Blog

April 30, 2017
SCPH-101 PSone project introduction

In late 1995 Sony released their very first entry into the video game console market, the PlayStation. The PlayStation would go on to sell over 102 million units, making it one of the best selling video game consoles of all time, only being outsold by its successor, the PlayStation 2. At $299 the console was priced at $100 less than is main competitor at the time, the Sega Saturn. Later in late 2000 Sony began selling a slimmer version of the PS1 called the PSone, this is the start to a series of posts covering my SCPH-101 PSone project. [Read More]

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April 23, 2017
Original Xbox TSOP flashing guide

There are two types of mods you can do to run homebrew on your original Xbox. The first, and easiest method is a softmod. The second method is a hardmod, which requires a physical hardware modification. A softmod is useful, but doing things like replacing your hard drive is much more difficult than with a hardmodded system. This is a guide on how to hardmod an original Xbox through the Xbox TSOP flash chip.

The original Xbox has a small EEPROM chip on the motherboard in a TSOP package.This chip acts as the BIOS of the original Xbox. Basic hardware initialization code is executed from the BIOS every time the Xbox boots. By flashing the BIOS with an aftermarket BIOS you'll be able to unlock additional functionality that the Xbox is capable of. Some features include booting from homebrew disks, using unlocked hard drives, and upgrading RAM. [Read More]

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April 10, 2017
Installing a PC heatsink onto an Xbox 360

In a previous post I wrote about the many heatsink options for the fat Xbox 360 consoles. I focused on the official heatsinks that Microsoft used. I was able to improve temperatures using newer heatsinks, but I still wanted to look into better cooling options. In this post I'll be covering installing a PC heatsink onto an Xbox 360.

Things you'll need

Here's a list of items you'll need for installing a PC heatsink onto an Xbox 360.

  • A spare Xenon Xbox 360 CPU heatsink
  • A spare Falcon Xbox 360 CPU heatsink
  • Arctic Alumina thermal adhesive
  • Dremel
  • Pliers
  • Clamp
  • Cooler Master Hyper TX3 heatsink
  • Thermal paste
  • Tape
  • 80mm fan
  • Soldering iron and solder

Those items are specifically for the final mod that I ended up with. I used the Xenon CPU heatsink for the mount of the new CPU heatsink, and the Hyper TX3 for the heatsink itself. You can make your own mount, or use any other PC heatsink as long as it fits. [Read More]

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March 31, 2017
Xbox 360 heatsink options, cooling upgrades

After making my fat PS3 nearly silent, I wanted to make my Xenon Xbox 360 as quiet as possible. Right now I'm in the process of attaching a computer heatsink to my console, but before I write about that, I should probably write about all of the Xbox 360 heatsink options.

Xbox 360 revisions, and their heatsinks

Microsoft's first Xbox 360 revision was called Xenon. It featured a very short, but long and deep aluminum fin heatsink on top of the graphics chip. On the processor there was a beefier heatsink with a copper baseplate, heat pipes, and many aluminum fins. [Read More]

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March 29, 2017
PS3 custom firmware installation (fat CECHA01, and slim CECH-2101A)

Installing custom firmware onto my PS3 was one of my goals I mentioned in my project introduction post. This post describes my experiences during PS3 custom firmware installation on my fat CECHA01 console, and my brother's slim CECH-2101A console.

Update: I have written another post going into more detail on custom firmware installation using a Teensy on a CECH-2001A PS3 slim.

What is custom firmware, and what it's used for

Before I begin I'd like to provide some background information. Sony released firmware version 3.55 for the PS3 in late 2010. In this version Sony messed up the encryption system which allowed the PS3 hacking community to create custom firmware updates that could be installed, also called custom firmware or CFW. [Read More]

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March 19, 2017
Adding an HDMI port to the original Xbox

Microsoft shipped the original Xbox with a composite AV cable, which was fine for 2001, but composite doesn't work very well with modern HDTVs. You could buy a component cable for your system, but official Microsoft cables are hard to find and expensive. Not all HDTVs even have support for component either. If only the original Xbox had an HDMI port. This post outlines the process of adding an HDMI port to the original Xbox.

Things you'll need

Here's a list of items that you'll need for adding an HDMI port to the original Xbox. [Read More]

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March 5, 2017
Revision 1.3 original Xbox project introduction

Microsoft's original Xbox was ahead of its time. With built in Internet connectivity, a computer based architecture, and a built in hard drive, the original Xbox is surprisingly similar to current consoles, like the Xbox One. Microsoft put some serious hardware into their first console, allowing it to have some of the best graphics of the generation. Some games could even output at 720p and 1080i. This is the start to a series of posts describing my revision 1.3 original Xbox project.

I recently bought an original Xbox for $40, less than 14% of the cost of a the brand new system in 2001. My system is a revision 1.3 original Xbox, which is one of the more common revisions out there. There's a chance that it's a 1.2 console, because it has a Western Digital hard drive that was found on revision 1.2 systems. Because it has Samsung DVD drive that was found on revision 1.3 systems, and the serial number matches revision 1.3, and because more revision 1.3 systems were manufactured, it's more likely to be a revision 1.3 system. [Read More]

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February 28, 2017
Powering a PS3 with a PC power supply

Three of the biggest sources of heat within a PS3 are the RSX graphics processor, the Cell processor, and the power supply. Many of the original fat consoles came with power supplies with the model number of ZSSR5391A. Those power supplies are only 66.5% efficient, meaning that lots of unnecessary heat is generated by the power supply.

I'm lucky, my PS3 has the much more efficient APS-226 power supply, which is 83.13% efficient. That's a lot better than the other model, but is still contributing to the amount of heat that the console has to exhaust. [Read More]

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February 18, 2017
Xbox 360 DVD firmware key extraction

Every Xbox 360 has a special key that is stored on the DVD drive, and the motherboard. This key is used to prevent modification to the console. In order to flash a custom drive firmware, use an ODE, or replace the DVD drive, you must first obtain the key from the original DVD drive. This is a guide on how to extract the Xbox 360 DVD firmware key using household items.

If you search Google for how to get the DVD key from an Xbox 360 you'll find that most tutorials say that some sort of external device that you have to buy is required. Common hardware devices include the Team Xecuter X360USB, and Xecuter CK3i. Additionally some drives require special probes to be flashed. [Read More]

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February 13, 2017
PS3 delid, Cell CPU and RSX GPU IHS removal

In order to save a little bit of money, maximizing profits, it's common for companies to use cheap thermal interface material. In the case of the PS3, the thermal paste that Sony used for the Cell processor and the RSX graphics processor doesn't age very well.

I recently bought an original 60GB PlayStation 3, with the CECHA01 model number. In the past I have used newer PS3s, and they were all reasonably quiet, so I was surprised at what I heard not long after turning on my console. The fan went to full speed, and never went back down to a reasonable level. [Read More]

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