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Old 13-11-2008, 22:32   #757
budgenk
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Impromptu x-clamp removal guide

Hi guys, as promised, but a day late, for those who are interested here's pretty much how I have fixed several RRODs. I see that mr starface has arranged collection with MS which is cool, but others like AKPiggot might be interested, also the first batch of 360s turn 3 years old any day now so this might be of interest to an increasing number of people. Of course if you can, and you're patient, it's probably best to go via MS to get this done, but if you're impatient like me, and you don't mind invalidating whatever warranty you have left (certainly not advisable to do this within the initial 12-month warranty), this may come in handy.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone with no history of tampering with electrical products, but anyone who has built/maintained a PC themselves should take to this like a duck to water I had never opened a 360 until this spring, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Essentially all you're doing here is attempting to create a good bond between processing chips and their heatsinks, which MS's x-clamp system seems to fail to do when the cheap motherboards used in the 360 inevitably warp with heat.

The guide in this link is similar to my methods, with a few major exceptions, which seem overly complicated to me, and I've added it mostly for the use of pictures, and for provision of detail which I'll almost certainly forget to include while writing this for the first time: http://www.llamma.com/xbox360/repair...-clamp_fix.htm

(nb moderators I have had a look through this site and it doesn't seem to contain any kind of mods that promote piracy or anything)

If that guide puts you off, don't worry, 'my' method doesn't involve any drilling (I didn't in fact invent any part of it, but I call it that to differentiate from the one in the link - although I did have to improvise just a little with the parts I was able to get hold of, as I will explain when it comes to it). It also involves slightly different parts: 2 regular steel washers and one spring washer to each screw, I will give you the part numbers when I get to the relevant section.


1. Disassemble your 360. There are numerous videos on youtube showing how do this such as this one: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BDqwRQioM . It will require torx t10 and t8 bits, as well as a small sharp object such as a very small screwdriver. 360 opening kits are available on ebay, but I have never used one and after a little consternation the first time around, have had no problem ever since.

2. As per the linked guide, carefully remove all the t10-sized screws from around the edges of the 360's interior casing, as well as the 8 t8-sized screws at the centre (these hold the hated x-clamps in)

3. Carefully remove the motherboard from the 360's interior casing. place it face-down on a safe sturdy flat surface (the board will rest on the top part of the large heatsink in its centre)

4. Using a small screwdriver or something similar, very carefully ease the points of each x-clamp up the bolts holding them in place till they completely come away. (Again there are loads of vids detailing this on youtube, just search along the lines of 'x-clamp removal')

5. With a little wiggling, the heatsinks should be fairly easy to separate from the motherboard, as the bolts that held the heatsinks in place simply came through holes in the motherboard and were held by the x-clamps. The warping of the motherboard might also provide a little resistance to the simple removal of the heatsink, but a little gentle force can be used, carefully. There may also be some resistance from the gloop that serves as thermal compound in most 360s.

6. You should now see what resembles wads of old chewing gum both around your cpu and gpu on the board, and on the underside of your heatsinks. I personally very gently peel away any excess using a very fine screwdriver (the same one I used in opening the 360's external case), being careful not to scratch anything, and then very carefully dab cotton buds with a tiny bit of white spirit and remove any excess goop from the processors bit by bit till they seem very clean. as for the underside of the heatsinks, after scraping away any excess, again taking care not to scratch the surfaces, as it's best for the heatsink to be as flat as possible to aid heat conduction, I vigorously wipe with kitchen roll or similar, with some white spirit, till all the goop has gone.

7. The next step is to remove the bolts from the heatsinks, that were connecting them to the x-clamps. simply take a pair of pliers, and grip around the square-edged part of the bolt that is closest to the heatsink, and use that to start to unscrew the bolt. if you have a good grip it should come loose fairly easily, at which point you can unscrew the bolts by hand. (nb this step can just as easily be done before step 6 if you prefer)

8. Next, I put a small blob of thermal compound, around the size of a match head on the largest chip, and correspondingly less on the two smaller chips that come into contact with the heatsinks, and I then gently lower each heatsink roughly into the position where it'll end up attached, and move it around a little to spread the thermal paste thinly and evenly on the processors, as well as leave some residue on the base of the heatsink. If you do this correctly there should be a slight adhesion and a satisfying resistance when you pull the heatsink away. Most people who have built or modified their own pc should be familiar with this process.

9. Now comes time to reattach the heatsinks to the motherboard. For this the parts I use are as follows:

8x M5 x 10 Prodrive Pan M/Screws A2 - part no 78932-0050 from Screwfix
8x M6 Sect Spring Washer A2 - part no 48613-0100 from Screwfix (nb M5 would seem more appropriate but I couldn't find these, M6 work perfectly well)
16 x M5 steel washers from Homebase, article number 426460 (again, I couldn't find the M5 at Screwfix - I did get some M6, which can work in a pinch, but can be a little unwieldy)

10. The way that I arrange these washers on the screws is as follows: directly on each screw goes a spring washer, then it is pushed through the motherboard, and the 2 steel washers then go on top, then the screw goes directly into the heatsink, and fits perfectly into the holes vacated by the removed bolts (again, some guides call for you to use a drill bit to increase the size but of the several I've done, the screws have fit perfectly without any need for adjustment, and frankly I don't have the equipment or the experience for this).

Once again, to clarify, the sandwich is: screw head - spring washer - motherboard - 2 steel washers - heatsink

Of course it can be awkward to do this in practice, so the way I tend to do it is to work on one heatsink at a time. I turn the motherboard face down, or even have it standing perpendicular to the work surface, holding/resting it carefully so as not to damage any of the onboard components. For each screw, I put the spring washer on it, then put it through its hole and secure it in place on the underside of the board with a little sticky tape.

Once I have each screw in place like that I tend to turn it back up the right way around and place the washers on each screw. I then rest the heatsink as closely as I can atop the screws, and this is the fiddly bit as I then tend to move the motherboard to the edge of the work area and position it so that one screw is hanging over the edge of the area (held in place by the sticky tape), and I will then remove the tape, being careful not to let the screw drop and lose any of the washers, and using a large screwdriver from beneath (Phillips in the case of these screws), I gently turn to find the thread in the heatsink until it has a definite connection and the washers are secure, but not tightening too much yet.

I then repeat the process for the other three screws, rotating the motherboard 90 degrees or so each time. Once the heatsink is loosely connected to the motherboard, with all the washers where they should be, I tighten each screw to the point where it starts to really bite, ie to just before I'd have to start to force it to go any further. This is the part where it's best to err on the side of caution, as what your'e looking to do is to create a tight bond between the heatsink and the chip, but not to crush the chip at all. Of course the purpose of the washers is to prevent this happening, but it's still best not to go too mad turning the screws. If you do find it's not tight enough, you can always turn it a little tighter. Generally I tighten until these particular sprung washers are almost flat, but not quite entirely.

I then repeat this process for the other heatsink and test.

11. To test, I generally place the motherboard back in to the internal metal casing (not yet screwing it back in), replacing and reattaching the dvd-drive, fan and vent, then place the metal casing in the underside of the external plastic casing. Then I connect to both power and video and switch it on (of course be very careful with this, do not touch any of the internal parts while it is plugged in). In all but one case it has simply come on perfectly for me and never shown any further sign of RROD. In the other case, it showed RROD when I first switched it on. I then immediately switched it off and on again and it has worked perfectly ever since. If you continue to get RROD, perhaps adjust the screws a little to improve the connection, or as the other guide I linked to suggests, leave it running RROD for 10-15 minutes to let it overheat somewhat so that the board will warp and start to properly fit the tight confines of the newly bolted-on heatsinks, though I have never found this necessary.

12. Properly reassemble your 360 and test again: I like to leave a machine running a game or a demo overnight, just to be sure that the fix is good. Btw, if you have reassembled your 360 correctly, you should not be left with any t10 screws, but you should have the 8 bolts that you unscrewed from the heatsinks, the 8 small black t8 screws you unscrewed from the underside of the interior metal casing, and the dreaded x-clamps themselves. See how non-threatening they now are, lying on your work surface? Take a moment to laugh at them before throwing them in the bin.


Again, this is all at your own risk, and I am not an electronics expert: I see this as a mechanical solution rather than an overly technical one. If any clarification is needed please either ask in this thread or feel free to email me (I can't promise to keep reading this thread ad infinitum) and I will get on it as soon as possible, amending this post where necessary. Again, most of this info comes from the original instruction sheet I got with my first 'repair kit' I bought off Ebay, as well as from forums I found through researching this subject, which I won't be able to link to from here because they tend to have sections which contravene these forums' T&Cs, and a little from my own experience in these matters.

If anyone else knows better than me on any of these points or has alternative sources for these washers/screws (ideally with part numbers and/or urls) feel free to say so and I'll happily amend this post. Apologies also for any spelling or grammatical errors, for sloppy punctuation or overlong sentences: I've just been proofreading this but have been working on it for a while now and I'm starting to stare through the screen

Good luck and I hope this helps somebody or else I've wasted the last few hours of my life!
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