Introduction: Adding an Internal Mic to a Xbox 360 Controller
This tutorial will show you how to install an internal microphone to your xbox 360 controller. Doing this will make using a headset a thing of the past.
WARNING!!! THIS MOD WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND YOUR CONTROLLER CAN BE DAMAGED IN THE PROCESS. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR EITHER OF THESE, NOR AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR PARENT'S COUCH CUSHIONS. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Side Note: You will have to enable voice to be played out of your tv's speakers. This can be done through preferences in the xbox 360 dashboard.
Dremel or drill with small drill bit
Small flat head screw driver
Hot glue gun
razor blade (optional)
Xbox 360 controller (any type)
Cotton or soft foam (optional, I used toilet paper)
Small Microphone (I used one from an old laptop, but any small mic should work.)
If you can't recycle a microphone from old tech this mic should work fine.
Step 1: Disasembly
First use the small flat head screw driver the remove the seven screws from the controller. One of them is hidden under the battery pack and a sticker. Don't waste your time trying to remove the sticker, just stab your screw driver through it.
Once the screws are out pull the top half of the controller off while the buttons are facing the ground. This will prevent the buttons from falling all over the floor. You can tape the buttons down from the top of the controller, but we will be removing them temporarily anyway so I skipped this.
Pull the motherboard out and disconnect the tumble motors.
Step 2: Controller Motherboard Preparation
Once the motherboard is removed we need to desolder the headset jack. This is the port at the bottom of the controller. I prefer to remove this all together, or at least the middle section of it, because there is a hardware mute switch in the headset jack that will only enable the mic to work if a headset is plugged in. Removing the jack leaves this circuit open. There are two small plastic clips that hold the jack in as well the soldered pins. Just pinch them to remove.
Make sure that you only desolder the eight small pins in the middle and leave the two large pins on the sides alone. The two large pins are for the batteries.
Side Note: Removing the headset jack eliminates your ability to use the keyboard add on with your controller. I will cover how to fix this at the end of the tutorial.
Step 3: Mic Placement
Before we proceed with this mod take a second to inspect your controllers motherboard and the inside of the top half of the controller case. You are looking for the best place to glue your microphone. I personally prefer to put my mic in the middle to avoid it being covered by my hands while playing. The older controllers have a clock in the middle of the motherboard that will get in the way of placing the mic in its ideal spot, so on these controllers I have put the mic at the bottom of the controller. The new controllers, IE the ones that come with new 360 don't have anything in the middle of the motherboard. If you have an older controller and need to place the mic at the bottom you will have to do a little extra work to get the mic the fit. Some plastic will need to be shaved off. (see picture)
Now it is time to drill the mic hole. I prefer to use a dremel with a small drill bit, but a regular drill will work. Just make sure that you are very careful not to damage the case. The hole does not need to be that big at all, in fact I like to keep it pretty small the reduce the chances of stuff getting in to the controller, such as liquid.
OPTIONAL: After I drill the hole I take a razor blade and shave around the inside edge of the hole for cometic reasons.
Step 4: Adding the Mic
At this point you should have the headset jack removed from the motherboard and the pin holes are open. In the middle of the eight pins the your just desoldered there are four pins that make the shape of a rectangle. The two on the right are for the mic, while the two on the left are for the speaker (and the hardware mute). The pin closest to the bottom of the motherboard on the right is the mic ground and the pin above it is the mic positive. I assume that you know which is which on the mic you have selected for this mod. Solder your mic according. Remember to leave an appropriate amount of wire if you are gluing the mic somewhere else on the controller.
BEFORE we glue the mic down it is a good idea to test the controller first. The safest way to do this is to put the motherboard back in the plastic casing, without putting the smaller plastic piece, between the two halves of the case at the bottom, back on. Just let the mic hang out. Log into xbox live with the game of your choice and start speaking. Depending on the game you are using there should be some type of indicator to tell you that you are making noise. For better testing asking someone to describe the quality of your voice to you. Test this with the tv volume at its normal volume and remember how sensitive the mic is when picking up noise while holding the controller the way you normally would while playing. If they can't here you and your noise indicator isn't showing that you are making noise then you either soldered the pins wrong or the mic that you chose is broken. This is why this is a very important step! ;)
Now it is time to glue. Depending on your controller and/or mic placement preference glue the mic to the motherboard directly underneath the top half of the case where you drilled the mic hole. Be sure to not use to much glue, but just enough the hold the mic in place. Also be sure to put glue on the bottom side of the mic were it's terminals are in order to insulate it from the circuitry of the controller motherboard.
Side Note: In my first internal mic project I glued the mic the the plastic of the controller case but this proved to be a pain reassembly and disassembling the controller later.
Step 5: Re-enabling Keyboard Attachment Use
If you would like to use the keyboard attachment with your controller you will need to do some further modification. First take the headset jack that you removed a few steps back and remove the four pins in the middle of it. The easiest way to to pull them out with needle nose pliers. Be sure to leave the two sets of two pins on the sides intact. Solder the pins the were not removed back in their original holes. These four pins are for the keyboard attachments power and data.
OPTIONAL: Depending on how you ran the wiring for the mic, you may or may not want to use a cutting tool, like a dremel, to remove the middle section of the headset jack rather than use removing the four middle pins. Instead of removing all of the plastic and dividing the headset jack into two pieces you may want to just cut the small tunnel in the middle into a trench, so to speak.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Before we reassemble the controller we need to add something for noise reduction. This step isn't absolutely necessary but it is very helpful later. I ask you in the last step to remember how sensitive the mic is. Use this to determine if you should put cotton or foam between the mic hole and the mic. This will greatly help with noise reduction and it does not take a lot. If you are using foam make sure not to use anything too thick. You want foam similar to that found in couch cushions. Please do not rip apart your parents couch cushions. This also helps to prevent things like liquid from getting into the controller as easily through the mic hole. You can test different amounts of cotton or foam by putting some in the controller and putting the controller back together, then signing into xbox live and testing the sensitivity again. Be sure to test the mic while holding the controller in the normal way that you always hold it.
Once you are happy with your advanced noise reduction system, you can reassemble the controller by putting everything back in place and reinserting the screws.
You should now have a xbox 360 controller with a fully functional internal microphone. Don't forget to go into your xbox 360 preferences and change voice to play audio through tv speakers, otherwise you won't be able to hear anybody else.