SATA cable hack for the XBox 360

This guide describes an easy method how to make your XBox360 DVD drive accessible from the outside so that you can easily reflash it whenever you want without going through the pain of unbuilding your XBox each time. Ah, and you’ll loose your warranty.

I guess others did this before, but I haven’t found anything on the web, so I figured I describe how to do it.

You need:

  • tools/knowledge to open your XBox360 – I assume that you can do that, if not, search on the web
  • 1x SATA cable 90° angle, ~20cm
  • 1x SATA extension cable, ~20cm
  • tools to cut metal (e.g., a Dremel)
  • 1 zip-tie
Step

Disconnect the existing SATA cable from the DVD and the mainboard. Remove the DVD drive. It might be hard to find a longer cable with the proper angled connector, so here’s a closeup of it. It took me 3 tries to get the right one, so here are the DeLOCK model numbers:

Step

Search for a good position to cut a hole into the casing and mark it. Protect the rest of your XBox with paper that you tape into position. In the end, only the soon-to-be-hole should be visible; all the rest should be under a thick layer of paper.

Step

Take your Dremel and cut a hole into the XBox as marked, carefully avoiding to damage any of the components. Make the whole big enough that the two SATA cables can fit through.

Or, in my case: take your el-cheapo Dremel, start it up, notice the smell, realize the thing is going into meltdown, curse, burn yourself, unplug the thing, wait for the smoke to clear, open it up, yep, it actually melted, order a new one, be too impatient to wait, take out the drill and pipe wrench, and go ahead mistreat your XBox.

Step

Carefully remove all the metal dust with a vaccum cleaner; remove the paper. End up with a nice and clean hole. Or in my case the worst exectured casemod ever.

Step

Connect the angled SATA connector to the mainboard (just under the DVD drive, see first picture). Then, fiddle the cable through the hole. Fiddle the SATA extension cable through the hole as well, with the extension connector on the outside (d’oh). Plug the SATA connector into the DVD drive and put the drive back into your XBox. Connect the two SATA cables on the outside. It should now look like the image above.

Step

Attach the SATA cables to the case using a zip-tie. This prevents the you from pulling the cable off the DVD drive when messing with the connectors on the outside. Use a strong wirecutter to cut a hole in the outer plastic casing. Reassemble your XBox.

You’re done! If you want to flash your drive, just connect a normal SATA cable from the extension plug to your PC (remember to have your XBox switched on and the video connector plugged in!)

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