Wireless Xbox360 controller on a PC, without the commercial dongle

Please note that I barely pay attention to this site anymore and is only here for archive purposes. Any comments are likely to go ignored.

Update: I updated the post to mention using two 1N4001 or equivalent diodes instead of just one. Two diodes in series take the voltage down to almost exactly 3.3V, which is the required voltage for the RF board. I also added actual photos of the wiring now, as I’ve redone it (hence the messy wires from re-soldering Etc.)

Update 2: It seems that syncing is impossible directly from the RF module and PC, but if the wireless controller you use was already synced with the RF module, and hasn’t been re-synced with another Xbox since, it will work. However, I am working with another modification I found which adds LED and sync enable functions by means of a serial connection with a PIC16F628A μC. You can find the related forum post here: Link (and see how my thrown together version of it looks [here] and [here]. Messy, I know :P).

Update 4: Alternative means of syncing mentioned in the comments by George.

Update 5: Further testing on alternative syncing method shows how non-play & charge kit compatible peripherals can be synced -without- a microcontroller. Thanks, Pat.

Yesterday I had a thought – I don’t like having a wire to the Xbox360 controller I use for games on my PC. As I’m tight on cash right now I figured I’d have a quick look around to see if there was a way to use a wireless controller on the PC without going out and buying the official wireless transceiver. I was thinking that there may be some other RF transceiver that could be modified or adapted to work with it. As it happens, there -kind of- is.

Now if you’re like me, and have a spare wireless controller sitting around, it’s likely you have a dead red ringed Xbox 360 sitting in a cupboard. This is the key to getting the controller working with a PC. The wireless transceiver in the Xbox can be made to work with a little modification. Well, I say modification but I really mean little more than soldering a few wires and altering a .inf file. Let’s get on to it:

What you’ll need:

  • Dead/Red Ringed Xbox 360 you don’t mind cannibalising.
  • Any old USB cable you don’t mind cutting.
  • Two diodes – a couple of 1N4001 or equivalents will do. Basically it’s just there for a forward voltage drop WHICH IS VITAL (unless you don’t mind burning the board out and killing your USB controller).
  • A soldering iron.
  • Solder.
  • A brain.

Taking the Xbox 360 apart:

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. Anandtech.com has a perfectly good explanation of how to do this. Take a look here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1864/inside-microsoft-s-xbox-360/3

Pro tip: Instead of a small plastic knife that they say to use to ping open the case, you can either buy a tool for it, make one out of an old CD/DVD spindle cover, or just rip the damn thing open with a screwdriver (after all, it’s dead right?).

The part you’re looking for:

It’s the board on the front of the machine where the ring and power button are. It’s held on by 3 screws, so be sure to pop the little plastic part off to find the third screw. Don’t go trying to pry it off like I almost did. Once the screws are out it just unplugs. And that’s your part.

The soldering part:

As you’re reading this and have an interest in it I’ll assume you know how to cut, strip, and tin your wires, so I’ll not bother with that part. Instead I’ll assume you’re sitting there with an RF board, a USB cable ready for soldering, a diode, and a hot soldering iron. Basically, follow the picture (click for bigger image):

xbox360_rf_module_wiringAnd make it look like this:


Beginner’s mistake/brain fart moment warning: Make sure the diode is the right way around.

I chose to cut the diode legs down a fair bit and soldered it off to the left of pin 1, along the bottom edge of the RF module. You might like that idea, you might not. It’s up to you how you solder it. I could have been neater, but I honestly didn’t see much point. I’m not going to make a project box for it or anything, and it’ll be hidden away somewhere so practicality > looks.

I will mention again that the diodes are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. The whole board runs on 3.3V while USB standard is 5V. The diodes that you put in series on the power line will lower the voltage to tolerable levels for the board – almost exactly 3.3V, to be honest (my multimeter is showing 3.34V). From what I’ve read in comments in various places the RF board likes to burn out quite spectacularly without a diode in place, taking the USB controller it’s connected to with it. I was paranoid enough about it to actually test the unit on my old Macbook (that I neither care about nor use) before trusting it on my main machines.

Once you have that all soldered up, you have yourself a wireless dongle for your Xbox 360 wireless controller, something like this:


Congratulations. Now for the software.

The software part:

This bit isn’t all that scary. You just need to modify the .inf file that comes with the official Microsoft drivers to allow for the different PID of the RF controller of the Xbox 360. First, if you don’t have it already, download the Xbox 360 Accessories Software for your operating system from the Microsoft gaming software download site, and install it. Now, before plugging the RF module in, you need to do that modifying I mentioned. Head over to c:Program FilesMicrosoft Xbox 360 Accessories (or wherever you installed it to) and make a backup of Xusb21.inf before opening it in your favourite text editor (Notepad++ is nice for it’s ini support with collapsing headers etc).

The parts you’re going to modify are under the headers [MSFT.NTx86.6.0], [MSFT.NTamd64.6.0], [MSFT.NTx86], and [MSFT.NTamd64].

What they’ll look like/similar to:

%XUSB21.DeviceName.Wired%=CC_Install, USBVid_045E&Pid_028E
%XUSB21.DeviceName%=CC_Install, USBVid_045E&Pid_0719
%XUSB21.DeviceName.Wired%=CC_Install, USBMS_COMP_XUSB10
%XUSB21.DeviceName%=CC_Install, USBMS_COMP_XUSB20
%XUSB21.DeviceName.Jump%=CC_Install, USBVid_045E&Pid_028F

What you need to change them to:

%XUSB21.DeviceName.Wired%=CC_Install, USBVid_045E&Pid_0291
%XUSB21.DeviceName%=CC_Install, USBVid_045E&Pid_0291
%XUSB21.DeviceName.Wired%=CC_Install, USBUNKNOWN
%XUSB21.DeviceName%=CC_Install, USBUNKNOWN

After you’ve saved the changes, go ahead and plug in the RF module. Chances are it will complain that drivers can’t be found. Cancel out of the hardware wizard and head over to the device manager and find the Unknown USB Device, or whatever it is your flavour of Windows has decided to call it. You’ll know which one it is by the yellow !triangle! (and if you don’t have a clue what I’m on about, what are you doing trying to hack an Xbox component on to a PC in the first place?). Give the device a right click and update it’s drivers, but tell it you have a disk and navigate to the Xusb21.inf you modified. It might complain about unsigned drivers, it might not, but if it does just tell it to continue. At the end of it all you’ll have an Xbox 360 Controller for Windows device with a Hardware Id of USBVID_045E&PID_0291 in your Device Manager. If not, reboot.

After all that, try syncing your Wireless controller with the unit. With any luck you should have a controller showing in your gaming devices. Give it a quick test with the diagnostics, maybe calibrate it etc.

And you’re done. On to wireless gaming. (o/

Any questions feel free to ask in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do to help.


334 thoughts on “Wireless Xbox360 controller on a PC, without the commercial dongle

  1. Taco

    really a diode doesn’t reduce voltage and isnt necessary 🙂 its more of a fail safe so if you connect the wrong wires, neg to pos and pos to neg, it wont let it complete the loop back to the 5v source and damaging componets in the pcb

    1. Mike

      All diodes present a voltage drop (forward voltage) in the circuit they are in. This mod’s diode creates a 0.7V “drop” which puts the USB supplied voltage in range for the board’s operating voltage.

  2. Polo

    Hello, good guide. I made that RF-module mod for the xbox controller. And the RF-module seams to work without problems at all. But my xbox controller has been synced to another xbox after my own xbox “died”. So i find out that you can sync controller with the “charge and play kit” pluged into your pc. But poor as i am i have no money to spend on extra stuff, but i think i figured out a way to make a homemade PnC-kit. Simply took a usb cable and a cupple of 1N4007 and solderd em to the controll, so now i didnt need any battery to. Great… Not. Becuse now my controller is kinda fuckt up, and i dont know how to fix it. After like a 40 min gameplay with the homemade PnC-kit it justs stop working, and i cant power it up again for like 20-50 minutes. (Idk if it has about the current to do or something, or the solderig) any tips how to solve it? Like makeing a circuit for the controller or something?

  3. Daniele Alberto Marchese

    Really cool stuff here! Great Dilandou!
    This will be my first project of that type… before making a mess, ruining a working xbox360, I’d like to kindly ask just 2 questions:
    – it works on a Win10 system (driver)?
    – if I mount again the wireless controller on the Xbox360, it will works even with the USB cable soldered?
    Many thanks!

  4. Homercleese

    Very late to the party here so not really expecting an answer, just a quick question though. I went ahead and wired up one RF module with a USB cable and the 2 diodes and pretty sure I have all the drivers setup correctly (although it’s Windows 10 now and the Xbox accessories APP that I’m using).

    Unfortunately I did all that before reading that it can’t sync without an additional microcontroller. However, I do have an old and amazingly still working xbox at home so I grabbed that, dismantled it and switched the original RF board for my modded one. But it doesn’t work anymore. Refuses to sync. Is this an expected result of having the USB cable (or more likely, the diodes) soldered on? I have another unmodified RF board as well as the original one from this xbox and they both work fine for syncing. Could it just be that the RF I picked is bad?

    Also, if I do get this working… what happens if I then remove the batteries from the controllers or unplug the RF module from my PC. Will it lose the controller syncings and need to be hooked back up to my XBox? I don’t have a play & charge kit so I’m not sure I’d bother in that case.

    Thanks for the guide anyway, always love to see people recycling what most would consider junk!

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  7. D

    Thanks for posting this, I just built one and it works great! Did you ever try getting the chatpad to work? Any thoughts one how someone might go about this? Thanks.

  8. Paul

    Has anyone confirmed functionality with this in current (mid-2019 Version 10.0.17763.615) versions of Windows?

    I’m unable to get it to sync using Play & Charge cable, even though the board appears to install successfully with modded XUSB21.inf as per instructions.


    If at first you don’t succeed, suck something else.


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