How-to: Make an iPod dock for your Xbox 360 (part II)

For last week's How-to we set out to mount our trusty iPod into our new Xbox 360 before that new console smell even wore off. We moved the Xbox 360's hard drive to a location inside the console and cleared the way for this week's How-to: building the dock for the iPod. Follow along and we'll show you how we constructed a dock that fits with the console's lines and can be replaced easily if we want to return the Xbox to its stock appearance.

We want our new dock to be contained within the area shown in the following photo which is normally occupied by the hard drive.

Our first step was to cut out a cardboard pattern for our filler panel. The easiest way to do this is to trace around the bottom plate of the disassembled hard drive enclosure. Once our pattern was complete we secured it with double-stick tape to a 1/4 inch thick piece of rigid black plastic and cut it out with a Dremel. The pattern in the picture is laying on top of an empty 360 shell since we built the dock concurrently with the hard drive mod.

Here is the result of the initial rough cut. Note the safety glasses in the photo. Cutting disks love to disintegrate at inopportune moments; just because it's Christmas doesn't mean you have to lose an eye Ralphie.

Next you'll need to trace around the iPod so you know where to cut the opening it will be nestled in. We are installing the iPod face down for a couple reason: it protects the screen, the display doesn't show anything useful while plugged in, and the polished body will be a nice accent.

Here is what it looks like once the window is cut.

We used a normal iPod USB cable for our dock connector. The cable has locking tabs built in, but since the iPod is going to be held in the dock by friction we won't need them. If you slide a razor under the front edge of the plastic housing and pry up, the glue joints will pop. This will leave you with a low profile connector and allyou have to do is grind off the points on the locking tabs to keep them from interfering.

We expoxied the connector into a slot that was level with the ipod's dock port. Then we cut out the slot for the hard drive connector. The hard drive cable has very little slack in it, so be gentle in your movements or you'll risk unplugging it inside the box.

Our plastic was pretty scratched up when we started working with it, so we decided to dress up our dock in some fabric to hide the blemishes. We peeled off our cardboard pattern and sprayed on a coat of Krylon spray adhesive. The plate was then wrapped tightly in a thin black satin like material. Once the piece had dried a little we used a hobby knife to open the two holes and finish the swaddling process.

The final addition to the dock was a piece of black ribbon to assist in removing the iPod from its nook.

The dock is now fully assembled and can be placed in the hard drive bay.

In the last picture the Xbox is sitting on top of a Foxconn ATX motherboard box. During the course of this project we discovered that the 360 fit perfectly inside the box. This is an interesting coincidence since Foxconn manufactures the Xbox 360's internal metal shell.

There you have it: a convenient, practical, and stylish iPod dock for your Xbox 360. There are many ways this project could be modified. We took an approach that would let us return the box almost to stock condition if needed, but a more permanent mod could be soldering the hard drive connection on the inside of the case instead of using the external connector. With the outside connector gone you could route the dock's USB cable inside the case. We still need to cut down our three foot dock cable since it only has to be three inches long to reach the port on the back of the box.

Feel free to take our initial idea and run with it. Hopefully with a little foresight you've already got something appropriate engraved on your iPod.