A while back I picked up a couple of Xbox consoles to add to our collection, and I haven't done much with the original Xbox because we have no software for it. Xbox software pre-360 is getting pretty difficult to get ahold of our here, so I decided to have a crack at modding it instead.
To soft-mod or hard-mod? Apparently swapping the hard disk out for something bigger is a bit of a pain with soft-mods, so I was leaning hard-mod direction anyway, but it turns out none of our machines handy have an IDE port handy anyway. I also lack a memory card, so I can't go that way either. It's a 1.6 console, which I'm under the impression TSOP flashing won't work. Clearly, the cheapest and easiest solution is to use a modchip.
After doing some research, I figured that the cheap-shit Aladdin XT modchip would be satisfactory for me, and I can get one pretty cheap ($12AUD, shipped, from inside Australia!) so I pulled the trigger and ordered one. It got here yesterday.
I followed a couple different sets of instructions, none of which were provided by the seller. For this price, I'm not really surprised, but even a piece of paper with instructions would have been nice.
Soldering the thing in was super easy - solder a pin header to the LPC port, run five wires to several of the pins, jump two pads on the modchip and push it on the header. Plugged it in, and I get an obviously-third-party boot screen so it looks like it works.
Getting some non-signed software to boot on it was something else though. I have the Samsung SDG-605 drive, which I'm told is the one most likely to read DVD-Rs. Is it my media? Is the drive dead? I'm not sure.
I hacked up an SATA power adaptor and some bits off an old PSU and made a power splitter, and hooked up a PATA DVD burner I had laying around and it booted a Hexen boot disc, and a copy of GTA III I downloaded for shits and giggles, so obviously the chip works and it's either the discs or the drive. But which?
I'll have to think about taking it apart, maybe cleaning it, maybe try some pot-twiddling, or I might just try some different brands of media and see if that helps. I'll likely just get a bigger disk for it, configure it with the DVD-RW drive and then forget about the disc drive for now.
Update: I bought some different media, and the discs would boot, but not get very far. Progress? Anyway, today at a yard sale, I found a copy of The Simpsons: Hit and Run for the Xbox for pretty cheap ($2, CIB) so I bought it. It doesn't play either, so I think that cements that it's the drive that's no good. Will have a play with it eventually.