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Case Modding Tools For Beginners?

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#1 xboxizdope


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Posted 20 March 2006 - 02:31 AM

I tried searching around the forums before posting this topic, but I can't find anything specifically answering what I need to know. I've never done any modding before but I want to try some things out with some 360 controllers, remotes, etc., and eventually work my way up to modding Xbox 360 systems themselves.

However,aside from having nothing more than a standard flathead screw driver I don't have the tools I need to take the system and controllers apart. Where do you even go to buy those? I don't even dare step foot inside Ripoff Shack, so hopefully some of you can direct me where to go to get the tools at decent prices, as well as what all tools will be needed to do any sort of 360 modding.

I'll probably mostly just want to mod the case and change some of the lights, but I've been looking at some of those DVD drive windows so that's something I'd like to do eventually as well.
So far I'm assuming I'll need:
  • Special tool set for all those awkward sized screws
  • Cutting tool (brands? heads?)
  • Soldering Iron for changing LEDs

Hope you can help, I've got some cool ideas I'd like to do with some 360 case mods cool.gif

#2 Steve-0


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Posted 20 March 2006 - 02:36 AM

welcome to the forums,
the essentials are a soldiering iron and a dremmel (multi purpose cutting, sanding, buffing, and lots more), everything else you can get as you need

#3 grim_d


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Posted 20 March 2006 - 02:46 AM

1. Dremel (or similar) doesn't need to be expensive but adjustable speed is a plus. I feel i must also add its not totally necessary for it to be dremal branded, i know people here go nuts for them but i feel they are overpriced, you could go for a respected brand which isn't dremel,mine is a black and decker (don't know if you get them over there) but comes with a 2 year guarantee, adjustable speed up to 47000RPM and loads of accessories and was half the price of the dremel
2. A PROPER cutting wheel for cutting the plastic, i.e a metal one with teeth if you can find it, those silly ones that come with it are rubbish.
3.A set of other wheels if you so desire, sanding, polishing etc
4. Torx screwdriver set, smaller sizes (T10 etc) (also allen keys fit sometimes but tend to chew the screwheads) and an intrument/jewels screwdriver set (always handy)
5. Sandpaper of various grades, from the rough stuff to the almost smooth stuff. (water resistant stuff for wetsanding)
6. Various household tools. screwdrivers, plyers, needle nose plyers, tweezers, vice, wire strippers whatever you deem necessary for the job
7. A hot glue gun is always handy
8. A solering iron 15-20W is probably best for this type of soldering (LEDS's etc??) also remember stuff like solder (stuff with flux core is the best) a solder sucker or desoldering braid, tip cleaner, etc etc.

you can probably get most of this from ebay, thats where i go first. Now i dont expect you to go buy everything here because if you get into this seriosly you will build up a collection of tools over time. Ive probably missed a few things so feel free to add to the list people.

Edited by grim_d, 20 March 2006 - 02:53 AM.

#4 Xaerus


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Posted 20 March 2006 - 03:06 AM

Some files help alot also sand papper and a sanding block

#5 Sloppy Fat Dump

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 04:57 AM

1) A good set of exacto knifes
2) First aid gear

I'm always cutting myself or burning a hole in my finger. So I've got some gauze tape, band-aids, anti-biotic disinfectant cream, and all the goodies for injuries.

So either be careful or be prepared! cool.gif

#6 Arjun


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Posted 20 March 2006 - 07:05 AM


#7 NOZb2k


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Posted 21 March 2006 - 12:29 AM

A sound-proof room or loud music playing, for those times when you poke yourself with your soldering iron, or stab yourself with a flathead screwdriver or a knife. Good times lol.

#8 Sloppy Fat Dump

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 01:54 AM

QUOTE(Arjun @ Mar 20 2006, 12:12 AM) View Post


Sharpies are good. But, if you're going to buy some markers, get dry earase.

I use mine all the time on glass, plastic, plexi, metal, ect. It's a great little thing to have when making cuts. And don't forget a STRAIGHT EDGE! Ruler is ideal

#9 xboxizdope


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Posted 21 March 2006 - 09:14 PM

Thanks guys this has been a lot of help for me, I've got a buddy that works at Home Depot so I think I'm gonna see what they have there and get a discount through him unless I can get it cheaper on Ebay. I did forget to ask if there is anything better than a dremel, like a lazer cutter of some sort? I know most are probably way expensive but I was just wondering if there are any quality ones at low prices, and what would work best without being over kill on the 360 parts.

And when it comes to painting do you have any suggestions to help it dry? I'd be painting it in a car port in my trailer, (please no trailer trash jokes lol), I just don't want any dust getting on the paint or anything. I was thinking about maybe putting the pieces in a box and covering it up, probably will take longer to dry but I just don't want any dust getting into the paint!

Oh and grim_d, what model number is that Black&Decker you have? The only rotary tools I see on their website are 3 speeds that go up to 30,000 rpm

Edited by xboxizdope, 21 March 2006 - 09:28 PM.

#10 twistedsymphony


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Posted 21 March 2006 - 11:14 PM

IMO every modders toolbox should include:

General Tools:
1. Proper Drivers, you can't open anything up without 'em. get yourself a good solid set of drivers, Phillips of various sizes, Allens, security torx etc. Specialized tools (like the security torx used on the 360 and wireless controller) have to be special ordered, you probably wont find them at your local hardware. I recommend a set of L wrenches over bits (or both if you can afford it) because the L wrenches can usually fit in tights spots where a bit set cannot (like the wireless controller handles). Gamebits are also useful if you're talking apart older Sega or Nintendo consoles.

2. Tweezers, never underestimate the usefulness of a good set of tweezers, especially when working with surface mount products like SMT LEDs and Resistors. make sure to get non-conductive ones so you don't burn your hands or short things out.

3. Pliers I personally prefer Robo-Grips, they've got a mechanical advantage such that they can apply 5x as much force as you're actually squeezing. these come in handy when you just need to rip something out with some force.

4. small adjustable wrench, good for adjusting/adding/removing wrench posts or stand-offs, more useful for PC applications but still a good tool to have around.

5. wire cutters/strippers. good to help cut wires to length and strip off the protective coating... also useful for other things.

6. A metal ruler, wood ruler chage size with the temperature and plastic rules break and melt, a metal ruler is always sharp and always accurate. good for clean straight lines.

Cutting Tools:
1. A Dremel or other rotary too. Great for cutting or trilling detailed stuff. More serious drilling will still require a full fledged drill though. There are a number of attachments you can get, if you're using it a lot you can get the flex extender as that will allow you to do much more precise work. Also a flush mount cutting kit is beneficial for helping make straight cuts. There are a multitude of other accessories you could get too.

2. A Drill/screw-gun, useful for cutting larger holes, also useful for larger projects like building a MAME cabinet/custom arcade joystick or drilling holes in a metal case to add a fan. Make sure the speed is adjustable and that it's reversible, it can also be used to help tighten down or remove larger, more permanent screws.

3. Razor blades... can never have enoug of these laying around for general purpose cutting, best get a good sturdy handle for them too.

4. xacto knives... great for the detailed stuff that the razor blades can't get

5. A Nibbler, Nibblers allow you to make square cuts, great for if you're mounting USB or Ethernet ports. Basically you drill a hole in the area you want your cut out then use the nibbler to make small cuts in the exact shape you're looking for. I picked one up for $15 at best buy (in the PC section next to some window kits) it's a small hand held one but it can cut straight through 3mm steel without problem. If you're more serious you can get an air powered one but they can run a few hundred dollars for a pair.

Soldering Tools:
1. A soldering iron, my personal favorite budget soldering iron is the $8 15Watt grounded pencil from the Shitty-Shack, pick up a good base with a sponge and you'll be all set, pick up a few extra "extra fine" tips for it, and some 22gague silver solder and you'll have no problems soldering most things. Also consider some de-soldering braid for removing solder and flux for things that are stubborn to take (though you shouldn't have much problem if you're using silver solder over lead). If you're doing a lot of soldering you might want to invest in a magnetic tip, adjustable temp Weller iron.

3. A de-soldering pump, the best tool for rapidly removing solder, it makes any re-work job much much quicker

4. Helping hands, no, it's not your buddy. Helping hands are a small set of adjustable alligator clips and a magnifying glass to help hold and enlarge the things you're trying to solder

5. "Contact Free Cleaner" and a Tooth Brush. If you're using flux you can get crap all over your board, spray on some CFC and scrub it off with a tooth brush and you'll have a shiny new area, it's great for cleaning off burn marks. CFC is completely non conductive so you can douse your electronics in it and not worry about shorts. it's designed for cleaning buttons and knobs that don't work well due to dust and grime build up. but it's great for cleaning chips sockets and connectors as well as dirty areas of PCBs. If you're going to do some soldering to an old board it's best to clean up the area before you start else you'll burn up the dust and grime and potentially damage your iron AND your board (just be sure to let it dry out before you start).

6. SMT removal compound... this stuff you pour on a SMT devices you want to remove heat it up and just pull it off, it goes back on just as easy... great for chips with 100s of pins that are a total pain to remove otherwise. one of the best is chipquick http://www.chipquik.com/

7. Hot Air Rework tool the best tool working on surface mount stuff. like a soldering iron but it blows a gentle bit of hot air on the device, this just melts the solder in the general area allowing surface mount devices to be removed with ease. It's also useful for heat-shrink tubing if you don't have a heat-gun. Full Fledged Hot air re-work stations can cost as much as $250 but you can build a cheap one if you're handy: http://www.usbmicro....5FDFF29EA1.html

Electrical tools:
1. A Multi meter, allows you to test connectivity, resistors, capacitors, diodes, voltage levels, amperage. etc .etc. etc. one of the most useful tools you can own particularly if you're building any kind of circuits. The continuity tester is easily the best feature as it can help you find where traces go and if your solder joints are good.

2. A protoboard and a wire kit. A protoboard will allow you to prototype a complete circuit quickly and easily without soldering. it's a plastic board with holes that you just push wires and chips through to make connections. once you've got your circuit prototyped, tested and working you can easily transfer it to a bread board for a more permanent fixture.

3. Oscilloscope, if you're serious an "O-scope" can help you test data line and various other signals that are doing more then just providing a constant voltage. These can be very expensive so don't bother unless you're getting serious about what you're doing.

Other Tools:
1. A small flashlight Sometimes it can be hard to see, keeping a mini mag-light or an LED click-on, click-off pen light is very helpful in trying to see what's going on in details

2. A Heat gun, heat guns are great for lots of things, you can use it to help bend and shape plexiglas, it's also useful for heat shrink tubing for creating clean wire connections. Also it can be used to create some unique paint effects. Also it can be used to help smooth cut plastic edges by literally melting the plastic into a smooth shape.

3. A hot Glue Gun, great for taking things down temporarily or holding down "floating" electronics devices so they don't rattle around after you re-assemble your project, it's much more professional then electrical tape. They're also beneficial for holding LEDs in place when you need them to point in a very specific direction. Also can be used to help defuse LED light if you need the light to be more ambient then direct.

1. Solder, Always have a good amount of solder, the smaller the better 22gauge silver solder is my personal favorite.

2. Wire, always have a spool of 30gauge wire. Also keep a spool of 22gauge solid core wire handy. Use the 30 gage for data wire (like modchips) and use the 22 gage for power wires (like LEDs and cathodes). if you can afford it it's beneficial to keep a variety of colors so you can color code your projects.

3. desoldering braid. "Chem-Wick" is easily the best brand but any braid is better then no braid if you have trouble getting it.

4. electrical tape. good for holding things together quickly during prototyping (never use in your final product). Also it can help shield things from one another. Like if you have a circuit sitting on top of another circuit you can cover the bottom of one with electrical tape to keep it from shorting out.

4. Bread boards. little empty circuit boards that you can build circuits on to after it's been prototyped. they have a grid of holes so you can use easy to solder through hole parts. Also the holes allow you to easily cut the board to size along the holes.

5. An assortment of resistors and capacitors, you can buy kits with a variety of parts in them, it's good to buy a kit or two if you're just starting out so you don't have to run to the store every time you need a 2cent part.

6. sand paper, always keep a variety of grades availbe... typically from 600 UP is the most useful lower grades are only really useful if you need it for something in particular. 600 and UP is ALWAYS useful though.

7. Masking tape, great for when you're laying out a cut, cover the area with masking tape then draw your lines right on it dark and easy to see. Your cuts will even be cleaner too because it will keep the cut edges from fraying.

Edited by twistedsymphony, 21 March 2006 - 11:29 PM.

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