I'm feeling a bit biblical right now as I have just resurrected my formerly dead Xbox 360. Yes - it is true - on the 3rd day - my formerly dead Xbox 360 has risen!
Allow me to explain - a few days ago (3 days ago exactly) my Xbox 360 died for no apparent reason. I bought it in December 2005 and a few days ago my son yelled downstairs and asked me what it means when you turn on the 360 and you get 3 flashing red lights. Doh. I knew *exactly* what it meant. It means you send it back to Microsoft, pay $140 to have it repaired (I'm lucky enough to be just outside the extended 1 year warranty) and have them ship it back to you. I was discussing my fate with a friend yesterday and he asked me if I was going to try 'the towel trick' or get the new black 360 with the 100GB hard drive etc. I had never heard of the towel trick - but many people are reporting that they've been able to resurrect dead 360's by . . . for lack of a better term . . . cooking them at high temperatures . . . by wrapping them in towels to seal off all the vents and then letting it bake itself in a truly masochistic fashion for upwards of 30-45 minutes at which point you power the console off, allow it to cool to room temperature and then power it on. I watched the videos on the Internet. I read the reports from people who were successful with this method (and there are many reports and videos!). I was skeptical. I didn't see how heating it up to dangerous temperatures could possibly accomplish anything other than making it more dead than it already was. Perhaps this was a cruel and evil hoax being perpetuated by PS3 fan-boys in order to kick 360 owners while they're down . . . tricking them into doing stupid things to their already broken Xbox's with the false promise of eventual resurrection . . .
But then I thought to myself, 'Self? What if this is true? It's already dead right? It's out of warranty right? What could *possibly* go wrong?' Hmmm . . . well I DO have a fire extinguisher handy . . .
So last night I decided to try it in true Mythbusters fashion.
My wife made fun of me (mostly because not only was I trying it - but I was video taping myself trying).
My first attempt was not successful and very anti-climactic. After 15 minutes of baking - I turned it off, allowed it to cool for about an hour and turned it on minus the towels. Failure . . . I still had 3 flashing red lights of death. My wife went to bed laughing at me.
I sat there dejected . . . confused . . . feeling like I had been victimized by malicious Sony fan-boy malcontents . . . but I started thinking . . . I really only covered 3 sides of the 360 with towels . . . leaving the video cable in the back plugged in and the rear vent largely un-covered. But now I wasn't sure if I'd gotten it hot enough . . . I mean it was warm, sure, but it's *always* warm when you turn it on . . . but it wasn't 'dangerously hot' or anything . . . it seemed that I could definitely unplug that very wide video cable from the back and do a better job sealing that vent off . . . hmmm. I wonder if that would make it hotter?
So I threw caution to the wind, double checked my fire extinguisher and I bundled that Xbox up like a newborn baby in a blanket (that is to say - very tightly swaddled . . . I made myself an Xbox 360 burrito in fact). I made sure to cover up all 4 sides of the 360 such that I could feel no air nor could I really hear the fans anymore. I have swaddled many a baby in baby-burrito fashion . . . the 360 was no different - and I was pleased to note that I had not lost my touch.
So I let it bake . . . for much longer this time - I didn't pay much attention to the time as honestly I was fairly depressed and not expecting much at this point other than mockery when I reported to my friends at work that I had tried and failed. I would guestimate that it was cooking for at least 40-45 minutes before I decided to check on it.
I un-wrapped it and turned it off . . . the towels weren't all that hot . . . I was on the verge of becoming angry at my inability to properly over-heat my 360 and contemplating researching at what temperature plastic starts to melt and possibly throwing it in the oven . . . but then my hand touched the surface of the Xbox . . . the *plastic* surface. It was freaking hot! Like fry an egg hot! And it was emitting an un-pleasant odor from the vents . . . the un-good my 'electronics are unhappy' smell. I could barely hold it long enough to unwrap . . . but I gently removed the towels from underneath the 360 and I let it cool for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours. Around 1am it felt cool to the touch again . . . and I decided to summons the 360 using my Harmony remote one last time before bed. My receiver turned on as did the TV . . . but not the Xbox . . . a brief moment of panic ensued . . . had I perhaps gone too far this time? I tentatively reached for the power button and well . . . see the results for yourself here.
Lift up your receiver I'll make you a believer . . .
UPDATE: My 360 made it about 3 weeks and then died again. So I resurrected it again using the same technique. Then it died again 2 days later. So I resurrected it again but I can clearly see how this is going to play out. Wanted to update this blog post with my revised steps to 360 resurrrection - still working on minimizing the timing but I've got it down to 1 hour.
1. Wrap 360 up like a burrito and turn it on.
2. Let bake for 30 minutes (may be able to shave off 10 minutes or so here - 15 minutes did not work)
3. Un-wrap, and refrigerate (in refrigerator - not freezer) for 30 minutes (may be able to shave off some time here as well)
4. Serve chilled.
seems to work . . . I'll fork over the cash to get it repaired once I'm done with this game I'm testing . . .