Happy Halloween from the Clear Amber Xbox Series X!

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Having done the Aluminum Xbox Series X with its custom transparent green back panel; we next did one for the standard XSX. Naturally, an all clear Xbox was asked for and I sought out to deliver. Halloween Edition! I’ve also made all the files available so anyone adventurous enough can make their own.

The four sides are cut out of 1/8″ transparent amber acrylic, and the top and bottom and are 3D Printed. The top and bottom are two parts: one part connects the panels and the other mounts to it. This allows for easy customizing of the top and bottom. You can create a new silly design for the top or have your Xbox sit on cat legs. The bottom has the feet and extra hole design I used for the Aluminum XSX.

Mounting the Blu-Ray drive, Button PCB, and USB board required recreating the mounts normally glued inside of the stock XSX shell. These mount in the top and bottom 3D printed parts. The Blu-Ray Drive and Button PCB also connect in the middle via teeth. If one were to pry out the original mounts as I did for the Aluminum XSX, I unfortunately cannot guarantee fitment.

I also had to create new buttons, however, you can reuse the stock button that is used for connecting controllers (right above the front USB connector). I cut and pressed in a piece of transparent green acrylic for the power button. It clashes a bit with the amber, but green is iconic when it comes to the Xbox.

It took around 12 hours of print time at 0.3mm layer height for the bigger parts and 0.25mm for the buttons. I slowed down the speeds for the bottom with its 100+ holes.

If you decide to try this mod, I’ve made the files available on thingiverse and at the end of this post. There are printable guides you can tape to the acrylic for hand cutting (prints on legal size paper). You will need a a few things…

Materials:

  • 3 X 12×12″ 1/8th Acrylic Sheets (one extra for mistakes)
  • 20 X M3 x 6mm Screws (along with the original screws)
  • 3D Printer Filament

Drill Bit Sizes:

  • 1/8″
  • 17/64 (H)
  • 33/64″

Equipment:

  • Hand Drill or Drill Press
  • Saw, Laser Cutter or Mill
  • 3D Printer
  • Hand Files

DIY-Xbox-Series-X-Case.zip (10060 downloads)
thingiverse link

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Making Clear Back Panels for the Xbox Series X

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After making the Aluminum Xbox Series X and creating a back panel transparent green, we set out to create a back panel that would work with the stock case. There were many positive comments about it!

This was an easier project compared to the prior and what I have planned for the future. Making something that adds a really unique look is definitely worth it though! The Amber back panel is straight fire.

To achieve make these we had to forgo the clipping mechanism. We retained the top lip for stability and the two screw holes towards the middle/bottom. Due to keeping the lip, we CNC machined the entire panel compared to the previous panel where I just laser cut it on the K40. Doing it this way made a nicer panel with no warpage too!

The panels are made out 3/32″ acrylic. To hold the material so they could be machined required making a jig. I had a leftover piece of 1/2 MDF that I had used to make the bed for my Pick and Place machine. With a little cutting and machining it was a workable fit for machining soft plastic. It has 8 holes: 4 for mounting straight to the bed and another 4 for holding the aluminum brackets that clamp on to the acrylic (they also mount to the bed). There is a pocket for the material to slide into. Believe it or not there’s only about 0.010″ difference across the 18 inches of the MDF jig. Pretty good.

Machining the panels was done with a single tool: 3 flute 1/8 in Carbide End Mill. The CAM program first does all the slots and holes then the engraving and lip profile. Last it cuts out the piece leaving a few tabs to keep it in place. The tabs took a little experimentation as they were either too short or too big. Too small and they don’t machine well if at all, and too big damages the panel when breaking off. We finally got it dialed in towards the last panel. Two panels can fit on a single 12×12 sheet with not much wiggle room.

We cut four colors: Amber, Blue, Clear, and Green. Amber is my favorite, followed be green. The blue is very light; I expected darker more in line with the green. Blue still looks great, in fact, they all do. Which color do you like?

Since I had the program and jig all made, I made a few extra panels you can buy here. Installation is easy: remove screw sticker/covers over the two screws, lightly pry to pop out the rear panel, and put the new panel in. Reuse the same screws you took out.

Check out the video for more, and remember to subscribe!

Making the World’s First Aluminum Xbox Series X

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I’m really excited to share this project with the world! I do believe it is the first Aluminum Xbox Series X. This project was quite the undertaking machining wise and will likely be so for awhile.

The XSX design is really simple; it’s literally a rectangle. So, the thought occurred one Sunday while watching the Vikings play what if we machined out a billet Aluminum case? Would any one be interested or even go the extra mile become viral? Well, so far the answer is no, but hopefully someday. Before it could anything I needed to get the XSX. I hadn’t bothered getting one at the time because they were unobtainum. They were constantly sold out, however, I was fortunate enough to find someone selling a brand new in box unit for MSRP + Tax price locally. The total was $550.

Thankfully, I was able to buy 6 in x 6 in billet Aluminum from a local place (Coremark Metals) with no length requirement. So, I bought a 14 inch length for $170.

Taking apart a brand new Xbox was an interesting feeling. I was able to play through most of Halo 5 on it before tearing it down, but it was still only a few weeks old. The tear down was not terribly hard. Most of the screws were hidden behind something like stickers on the back or the bottom disk. In fact, removing the bottom disk was the most difficult part of disassembly. I think the tolerances for the clips were a bit over as it was nearly pressed fit in there. I had to use a screwdriver to push against it while twisting. The rest was easy enough. There is multiple plastic parts that hold the buttons, USB, and Bluray drive that required some careful prying as they were glued down.

Redesigning the case was really straightforward. I took the opportunity to a small redesign and improvement of the bottom. I got rid of the bottom disk and instead designing built in circular feet and added additional holes.

At first I was going to reuse the stock back panel, but I decided against it. It would have required some special slot milling for the lip of the panel to slide in and likely some clipping of the clips. Instead, I designed an all new back panel with custom hole patterns and additional holes going up along the aluminum encasing the XSX boards. Improving thermals was never a goal, but I did take the opportunity to potentially help improve airflow.

The top is very much like the stock XSX with it’s 144 holes and curved cut out. I did my best to recreate this feature. That being said, I’m not quite sure how a draw such a perfect circular yet square cutout. I ended up just doing a draft cut between a small circle and square and then use a big radius fillet on the edges. It’s nearly the same.

The front didn’t change much other than I took all that blank space and engraved the Master Chief from Halo 2. It’s so much easier said then done, I spent over a full day creating a useable DXF file from the Halo artwork. Then when I went to use the DXF file in Autodesk Fusion 360, there was just too many lines and nodes and it would crash. I ended up importing it in Solidworks, creating my feature on a sheet of the same size in Fusion, and exporting that 3D file into Fusion to create a CAM program. The program for the engraving was separate from the other program.

Having a separate program wasn’t the only CAM program I ran across. To do the top I had to create a new Fusion file and get rid of the 144 holes. To achieve the 3D milling operation I was using a 1/2″ Ball Endmill and Fusion wanted to ever so slightly cut down into each hole. I then had to go back to the original file and have a separate operation for the holes. I actually did all the holes first before doing the 3D profiling.

To achieve cutting all the way down into a 6 inch piece of Aluminum, we bought a special 8inch long 1/2 inch Carbide Endmill. I first created my program to cut down as deep as possible with a shorter 3/4″ Endmill, then a longer 3/4″ Endmill, and finally switching to the long 1/2 inch. The 1/2 was need to make the smaller corner radii. Doing this switching of the tools to get to the bottom was a challenge. After the first tool change, the mill had to be homed, moved over the pocket, and then insert the tool. If you tried homing again the tool would break. This meant I had to have new the Z axis zero out where the prior tool stopped, and there’s no great way to do this in Fusion 360. I first tried playing with the different clearance heights and such but it wasn’t playing very nice with the material stock settings. I chose to create a new file and cut the model where the prior tool would stop. It made the stock and clearance settings easier to deal with. I had to do this twice. Altogether to complete this project I had 4 different 3D models.

I did 3D print the new case in two halves to verify fitment.

Now it was time to finally machine. To hold this big piece of aluminum, we machined a custom vise clamp that spanned and mounted to two vises. The material (when standing up) sat between the two vises on the bed and was clamped from the front and back. The sides were able to clamp in the vise. There was a good week, at least 40 hours, of of straight machining to complete the case. I’m happy to say it went without issue other than making a massive mess on our open Mill.

After machining, it was time to cut the back panels. Before I could started I found that the water pump for my K40 was not working anymore. Thankfully, I was able to find a submersible pond pump with similar GPH at my local hardware store (Menards) for $18. I cut the back panel out of 3/32″ Acrylic on my K40 CO2 laser cutter. The first one I cut out of transparent red and I didn’t like how the red looked when held up to the aluminum; it created a weird brownish/greenish color. It went with transparent green and that was the right choice. It was also very difficult trying to keep heat to minimum while cutting out all the holes. The majority of the holes were all contained in one area and the K40 Whisperer Software doesn’t have any cutting option to reduce heat like seen on Fiber Laser/Plasma Cutter nesting software. This option bounces around the holes over the part as to not cut in one area the whole time. I kept pausing the program and putting a fan on the piece to try to keep it cool. I still ran into issues with warping. I cut a couple plates, and on my third plate there was wonderful popping sound followed by the breaker killing power my whole nerd lab. The PSU fan no longer spins up and the K40 isn’t recognized by my computer anymore. I took a look at the tube and it looks “fine” but I haven’t delved into fixing it all yet. I’m so happy I was able to get a usable back panel.

All that was left was assembly. I glued in my plastic mounting parts I pried out previously and put the guts inside.

I’ve played on it extensively now and can confidently report that there is no issue with heat. Many comments were about heat, but, we need to remember that most of our electronics are mounted metal enclosures. I’ve found no degradation of wireless/Bluetooth connectivity. I thought I might, but haven’t.

The end result is the coolest Xbox I have ever seen. It’s really phenomenal. I’m not a good enough videographer to fully capture how awesome it looks. Please check out the video to see and subscribe if you haven’t already!