Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Teardown

I’ll be honest, I did a teardown last week of a cheap tower fan and was so grossed out by the dust and felt duped by poor documentation that I didn’t post.  So I turned around and took apart a disgusting Xbox 360 wireless controller.  This teardown had a lot of me saying, “nerds…spilling soda on their controller and mucking up the buttons” while I was researching Microsoft processors and understanding the irony of my statement.

 Tools Needed:

  • Xbox Wireless 360 controller (wired will do just fine)
  • Torx Security bit / tamper-resistent torx : T8 (I used the iFixit 54 Bit Driver Kit for this bit)
  • Phillips bit: PH00
  • Spudger
  • Small bowl or container for screws
  • Rubbing Alcohol, Isopropyl spray (alcohol spray), air duster

Teardown

When you come into possession of a Xbox 360 wireless controller that you want to tear apart or modify, I recommend cleaning as much of the casing as possible.  Then flip the controller over so directional pad (d pad), buttons, thumbsticks face downward.  Pop out the batteries, or rechargable battery and locate the torx security screws.  I’ll give you a hint, there is one located under the serial sticker, so you can pull up the edge and use your fingers or a set of tweezers to remove the sticker about halfway.

torx_location

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The torx screws in this teardown are a little bit different then what you saw in the Fitbit Charge HR.  The torx security, or tamper-resistant torx screw has a post in the middle.

Torx Screw 

torx screw

Security Torx Screw

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Once you remove all 7 of the screws the casing will need to be removed.  I took the spudger to pop up the sides.  After loosening up the sides, I gripped the headphone  port and the charging port and easily took of the back housing. I will note, you should ground yourself here – this is an electronic.

spudger

Once that is removed you get a full view of the circuit board.  First things first – you see two weighted metal things with wires. Those are the rumble packs that provide tactile feedback when you’re playing and are 2 speed motors. One thing to note is that the right rumble pack has a much larger weight then the left.  The reason for that could be a way for the game to send a little feedback, and then more feedback.  So imagine you are playing a racing game and you drive on the grass – you get a little feedback.  Then you continue to drive into a wall, you get a lot of feedback with both the motors. What is funny is these motors compared to the Fitbit vibrating motor.  Both are so powerful!rumble_pack

 

Throw back to the Fitbit teardown

initial_look

You can disconnect the motors by pulling out the white circuit.  You may have to pull a bit but you likely will not break the wires.

 

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Then you will see this huge Microsoft Processor X810462-003.  Because of the proprietary nature of Microsoft, I can’t actually determine what this processor does, but I imagine this primarily deals with the incoming and out going data and helps the Xbox understand what buttons are being selected and if feedback needs to occur.  What I think is really cool here is thinking about how quickly all of this information is processed that the end user hardly notices any delay!

To the right of the processor there is a oval shaped silver piece sticking up.  That is the RF Crystal oscillator.  What that means is the piece is a radio frequency oscillator that is designed to make the motors shake.

front

Flipping the circuit board over what is notable is the different grounds from all of the keys.  You can easily spot the Y,X,B,A buttons as well as the start, back, and Xbox button.  You can also see all the spots of contact that need to be hit when button mashing.

 

Then you will see the two thumbsticks.  You can pop those right off and give ’em a good cleaning.  From there, you can see that the stick rotates in 2 main directions and can even click.  What is interesting to me is that the button is held down my copper, but does not conduct electricity.

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If you are so inclined, you can take apart the directional pad (d pad) but it is really two bits of plastic.

Once you have cleared everything, reassembly is fairly easy and you can definitely touch things and reassemble to make the controller work again.

 

Hope you enjoyed this teardown.  I’ll keep looking for things with less priorietary information as learning is more fun when parts can be researched!

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The Little Toaster that Didn’t: A Teardown

toaster

I had been eyeing the toaster in my office kitchenette for weeks before taking the sophisticated appliance home.  I have a thing for toasters, my colleagues from my first job can attest to that.  After all, they had witnessed my rage of not being able to eat toasted bagels for weeks before purchasing me one. Anyways, I took the beaut from my current office home and tried to dismantle the device.  Here’s what I learned:

Toasters come with screws that mean “Stay out!”.   I was able to figure this out because the screw has a very atypical screw head. The Neji-Saurus was of no help and those screw pliers are awesome. Toasters also have other ways to say “Stay out!”, like bits of twisty metal holding plates in place.  The screws and construction of the toaster is probably difficult for a reason.  That reason is because the electrical filaments (nichrome wire), the little metal bits that turn red, carry large amounts of electrical currents through them to make infrared radiation that makes toast!  Sure, this little toaster was unplugged and hasn’t been plugged in since its factory days – but I remained frightened.

Here is what I was able to teardown and learn about.

Here are the stay out screws – I stayed out.

stay_out_screws

Here is a demo of what it looks like when you press down on the white handle.

Here is the circuit board and where I learned the most.

circuit_capacitor_contacts_electromagnet

 

The pencil is touching a metal tab.  When the metal lever is depressed ( that is the part you push down on to make toast), the metal tab connects with the electromagnet, and that is what holds the toast down.  On the other side, you see a white plastic button.  When the lever is pushed down, the white button goes to the metal prongs sticking up.  Those metal prongs are called contacts and they apply power to the nichrome wires that make toast! That is also why there are a bunch of wires coming out the prongs and running to the filaments!

Back to the metal tab.  To the right of the pencil there is a black box with yellow stuff around it.  That black box is the electromagnet.  The top metal part is what the metal tab sticks to and holds the bread down. The yellow bit is the electromagnet.  The circular black thing behind the green circuit is the darkener/ timing capacitor. The timing capacitor is really how long you want your toast to be toasted / how long power is applied to the nichrome wires. Capacitors are basically like little batteries that store  electrical energy.  So once the timer is done, the electromagnet releases the metal tab, and up pops your toast!

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