Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Noir 360 - Wireless Controller

A picture of my black wireless Xbox 360 controller.

Mod cost: $5

Update: If you undertake this little task, send in some pics, I'll be sure to put them up on this page!

This process is actually fairly simple.

Things you will need:
Plastikote or plasti-color (diferent manufacturers, same general product) can be found at most auto parts stores. I went to AutoZone looking for Plastikote which they didn't have, but found plasti-color which described itself as being used for the same things "vinyl seats, dashboards, door panels, etc.".

It costs about $5 a can after tax and comes in a sadly limited array of colors, they had black, red (fairly bright red), slate blue and a champagne type color. Apparently it also comes in yellow (which might be kind of cool) but they were out of it.

The Steps
There are numerous REALLY well done controller dissections out there so I wont reinvent the wheel here, a good example is this one. The only thing they don't cover is how to get the trigger off, which is fairly simple, just use a flat blade screwdriver to pop the little black arms off of the connector on the trigger, then just put pressure on the trigger (pushing it the opposite way you would if you were playing a game) and use the flat blade to pry the sides of the piece its mounted to away from the controller, do it for each side and it should go through nicely. Once thats done take the spring out and put it somewhere safe, then just slide the trigger piece to the side and twist slightly and it should come right off, its really very easy.

Once thats done take the shoulder buttons off the piece they are attached to (this just makes it easier to spray properly).

The PCB should come right off and the rumble motors with it, set this aside.

Now take all the pieces and rinse them in warm water, use soap if you want but only a little, you don't want any of it to remain once you are done rinsing.

Dry the parts thoroughly with a paper towel or let them air dry for awhile.

Once dried simply take the individual part and, in a well ventilated area/outdoors (the fumes from this stuff are even worse than spray paint IMHO) hold the part at arms length, with the spray can close to your body (about 1.5 ft. between nozzle and part) and start lightly making passes over the surface.


Make quick passes, do NOT try to get it solid black in one coat. Unlike spray paint this stuff actually causes a chemical reaction with the plastic, causing the color to be absorbed into the plastic itself (which is why I chose this over regular paint which fades and rubs off fairly easily).

This means two things.
  1. If you overspray it will be nearly impossible to correct your mistake properly, as there is no layer of paint to sand down, you will be sanding almost directly onto the original surface.
  2. The parts will be vulnerable to damage until they cure. You can literally take your fingernail and scoop soft plastic right off the surface just after you spray them. So BE CAREFUL!
That being said, make a LIGHT pass, hold the piece for about 30 seconds, set it down, do the next piece, hold it for 30 seconds, set it down, rinse/repeat until all the parts have been VERY lightly coated. You should still see plenty of white, this is fine.

Now, start with the first piece again, give it another very light coat. Very light, keep the nozzle about a foot and a half away from the part.

If you smell heavy fumes please, STOP, this stuff will make you very sick, worse than spray paint. Get a ventilator or move to a better ventilated area if need be, don't mess with this stuff.

Once you go through a second coat on all the parts...go for another one. After the third coat you should be down to touch-ups. Make sure you spray along the seams, there are gaps between the parts and if you don't get the seams properly you will be able to see white when you look at it.

Also pay attention to the inner neck of the joysticks, you have to intentionally spray in there (CAREFULLY!), they won't pick up enough dye just from you spraying the surface.

Once you have your third coat and touch-ups done, let it dry/cure for about 20 minutes, then find a well lit area and go over the parts, make sure you coated them properly, make sure no white shows through.

Once you are satisfied, you can reassemble it. Just reverse the steps outlined above in the disassembly.

This is rather simple and there is only one trick to it.

The rumble motors are only secured in place by being sandwiched between the two halves of the controller. But you have buttons in one half, and rumble motors in the other...gravity being the harsh mistress that she is it can be a PITA to get these to play nice.

Tape to the rescue!

Use a piece of masking tape or scotch tape, do NOT use a really sticky kind of tape (duct tape and five are both right out!), and insert the face buttons (back, start, guide, a,b,x,y) into the front half of the shell, then place tape over them, thus preventing cruel gravity from yoinking them out from under you.

Now simply position the rumble motors on the bottom half properly (the two plastic ridges should be about evenly spaced on the insulator wrapped around the motor) and plop the front half of the shell down on top of it, it takes a bit of wiggling to get everything to go happily back together, and a little bit of force too, but don't be hasty, if its not going, don't force it, take it apart and see if anything is wrong. Patience may save you a $50 controller.

Thats it. Simply put the screws back in, let it cure for about 24 hours, by then it should stand up to even the toughest gameplay.

Enjoy your spanky new black controller!

Picture Time!
The biggest perk of this method vs. ye old spray paint is that the surface stays mostly intact, it doesn't add any appreciable thickness to the pieces (so there are no fit issues), AND it is much, MUCH, more durable than paint.

The the photos above and below you can see how little the surface is changed. The "RT" in the trigger is a VERY shallow impression, but it isn't diminished at all like it would be if you used regular old spray paint.

Stupid huge version of the original.

This silver piece goes with black SO much nicer than the original white.

I couldn't get the camera to NOT focus on my monitor. ;( (p.s.: Clint Mansell ftw)

I am not responsible in any way for any damage that may occur to you or your controller by following the above steps. If you are not comfortable with this type of thing please do not attempt to do it!

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