Use Any DVD-ROM With a Modded Xbox

What Is This About?

This hack will show you how to use just about any normal “IDE”/ATAPI DVD-ROM drive with a modded Xbox. It is based on a tutorial located at‘s tutorials section, written by a guy known as Superfro. His tutorial showed how to use a specific DVD-ROM with your modded Xbox, but this one aims to teach you how to use just about any that fits certain requirements. Basically, you’re going to fool the Xbox into using your standard PC DVD drive by piping signals from inside it to the Xbox power connector wires.

This article isn’t for people just starting out with Xbox modding — it involves circuit probing, fine tip soldering, logic gates, and some signal comparison. It wouldn’t hurt to read, though, if you’re curious as to how to perform this hack.

The Good

What benefits are there to having a PC DVD-ROM in your Xbox? For one, it makes an easy replacement for DVD drives that have died on an existing Xbox. It also adds the ability to read DVD+R/W discs and CD-R as well. The loading times off a replaced drive are also noticeably faster while playing a game or skipping through a DVD movie.

The Bad

Why would you not want to do this? The biggest drawback is that only the original Xbox DVD-ROM (3 models) or a modified Samsung 616-T can read retail off-the-shelf Xbox games. A replacement PC DVD-ROM drive will not let you play those games. However, if you’re like me and don’t play but one or two store-bought games, this may be a worthwhile option. So this tutorial is generally aimed at three categories: Xbox hackers who don’t play games, people who don’t play retail games (possibly pirates), or Xbox hackers who don’t play retail games. How you go about getting your Xbox games doesn’t keep me up at night — just don’t talk about it here. The point of this post is to show you how to do some hardware hacking.

The Ugly

What does replacing the original Xbox drive with a PC drive entail? For one, you need to be able to replicate the signals of an authentic Xbox DVD drive. You also need to make the Eject button on the Xbox talk to the replacement drive. Lastly, and maybe optionally, you can use your Dremel and fit it in nicely and make it look good.

Opening The DVD-ROM

The first step to this hack is finding out if your PC DVD-ROM meets the requirements for being an Xbox DVD drive replacement. These requirements are imposed by the Xbox DVD drive’s non-standard power connector. Normal PC DVD-ROM drives have a 4-pin Molex connector, supplying 5 and 12 volts. The Xbox DVD drive has these wires, but also some extra status lines such as eject, disc in/out, and tray open/closed. To find out if your drive will work with the Xbox, you need to open up the DVD-ROM and poke around to try and find the necessary signals. There are generally four screws on the bottom of the unit which, once removed, allow the bottom cover to come off, exposing the main circuit of the DVD drive. This is the most you should need to take apart the drive to work with it.

The Tedious Part

With the bottom cover off, carefully power up the drive (possibly with a spare computer power supply). Using a digital logic probe, available for around $10 from your local RadioShack store, choose a point on the DVD drive’s circuit, touch the logic probe to it, and open the drive’s tray. What you’re looking for is a point on the board that changes depending on the status of the tray. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find two points that are exactly opposite each other, which makes the next step easier. Quite often I’ve found that these points are near the pushbutton that opens and closes the drive. The minimum you need, though, is a point that is one signal (high or low) when the tray is open, and the opposite when it is closed.

Repeat this process for finding a point that indicates that a disc is in the drive, and also for when the disc is fully spun up and ready to be read. I find it easier to turn the drive on it’s side for this part, since it’s a hassle to get a disc into a tray-loading DVD drive while the whole unit is upside-down. You’ll likely spend a lot of time opening and closing the drive, and putting in a disc and taking it out. Sometimes finding the necessary signals takes minutes, sometimes an hour. Shortcuts include memorizing the signal states of a small area of points, making a change in the drive’s status, then re-testing that area and comparing the signals in your head.

You’ll also need an “eject” signal, but this should not be hard to find. Probe around the circuit where the eject button on the front of the drive is attached. You should be able to find a point that inverts signal when you press the eject button. In all, you should have at least three signals mapped out (tray open/closed, disc in/out, and disc-ready). In the next step you will be connecting the status lines to the Xbox and running the Xbox’s eject button to the DVD drive (so that the DVD-ROM drive opens when you press the Xbox eject button).

Connecting The Drive

Once you’ve found distinct tray open/closed and disc in/out signals on the DVD-ROM circuit board, you need to connect them to the Xbox. Keep in mind that the signals may be the inverse of what you want. That’s okay, because you can change them with some simple logic gates. The Xbox-Linux team has done a wonderful job in mapping out the hardware of the Xbox, part of which is extremely helpful here. They’ve mapped out the Xbox DVD drive connector and labeled what each pin is used for.

What you need to do is write down the signals that you have on your PC DVD-ROM drive and see how they match up with the ones the Xbox is expecting to see (from what it would believe is a stock Xbox drive). Using the diagram and description of each pin, you should be able to match up the pins. If the signals you have are opposite that, you’ll need to use a logic gate chip to run your signal in, along with either power or ground, then run the output of that gate to the appropriate Xbox line.

If you only found one of the two tray open/closed signals above, you can duplicate and invert the one you found using another gate on the logic chip. Run the signal you found to the matching one on the Xbox DVD power connector, but also run it to the logic gate and connect the output of that to it’s matching pin as well. That should satisfy the need for the tray open/closed signals.

You will also need to connect the eject button the the back of the Xbox front panel where the eject button’s leads are exposed, making sure the signals match when you press the button. What you are doing is wiring the PC DVD drive eject button to the Xbox’s eject button, so that both the Xbox and your PC DVD drive get the eject signal when you press the on on the front of the Xbox. has more to say about interfacing the drive (referencing their diagrams):

In order to interface a PC-DVD, the cover of the DVD drive must be removed and appropriate signals located. Usually, signals such as OPEN, CLOSE, and EJECT can be found. This are normally low true signals, in spite of the names, so they likely correspond with TRAY_IN, TRAY_OUT, and NEJECT, respectively. The CD_READY signal is the most difficult to locate. On one drive, a signal called DMUTE was located that worked as needed. This was the DVS DSR-1600H, however, this drive is not compatible due to spin down. The Toshiba SD-M1302 is a compatible drive, but requires some logic to delay a signal so that the CD_READY signal is not active until the drive is really ready to provide data.

In addition, if it is desired to have the eject button on the PC-DVD inform the Xbox that the CD has been ejected, then a connection must be made from the NEJECT wire to the back of the Eject button on the front panel. The correct trace is the top one through an opening in the metal shielding. From the back, you can see four PCB pads, and the top two are connected together with a PCB trace. This is the location to connect the NEJECT signal, through a 3.3K resistor for a wired OR connection.

Finishing Touches

With the new DVD drive wired up and working, you may want to fit it nicely into the Xbox case. If you cut two of the posts in half which held up the Xbox DVD drive, it should slide in further, allowing you secure it down.

Hopefully, all that will give you some idea as to how to add a PC DVD-ROM to your Xbox. page on DVD replacement also has a lot of good information. If you have questions, add them to the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Use Any DVD-ROM With a Modded Xbox

14 thoughts on “Use Any DVD-ROM With a Modded Xbox

  1. If you install a DVD-ROM it won’t run retail games, but it will run a copy of them that you’ve made from the originals beforehand. However, they won’t be Xbox Live compatible, as you’ll need a non-Microsoft BIOS to run the game off a DVD±R.


  2. Just out of curiosity, Does anyone know what makes an Xbox DVD rom so special as to read the XBOX Game DVD’s? If this is simply because it has some added chipset feature, is it possible to reverse this procedure to get the DVD to work in a PC? Obviously the cable signals are the same/compatible.


  3. The only thing that makes the XBox DVDs different is their disc format, as far as I know. The Xbox DVD-ROMs have firmware which “knows” how to read the game data, as opposed to the first track of DVD video which you see if you put a game into a set-top or computer DVD movie player. I know at least one PC IDE DVD-ROM, the Samsung 616T, has been hacked to accept the Xbox Samsung DVD-ROM firmware, and thus gained the ability to read game discs.

    The Xbox DVD-ROM’s IDE cable is the same, however it has a proprietery connector (detailed above). I don’t believe there’s any added security in the power/eject bus.

    It’s much easier just to ask the Xbox to read out the contents of the DVD-ROM for you via FTP than to write computer software to read the discs, apparently.


  4. Saulo Gonzaga says:

    What is the SPINDOWN af a DVD drive? How can I know if a drive have this feature or not? Can I use a COMBO DVD/CD-RW instead a DVD drive? (since is very difficult to find a DVD-ROM where I live)
    Thanks for the attention.


  5. The spindown, I imagine, is the time between the last bit of activity and when the motor stops spinning the CD when it goes idle. Bascially, the drive is saving energy and cutting down on wear-and-tear by slowing or stopping the spin since it hasn’t been accessed in a given period of time. As far as I know, all drives have it. I’ve never used a CD or DVD drive for a while that didn’t slow or stop after a period of inactivity.

    As for the combo drive, I bet it would work. Essentially, it just has to be able to read DVDs. Any other features would go unused.


  6. jack says:

    this process would also work if i were to use the xbox case as a pc, right? i mean, i want the eject button to eject the dvd burner i would put in. of course there would be a whole different motherboard in it. i don’t want to use this as an xbox, just the case to hold the pc in. but it should work the same, right?


  7. The process should be similar. You could solder wires to the (accessible) back of the Xbox eject button, then run those to the button on the front of the PC DVD-ROM drive. It would make a great little mini-itx case.


  8. Ben says:

    If the xbox dvd drives are like ps2 drives, then the laser comes closer to the center of the disc because of an added track that detects genuinity, which would explain why retail games wouldnt run on pc drives. which im sure is why theyre not live compatible either, cuz it checks too.


  9. Roland says:

    I know this is an old subject and may be dead, though I’m not alone (Ben) in posting nearly 2 years after the last post of the author, but hey, gotta keep good things alive.

    Anyway, I am in the process of adapting a PC DVD-ROM for use in an XBOX but unfortunately the drive spins down after a while and I’m having difficulty in finding the “Disc In/Ready” signal.

    I’m thinking that it might be possible to make a device (PIC) that I could attach to the the IDE bus.
    Then it might be possible to send the command to query the DVD-ROM registers for Drawer In/Out, Disc In/Out and Disc Ready.

    Hopefully it would also be possible to send the command to eject the drawer down the IDE bus.
    There may even be the possibility of sending a command to change the power management setting to prevent the disc from spinning down.

    If the above is all possible then I might be able to design a circuit and code that would make it possible to replace the XBOX DVD drive with any IDE DVD drive without the need to open the new drive and find the signal points and hard-wire it to the XBOX.

    By the way, I am quite into electronics and programming and am currently doing a degree in robotics, so I have a fair understanding about what I’m suggesting before you ask.

    Any comments, suggestions and advice is very welcome.
    I will post back with my progress as the project progresses.


  10. Cool idea! Making such a board would be a clever project :-) Let me know if you need any info — I have a 1.0 Xbox apart in my basement that I can test on.


  11. Tim says:

    Hi i ma interested in putting a slot-loading drive into my xbox, your tutorial about is very helpfull, however i am just wondering if a slot loading drive would have a “tray in/out” signal or something like it? any help would be well appreciated….


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