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Getting to know the ‘Duke’

A huge part of the ‘Duke Reboot’ project will be getting the old original controller to work with the new 360 consol. On the surface, this seems like a pretty straight forward procedure involving removing the guts of a new Xbox 360 wireless controller and stuffing them into the old ‘Duke’ shell. With the exception of two buttons, the 360 ‘Guide’ button and the wireless ‘bind’ button, the 360 controller maps pretty much one to one to the ‘Duke’. And we know this mod is doable as it has been done before, most notably by the game modding guru Benjamin Heckendorn. Our build will for the most part follow suit but it will differ a bit from a straight forward conversion in some key ways.

Our yet unnamed enhanced version will add controller boards and a power supply that will require their own space in addition to the conversion core. In addition to the space these extra parts require, it will be very important to have everything still come apart with a screwdriver when we are done. This will allow for component tweaking needed later on in the build, and it means that we will intentionally be avoiding gluing components in place.

So, the first step of this first part is to crack open the ‘Duke’ and a current 360 wireless controller to see just what’s involved in transplanting the new 360 guts into the old ‘Duke’ body. The ‘Duke’ opens up pretty easily using a standard medium phillips screwdriver. The 360 wireless controller however, requires a special T9 security torx driver, available at most any specialty tool/hardware stores, and one of the screws is hidden under the barcode label in the battery bay. But once you have the right tools and know about the secret screw, the 360 controller comes aprt just as easily. Also for both controllers it’s important to open them face down. Otherwise all the buttons, contact pads, and all of the other loose parts will fall out and you will end up with a mess (not to mention a bit of mystery as to where everything was supposed to go).

Once we got the ‘Duke’ and the 360 controller open and had the boards pulled out it was apparent that there would be ample room around the perimeter of the transplanted 360 PCB, but as far as available depth is concerned there were some worries. The reason depth is important is that the final construction will require that the 360 board be sandwiched together with other components that relocate the 360 buttons. this core stack could easily triple the original PCB thickness allocated for the ‘Duke’ board. It will certainly be necessary to shave off a bit of length from internal support bosses, but it may also be necessary to alter the ‘Duke’s trigger mechanisms. These triggers were originally mounted directly to the ‘Duke’ PCB so any increase in depth will push them further down into the body and cause possible binding issues.

The next step will be initial fitting. This will require removal of the potentiometers that secure the triggers to the ‘Duke’ PCB as well as strip the mechanical hardware from the 360 PCB that will be relocated to the ‘Duke’. We will also be fabricating new button boards and some kind of mounting support structure that the 360 controls can be attached to in the correct ‘Duke’ positions. This processs will also give us our new core PCB thickness that we can use to let us know where interference will occur.

With that, it’s time to stop writing and start building!

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