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Xmod controller mod R20 range/LED combo job Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   aotsukisho 

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 02:04 AM

This is the comprehensive tutorial for a two-in-one type controller/transmitter modification, doing the controversial R20 mod and swap the LED for something more interesting. This is my first complete tutorial, so bear with me; hopefully you don't find anything too confusing. The photos I have for every step have a max x-res of 600, y-res depends on the proportions of the image. I have the fullsize ~4mp photos, so if you need higher detail, let me know.

Anyway, on with the tutorial. This comes with the usual disclaimer, if you do this and mess something up it's not my fault, etc. etc. Also, ALL IMAGES ARE CLICKABLE, please enlarge them.


Step 1
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Go get your controller/transmitter/whatever you want to call it. Get a moderately sized workspace up, and an hour or so of free time. You do have to have moderate de/soldering skills to perform this mod without damage to the pcb or other components.

Make sure you have the following tools (at least):
  • Soldering iron (15 watt preferable)
  • Desoldering tool
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Diagonal/flush wire clippers
  • Work clamp/helping hands
  • Small Philips screwdrivers
Two more preferable tools you may want are a small flathead screwdriver, and some extra magnets (stronger the better, neodymiums work quite well) if your Philips screwdriver isn't magnetized.


Step 2
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Flip the controller on its back, and get your Philips screwdriver. Note that you only have to remove the screws on this side to perform this mod. Removing all the screws from both sides won't hurt, but it'll make it more work for you to do.


Step 3
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Remove the screw in the middle of the steering assembly, and take it out.


Step 4
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Once the steering assembly is off, you're free to take off all the screws visible.

Left pic is a normal one, the right one is the same thing with the screws circled.


Step 5
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Take the cap off from the steering assembly, and open the controller fully. The last screw will be exposed through the handle piece. Unscrew that, and place all the screws on the side.

Also notice the last pic, there are three different types of screws: one with a plate (for the steering assembly), short, and long. The short screws go into the cap, while the long screws go into the controller body.


Step 6
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Take off the handle part, being careful not to let things fly off everywhere (quite easy in my experience).


Step 7
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Carefully remove the catch in the top-rear of the handle. Make sure you don't break anything, and watch out for the grease they put underneath.


Step 8
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Now you can take off the controller body, but watch out on the back... there's a peg that holds the top rear together. Stick in a small flathead screwdriver if you have one, and pry it open gently. Fingernails also work, but not as effectively.


Step 9
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Make sure you know how everything connects together before you take it apart. Take a moment to observe how the springs line up with the moving parts, etc. so that you'll know how to stick them back in later.


Step 10
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Remove the antenna holder (pliers make it easy, just wiggle it back and forth because it's tight) and the nose. You don't have to remove the nose piece, but it's probably gonna fall out when you're working anyway.

Step 11
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Remove the three screws from the input circuit board and set them aside. Don't pull it up yet, because you'll end up bending one of the contacts on the trigger assembly.


Step 12 (Warning)
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Warning: do not touch the contacts on the input pcb, it's covered in grease and will make a mess if you get it on your hands... be careful. It's not deadly if you touch it, just try not to if you can.


Step 13
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On with the procedure... there's one last screw to remove, and it's in a very hard place to see, right in front of the power switch. It's best to use a jeweler's screwdriver so you don't grind against other components when you remove the screw.


Step 14
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Slide out the top assembly, it should come out cleanly and easily. You should decide now whether or not to do the LED mod, because it'll make your life slightly easier if you do. If you decide to, skip to step 21 and come back after you finish.


Step 15
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Find R20 on the small pcb attached with ribbon cable, it should be right next to the crystal holder. Flip over the pcb, and locate the solder joints from R20 (circled in the pic for convenience).


Step 16
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Desolder R20, please make sure you desolder the right contacts!


Step 17
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Find a barewire piece that you can use for a bridge, if you performed the LED swap you can use one of the leads you clipped off (go to step 21). If not, borrow from a spare resistor or solid strand wire.


Step 18
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Bend the bridge material into a staple-shaped shape, making sure the space in between lines up exactly with the holes in the pcb left by R20. If you didn't disturb the resistor too much after you pulled it out, you can use it as a guide on how wide to space the legs. Use the pliers to bend, it makes much tighter, cleaner right-angle bends.


Step 19
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Using pliers (or fingers, if you're up to it), insert the bridge into the spot formerly occupied by R20. Bend the leads slightly on the opposite side to hold it in place when you flip the board over to solder. Or, you can solder it upside down. Up to you.


Step 20
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Solder the bridge in, making sure to use minimal contact time with the iron to minimize damage done to the trace. If you accidentally lift the trace (either now, or during the removal process), no biggie; just use a hobby knife to scrape away the green material, and solder the leads to the exposed copper. Once it's in, clip off the leads and you're ready to reassemble the controller, unless you're going to pe the LED swap mod. I'll assume you do, so I include a mini-tutorial on that as well.


Step 21
LED swap 'sidequest'.
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Remove the screws on the pcb, there's five total. Take off the top, keeping s in (would help to leave the shell part upside down so nothing falls out).

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Locate the LED (shouldn't be that hard to find, just mentioning though... it's next to the steering trim potentiometer).

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Desolder the LED, being careful not to mangle the plastic stand (the small black thing underneath) too badly, you'll need that later. Also, be careful not t the pads on the pcb, as that will be difficult to fix.

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Use a clamp or helping hands to hold the LED, so you can bend the legs back to its original position, to remove the plastic stand. (I guess it's possible to use your hand, but having a clamp makes it much easier.) Remove the plastic stand, and keepcause you'll need it for the next step or so.

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Choose an LED that you want to put in. I recommend superbrightleds.com for high-intensity LED's; I've bought from them many times, and only their LED's go into my modded things (like my Xbox, PStwo, Gamecube, Xmod, game controllers, etc.) because they are very high quality. Guaranteed specs, fast shipping (flatrate of $5, unless you order >$100 of LEDs), and good packing make them an instant recommendation for anyone who wants to buy high quality LED's. Anyway, on to the criteria... if you're into bright LED's like me, you're looking for a high mcd (brightness) and viewing angle. These two combined means more light in more area. I'm going to be putting a superbright blue LED rated at 4600mcd at 30 degrees viewing angle (RL5-B4630 on superbrightleds.com). I said earlier that a higher viewing angle was better, and superbrightleds.com does have 360 viewing angle LEDs available, it's your choice to use them (middle pic). Also, try not to go for broke with the highest mcd rating you can find; the higher (>10000mcd) LEDs tend to have really small viewing angles, making them not as effective for this application (third picture). Once you've chosen an LED that you want to put in the controre set to move on to the next step.

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Reverse the steps from when you took out the LED, it should look the same when you're done. Make sure you know which side is which, don't mix up anode and cess you wanna redo steps.

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Look one more time at the board, and notice which way the LED has to go into. If you don't know electronics symbols, go look up the diode symbol before you solder it in, it's quite important that it goes in the right way. Cathode (short leg) goes into the bottom, anode goes by the ribbon cable.

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Solder in the LED, making sure to have minimal iron contact time, to minimize risk of overheating the LED. Best way to go is to do each leg separately, give the LED a minute to cool down in between heatings.

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Flip the board over, and clip off the leads using clippers. If you haven't done the R20 bypass yet, the LED leads will make good bridge material.

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Slide the pcb back in, and reinsert the screws (five total). Again, be careful not to get any grease on your hands.


Step 22
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Slide the top back in, it should be easy. If it doesn't go in, don't force it; see what can be binding, and be gentle.


Step 23
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Screw back in the 'hidden screw' mentioned earlier... be sure you don't forget it, cause I did the first time I did this. It's quite frustrating to have an extra screw after the whole thing is back together, and trying to figure out where it came from. If you need help getting it in the hole, magnetize your screwdriver using a spare pair of neodymium magnets (if you have any).


Step 24
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Screw back in the input pcb, making sure to get in the trigger first. Again, it should fit in snugly, if it doesn't go then don't force it.


Step 25
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Get that troublesome thingy back in the controller (this took me the longest time for anything I did in this mod, so be patient...) and the rest of the guts (the steering assembly). If all went well internally, you'll only have to do this once, so make it count.


Step 26
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Screw in only one screw, the one right next to the handle assembly. This is just to test to see if everything went smoothly, cause if it didn't, then you only have one screw to remove. Also, this single screw will hold together everything important (at least temporarily), so don't worry about things opening up later. If everything works after you test it, then you can install the rest of the screws.


Step 27
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Stick in the catch and the battery lid, and reassemble the handle section of the transmitter. Make sure everything's seated properly, and that you're not pinching anything.


Step 28

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Here's the other test-placement screw location for the handle, make sure the irritating thingy is seated properly too. Now you can test the transmitter...if the light goes on when you turn on the controller, and it can move your Xmod, then you've done everything correctly. You can proceed to the next step. If thing's aren't so great, then you have to disassemble the controller and figure out where you made your mistake.


Step 29
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If you got this far, I assume that your controller is working perfectly, so now it's time to finish off the mod. Install the rest of the screws into the body, making sure to save the short ones for the cap.


Step 30
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You can put the steering assembly back together now, and complete the mod.


Step 31 (sorta)
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Admire its sexiness. :) You're done!


Please note that people have reported various results from this mod; some people noticed a huge range increase, but others experienced little or no improvement.

If you have questions, etc. post them up and I'll clarify the step that's causing the problem.

NOTE: Originally for, and posted on, XmodWorld Forums (I did author it, though). I just thought I'd set an example for this section as well.
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#2 User is offline   Bass GS 

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:34 PM

What's this about? what's supposed to happen after you switch the stuff?
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#3 User is offline   aotsukisho 

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:03 AM

Supposedly, R20 is a limiter for the radio. If removed, it should unrestrict the radio power, thus increasing range in theory. People may or may not notice the increase because of many different factors, including transmitter/reciever radio tolerance, ouside interference, motor feedback, etc.
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