The Atari-Xbox 3600: A Retro Mod for Your Next-Gen Gaming System
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Late in November of 2005 Microsoft released the Xbox 360. Even before the specifications on the system were made public knowledge, people were touting the 360 as a redefining moment in console system history. While the validity of these statements has yet to be realized, one can not argue that the latest Xbox really does pack quite a punch. Not only is the gaming experience unrivaled, but this $300 toy smoothly integrates with networked computers and USB media devices to create an entertainment center that is hard to beat dollar-for-feature.
When looking back in history, there are only a few other times that gaming history was so greatly impacted. The Nintendo is one. The PSP is another. But what really sparked the gaming industry was the Atari. In fact, as one Forbes article points out, the "The best gaming platform of all times is undoubtedly the Atari 2600." While humanity has little chance is reliving the days when Pac Man was made a household term, we can attempt to recreate a little nostalgia by recycling some of those Atari parts for the ultimate modification. Yes, we did the unthinkable... an Atari 2600 case mod for the Xbox 360. The following outlines what we did, how we did it, and of course provides you with the end result — the worlds first Atari-Xbox 3600.
This short section will outline the tools/parts I used and some of the reasons why they were used. If you decide to undertake this project, your collection of tools might vary a bit.
This project was not going to be a simple steal and swap. After looking at the untouched Atari shell, it was obvious I was going to have to do some significant rework. The best kind of tool for this type of work is a Dremel, which is basically a hand held electric rotary device that supports a whole host of attachments. For this project, I heavily used a 1.25 inch cutting wheel, 1 inch grinding wheel, and ¼ inch drill head.
When dealing with electronics, it is essential to provide a static free environment. A simple touch to the wrong part of a circuit board can brick most anything. Therefore, I am a big fan of nylon screws. Not only are they static proof, but they also are flexible enough to make up for slight mistakes (i.e. they bend). I used them to raise the motherboard off the plastic Atari case and to attach parts of the case to each other.
I choose to use third party fans for two reasons. One, the original Xbox 360 fan is a large contraption that contains both fans in an inseparable mold. After a brief look at the size of the Atari case, I determined the added flexibility of two or more single fans would be helpful. To make this possible, I would need a four pin square power connector (P4 power connector) that could be spliced into the DC fan leads. I would also need the tools and parts needed to connect the wires safely and securely. You can buy a Molex to P4 power adapter at most computer shops or online and cut off the Molex end for all your own fan needs.
Velcro is one of the worlds greatest inventions. When ever you need to connect two items together, but don't want to make it permanent, Velcro is the answer.
Collection of Tools
Pliers, screw drivers(large and small), file, crimper, wire cutters, scissors, Torx T8 and T10 driver, and a pick.