Xbox 360 on the Cheap

I’ve wanted an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 since the moment they were sold, but I didn’t want to spend $400 or more to own one; I just don’t play video games enough to justify it. I had been leaning towards the PS3 because of its Blue-ray capabilities and the fact that the hardware is more robust, but game selection is still lacking and it’s a more expensive system.

When my brother bought a 360, it pretty much sealed the deal for me in terms of system selection, but there was still the price issue. A few weeks ago, I found out a friend had a 360 with a bad DVD-ROM and was willing to part with the system—including original packaging, power supply, and controller— for $60, if I was able to fix it; no charge if I couldn’t get it working. He said the DVD drive would not eject properly and that the disc would skip while playing because the drive tray was loose.

Let me just start by saying Microsoft really does not want you to take apart the Xbox 360. At all. Ever. I’ve cracked open computer cases, replaced car stereos, and tinkered with other electronics so I figured I could just take apart the Xbox case and have a look around. Yeah. After struggling to get part of the case open and fearing that the force I was using would destroy the Xbox completely, I searched online and found this great tutorial:

I could have done without the generic techno, but the video was a HUGE help. Once I had access to the DVD drive itself, I thought I’d open that and see if any of the mechanics of the drive were out of whack. All of the gears and teeth looked fine; the drive was a little dusty, but no more than expected. I restricted the side-to-side wobble of the tray by bending the metal drive container in a little bit to give it a snug fit. The tray now slid in and out smoothly if you manually ejected it with a paper clip, but the eject button was useless unless you tapped HARD on the top of the drive case while pressing ‘eject’. After a few hours of experimenting, I concluded the magnet was not the problem.

What did fix the weak drive tray motor issue was cleaning the small, black rubber band that connects the two pulleys used to open and close the tray. I used a Q-Tip to clean the pulleys and cleaned the rubber band thoroughly in warm water. I dried the rubber band and put it back on the pulleys; closed up the box and it works great now. No issues with skipping games or ejecting discs. The drive still screams like an aircraft and makes odd clicking sounds so I will likely need to replace it sometime in the next few months, but it plays games just fine now.