I learned around the middle of July that, unbeknownst to me for the 4-5 years I've owned it, my Hauppague HD PVR2 capture device can ACTUALLY take composite input... Which for anyone too young or not tech savvy enough to know, means I can capture video from the old school red-white-and-yellow AV cables that were standard fare two console generations ago.
For me, this meant that I had a whole world of new options for my videos going forward! Namely with THIS bad boy.
The original Xbox.
Now I know what some of you are thinking and yes, The OG Xbox DID have a component cable (Red-green-blue-red-white) and I DO own such... But not every game supported HD, and even IF I only stuck to those there's still the issue that, for whatever reason, the Hauppague WILL NOT recognize the incoming signal (I think it's the difference between 720i/1080i and 720p/1080p, seeing as the OG Xbox only does the former... But I've got no fucking idea). But whatever, I'm fine having my videos be on the blurry end if the alternative is NOT having the capability to use certain consoles AT ALL.
Here's the catch though: Games for this old console are hard to come by, and all the best ones are stupidly expensive and I'm NOT gonna pay over $30 for a game on a console that is over 15 years old! So I decided to go a different route, that being one I was once familiar with because I had done it YEARS ago on my first Xbox: Softmodding.
(For the curious, the Halo Edition one here was one I bought on Ebay back in 2011 or so. My FIRST Xbox was sold to a friend around the time the 360 came out)
So I went looking into the details of how to softmod the OG Xbox, because it'd been so many years that I legitimately forgot almost EVERY detail... Turns out it's gotten WAY more complicated.
Hence where the journey began, with me first learning that I needed to do some PHYSICAL modifications as well. Before starting, I needed to specifically I needed to make sure of two things; The dashboard's third identifier needs to be 5960 AND if the kernel's third identifier is 5713 or less I would need to crack it open and remove something.
The dashboard was the right version (Which if you ever played a game AFTER the release of Halo 2 it was an update on the disc), but the kernel was right within the problem zone! Much to my own chagrin, I would have to break the stickers on the bottom of the console and open it up.
The reason being is that all Xboxes before the 1.6 model have a capacitor that allow the system clock to stay accurate even when the console is unplugged... But after about 7-8 years (Or less, if the system is used heavily) this capacitor begins to leak acid onto the motherboard. If left long enough it will eat through the nearby traces and ultimately to board itself, causing irreparable damage and potentially even starting a fire within the console!
So, following the many guides that exist, I began my journey by opening the console.
Lucky for me, this particular Xbox had spent so much time collecting dust before AND after my purchasing it that the capacitor had barely leaked at all... So little in fact that the r/OriginalXbox subreddit had to point out to me (Via the slightly darker discoloration on the board) that it had leaked at all!
Some quick work with a pair of small pliers removed the capacitor, and then I followed the subreddit's advice and used white vinegar to clean the traces of acid THEN went back over the area with rubbing alcohol to remove the vinegar (Because vinegar can be very conductive when dried, and that's obviously bad for electronics)
After clipping the tabs off with some small wire cutters, it was time to make sure my modification hadn't broken the console...
Success! And just as expected the clock was no longer keeping time.
Next came the parts I had done all those years ago; The actual softmodding process... Except it had gotten a bit more tricky than it used to be. This USED to be doable via memory cards, but...
That's not USB, and the OG Xbox doesn't have USB ports, BUT you have to get the softmod files from a PC onto the Xbox somehow! This USED to be doable with a Gameshark peripheral that allowed you to access the memory card with a PC... But that old trick doesn't work on anything but Windows XP!
The workaround NOW is that there are controller-to-USB cables you can get online for like $5... But I have something that not many people still own!
Though it may be covered in dust and on it's last legs, this old tower hanging out at my parents' place is STILL alive and running Windows XP! I wouldn't need to worry about getting that extra cable, nor would I have to deal with the headache of finding the right <4gb flash drive (The Xbox will only read a very select few!) like everyone else!
Next came the process of actually adding the files to the memory card, which required all of the following:
The Action Replay software was the ONLY thing I could find that would give the PC the right drivers to recognize the memory card... And that alone took me two days to figure out! Anyways, unpacking the .zip folder and drilling down to get to the files I needed was the next order of business.
Then, instead of using the Action Replay or Gameshark software, I was instructed by every tutorial to use Xplorer360, a program that made it MUCH easier because I could see the files themselves as opposed to only seeing files the program would recognize.
With the files now on the memory card, I simply had to put the card into the controller and then copy them to the Xbox's internal hard drive.
There was only one other item I needed, so $6 and 9 days later...
There are three games you can use to load the Linux files, and the original Splinter Cell is regarded as being the easiest... And it's also what I used in the past, so go with what you know, right?
It was time to enter the next major step; The actual softmod installation... Which I recorded and edited, to save myself a lot of typing.
By the way, during this process the Xbox's LED turned what is normally the color of universal death and dread!
This is normal though.
Next came what I personally found to be the hardest/most stressful part: Upgrading the internal hard drive.
First I had to download a program known as Chimp, then set up the FTP connection on my computer and put the files onto the Xbox in the correct folders/manner.
I didn't document this part AS I was doing it, so everything is already in the proper place ni the next imageset.
The next step was where my issues began, because I'm an idiot.
The new HDD I chose was a 250gb Western Digital... Not thinking about the fact that the HDD INSIDE the Xbox was also a Western Digital (I'll explain why that's a problem for dumb people like me in just a bit)
Next was setting the jumpers in the right way, to make sure the Xbox would recognize its original drive as the master and the new drive as the slave (So as not to overwrite the wrong one)
Next came the tricky process of setting up both drives at once. Basically, you have to pull the IDE cable from the disc drive and plug it into the new HDD to clone it, BUT the Xbox will crash if it can't detect the disc drive! So you can ONLY do this once Chimp is loaded.
Once again, I failed to document this part because I'm an idiot, so have a screencap from the video tutorial I was using.
Then you just start Chimp (AKA LpartX).
NOW it was time to swap the IDE cable... Which I again didn't take a picture of, so here's another screencap from the tutorial I was following.
AND THIS IS WHERE I HIT MY PROBLEM.
See, I'm paranoid AND dumb, so I don't know how to tell designations in-system between a master and slave... And because I was so nervous, I ALSO misread the drive serials.
Though I didn't take a screenshot of the second drive's info, they both started and ended with the same designation. WD80EB looked EXACTLY the same as WD2500EB to me in the moment, and I had no idea that it was as simple as /dev/hda being the master drive and /dev/hdb being the slave drive... This took me three hours to figure out.
Once I did though, it was a simple matter of just following the second option from start to finish, cloning the C and E drives.
With THAT out of the way, it was time to remove the old drive for good and permanently install the new one.
And then hook that bitch up and make sure the F drive's number checked out...
Which it absolutely did.
I now had a softmodded Xbox with 250gb of space; All the free games, emulators and homebrew stuff I could ever want to play for my channel was now an option! I can even rip a game from the disc that's IN the Xbox's disc tray! And speaking of games, the first wave was a collection of old favorites AND potential material for my channel...
My channel is about to get a lot more retro, guys.