Why bother?

XBox pads are cheap - PC pads are a bit of a specialty item, whereas XBox pads are mass-marketed. A genuine XBox pad costs around £25, less than the comparable gravis xterminator force at £40-odd. Clone pads cost even less. The XBox pad is more fully-featured than any PC pad currently available, having more axes than some joysticks, analogue buttons, and variable-speed force-feedback motors. Gamester's arcade stick is the closest you'll get to an arcade stick on the PC without spending over a hundred pounds on a hotrod se. Xbox pads are compatible with both Linux and Windows.

Connecting it

The XBox pad is almost a USB device - it just has an extra wire, an incompatible plug, and doesn't behave like a standard USB HI device. It can be made to work on a PC with the addition of a proper USB plug, and the right drivers. For plan A, we will be chopping the (already soldered) usb A plug off of a disposible or broken peripheral, and soldering/screwing it onto the XBox pad. For the more experienced (anyone that can solder, really :), we have plan B - chopping the XBox plug off the pad, and soldering on a USB A plug.

Tools required

knife/wire cutters
Continuity tester
Not essential, as (usually) USB devices use the same wire colours.

Soldering iron OR screwdriver
If you don't have a soldering iron, or don't want to solder, try plan a using chocolate block.

Shopping list

XBox pad with inline release
the inline release is a second plug/socket in in the middle of the lead, designed to disconnect if someone trips over the wire. By modifying the wire downstream from the inline release, the pad is still usable on a normal XBox.

(optional) XBox extension cable
XBox extension cables attach to the inline release connector, thus allowing us to modify the (cheap) extension cable, and leave the expensive pad entirely unmodified.

EITHER(plan a) cheap usb peripheral/lead with usb A plug OR (plan B) USB A plug
The USB A plug is the flat one, not the 'D'-shaped one.

(plan a) Insulating tape

(optional, plan a) 'chocolate block' wire connector, as small as possible.



Plan A

1 - Cut the XBox plug off the end of the inline release lead1 (or extension lead), and make sure the wire colours match the pinout. (using your continuity tester)

2 - Cut the USB A plug off of the disposible USB device, leaving at least six inches of wire. Strip off an inch of the outer insulation. Make sure the wire colours match the pinout.

3 - Each wire from the usb plug needs to be connected to the XBox wire carrying the same signal. If the leads match the pinouts, it's simply a case of matching the colours. Strip the ends of each wire pair, and either Solder them, or insert one into each side of the choccy block and tighten the screws.

4 - Apply insulating tape liberally (around each soldered wire, and a load around the whole thing), to prevent shorting.

5 - Using the continuity tester, make sure the signals from the plug go to the right pin on the socket (and no other pins).

6 - plug the pad into the inline release socket, and the USB socket into the PC - it should detect as a USB hub with an unknown device coming off it.

7 - install the drivers!

Plan B

1 - Cut the XBox plug off the end of the inline release lead1 (or extension lead), and make sure the wire colours match the pinout. (using your continuity tester)

2 - USB plugs vary, but the procedure will be something like:
2.1 - Push the sleeve back over the lead
2.2 - strip off about an inch of outer insulation, pull back the braiding and strip about half a centimeter from the ends of each wire
2.3 - Fill the solder buckets in the connector with solder
2.4 - Heat each solder bucket, and dip the correct wire in. Remove the soldering iron, and the bucket should hold the wire.
2.5 - Having soldered on all four wires, clip the insulator over the solder buckets, and push the connector all the way into the plug.
2.6 - Clip the shielding to the USB plug, and crimp it around the braiding of the lead.
2.7 - Slide the sleve over the plug
3 - Using the continuity tester, make sure the signals from the plug go to the right pin on the socket (and no other pins).

4 - plug the pad into the inline release socket, and the USB socket into the PC - it should detect as a USB hub with an unknown device coming off it.

5 - install the drivers!

Drivers

There are (as yet) no Free windows drivers for the XBox pad, but the best of the free-beer drivers is called XCtrl, and is available at http://codeunderground.com/ . It supports all axes, Force feedback and analogue buttons, but reeks of the windows 'I wrote a tiny software toy, give me a cookie' mentality. Oh, and don't buy a cable from them, as you just made one for a third of the price they're charging :)

Free Linux drivers are available from http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net.

Howto (or should that be how to :) solder two wires together:
1 - Strip the end of the wires to be joined, and (if the wires are stranded), twist the strands together
2 - When the soldering iron is hot, turn it so the flat edge is horizontal, facing upwards. Melt a blob of solder onto it.
3 - Drag each of the stripped ends through the pool of solder, so that they have a thin coating. (This is called 'tinning' the wires)
4 - Fit the tinned ends together. It's up to you whether the joint resembles a wire or a 'Y'. 'Y' joints are easier to make, as you can twist the wires together before soldering. Wire-shaped joints are less likely to be damaged by rough handling, and can be insulated with heatshrink tubing. If you're using heatshrink, put it on the wire now, and push it as far away from the joint as possible.
5 - Touch the joint with your soldering iron. The tinned ends will merge together, and your wires are joined.
6 - wrap the joint up in insulating tape / shrink the heatshrink over the joint by holding the iron near it, or holding a lighter under it.


Appendix - Pinouts

USB A, looking at the plug
  ______________________
 |                      |
 |_1#____2#____3#____4#_|
 |oooooooooooooooooooooo|
 |oooooooooooooooooooooo|

1 - black - Ground
2 - green - -Data
3 - white - +Data
4 - red   - +5v
XBox inline release, looking at the socket
  _____________
 /    _   _    \
/   _| |_| |_   \
| /   _____  \  |
| | _| a b |_ | |
| ||__c_d_e__|| |
\  \   ___   /  /
 \   \|   |/   /
  \___________/

a - white - +Data
b - green - -Data
c - red   - +5v
d - black - Ground
e - yellow - unused (used by lightguns to sync to the screen).

1 - If you own a modded xbox and are interested in running linux on it, cut the wire in the middle. To use a keyboard and mouse with your xbox you need a USB to Xbox adaptor, which can be made by soldering a USB socket on the xbox end of the cable.

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