Instructables
Customize the four player indicators on your Xbox 360 wireless controller by removing the stock LEDs and replacing them with any color of your choosing. I've received a lot of requests for this guide, which will show how to dismantle and upgrade an official Microsoft controller.

***Disclaimer: I am not liable for any damage that may be caused to your property or self from following the instructions in this tutorial. Soldering irons can be very hot and cause burns, as well as possibly break your Xbox 360 controller. Opening your controller's shell will void its warranty. If you are unfamiliar with soldering I suggest you acquire some practice on blank boards before attempting this mod, as the LEDs are quite small. ***
 
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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
The parts list for this project is small and fairly cheap.

Soldering Iron: Your generic 10-15 Watt Radioshack soldering iron, available for about $15. Though not necessary, for small projects like this I take a metal file and sharpen my soldering iron to a fine point. It will make the install much easier.

Silver Rosin Solder: Also available at Radioshack, silver solder more evenly distributes heat, and rosin creates a clean bond between two metals. Around $3.

Copper Desoldering Braid: This thin wire braid will absorb solder when placed inbetween the soldering iron and a terminal that needs to be cleaned. Necessary to create a flat base for the LED to sit on, makes the install much easier and can fix mistakes. $3.

Xbox 360 Wireless/Wired Controller: Microsoft controllers are available at any store that sells video game equipment. Retails for $50.

SMD 0603 LEDs: You can select whatever colors you wish for this mod, this instructable uses four blue 0603s. I would encourage you to purchase the brightest mcd rating you can find, the difference between a dim (120mcd) and a bright (400mcd) 0603 is around 10 cents per LED and worth the extra cost. Though you will only need four for this mod, purchase 8-10, these lights are so small you are going to lose some no matter how careful you are. Here are my recommendations from unique-leds.com

Red 500mcd, $0.33/LED (800mcd are available on eBay).
Yellow/Amber 130mcd, $0.22/LED (350mcd are available on eBay)
Blue 380mcd, $0.34/LED (800mcd are available on eBay).
Green 200mcd, $0.39/LED (1000mcd are available on eBay).
White 800mcd, $0.38/LED (2500mcd are available on eBay).

My favorite eBay sellers for LEDs are HKJE LED Lamp Center and Light of Victory Hi-Tech LED Store.

Security Torx T8H: Xbox 360 controllers have security screws, meaning there is a pin sticking out of the center of the screw that prevents a normal T8 Torx from fitting in. If you are cheap or don't want to wait, get an awl or a very small flathead screwdriver, and crack off the pin with a good whack from a hammer, letting you then use a normal Torx driver. I suggest purchasing your T8H screwdriver from Llamma.org. High Quality $7.99 and Low Quality $2.48

Tweezers: Absolutely necessary to hold the very small SMD 0603s. Try to purchase tweezers with the flattest edge you can find, round endings will cause the LED to shoot outward when you tighten around it. Around $3-5 at any local store like Walgreens.
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jsherbondy made it!3 months ago

I made an account, just to say Thank you QMD. I followed this step by step and made my wife a sweet controller with pink LED's yesterday. I had no previous experience with soldering. again thank you.

360 ring.PNG
QuackMasterDan (author)  jsherbondy3 months ago
Thank you so much for the thanks, I really appreciate it. The thanks is often a good motivator for me to make more instructables :-). Your controller turned out very nicely, great job!!!
jborchardt8 months ago

After an hour of frustrating work I managed to solder on 3 out of the 5 leds that I got (I lost 2) when I turned the controller on the leds were extremely dull, almost to the point where you cant see them. Should I buy new leds or have someone else install them? if so, who?

cwhite491 year ago
I looked and didn't really find an answers in the comments, but my LEDs are just as bright as the "factory" green LEDs when my rechargable battery pack is fresh; however once is loses just 1 bar of battery life the LED's dim. I have one controller with a single "factory" green LED on it still and the rest are blue, but the green LED stays bright and the others dim as battery life expires. Any ideas???
Pawkins1 year ago
Nice work, but I have to ask, won't the top left LED only be lit? Providing you are on "pad 1" or is there a way to illuminate all 4 at the same time while using it? Sorry if I missed something here.
koolkiwi1 year ago
Hm I wanted to do this my controller but in only 14 I really don't have experience with all this and I don't want break my controller while trying so I wanted to find someone who can. I just want the ring blue
QuackMasterDan (author)  koolkiwi1 year ago
Bah humbug! That sounds like an excuse to limit yourself! If you look at some of my other instructables, namely the desk and metal-light-plates, I had three to five Jr. High and Sr. High school students helping me do everything from etch tracings, to cut metal, to bond epoxy and yes, wire high-power LEDs.

You're right, it is possible you will damage a light or two while attempting this mod. As far as making the controller unusable, you would have to really work at destroying it -- or step on it or hit it with a hammer.

It's actually a lot of fun once you give it a shot. Don't be too afraid of the mod. If you are concerned about not knowing what you are doing, practice on some other, non-expensive equipment.

Start with soldering thicker wires together (20-24 AWG), then later small (26-30 AWG thickness) wires together, then unbonding them with a desoldering braid. Look up some guides on soldering to help yourself out. Or... ask someone to teach you. It's an uncommon skill, that isn't so uncommon. If you go to a church or community center, ask around if anyone could teach you how to solder. I've met quite a few people from my church who are glad to teach a passionate kid how to weld, do carpentry, painting, and solder - blowtorch or iron! Practice certainly helps, and think of how cool the end result will be.

I'm here if you have questions, as is the rest of the Instructables community (*hint hint*, instructables loves to teach soldering)

Do your best!
I finished my controller and it works great with regular batteries and while plugged in, but the lights don't work at all with my play and charge battery pack or with rechargeable batteries. I think it is due to the lower voltage put out by them. Is there any way to fix this? Thanks in advance!!
stang05222 years ago
i did this to one of my controllers and swapped the green leds for red and couldnt bet happpier with the result. and this is where my question comes it.... i tried putting blue ones in a different controller and when i was done it lit up but was extremely dim. so i took it apart and checked the solder points and they were all ok. so i put the battery pack in and turn it on while it was apart and they were still very dim but as soon as i touched the soldering iron to them they got very bright? do you know why that is? are they defective LEDs or what?
QuackMasterDan (author)  stang05222 years ago
There are a few issues related to this.
  • The new 360 wireless controllers are more energy efficient. Basically, they have less power than the old controllers, and don't power green, white, blue, or UV  LEDs as well.
  • Soldering irons usually have three pins (grounded). If it's plugged into a two-plug socket or extension cord, electricity builds up in the iron.
  • If the LEDs get too hot, the gap of the P-N junction (ultra tiny split inside the LED) sparks making a bunch of light and frying the LED. Don't use an iron any higher than 15W, and don't hold any iron to the LED more for than ~1.5-2 seconds.
I hope that clears things up a little.
See that would make sense because I was trying to do it on a newer controller, but then switch to and tries changing them on an older one and had the same problem, it doesn't matter what color I try they air dimmer than they should be. The only color that lights up correctly is red. Could it possibly be just bad LEDs?
QuackMasterDan (author)  stang05222 years ago
Reds run at 1.9v.

Blue/Green/White/UV run at 3.2v.

Reds can run with much less juice than other colors. Newer controllers output much less juice for longer battery life.
Taranis2 years ago
I have a small question for you QMD.

"Is it absolutely necessary to remove the rumble motors, or is it simply to make the mod process easier?"

BTW Portal case looks amazing.
QuackMasterDan (author)  Taranis2 years ago
You shouldn't need to remove the rumble motors, you can just branch off the positive LED to the resistor of your LED. Seems rather stupid that any guide would remove the entire rumble function just for some lights (though lights are most certainly awesome). Here is a crudely drawn diagram that should explain the layout.
Untitled-1.jpg
Ah, my apologies.

You, rather kindly, have slightly overestimated how experienced I am in this field of modding.

I am incredibly new to this, and all I wanted to know was that if it was possible to reattach the rumble motors after you removed them during the process of changing the ring of light leds.

However thank you so much for your rapid reply, and for your links and preferences with regard to LED sellers, esp Hi-Tech LED Store.

Unfortunately uniqueLEDS' shipping cost was slightly too much, so I settled for these, BTW I live in the UK.

http://www.ebay.co.uk:80/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350361893227&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:GB:1123


QuackMasterDan (author)  Taranis2 years ago
Yes, you can put the rumble motors back in after replacing the 0603 LEDs, taking them off is just for ease of construction, and to prevent possible damage to the fragile wires.

My picture was if you were trying to pulse the lights whenever you get rumble, my mistake.

Have fun!
Charlie26522 years ago
Do you know if after modding your led lights if the rapid fire mod (when soldering one end to the player 1 led) would still work?
QuackMasterDan (author)  Charlie26522 years ago
Could you please explain more about what setup you're using? There are a few different ones for rapid-fire. If I understand correctly, are you trying to get when firing in rapid mode (like holding R-Trigger) that P1 LED blinks with it? Or something based on the rumble motors?
Yes I'm using the P1 light so when I press the momentary button on the back (that I installed) the frequency of P1 send signals to the trigger making it shoot really fast. See this instructable for what I followed. I believe it should work but I wanted to consult first. Thanks for you help.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Done/
QuackMasterDan (author)  Charlie26522 years ago
Yeah, that will work. Lllama already ran this YEARS ago. It's basically just pulsing 2v to the LED really fast.

See here.
heres mine :D i drilled out the buttons and put LEDs into them and powered them using the main power feed on the back of the board :¬D
IMG_2610.JPG
Is there anyway you can go in to any detail on how you did this? I would live to be able to incorporate this in one of my controllers or all 8 =D thanks in advance for your help.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Light-up-a-Xbox-Controller-with-LEDs/

This is pretty much how I did it, my LEDs were slightly bigger though so i had to drill out the button more. :D good luck with your modding
QuackMasterDan (author)  RoddyTheGreat3 years ago
Wow, excellent work Roddy! Your results turned out very well, and I'm glad you improved upon and extended beyond the knowledge of my instructable. Keep up your efforts, I hope you produce more neat projects and make a few instructables on them. If you do, let me know, I would like to see them.
jbell13 years ago
oh wow nice portal case!! <3
How bright (in MCD) are the standard Xbox leds? and what would an 80mcd, or 150mcd blue smd led look like?
QuackMasterDan (author)  RoddyTheGreat3 years ago

I'm not sure how bright the LEDs used on a stock Xbox 360 controller are. If I had to guess, I would say they are about 60-100mcd.

An 80mcd blue would be pretty dim, but would still function. A 150mcd blue would look much nicer. In general, my rule is to get as bright as possible, up to around 1000mcd, at which point your controller is glowing.
Munchys3 years ago
Odd i modded one of my controllers with a blue led off this instructable but like in the pic my p2 and p4 leds are brighter than the others
calexbg5 years ago
I was using a 15W/30W soldering iron for this project and found that trying to float the LEDs with it on the 15W setting was nearly impossible (it took about 10 minutes) whereas using the 30W setting produced results similar to the video.
QuackMasterDan (author)  calexbg5 years ago
Did your iron warm up to full temperature first? The solder used on these LEDs is very low temperature solder, pretty much anything should work with it. If your tips are dirty, or have not had a tin bubble stuck to the end (you need to prep a brand new tip with some solder and let it cook for awhile) they won't melt solder at all. Either way, glad it worked for you, though 15W should be plenty of heat.
i jsut got my iron back today and i tried this its a 25W soldering iron and took me like 5 minutes just trying to get it off it was fully heating cause i was previously soldering something else. This is not an easy thing to do though moving the led over the spot and trying to solder it but hopefully i will become use to it
You were probably using the radioshack iron, same as mine, if it has a 15/30w setting, 30w is much better to use, only if you have enough experience though. I found using the 30w was better the same way you did :P
jonomon20023 years ago
just ordered a soldering iron and some ultra bright blue 0603 SMD LEDs so ill be laying off the coffee for a while so my hands are steady when i have a go at this thanks for the informative instructable
CJSinc953 years ago
this would be great for me to do as ive done all this sort of stuff before even though im only 15 unfortunatelly i live in australia any suggestions where i could get all this over here?
QuackMasterDan (author)  CJSinc953 years ago
Doesn't unique-leds.com ship internationally?

If they don't, just search 0603 on eBay (0603 SMD LED [model #, Surface Mount Device, LED]. In five seconds I found an assortment pack of six colors for $3+shipping.

If you want an amazing eBay seller, search for "Light Victory Hi-Tech Led Store" on google, they have some incredible SMDs (2,500 mcd white!) Dirt cheap too, and since they are based in China, they ship anywhere.
I'm Sorry to ask but would these ones be correct?
Thanks
http://cgi.ebay.com/50p-SMD-SMT-0603-Bright-RED-LED-Lamp-Light-550mcd-/370390422487?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item563cfd53d7#ht_3820wt_905
QuackMasterDan (author)  camferret3 years ago
Yep, those will work just fine. That's a pack of 50 reds though, which is quite a few.

I found a pack of 20 for $3 including shipping:
http://cgi.ebay.com/0603-Ultra-Bright-SMD-LED-RED-20pcs-/220620338351?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item335dff34af

Shipping for the link I provided takes two weeks though.
Thank you so much
thankyou SO much i had a look at the seller and managed to get everything i wanted to hardmod my 360 elite 360 slim and my controllers with some custon light colours and cold cathode tues inside the xboxes.
Now just to wait until the prcel gets through though knowing my local post office from past parcels they will give me a 3rd conformation letter the first time they 'TRY' and deliver it and ill have to go pick it up before they throw it >:(
do you know of any actual stores i could buy them from because im easily able to ge to the local shopping centres and the city
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