Xbox Fanfare ‘04

By request:

Word on the street was that J Fail’s brother Anthony had an xbox he’d busted up trying to mod. Being the frugal gamer that I am, I have until now resisted the purchase of the glorified gaming pc we know as the M$XBOX. Hoping I’d find a bargain, John got me in touch and we made the deal. 50 bones for an xbox with a bad hard drive that from what I’d read would need a mod chip if I’d ever wanted to bring it back up. Now, I will be getting a mod chip, but until then, I thought I’d see what I could find.

Looking around the many many xbox hacking forums regarding what we now call softmodding, the general discussion was that if you screwed up your hard drive without backups, you would be screwed. Each xbox hd is tied to its motherboard with some kind of key and without that key there is no way to unlock the drive. There is a total kludge method of unlocking the drive which involves turning on the xbox, unplugging the ide cable from the xboxhd and plugging in a cable from your pc, hoping the pc detects it after the xbox unlocks it. This of course tends to damage hard drives and pcs. Also, my xbox wouldn’t even boot. My hope was that when Anthony installed Evo-X through his 007 exploit he backed it up before he destroyed it.

XBOX-SCENE has a lot of great tutorials and tools for downloading. The tools I ended up using:

HD Driver – if you can unlock the xbox hard drive, you can use this to read the contents of the drive in windows
WinHEX – standard hex editor needed to clean up partition info in an xbox drive image I made during the process.
XBOXHDM – this is a conglomeration of tools used to fix xbox hard drives as well as general partitioning. It boots a small linux distro and then runs a series of batches used for unlocking, locking and partitioning
Slayer’s Installer– Evolution X, xbox tools and general mod tool.
Qwix– Xiso manipulation and extraction.

So just for shits and giggles, I plugged the xbox hd into my pc. Turns out it was already unlocked! Because it was, my pc detected it and tried to sign it immediately. I cancelled out of it and ran HD Driver. HD Driver works but in my case I had to backup the drive to a partition (total disc used – 25 gigs) and then edit it with Winhex in order to get it to read the partitions properly. While HD Driver does work, it apparently can’t handle blank partitions. A search around the xbox-scene forums pointed me to the problem and the resolution. Xbox uses a modified FAT filesystem called FATX, once I deleted the FATX partition information from the backup, I could use HD Driver to read the xbox c and e partitions. Yes, xbox has a C:\ drive. Browsing around, I found my hunch was right- anthony had backed up the drive and eeprom info, so I was able to get the key to lock and unlock the hard drive.

Key in hand, it was time for me to burn the XBOXHDM iso to reformat the xbox hd. Slayer’s installer uses EVO-X, which apparently uses code from the XBOX SDK, thus is probably illegal. I grabbed all of the C:\ and E:\ info from the Slayer’s disc using Qwix and dumped them into the xboxhdm directory and used the xboxhdm batch script to create a bootable iso.

Once I launch the ISO, it was smooth sailing, XBOXHDM includes a variety of options, I choose to format C:\ and place the contents of the Slayer’s directory onto my xboxHD. Once that was done, I used the supplied locking tool and the hard drive key I got from Anthony’s backup to lock the drive.

Unplugged the Xbox HD, plugged it back into the xbox, booted, stopped breathing….bam! No more “Your XBOX needs servicing screen”! It asked me to set the clock and took me right to the standand xbox dashboard. I just rented Panzer Dragoon Orta! I’m psyched!

Next: Xenium

5 thoughts on “Xbox Fanfare ‘04”

  1. i like to imagine you and my brother making a secret, back alley shady deal. did you get it? i hope you can rehabilitate it.

  2. Are you saying that the general context gives them true meaning and that you love to interpret things outside of that context? Dig deeper my friend. Context is the tie that binds! For a while I was a big proponent of trying to interpret art without regard to its context- you find a lot of stuff you otherwise think is interesting starts to fall away when you deconstruct its worth down to its absolute essence. I guess I still try to abide by that. It goes back to the whole discussion we had on the list that brought about my wrath on Scott Haslam. Anyway, thank you.

    Andy- never.

  3. This post was very compelling. I can’t say why, other than it touched on my dreams of having the skills necessary to remake electronics, and technology in general, in ones own image. I am also totally into the idea of repairing technology which has been given up for dead. I guess i find this post to be full of romance, futuristic romance. It should be noted that i have no idea what any of the specifics you mentioned mean or even what you are doing, i just like the over generalized idea of what you are doing that i seem to have. I guess my whole take on things comes down to my love affair with interpreting ideas sans the general context which gives them true meaning. Which is not to say what i am thinking and believing doesn’t have true meaning, it is just not neccessarily based on what is true, but rather, on what i imagine to be possible.

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