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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 24th Jan 2022, 10:00 pm   #1
SiriusHardware
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Default Xbox (original) killer capacitor

This is something some of you will already know about but it has only lately come to my attention:-

If you own an original Microsoft Xbox you need to get inside it and remove the supercap which maintains the Realtime Clock time before it leaks and causes damage to the components in the area around it. It's not a case of if, but when.

On most hardware variants the machine will work without it, the only penalty being that whenever you power it up from cold it will ask you to enter the time and date before you can proceed, and this inconvenience is definitely preferable to letting the machine be quietly killed while you think it is safely stored.

I like the convenience of the machine remembering the time when switched off so I have chosen to replace it with one which has the right value but looks different (slightly taller, different brand) to the original fitted type, whereas there are quite a few outlets which are offering visually identical replacements - my view is that it would be unwise to fit the same brand and type again.

The main Torx-20 screws holding the lid on are accessed from the bottom, four are under the large rubber feet / pads and there are two more under two of the labels.

Mods: Time allowing, could you please correct the spelling of 'original' in the thread title. Thank you.

Last edited by Cobaltblue; 25th Jan 2022 at 7:27 am. Reason: original
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Old 26th Jan 2022, 1:09 am   #2
hamid_1
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

I found out about this last year, and went through my stock of original xboxes. 4 out of 6 clock capacitors had started leaking, luckily no track damage to the PCB, though I removed them anyway. I also have two V1.6 consoles. The clock capacitor should not be removed from these.

More info here:
https://consolemods.org/wiki/Xbox:Clock_Capacitor
and https://consolemods.org/wiki/Xbox:Or...Xbox_Mods_Wiki

As these consoles are around 20 years old now, and past their life expectancy, I've gone a bit further by flashing the xbox BIOS with a non-Microsoft one such as EvoX or Ind-Bios. This allows the console to boot from an unlocked hard drive, making it easier to install a newer larger HDD or SSD. With the modified BIOS, you can copy your game discs to the hard drive and play them from there instead of wearing out the original DVD drive in your console.

I've found the original DVD drives and hard drives are starting to fail due to age. Replacing a failed HDD in an unmodified xbox is not simply a matter of plugging in a new one. It needs to be formatted correctly with the xbox dashboard system files on it, and in the case of an unmodified console, the hard drive must be "locked" to it using a unique key which is stored in an EEPROM inside your xbox. If your console is still working, you can install the "softmod". You can then see your HDD key from the dashboard and back-up your EEPROM to a file. Keep a copy somewhere safe, should you need to prepare a new hard drive.
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Old 26th Jan 2022, 8:03 am   #3
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

I'm curious to know why you need six original Xboxes .

No doubt about it, they are still nice machines with some absolutely great games in the back catalogue.

Thanks for the info re: HDD chicanery, I had seen some mention of the 'softmod' while looking around - for the moment I was only concerned to avert what seemed to be a near 100% chance of damage if the capacitor issue was not addressed. On mine the solder on the components in the surrounding area has gone very dull grey but there has not been any further damage, thankfully.
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Old 26th Jan 2022, 9:48 am   #4
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

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Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
I'm curious to know why you need six original Xboxes .
...for the same reason I need about a hundred radios and clocks, obviously
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Old 26th Jan 2022, 10:17 am   #5
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Yes, but I bet there are very few duplicates in that collection of 100. With the exception of a few 'special edition' models with e.g. custom camouflage 'paint jobs' or clear plastic casings there isn't really a 'range' of original Xbox models to collect. The internal hardware evolved, up to V1.6 as Hamid said, but from the user experience point of view there is little or no functional difference between an early and late original Xbox.
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Old 26th Jan 2022, 11:50 am   #6
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

That set me to wondering whether there is a list of special edition original Xboxes.

Naturally, there is.

https://xbox.fandom.com/wiki/List_of..._Xbox_consoles
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Old 27th Jan 2022, 1:08 pm   #7
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

The lack of interchangeability of the ancilliaries between different versions is, as my best mate observes, blatantly contrived. I am glad i'm not a gamer.
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Old 27th Jan 2022, 3:23 pm   #8
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

You mean Xbox controllers only fit Xboxes, Playstation controllers only fit Playstations etc? Largely true, but actually, Wired XBox 360 controllers have standard USB A connectors at the console end and can be plugged into a Windows PC, where they are recognised as a controller / joystick and can be independently used as such.

I have a few flight sims for Windows but have not owned a proper analogue PC joystick since the time they all had DB15 'Game Port' connectors on them. I find I can use an XBox 360 controller instead.

A lot of the titles available for one console or another are also available from cross-platform PC systems such as 'Steam' so that's probably the way to get the widest choice of software running on a single hardware system but your PC does need to be quite beefy to run with those systems. I got into consoles originally because I could not afford to keep rebuilding my PC every two years, whereas consoles have a lot of graphics power for their price.
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Old 29th Jan 2022, 11:11 am   #9
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Well, the replacement part, branded 'Elna' and a little taller than the original part, has been fitted, the box thrown back together and tested for a full evening during which I completed a level on 'Halo' (original) which I got stuck on about 10 years ago and could not get past at the time. Quite a good workout for the machine. For me, too.

I would say the only likely problem anyone might have is clearing the vacant holes for the -Ve side of the capacitor, the main PCB is very similar to a PC motherboard and the capacitor -Ve is soldered to a large ground plane area. I had the use of an electric desoldering iron but it was still quite difficult to clear.

If you only want to remove the capacitor and aren't bothered about putting another one in you might be able to get away with rocking the capacitor back and forth until the leads snap, provided it was not soldered down too snugly against the PCB in the first place. That would save you from having to take the mainboard out.
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 8:59 am   #10
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiriusHardware View Post
You mean Xbox controllers only fit Xboxes, Playstation controllers only fit Playstations etc? Largely true, but actually, Wired XBox 360 controllers have standard USB A connectors at the console end and can be plugged into a Windows PC, where they are recognised as a controller / joystick and can be independently used as such.
Original XBox controllers are also USB signalling, just on a non-standard connector. Adaptors both ways are widely available, both to use the controllers as generic USB ones and to connect other USB devices (e.g. keyboards) to an XBox.
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 9:21 am   #11
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

That's useful to know, I know that there is quite a movement around using original Xboxes as media players although mine is used only for its original purpose.
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 10:04 am   #12
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

I'd never met a Supercap before, but I rescued a mid-80s Technics tuner from the WEEE bin a few weeks ago, and that had two in parallel. One was fine, the other had leaked badly, taking out several traces on the PCB. Repairable but not worth it for me, so I let it go back where it came from.

Thanks for the heads-up.
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 6:37 pm   #13
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
I'd never met a Supercap before, but I rescued a mid-80s Technics tuner from the WEEE bin a few weeks ago, and that had two in parallel. One was fine, the other had leaked badly, taking out several traces on the PCB. Repairable but not worth it for me, so I let it go back where it came from.

Thanks for the heads-up.
I had no idea supercaps had been around that long. I first started using them in the mid 2000s !
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 7:12 pm   #14
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

There is one in my Yamaha SY22 synthesiser (introduced: 1990) which I've just been looking around inside of for a different reason. It retains all the user programmed voices, settings, etc for quite a long time even now. I took a photo of it so I can order a replacement without having to look inside again, if I ever feel it is not doing its job any more.

Half a Farad!
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 7:21 pm   #15
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

I think the ones in that Technics were 3F each.
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Old 26th Apr 2022, 8:35 pm   #16
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

We use 5F SCs, charged to 5V in the devices we make at work - not dangerous, as such, but I'm always wary around them... Be careful out there
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Old 27th Apr 2022, 7:06 am   #17
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

I have one in a Sherwood amplifier which failed many years ago and I replaced it.
I have also fitted a 1F "super capacitor" in my IC7300 transceiver, as a replacement for the clock back up battery, which is a known failure in these rigs, and it works fine.


John
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Old 27th Apr 2022, 6:04 pm   #18
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Quote:
Originally Posted by alfatangowhisky View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
I'd never met a Supercap before, but I rescued a mid-80s Technics tuner from the WEEE bin a few weeks ago, and that had two in parallel. One was fine, the other had leaked badly, taking out several traces on the PCB. Repairable but not worth it for me, so I let it go back where it came from.

Thanks for the heads-up.
I had no idea supercaps had been around that long. I first started using them in the mid 2000s !
The high ESR, low voltage memory backup supercaps have been around since the early 1980's. Panasonic used 2 or 3 in series on the 5V line in a videorecorder.
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 10:20 pm   #19
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Just don't forget the welder's mask in case you short one whilst replacing!
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Old 2nd May 2022, 8:13 pm   #20
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Default Re: Xbox (original) killer capacitor

Hi,

We used a supercap for the first time back in th every early 80s at Racal in a hand-held encryption device we worked on. Initially wary about shorting them out given the capacity, but with such a high effective resistance there was little current and no pyrotechnics (much to our disappointment).
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