Saturday, February 5, 2011

1st Gen Xbox Trace Corrosion Repair

Putting this up for reference more than anything. Early Xboxes (V1.0 & 1.1) are more prone to this issue, but I've heard of 1.4s getting it as well. Seems like a factory contamination issue (leftover etchant or flux maybe?) to me.

Symptoms of this problem are be-ing unable to power up the Xbox using the power button, Xbox mysteriously being powered on everytime the power plug is in, missing LED colors, eject not working properly.

All these signals are grouped in the vicinity and are the same thin (easily corroded open) track width. They are also all situated around the edge of the board, never seen the corrosion happen in the middle (memory traces etc.), maybe my sample size is just not big enough.

PE board
Before beginning to tear everything up, there may be a problem on the Power + Eject board itself, to isolate the problem (especially so if you have a power-on when AC is plugged in issue), you can either probe the board for proper continuity when the switches are pressed, or just disconnect the board and see if the Xbox still powers itself on. If it does, you've effectively isolated the problem to the main board.

This page has lotsa details on how to probe and determine if you have an open trace.


Equivalent Schematic
Minor Corrosion Fix

The xbox will randomly turn on if the trace is broken, simply because the input is now left floating ,usually it breaks just after the signal resistor. Why they don't use say an internal pull up (most PICs have this functionality) is beyond me, at least the Xbox won't randomly power on.

Patch Beginning
Anyways onto the fix itself. You can run a wire straight from the signal resistor to the PIC, or you can choose to patch just the trace that's broken. I chose the later as it wouldn't look so messy. For the minor corrosion, what I did was to carefully remove the solder mask and then tin the traces using flux and solder. For the traces that were already broken, I had no choice but to wire up a patch. 

Entire Board

Darkmatter on has this covered really well, however I don't recommend soldering from the tiny vias on the bottom of the board, I've tried it myself and I find it bloody impossible, even with careful scraping to expose fresh copper and some flux, it just wouldn't take the solder. So I opted to solder from the topside (straight from the resistor), fold the wire over the edge of the board and then run it to the next point. Traces A and B are for the Power and Eject (can't remember which is which, some probing will clear this). C & D are the signal wires for the LED colours (Red & Green, again can't remember exactly which is which). Trace E is a power line, if you see any corrosion which will affect any of these traces, patch them as required.

On the right shows the board I did, after soldering the wire in, I then taped and RTV'd (with electronics safe RTV, standard RTV released acetic acid during cure and may cause other problems, maybe you can use a dab of hot glue) the wire to stop it flopping around (and getting caught on something below) and give it some strain relief.

Board now works 100% after the patch, no more random power-ups, non-responsive buttons and having to yank the power cord everytime you want to switch the box off. xD


  1. thanks man you totally saved my weekend. was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what was going wrong with my case mod. I owe you a beer.

  2. Hey no problem, hopefully that Xbox will last for many more years to come. I've seen a few where the supercap has failed and the board died because the juice corroded everything underneath.

  3. Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

    I just tought my modchip had died, but it is exactly the described problem.
    Hopefully I can fix this issue on my 13 year old console.

    You made my day ;)

    1. Hey Chris, no problem, I'm amazed some people are still gaming on these machines. Mine is just sitting in a corner gathering dust.

  4. I have to fix my own. Going to tear it down this week end.

    1. Great! Let us know how it turns out for you.

  5. I just spent an afternoon on mine for the same issue. still haven't isolated the issue. i swapped 3 power & eject boards that worked in there home consul, but not in mine. i unplugged it from the board it doesn't do it! so i went as far as swapping wiring.....still does it. arggggg!

    1. Have you taken the board out to have a look underneath? I've heard of memory backup capacitors leaking and causing even bigger issues as well, however I have not personally experienced it on my own machines.

  6. Thank you for this post! It is great information for me for future. I bought xbox here and thanks God I have warranty and all repairment for me was free!

  7. I need help. Removed cap. Replaced power supply... Still powering on/off on its own. Fear its trace corrosion. Not sure I trust my fat fingers to try to fix this. Anyone offering service for this?

  8. Thanks man, a collegue gave me an xbox that turned on when plugged in and never turns off, and I fixed it using your guide. Only one trace was interrupted but I wired both to be safe. I used the internal wires of a USB line and just connected the ends of the resistors to the corresponding legs on the IC with the wires going over the top. Worked perfectly. Now to get some games, I never had an XBOX before!