Fixing an Original Xbox (Halo Edition!)

On one of my recent thrifting expeditions I happened upon this original Xbox that was the super-cool halo edition in transparent green. I looked around for a power cord that I could test it with at the store but couldn’t find one. They were only asking $10 for it anyways, so I took the chance and bought it.

Upon bringing it home and connecting it up, I soon discovered that it didn’t power on at all. After some googling around I found out that it is quite common for the capacitors to go bad on these, especially the ones that are near the power supply. So I opened it up and sure enough, the capacitors had asploded (look for the brown goop coming out the top in the picture):


$5 on Amazon and a week later I’ve got new capacitors! I removed the old capacitors using my desoldering pump, cleaned the area of the board and then soldered in the new ones:

Then, the moment of truth! It powered right up:

I’m not sure what I’ll do with this now, probably trade it at a retro expo for more Nintendo stuff 🙂

Restoring a Donkey Kong Arcade Cocktail Table

This past summer I came across a listing for a Donkey Kong Arcade cocktail table that I couldn’t resist. The seller was moving and getting rid of some Arcade machines he had in his garage. He said that it “should work”, but was disassembled. He at least knew that the board was tested and was functional, but hadn’t tested the monitor. I snapped a few photos of it after picking it up with my pal Beau, who has helped me out a ton with getting this machine back in action (thanks dude!). It was purchased for $170.

After hauling it back to Seattle, we started poking around to see what needed to be done to get it up and running. The seller included a new power supply, so I searched around online for the instructions for it and luckily found them fairly easily. We soldered the power lines up and were able to turn the machine on and see the monitor power up!

Mmm… burn in. At least you know for sure that it is Donkey Kong!

Next we needed to figure out how to connect the power supply up to the board. We discovered that at some point in the past the main cable harness was cut in order to hook up to a different power supply:

This harness has seen MUCH better days.

So I searched around the web again and found some of the connectors and plugs I’d need to add the plugs back to the cut wires in order to still use the original harness with the machine.

My attempt at adding plugs to the end of the existing cable. I think in the end I needed to just push these in further, but the cables were too thick to fit into the plug any further.

In the end, my repair job only sort-of worked. The plugs were too loose and would fall off of the power supply too easily. We used electrical tape to keep them down. It was still very exciting though, when we hooked up the cables we saw Donkey Kong boot up to the monitor!

The controls and coin slot were working as well!

Unfortunately the electrical tape wasn’t holding the cables down too well. So another internet search lead me to Mike’s Arcade which has loads of parts for Arcade Machines. $40 later and I had a new cable harness, and it connected up perfectly. We then found the place to adjust the monitor settings for focus and other settings like horizontal and vertical positioning. It started looking really good:

Everything is working! Controls, sound, and display.

There is a problem with one of the potentiometers that controls the horizontal scrolling. It doesn’t seem to ever stop scrolling, no matter how much you adjust it. I think we will need to replace this Pot with a new one to get it stable again.

Here’s my daughter playing Donkey Kong for the first time ever, with the top on the cabinet:

There’s still a lot more to do with it, but for now it is functioning and is a nice addition to the Automattic Seattle coworking space. Here’s some of the things on my ToDo:

  • Fix the horizontal scrolling issue I mentioned above.
  • Replace the glass on the top of the cabinet, it is really scratched up.
  • Get new locks installed, I don’t have the key for the existing ones 🙂
  • Replace the decals that are on the top of the table. Mine are sun faded.
  • Repair some of the stripped screws on the main hinges at the top of the table.

The Best Present

A conversation with my 6 year old daughter, Fiona:

Me: “I’m going away on a work trip for a week.”

Fiona: “Aww Daddy I will miss you!”

Me: “How about I bring you back a present?”

Fiona: “Daddy, you coming home is the best present I could get!”

Me: 😳😭