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Wired Xbox 360 LED Lighted Controller Mod

 Copyright Notice: All rights reserved Copyright 2005 Llamma Corp.  This document and associated photos and all other content at llamma.com may not be reproduced without written permission from the author(s).  This means you may not re-post at another site, sell these documents on eBay or reproduce in any form.  Our articles are written with the intention of them being read at our site.  Feel free to link and use any one photo from any of our articles for the purpose of linking. 

  Start with an Original Microsoft wired Xbox 360 controller.  Use the following tutorial to get to the circuit board  Xbox 360 Controller Disassembly Instructions  This is a multi part mod, first changing the color of the LED's on the circuit board then adding 4 always on LED's to the 360 dome followed by lighting the start and back buttons, ABXY button lighting, and the rumble motor configuration. 

Jump to
Replacing SMD LEDS
Lighting the Dome
Lighted Back and Start
Lighting the ABXY buttons
Rumble Motor Controlled LED

Variable temp soldering station or 15watt iron
Hot Glue Gun
Phillips #1
wire stripper
X-acto knife with #11 blade and old style aluminum handle
Drill with 17/64 bit

.22 60/40 rosin core solder
Surface Mount LED's
Hot Glue
30 AWG wire

Replacing the Surface Mount LED's With the circuit board exposed we can get down to the detail.  You will need to remove four LED's they  can be found around the upper center of the PCB.  So yeah they are pretty dang small.  If you have never wielded a soldering iron stop right now and put everything back how it was!  If you are a fearless soldering god continue on...

To get our first one done it required two of us.  We setup with one of us on the tweezers and each with an iron.  Irons set to 550 F we went to work, get a good grip on the LED and a quick touch to the solder from each side simultaneously did the trick.  We then busted out the hot tweezers we have never had occasion to use before and found that a much easier option. 
Video Clip 4.96MB But if you are doing this alone we found the slickest way is to bathe the LED in solder and use the iron to wipe it away and then just deposit it on your sponge.  Its important to clean up after, you do not want much solder on the pads during reinstallation.  And of course, be careful not get any on the sensitive gray black pads in the area.
Re-installing is much easier and a one man job, like any other tiny SMT component line it up, tack one side and then the other.  They do sort of have a tendency to float up and if there is too much solder left so don't be afraid to offer a little gentle down force while heating the solder.  Note the polarity marks for the led and make sure to put them on the right direction.
Original Green

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Lighting the Dome- To get the dome illuminated we tried several variations, one LED, two LED's, but ended up going with four for full bling.  With blue LED's, 4 in parallel a 22 Ohm resistor is connected to all positive legs and the resistor is connected to the positive source.  All negative legs (short ones) are connected to ground.  When using 4 red LED's a 47 Ohm resistor was used (How to calculate the proper resistor for your LED's).


There are more than a couple ways you can get all the positive contacting each other and also get all the negative leads contacting each other.  In this photo you see an untouched 360 button as well as a completed blue LED mod.  In the following photos we will be demonstrating a dual ring style wiring pattern that is easier to accomplish.
102805 019.jpg (6608 bytes) Start by making some room for the led leg wiring by snipping out some of the support of the button. Make sure to leave a bit in the middle for strength and to give you a reference of how far you can fill at the end.  I like to leave a plus sign in the middle for a handy way to remember which way the led's should be wired.
102805 026.jpg (18676 bytes) Stick the tip of the glue gun in a hole and squirt some hot glue in to about 3/4 full.  The idea is to fill the hole but not so far that you don't have room to work and keep the level low enough so the button still works properly.  Insert the led with the LONG leg toward the center plus sign.. get it positive :)  You want to push the led in far enough so you have room to work but not all the way to the front so the light spreads well.
102805 134.jpg (13975 bytes) You should end up with something like this.  Note the plus in the center and the long legs all set closest to it.
102805 139.jpg (14229 bytes) Now you want to start folding and trimming the legs in a way that forms a ring with the legs touching one another.   The key is to make the ring of legs lower than your center plus sign so your level will not be to high. Look at the photo and note where you want to start and finish the outside ring.  You want to leave a gap between the larger of the keyed tabs of the button.  The wire will eventually run out of that gap in the control case. 
102805 143.jpg (14002 bytes) When your completed you should have something like this.  Again, note the gap on the outer ring coincides with the larger keyed tab.   Mmm rings, 360... rings... coincidence?  Now go through and solder all of the joints of the ring and create a connection between all of the led's.  Remember there is a inner ring and a outer ring that should not be connected to each other.
102805 153.jpg (13582 bytes) Next solder a wire about 6" long to the inside ring.  This will be your positive lead,  remember the plus sign you left :)   Again you want to place the wire so that it will be running over the larger of the keyed tabs.
102805 156.jpg (15284 bytes) Now attach a 6" long wire to the outside ring which is negative.
102805 164.jpg (15297 bytes) Position your wires so they are running out over the larger of the keyed tabs.
102805 167.jpg (13233 bytes) If you have done it right you should have some open space where you were wiring and the center plus should be the highest area inside the button.  This is a great time to hook the led's up with the proper resistor for the parallel led's you have just wired and make sure the whole thing works.  After you have verified that everything is working ok you can fill any extra space with hot glue.  MOST IMPORTANT,  you must not fill the button past the center plus signs level.  If you do the button will always be pressed and will not work properly.  I just happen to have the perfect tool for making a nice clean level surface on the inside of the button.. it is a large X-acto knife's butt end.  I'm sure you can find something that will work.
102805 169.jpg (18966 bytes) Now place your status ring and the guide button back into the controller with the wires exiting the button area through the large gap in the status ring.  Leave a very small amount of slack for button movement and tack the wires into the crack like so.
Next grab your controller PCB and flip it over and look where the USB cable connects to the board.  Note which contact is red and which is black.  Connect to the red positive lead the proper resistor for the amount and configuration led's (this was four blue led's so we used a 22ohm resistor).  Now connect your positive wire from the guide button to the other end of the resistor.  Next connect your negative wire from the guide button to the black negative lead of the controller.
A little dab of hot glue will keep the whole works in check and make sure nothing can short.  You can now plug the controller into the USB port and it should be gravy.
102805 182.jpg (18080 bytes) Reinstall all of your buttons, rubber contact pads, thumb stick, d-pad and front and back pieces.  Then place the controller PCB board onto the top case.  When closing this part of the controller take note of the photo and make sure your wires are free and clear of the screw hole and standoff area so you don't end up with shorts or cut wires.  Get it all back in place, replace your rumble motors, slap your back cover on and your in like flint baby..  your all done!
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Lighting the Start and Back buttons - we tried drilling out the existing start and back buttons but found them to be too opaque to get a good result with an LED.  So we tried a few options to get a good looking functional lighted button.  We settled upon a two part epoxy with some white pigment cast in a silicon mold.  I'd love to go into detail and probably will in another article someday about mold making but suffice to say we tried many materials and techniques and finally got a translucent button with a smooth shiny finish. 

The image “http://www.llamma.com/xbox360/images/360%20LED%20Back%20Start%20button.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. They look something like this and are available for $5 a set

Test fit the buttons in your controller trim excess plastic if necessary.

To connect two different colors of 30AWG wire to the appropriate legs of the LED.  We will start by tinning both legs and the red positive wire we will be connecting to the Long leg of the LED.
Once we heat the pre tinned wire and LED leg the two connect nicely. 
Our solders should be neat and tidy and close to the LED since We will trim the legs quite close to the button leaving only about 1/8-1/4 of an inch extending from the button.
After clipping the excess LED leads we should twist the wires together as in this photo to make them a bit easier to manage during installation.

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Lighting the ABXY Buttons is a difficult proposition, there just isn't enough room for the wires so they need to be short.  The trick is to get the wires routed so they do not disturb the gray pads that make contact with the PCB. 
The button starts out like this
We start by wrapping a button in some foam of protection and then grasp in a normal pliers
111305 097.jpg (15480 bytes) Drilling out the button- we found that a smaller drill bit than the perfect fit size worked best, it gives the bit a chance to bounce around and dice up the four pegs. 
111305 100.jpg (23335 bytes) empty the chopped-up bits of button frequently, keep checking the depth getting there...
111305 106.jpg (24153 bytes) oh so close... but gotta go a bit further those bits of plastic will leave a shadow
there nice and smooth no bumps to leave shadows.
If we go a little deeper we dip into the transparent outer leaving the letter floating.  This can be an interesting effect but ends up looking a little hot spotted with a white LED.  If you want to go with this method I would recommend using an LED of the corresponding colors rather than white.
We found cutting a portion of the button above the largest plastic tab was the best option for routing the 30AWG wire.  There is already plenty of space in the controller face to route through.  If you were to use the existing notch all the buttons have to route the wire that would work fine for making the button but that lines up with a part of the face that would have to be cut. 
A little snip with some shears and a little clean up of the rough edges with an xacto and we are in business.
Preparing the LED, We then bend the LED legs close to the LED at a 90 degree angle. 
111305 125.jpg (14782 bytes) Start with two colors of 30AWG wire, a dark one for ground and a bright one for hot, we will be using black and red for this example. 
111305 127.jpg (23553 bytes) once the wires are soldered bend them away from the legs
with a quick snip we have an LED on a string.
we fill our button about half way with hot glue and submerge our LED
then top it off with some more glue
Jamb the x-acto handle into the button to squish out any excess hot glue.  The glue exposed to the handle will solidify quickly.  To remove the handle twist the button off, this causes the hotglue to release without warping which may occur if pulled straight out.
This should make a nice flat layer at the same height as the original button.   It is important to get a level surface at the original height to allow for normal operation of the buttons.  If it is even the smallest bit higher than it should be the button will not have the tactile response of the rubber flexing-pop as it will already be partially flexed.
Twist the wires together to make it more manageable when it comes to installation.  Repeat the process for all the other buttons.  If you make a mistake you can always drill out the button again, so it may be a good idea to get a couple extra LED's for good measure.
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Modded button installation now the hard part.  We have to get all the good stuff to fit in the space we have to work with.  This makes assembly a bit of a trick.  For this example they are all red LED's and have different power requirements than the white LED's we are using in the ABXY buttons.  Each set can be wired in parallel.  6 red LED's need a 25 Ohm resistor. The 4 white need a 22 Ohm resistor.  This will be different for your LED's read here to learn how to calculate the proper resistor

In this photo we have the dome and start and back buttons already wired to power.  I spend a bit of time bending the ABXY button wires to tuck up and away from the circuit board.  It took a lot of removing and re-inserting the buttons, bend the wire this way and that but finally got them all in good spots.
111205 085.jpg (32982 bytes) Here I am attempting to judge the length of the wires, in the end I made them as short as I could and still allow the buttons to fit in the face plate.  The wires were all cut at the same length, then colors matched up, the ends stripped and tinned.  The positive wires go to the resistor calculated above, soldered to the far right controller wire pin and the negative wires to to the second to the left pin on the controller wire.
When getting ready to add the top lid I positioned all the buttons exactly like they would be in the face plate and then carefully lowered the lid and used tweezers to feed the buttons into their spots.
111205 096.jpg (33706 bytes) Getting everything in place is difficult, when closing the controller everything should settle into place.  If you have to force it something is not right.

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Rumble motor activated LED by using the rumble motor power we can add an LED that comes on when the controller rumbles.  To do this we should check the power being delivered to the motor and plug it into an LED calculator.  To find out what the resistor value should be.  We find that the peak voltage is at about 2V, this is under the voltage required by our LED so no resistor is needed to drop the voltage.  We simply solder our positive and negative leads from the LED to the opposite side of the PCB as the rumble motor connector. .

111505 004.jpg (28858 bytes) Run the wires from the LED buttons so they do not disturb the gray rubber pads
111505 009.jpg (23295 bytes) Notice the wires coming from the LED start and back buttons
111505 005.jpg (17061 bytes) Same on this side but it seems easiest to take the long way around the thumbstick to reach the solder points so this one is quite a bit longer.
111505 013.jpg (31946 bytes) Solder the wires to the bottom side of the PCB where the rumble motor connects.  In my example red goes to red and black to black.  Now when the motors turn on so do the LEDs.

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Microsoft, Xbox, and the Xbox logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp.  Llamma.com and Xbox-Repair.net are in no way affiliated with Microsoft.  All references to Modchips, Linux and any other forms of xbox modifications are done for the purpose of writing and testing interoperable software as allowed under Sect. 1201 (f) Reverse Engineering exception of the DMCA.  This site does not condone the illegal copying of games.  All advice/information is provided as is without warranty to accuracy. Do not consider any comments as legal advice, I am not a lawyer. All references to Mod chips should be taken as hypothetical in nature, actually installing a mod chip may be illegal. In simple terms don't sue me if you mess up on your own or with my help. Make your own decisions do the research determine what is legal and what is not, I take no responsibility for your actions.  
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