview

This Powerbook modification is actually a spin-off of another project. Let me explain, my other project (Twenty First Century Mac) was originally based upon a 867Mhz PowerBook G4 Logic board. Unfortunately, the 867 is too slow for active TV Tuners (specifically, the one I already purchased.) so I had to scratch the 867Mhz from the project. Since I didn’t have any true use for it, it sat idle. (with 1.12GB of RAM, Combo Drive, etc. To go with it.)

I’m an avid broken Xbox 360 collector, trying to develop strategies for hacking and repairing once-thought dead consoles. I’ve got plenty of empty 360 cases around with nothing to do but gather dust. When it hit me, The PowerBook logic boards are tiny. Perfect for one of those cases. Even better with PSU integration.

I had plenty of left-over PowerBook parts to make a decent machine. With a nice small footprint.

Enter Xbox G4.


Specs

867Mhz PowerBook G4
60GB Fujitsu HD (Former test drive. ☺)
Functional Ring Of Light, including sleep indication
Combo Drive
Built In Battery
Stealth Power Button
65W Power Supply
OS X Tiger 10.4.11


Supplies
  • 50Ft of 30 Gauge Wrapping Wire
  • Vacated Xbox 360 Case (Including Silver Power Button, DVD Drive Front Bezel and Eject Button)
  • Xbox 360 Ring Of Light Assembly
  • Flat Black Spray Paint
  • Rustoleum Clear Enamel (Clearcoat)
  • Powerbook 867 Mhz Logic Board (With DC-DC Board, DC-Jack board, Battery, Combo Drive and Wiring harness)
  • Small PCB with Tact Button (Homemade, or Salvaged.)
  • 1.5K Resistors
  • Mini-VGA to VGA adapter
  • 65W PowerBook Power Adapter (Modular)
  • Plenty of Metal Cutting Discs

Process

Step 1 - Rewire Power
The process for this machine is not overly complex, the hardest part being the wiring mods.

First, I had to modify the Power Management Unit for the new battery placement. This process is mimicked between my two mods, so don’t fret about seeing the same pictures over again.

Close Up View Of The PMU.  I used a 40W Soldering Iron and a De-soldering Braid to de-solder the connector. It was a bit stubborn at first but it eventually came off.
XBoxG4-image003.jpg
De-Soldered Battery Connector.
XBoxG4-image005.jpg
I added around a foot of wire, for maximum placement flexibility.
XBoxG4-image007.jpg
It is important to remember the placement of the connector, to avoid mis-wiring the system and potentially ruining both the DC-DC board and the DC-Jack.

Here’s the final product, Yes. I like my colored wire ties, thank you.
XBoxG4-image009.jpg
Shortly after this modification, this DC-DC board died. iFixit to the rescue!
XBoxG4-image011.jpg
DC-DC #2 Done Annnnnnnnnd… Functional!
XBoxG4-image013.jpg

Step 2 - Test Positioning

This is the logic test fit. There’s enough room left between the case and the logic to use the original case to mount it.
XBoxG4-image015.jpg
Another test. This proves my previous theory that the original case can be used to mount the logic.
XBoxG4-image017.jpg

Step 3 - Dremel

I dremeled the markings I made on the case to allow it to properly fit into the case.
XBoxG4-image019.jpg
Motherboard fit into the new slim case. ;)
XBoxG4-image021.jpg
Prepping for the steel frame cuts.
XBoxG4-image023.jpg
Like I said, plenty of metal cutting discs. This is pretty stubborn casing.
XBoxG4-image025.jpg
Test fitting all of the parts.
XBoxG4-image027.jpg
And all of the parts orphaned.
XBoxG4-image029.jpg

Step 4 - Painting

Here’s the painting phase. I did NOT use the Xbox 360 Elite case, I used a white case. It was painted 3 coats of flat black, and 2 coats of clearcoat. Here’s the metal casing painted black.
XBoxG4-image031.jpg
Everything in the new painted case.
XBoxG4-image033.jpg

Step 5 - Case Population

After a bit of a blunder, just checking to make sure that everything was functioning properly still. Still was. :)
XBoxG4-image035.jpg
Now he’s the real conspiracy. Is this a coincidence?! I think not.
XBoxG4-image037.jpg
Here’s the case populated. I didn’t take as many pictures of this phase as I would’ve liked.

The low down:
I secured the hard drive, via it’s original mounting brackets, to the frame with 5mm threaded bolts. For minor shock protection, I hot glued the HD at it’s edge with the metal casing of the Xbox.

The Optical drive and Battery, have two decking screws passing through the battery’s aluminum plate and the optical drive bracket.

The motherboard sits in it’s bottom case, and is screwed into the original standoffs. As well as receives extra support from the APE card that’s in it.

The PSU is secured with very short screws (2-3mm max) and hot glue.

The DC jack is routed above the hard drive, and is hot glued in place.

There is a slot cut into the metal case for the optical drive opening, and for the AC input for the PSU.
XBoxG4-image039.jpg

Step 6 - Ring of Light

I never thought that something so seemingly simple, could cause so many issues. (Mainly the Power switch. I’ll get to that in a moment.) My concept for the RoL was that I wanted the LEDs in the ring to be the sleep LED. They should pulse red when it’s asleep. Additionally, I wanted the Power Switch working, and the Power LED working.

Now, the Sleep LED is a 3-5V LED driven on a capacitor-drain circuit. (That creates the pulse). The RoL LEDs are all 2.5V LEDs. However, I was able to drive all four of them at once to bring the voltage within their tolerance range.

It works!

(The Blue wires are GND, the White ones are V+)
XBoxG4-image041.jpg
The Power LED is driven off of the 5V+ and GND on the PMU. They’re labeled, so it’s nice and easy to find them. And convenient to solder onto. LEDs are polar so remember to keep continuity for your polarity.
XBoxG4-image043.jpg
Heres’ the finished product of the case. This is with the power LED connected, and the RoL lights connected. They were wired directly into the PMU Sleep LED header.
XBoxG4-image046.jpg

Step 7 - Power Problem

Here was the problem with this. The Power Button.

Now, my original design was going to use the RoL power button. It worked fine on my Inspiron 8600. (My original test of the computer in the Xbox) What I didn’t know, is that the power switch actually hovers around 50% resistance instead of going from 100% to 0%. So whenever the switch was connected, it would stop the computer from turning off/on. After stripping every SMT part off of my RoL, including the radio circuitry. It would still hover at high resistance. Tested another RoL same thing.

So I switched my plan. Instead, I wanted to stealth the power button in the back of the case. This would keep unwanted people from starting up (or force-shutting down!) my computer. A problem ended up becoming a nifty feature.

So, on an awesome bit of luck… The switch assembly from the drive enclosure I used in my (Twenty First Century Mac) was the perfect size for the Power Port on the Xbox case. Win!
XBoxG4-image048.jpg
With everything painted and ready to go, time to assemble the case.
XBoxG4-image050.jpg
Since the case itself is desk ridden, in the horizontal position, I flipped the power button assembly so that it would match that orientation.
XBoxG4-image052.jpg
I also hot glued the DVD drive bezel and Eject button in their appropriate places on the front of the case.
XBoxG4-image054.jpg
Here she is, sleeping. (Triumph!)
XBoxG4-image056.jpg


Final Thoughts

Overall, I had a lot of fun doing this mod. I was quite crunched for time between the two projects, school and my jobs. But I believe they came out well. I ended up ditching the APE and Bluetooth, since reception inside the case is horrid. The computer is supposed to be used on Ethernet anyway. In the future, I’d like to recut the side panels, or find a way to make a nice IO plate/door. Also, I’d like to re-add the APE and BT when I find out a way to receive better signal reception. Future upgrades include a very large HD, and a Superdrive.

Also, I’m running Tiger on this machine. It’s perfectly suited for the 867Mhz processor, and now outdated GeForce GPU. Overall, with the 1.12GB of RAM and 5400RPM 60GB drive, it’s performance is nice. It’s a great space saver machine, without having a half mauled PBG4 on my desk. :P


Final Images
XBoxG4-image057.jpg XBoxG4-image059.jpg
XBoxG4-image061.jpg XBoxG4-image063.jpg
XBoxG4-image065.jpg XBoxG4-image067.jpg
XBoxG4-image069.jpg XBoxG4-image071.jpg

 

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