Sunday, February 7, 2016

Recipe: Turn an XBOX 360 power block into a 12V power supply

In this post I am going to describe the method I use to turn an original  Xbox 360 power brick into a 12V power supply suitable for use with a 3D printer or similar project.

Xbox 360 power bricks are readily obtained second hand,  supply a relatively high current and most importantly are sealed and designed for durability.

They also supply 12V DC with over 10A and 5V DC at 1A and require very little effort to modify

Another handy feature of the power supply is the fact that it has a built in switching capability. The 12V supply will only be enabled when the 5V line is connected to the cable select line. This makes it simple to create a master power switch for your project.

Xbox 360 power bricks come in various forms and ratings, but the ones to look out for are the  175W or 200W versions for the original Xbox 360.  The 'slim line' power supplies don't have a comparable power rating.

Check the power rating

The modification process is pretty simple

  • Remove the plug cover
  • Identify the wires
  • Prepare wires
  • Add a suitable connector
  • Enable 12V output
I'll walk through these steps below

Remove the plug cover

Ensure the PSU is not connected to the mains. Unplug the AC adapter cable and set aside.

Using a screwdriver, separate the top and bottom covers of the plug socket and remove them

This will expose the plug and wiring

Identify the wires

The XBox 360 power supply has 3x 12V wires and 3x Gnd wires.  A single  5V wire and a single Power Enable wire.

Looking from the front of the socket,

  • The ground wires connect to the bottom 3 pins of the socket and are usually Black.
  • The 12V wires connect to the middle 3 pins of the socket and are usually Yellow.
  • The 5V pin connects to the smaller top-right pin and is usually Red.
  • The PWR_ENABLE wire connects to the smaller top-left pin and is usually Green.

Front View

From the back of the socket the wires look like this.

Rear view 

Prepare the wires

Once the wires have been identified,  cut them close to the socket and strip them all.

Twist the ends of the 3 Ground (Black) wires together and tin them.

Twist the ends of the 3 +12V  (Yellow) wires together and tin them

Tin the +5V  and PWR_ENABLE wires.

Add connector

The choice of connector is up to you, but you will need a 4 terminal connector that can handle a decent current.   I recommend using a cut down 'Chocolate Block' screw terminal as shown below.

This creates a reliable connection that lets you easily re-use the PSU for different projects.

Screw Terminal Connector

Enable 12V Output

As mentioned above, the XBox 360 PSU will only enable the 12V supply when the PWR_ENABLE wire is connected to the +5V wire (the 5V wire is always enabled).

Although you can permanently connect the 5V and PWR_ENABLE wires together, I find it more useful to add a switch, as shown below.

Simple master switch


Hopefully I've shown that creating a reliable 12V project supply from an original Xbox 360 Power brick is a straight forward and simple process.

The finished product


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