1) Send your console in to a big corporation, wait a month, and get a console that'll break in another month.
2) Throw it out or try and sell it. You could make $40 or so and put it towards a new console.
3) Try and fix it yourself. Now there are several paths you can take to "fix" your box, and hopefully this instructable will make this task less daunting (and explain the right way to do it)
So lets get started!
Step 1: Fixes that DONT WORK
The Towel Fix-
People think that by wrapping their 360 in a towel and running it for excessive periods of time, the internal components will reach the melting point of lead-free solder (217C), and the bad joints under the BGAs will reflow, fixing the problem... I'm not even going to explain what's wrong with that picture.
The Penny Fix-
By putting pennies underneath the GPU heatsink/on top of the RAM chips, the extreme pressure on the RAM BGAs will (in some cases) push the chip down enough that the bad joints make connections. Now this is all good and dandy save the fact that neither the solder balls nor the RAM were meant to take that kind of pressure, and this fix will only lead to more broken joints.
The "X-Clamp" Fix-
This fix utilizes the same basic principle as the penny fix. By removing the stock heatsink clamps, you can hold the CPU and GPU heatsinks on with machine screws. The idea is that you can over tighten the bolts causing the heatsinks to exert more pressure on the processors, pressing the broken solder joints down until they make connections. The issue with this is that more pressure inevitably leads to more broken joints... which leads to more pressure, which leads to more broken joints... the vicious cycle continues until you get micro fractures in the chips and your console is dead for good.
Step 2: The Fix that DOES WORK
Easily the most reliable, and effective fix is performing a reflow. By re-melting the solder balls in a BGA any imperfect joints will be fixed when they re-harden. This instructable will cover hot air reflowing, but other methods are available (albeit more expensive). Now some people claim they can reflow their Xbox using a heat gun or an oven, but to reflow properly you need the proper equipment.
Step 3: Equipment/Materials
-Aoyue 968 Reworking Station
-Rework Nozzle #4141
-Modified Presto Griddle (It needs to have 8 m5 bolts running up from the bottom. These serve to hold the mother board about 1/4 inch off the griddle during the reflow)
-Makeshift stand for the Aoyue Hot Air Gun
-A flat-head screw driver
-A torque screwdriver (The Xbox has both t8 and t10 screws, I just use a t9 bit.)
-A small, pointy object (You need this to disassemble the box)
-Q-tips (Lots of them!)
-Goo Gone (This stuff works miracles on thermal paste)
-Isopropyl Alcohol (It should be at least 70%)
-Rosin Flux (This is optional, and I don't use it in my reflows...)
-Pipettes (If you use Flux)
-Arctic Silver Thermal Paste (I buy mine at RadioShack. One tube usually lasts for 10 boxes)
Step 4: Starting the Repair
1) Turn the box on and wait for the Red Rings to come up.
2) Hold down the sync button, you need to be pressing this for the entire time.
3) Hit the eject button once. Note the number of lights around the power button.
4) Do this three more times.
5) You should now have 4 different numbers, in my case it was 1 light, 4 lights, 2 lights, 2 lights.
6) To convert this into "Xbox error code" just take those numbers, but change any 4s to 0s. So my error code would be 1022.
Now that you have the code, you can look here to find out what the exact problem with your board is. My error was a result of a GPU problem, so that's the component I need to reflow.
Step 5: Disassembling
Step 6: Remove the X-Clamps
Step 7: Get Rid of the Thermal Paste
1) Remove the big clumps of thermal paste around the dies on the chip. I use a cut up ID card to do this.
2) Take a Q-tip and lightly coat it in Goo Gone. Rub it around on the die and it'll remove a lot of the paste. Don't worry, this stuff is safe for use on the board, I've used it countless times.
3) Take another Q-tip and dip it in rubbing alcohol. After you coat the chip in it, use the other end to dry up the excess liquid.
Step 8: Pre-Heating the Board
Put your board onto the griddle, and screw a nut snugly onto every screw. This is one of the most important parts of the reflow process. They keep the motherboard from flexing during it, and allow the solder to reflow properly. The board should be sandwiched between two nuts, and NOT touching the griddle.
Turn the temperature up to 400F, the griddle will get very hot so use your common sense and don't touch it. I let my board preheat for 10 minutes.
Step 9: Setup for the Reflow
Step 10: Reflowing!
This is the heating profile that I follow (All temperature increases are in 3 deg/sec, which is one press of the up/down button on the unit a second):
- Turn on the unit and wait for it to reach 90C.
- Hold for 60 seconds
- Increase the temperature to 195C
- Hold for 60 seconds
- Increase the temperature to 291C
- Hold for 40 seconds
- Increase the temperature to 350C
- Hold for 20 seconds
- Increase the temperature to 381C
- Hold for 20 seconds
- Decrease the temperature to 291C
-Hold for 10 seconds
- Drop the temperature to 90C as fast as the unit will go.
When it reaches 90C, I turn the unit and the griddle off. At this point, it is incredibly crucial to not touch or move the board. You need to let it sit for at least 15 minutes without being disturbed.
*Another Note* These machines are not exactly the same, my 381C may actually be outputting air at 360C, where yours may be doing 400C. Its very beneficial to get a test board and figure out just how hot you need to go on your machine before the solder melts. This is called a BGA lift, and just follow this profile up to 350C. After that go up by 3 degree increments. Wait ten seconds, and try and lift the chip up with a flathead screwdriver. If it lifts, that's the temperature you need to hit. If not, keep going up until you can lift the chip.
Step 11: Reassembling
To replace the heatsinks, just put them back through the holes in the MoBo, and work in reverse. Slide the clamp back on, and press the "legs" of the X down until they clip on the heatsink bolts. You may need to use a screwdriver to pry them open a little bit while you're pushing them down.
Now you can put it back in the housing and reattach the DVD drive and fan.
Step 12: Testing!
If it doesn't, don't get discouraged, try reflowing different components, and checking your heat profile. Maybe you aren't going hot enough.
If it does work, finish putting the case back together, and you have a working Xbox 360!
If you're interested in a professional fix, but don't want to try reflowing it yourself, send me an email at email@example.com. You can ship your console to me, and I'll reflow it for you.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!