While I'm sure most people can recognize a flashing red light as being a problem, many may not realize that there exists a hidden error code that can be extracted when the Ring of Light gives you the evil eye. I wont go into details about these codes (there many of them) but I have written a guide explaining what all the different error codes mean, or at least what we know so far. The most common error you hear about with the Xbox 360s is 3 red flashing lights around the power button, more often then not the hidden error code on these units is found to be 0102; "Unknown Error".
The solution most people attempted (with limited success) was to improve the console's cooling capabilities by adding more powerful fans or using a more efficient thermal compound between the heat syncs and the chips. You may remember some fleeting news reports about thermal compound that still had foil on it, later discovered be by design and not by error. Looking at the error codes though, overheating being the root problem just doesn't make sense. For one, 2 flashing red LEDs represents an "overheating" console according to documentation right on MS's own website. 3 Red lights is a pattern dedicated to a hardware failure. Also there are a number of different hidden codes that represent overheating and 0102 is not one of them... So what does it mean?
Recently an Xbox-Scene member who goes by "Team Modfreakz" discovered that his console with 3 red lights and error code 0102 also had graphical errors and putting great pressure on the memory chips the errors would disappear. This is important because the memory chips, the CPU and the GPU all attach to the mainboard though what's called a Ball Grid Array or BGA. Basically when manufactured there are hundreds of tiny solder balls on the bottom of the chips, the chips are laid into place on the motherboard and then sent into an oven. The oven heats up the solder and in doing so connect the chips permanently to the mainboard. This is used for its low space requirements and ease of manufacturing, the Xbox 1 and many other products use this as well.
What's interesting about Team Modfreakz discovery is that it proves that (his Xbox 360 at least) did not have a good connection between the chip and the mainboard. It's no unheard of for a BGA connection to occasionally go bad or not come out of the oven as it should. If the solder balls were not properly heated in the oven it can easily create a weak or finicky connection between the chip and the mainboard that might be dead out of the oven, or get worse overtime, or even change in reliability based on changes in temperature and humidity etc.
Team Modfreakz decided to use a heat gun and simulate the effects of an oven in an attempt to "reflow" and thus repair any bad solder joints in the BGAs. It would seem that this method was quite successful. Later Team Modfreakz released a video demonstrating the proper procedure for re-heating the mainboard.
From What I've seen, many of the people who have attempted this have had great success in repairing 3 red lights and 0102 error code Xbox 360 consoles. While it does not have 100% success it seems to have worked well for many people who were able to get rid of their console problems altogether. The method is quite dangerous and easy to screw up it is certainly NOT for the faint of heart. I would recommend anyone who has problems either return your console to the store to have it replaced or call MS at 1-800-4MY-XBOX to have the console replaced or repaired. I would only recommend attempting Team Modfreakz's method as a very last resort. If you do attempt it, you do so at your own risk.
While not 100% reliable it does seem to have a higher success rate for this particular error code then any other previously suggested solution. Nothing can be proven for sure but it does raise interesting questions about MS's manufacturing process. Have there been consoles that were not properly "baked"? If so, was this problem limited to a small batch of consoles or was it a widespread miscalculation across multiple facilities? One can only hope that if this is in-fact a widespread manufacturing error that MS has already identified it and made the necessary changes to keep it from happening again. If this is something that hasn't yet been looked into by MS... as an Xbox 360 owner I would like to suggest that they do.
Edited by C o s m o, 01 January 2007 - 03:16 PM.