Molding the Case
The first cuts on the Atari case were made to ensure the 360 mother board had a clean and clear resting spot inside the lower shell; this involved cutting out the screw mounts and various other items that would not be needed. With a clear resting spot for the motherboard, I next considered the fact that I did not want the circuitry directly touching the plastic case. To raise it up a tad, I came up with a solution that involved using nylon bolts that would be placed through existing screw holes on the motherboard, with a bolt and several washers on the lower side of the board to keep the bolt in place and provide about a ¼ inch of clearance when the board was resting on in the case (Figure 3). In order to keep the MB in place, I also drilled a few corresponding holes into the lower case through which the end of the bolt would extend. Now I could be sure that my MB would always be in the same place, which would make the rest of the cuts easier.
Figure 3: Nylon bolt
As I worked through the alignment/clearance issue, I had to make several cuts to the bottom half of the Atari case. By the time I was done, the mother board fit perfectly and I was ready to tackle the next problem; the height of the heat sink and RF board.
Heat Sink/RF Board
In order for the top of the Atari case to fit, I had to do something with the heat sink. Unfortunately, my options were limited. Xbox 360’s are already notorious for having heat issues, and this would not be helped much if I removed the heat sink. Swapping the heat sink wouldn't really work either because a substitute would still prevent the reassembly of the Atari case. This left me with one real option: cut a hole in the top of the case.
Once I made the cut, it dawned on me that the size of the hole was rather similar to the size of an Atari game case. Fortunately, my Ebay purchase happened to include several games, so I tested my theory and sure enough, the size was too similar to ignore. My thought was to hollow out two of the Atari games and mount them around the heat sink. Not only would this provide a means to get guaranteed airflow over the processor, but it would cleverly hide the heat sink from eyes and fingers. Figures 4 and 5 provide a before and after shot of how the games hide the heat sink.
Figure 4: Before shot of heat sink solution
Figure 5: After shot of heat sink solution
I next took a look at the RF board and thought about what could be done with the obtrusive component. In all honesty, this was the most challenging part. I just couldn't come up with a way to smoothly integrate it into the Atari case. The end result was that I decided to include a little piece of the Xbox 360 with my modified Atari case. Since the ’ring of light’ is arguably one of the nicest external features of the 360, it would be a shame to ignore it.
Once I had selected this path, the rest was a matter of making it work. Since the RF board is not really solidly connected to anything, I first built a couple supports that would help secure the board to the top case (Figure 6). I then cut the face plate and aligned it with the button on the RF board. A couple holes later and the face plate was connected to the RF board/top case via two nylon bolts, as illustrated in Figure 7.
Figure 6: RF board supports
Figure 7: Face plate details
The Buttons and IR Port
On the front of the Xbox, you can see that there is one power button, a small button for wireless controller syncing, and an IR port. In addition to these, there is also a hidden button that is used to open/close the DVD drive door (there is nothing on the DVD player itself). To make the Atari modification even remotely successful, I had to make all these buttons work and provide some means to support the IR port. This proved to be a learning experience for me, but one that was more amusing than frustrating.
The first thing I did was try to figure out how to make the buttons work. I contemplated just drilling a hole in the case, but decided against that because it was not really user friendly. My next thought was to take a look at other button designs to learn what might work. As luck would have it, I happened to have two computer cases lying within reach that provided me with exactly what I needed.
The end result was that I took a power button from an IBM tower and another from a Gateway tower and integrated them into the Atari case. Figure 8 illustrates the results. As you can see, they sit perfectly in the case and when pressed will in turn depress the real button located on the 360 mother board.
Figure 8: The button solution
The IR port was a simple install. Since I had the original purple IR light director from the faceplate, I simply removed it and installed it into the Atari case. A quick cut to reduce the length a tad and I was done with this modification.
Finally, I had to make a few more cuts into the case to ensure the various peripherals would work. I had already concluded that the DVD player would have to be external to the case, so I needed a small hole to allow the SATA and power/control cable through the case. I also needed to cut out holes for the Memory Unit and Ethernet/power/video out cables. These required some time and rework of the top case (thin out the top part to obtain a few extra millimeters of space). In Figure 8, you can see one of the memory slots is covered. This is to promote proper airflow.
As previously mentioned, I wanted to avoid using the Xbox 360 fans. Fortunately, I happened to have a dead switch at my disposal that had two 60mm 12V fans. I extracted these from the switch and started to look at my options. Given the size of the fans, I did not want to put them in the front of the Atari. So, I opted for the only other place; the side. After making the cuts, I slipped a fan into the case and concluded that the fit was perfect. To keep the fans in place, I decided to use four inch long pieces of a metal hanger that fit through the fans holes, and into the Atari case. Once the fans were in place, I bent the ends of the metal bars to ensure nothing would move. After the fans were securely mounted, I spliced the necessary wires and plugged them into the motherboard. Figure 9 provides you with a shot of the end result.
Figure 9: The Fan Solution
With the addition of the fans, I did have to raise the Atari case up off the ground a tad. So, I used the internals of a couple of the destroyed games and screwed them into the bottom to add about a ½ inch of space.
The Miscellaneous Stuff
The final part of the modification was to make the case look as visually acceptable as possible. This included gluing the Atari switches into place and adding a spoofed representation of the game slot (figure 10). I also included some framing pieces to smooth out the front of the Atari case (figure 11) and a few Velcro additions to fill in various gaps to keep the appearance smooth and air flowing over the processor.
Figure 10: Spoofed switches
Figure 11: Framed borders