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Saturday, October 01, 2011

How not to cause a fire

A couple weeks ago, I made a second XB360 to Jamma adapter for a friend, same as my previous project here. In testing it out on an Astro City cab, I noticed a faint electronics smell, you know that smell from the back of an old dusty television? [Apologies for those not old enough to have owned a tube television.] Well I thought nothing of it, and continued to show him how he could configure controls on an XB360 game when all of a sudden a ton of smoke starts pouring out of the converter box! I quickly shut off the cab and pull the converter off the jamma loom to notice it was actually the jamma connector that was burning.

In the pic above, I dug out the burned pins, which basically melted inside the plastic housing.

My guess is I did not put the jamma connector on completely straight, and the ground and +5 pins were making contact with the same tooth on the fingerboard, resulting in a short that started burning the trace as well as the two pins inside the Jamma loom. Well needless to say I was quite embarrassed by this rookie mistake, and realized this could have started a fire if not noticed soon enough. Since this converter box is only used in converting the controls, I didn't need +5, -5 and +12 being connected, so I decided to sand off the contacts [via a dremel] on both sides of the fingerboard to prevent the possibility of this ever happening again.

I hope others learn from my stupid mistake, and make your converter boxes a little safer to operate!


  1. Yikes... hope this info makes it into a future manual or FAQ one day. Loving the blog so far... :)

  2. So I totally pulled this exact same mistake :|

    I think the problem for me was because my jamma connector on the harness has chipped plastic sides. many 001 looms end up like this.

    sigh. at least I detected it quickly and it did not melt my connector as badly as yours. mine is still perfectly usable although ugly now.

    Maybe I'll sand mine off like you did... or just be more careful putting on the connector from now on.

    Nonetheless, x360 inside a cab is so fun!

  3. Yep, a majority of my cabs have the same chipped sides on the jamma connector! For this reason I think its worth sanding off those few teeth on the connector.

    Did use the same project box for your converter? It just barley fit 2 controllers! :)

  4. No, I actually have to pick up some project boxes like that. I just screwed my pads down onto a regular wooden board for cabs. Used some nylon spacers to keep the PCBs off of the wood.

    Where did you get your project box? Is it ABS plastic? did you have any trouble cutting a straight hole for the jamma edge?

    I am planning on making a few x360 hacked pad setups for friends I think.

  5. I bought my project boxes at Fry's, and yes they are ABS plastic. They have several different sizes, and I just chose the size that had screw holes closest to the width of a jamma finger board. I drilled holes in the fingerboard, and then used a dremmel to cut the slit at the seam where the box closes up. Worked like a charm, and just barely fit 2 controller PCBs + wires (check my other blog post for pics). Good luck on the project!