This currently covers just the original XBOX 360, the newer streamlined model is slightly different, I’ve got to find my photos to upload showing the polarity etc.
There’s no doubt about it, this is a fiddly job, if you haven’t soldered SMD components before then definately get something else to practice with first. Once you are confident that you can solder an SMD component without having to use a lot of solder, and being able to get a good solder joint by just touching the soldering iron quickly to the components then give it a go!
Once you have taken your 360 apart (lots of guides on the internet to tell you how to do this), you’ll need a T10 and T8 screwdrivers to be able to get to and remove the RF Module, and finally when you remove the board you have to remove the dual colour LEDs and the single colour power LED.
I couldn’t get any photos of how I remove these, I try and remove them as quickly as possible so that I don’t damage the board. With my finest tipped soldering iron I add a blob of solder to each of the contact points of the LEDs, then quickly move the soldering iron from one point to the other, after a second or so you should see the SMD LED move as you heat the contact points, flick it off the board! Now remove as much solder as you can from each of the contact points, some people use desoldering braid, others a desoldering pump.
Look at points labelled D1 through to D4 below and you can see the 3 contact points needed for the Controller/Error LEDs, D5 is the power LED.
The first thing to understand is which of the contact points are what! On each of D1 to D4, both of the LEDs share the same Positive (Anode) solder pad, the remaining 2 pads are each LEDs Negative (Cathode) pad. That may not have made much sense, so check out the picture below, the blue dots are the positives, green dots are the green LEDs negatives and red dots are obviously red LED negatives, much simpler.
It’s easiest to solder the Power LED and the Controller LEDs first, in fact – the Power LED is the simplest as it’s just a straight forward replacement. Have a look at your 0603 SMDs (these ones were bought from eBay, buy lots as you may end up damaging or losing some – they are so tiny!) You can see the rear of the LED has a marking on them to help you get the polarity correct. The picture below shows the marking and the polarity, you can also see that I have tinned the solder pads on the ends of the LED – I did this by holding the LED still with a scalpel, and with a fresh bit of solder on the iron I quickly touch the pad (actually, I no longer do this, I just tin the points on the RF board).
Try not to leave the soldering iron on the LED too long, it can easily damage it. If you are unsure of the polarity then there is no harm in soldering the Power LED in place and leaving all the others off, fitting the board back onto your console and powering it up. Throughout this I have the board resting on a roll of electrical insulation tape to keep it level (the connector on the back makes it difficult if you don’t).
The easiest way I found to solder one of these is to place it on the board and then line it up with a pair of tweezers, with a clean soldering iron very quickly touch the pad on the circuit board – this should heat up the left over solder and melt the solder on the underside of the LED, with one side done quickly do the other – it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly flat, these give off light in all directions anyway!
Using the polarity photo earlier on in the page, solder in your chosen colour Controller LEDs, it gradually gets easier – honest! After trying a couple of techniques I placed them flat on the circuit board as pictured below. I’ve seen some other guides which have the LEDs soldered onto the board sideways so that they are directed inwards like the original dual colour LED was – I tried this but got in a mess with it and had trouble fitting the plastic lens cover back on. Like I said earlier – these LEDs chuck out light in all directions so will be (nearly) as bright when soldered flat like below.
Now it’s time to test your handy work and plug this back into your console and try it out, make sure you plug both the AV cable and Power back in, switch your 360 on and wait for each of the controller LEDs to light up individually and then all at once. If one doesn’t, don’t worry too much, take your time and check your soldering, polarity or even replace it.
Once the are all working, you could leave it there and not have any error LEDs, but lets face it – they can be useful as the 360 isn’t the most reliable console ever. When soldering the Error LEDs in start with the Negative pad first, I lined them up so that the positive side of the LED is in the middle of the white dot, the reason for this follows in a minute.
Nearly complete, now we just need to link up the Positive pad for the Error LED, I simply got a length of Kynar wire, stripped and tinned a couple of inches of it. Hold in in place so that it touches the positive pad on the circuit board and the positive side of the LED, and quickly touch each with the soldering iron to melt them together. Wait a few seconds for it to cool, then cut the wire (scalpel or side cutters).
Once you’ve gone around and done each one you should be left with something like this.
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for, fit it back onto your console but this time just plug the power lead in. Switch it back on and you should have the power LED on and all four of the Error LEDs flashing (because you haven’t got the AV cable plugged in). Plug the AV cable back in and it should light each of the Controller LEDs up in turn and then flash them (yes we tested them earlier, but it’s worth doing again before you fit it all back together).
If you’ve got this working then you should feel a huge sense of achievement, a lot of people give up soldering SMD components because of their very small size. Put your console back together and enjoy your custom lights. You don’t have to use all the same colours, you could have the Power LED a different colour the rest, or each controller LED a different colour to the others.
I first seen this this on xbox-scene, can’t remember the exact page as I scribbled down the diagram on a scrap of paper!
Summary of Components needed
- Selection of 0603 SMD LEDs, 1 for power, 4 for controller, 4 for error
- Single length of fine wire (preferably Kynar, if you can’t get that, try ripping apart a decent PC IDE cable or a Cat 5 network cable!)