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Unsolved The Updated "Wiki"/Guide For The Xbox 360 XDK (Xbox Development Kit)



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Welcome, everyone! I felt that there hasn't been an updated, centralized post about XDK's written in some time. Before I get into it, if you have an XDK, or are looking to purchase one, I highly suggest reaching out to the admins of Alpha Archive, tcrf, or ObscureGamers. These groups are dedicated to the preservation of games in their development stages, and if you load a game onto your XDK's hard drive, there is a chance that you are writing over data for an unreleased game, or other cool information they can help uncover. On Phat XDKs (Boards like Xenon, Zephyr, Jasper, etc...) you will need to follow Shinda's guide on how to take apart your XDK's sidecar + extract the hard drive. The preservation of data is important, and I hope this post helps the community come together, and find some amazing content.

This guide was written with a complete beginner in mind. I've compiled notes, links, and files over a period of about four years to gather all of this data for you. Some of the information written here may not pertain or entertain veterans of the scene, but there's a little something for everyone in this guide. If you are just after links + resources, please head towards the bottom of the article. If you are looking for more information of devkits, or prototypes in general, start at the top! Thank you all for reading, I hope this helps a lot of people.


The following is an overview of the known Xbox 360 internal Test, Stress and development kit varients.
Whether you have a stress, test, or full XDK on your hands, you need to see which motherboard revision you have. Xenon through Jasper are your traditional "Phat" Xboxes, The latter are slims.

Xbox 360 Motherboard Revision Guide
Before we get into identifying most boards we see in the public, I wanted to highlight the VERY early days of the Xbox 360 game/title/dashboard development. These revisions are incredibly rare, and if you are looking to grab an XDK to play leaked titles like the 70217 Star Wars: Battlefront III game, or one of the like, please leave these consoles be. They cannot play the title you want. If you want to delve deeper into the Alpha stage of the Xbox 360, I highly recommend visiting this wiki.
The Xbox 360 XDK can be seen as far back as October 2003, where Michael Hanscom took a photo of a pallet-full arriving on Redmond Campus. These kits are loaded with a very basic XShell similar to the ones found on XeDK Beta 1 + 2 kits. They were a standard A1047 PowerMac G5, with the exception of an upgraded video card & an Intel Pro100+ network card. There are noteable "Property of Microsoft" stickers located on the top of the chassis, alongside the Asset tag barcode/SKU, and some private studios like EA adding a third sticker with their internal asset tracking tag.


There are two main revisions to the Powermac G5 XeDK: The "Alpha I" and the "Alpha II".
Known to be active from October 2003 - Fall of 2004, the Alpha I was provided an R300 based ATI (9800 PRO) graphics card. An example of an Alpha I Recovery would be 0198: codename "stentorian". Only original Xbox controllers with a male USB soldered onto the end will work with these machines.
In the fall of 2004, Microsoft revised the XeDK to run on an R420 based X800XT (Mac Edition). People who follow the FrankenXenon guide, installing the internal 1529 recovery will be creating an Alpha II console. This is known to run builds like FullAuto, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and more. If you want to create an XeDK, most will find the Alpha II to be the more "fun" of the two, with more to do and a full blades dashboard installed. Do note: The X800XT is really rare, and hard to come across. However, there are methods to flash more common cards with the proper firmware, and make it work.
These consoles are a much closer resemblance to the Xbox design we recognize today. Microsoft was toying with the idea of calling these consoles "Xenon". However, the company hadn't made up it's mind yet, and the stickers located on the back of the consoles read "XeDK".

Beta I Consoles
These consoles are incapable of reading XEX2 format .xex, and therefore do not play much at all. These consoles can only read XEX1 & properly compiled .exe format applications, and cannot be updated or patched to do so. If you're looking for a prototype console to play games on, this is not the console for you. You can identify one in the wild by locating the Argon RF board and Titan Kernel debugging board. These kits came with the "Krypton" prototype controllers for testing.

Beta II Consoles
The Beta I Kit wasn't produced for very long before the Beta II kits came out. These kits were given a white case like the final Xenon board, removing the Argon board, SMC LEDs, and Titan debugging board. These kits, however, are compatible with regular/retail Xbox 360 controllers and can be hacked to run XeX2 files via recovery. Below, we can see a beta II running blades dash:

Determining what kind of kit you have can be difficult, there are both motherboard revisions, as well as XDK revisions. All Internal consoles fall under two catagories: Stress, or Development (As per XShell launcher). A full development console can step through the kernel, allowing a developer to read, write, poke, or edit system memory in real time. If you see a console with a "Sidecar", that is a development kit. However, they don't require this hardware add-on to be considered a full XDK, or development kit. Below, we will go through the different kits Microsoft released "post-launch":

These kits were produced from the Xenon motherboard -> Jasper stage of the Xbox 360 lifespan. They boot to the XLauncher, same as a full XDK, but will state clearly that they are a demo kit. These consoles are incapable of playing retail games, and can only launch development-signed .xex files. Given to magazine reviewers, media outlets, and studios alike to test near-complete games.
Credits to Reddit user r/Neo_Nin
creds to assemblergames; RIP
OOtherwise known as an SSK, stress kits were produced across a multitude of board revisions. One notable revision stage would be when Xbox was countering everyone flashing their DVD drives to play burned games, so Microsoft worked on XDG3. However, these stress kits contain a large grouping of wires exiting where the DVD drive should be on a phat unit. On slims, we see DVD J1D1-like cables coming from where a sidecar should be. These kits can be found with a wide variety of dashboards + XDK recoveries installed.

Given out to development studios worldwide, the XDK comes in all motherboard revisions. These kits are capable of PIX debugging, CPU monitoring, File access monitoring, DVD emulation, and more. While these traits can also describe other versions listed in this guide, a full development kit will have all of the headers present on the motherboard to hook up a sidecar. Development kits can come in both 512MB and 1GB RAM configurations.
Element18592's XDK Collection
XNA Game Development Engine

The XNA kits came in a wide variety of colors + configurations but most sought after in their "Blue" forms. The XNA program was distributed by Microsoft to try and get third-party developers to come to the platform. XNA Game Studio was a game engine that indies + big studios alike would utilize to quickly develop, test, and distribute games across the Xbox 360 platform. Some XNA kits came with an extra 512MB of RAM to provide overhead, located on the BOTTOM of the motherboard (NOT within the sidecar, that is a rumor. The Sidecar is used for DVD emulation/PIX Debugging/Ethernet ((If the Console Had the ports)))

It was hard to find a collection of images to showcase the true diversity of the configurations, but here goes:
XNA Final kit (No branding)
XNA Expo kit with Tribal sidecar + XNA Faceplate
XNA Kit Sidecar W/Ethernet
XNA Green Sidecar + XNA Faceplate
Trinity, Corona, as well as Winchester variants of this console exist. No sidecar was ever designed for the Winchester, but there are headers present on-board to support the HDD/DVD Emu Daughterboards. There are 1GB RAM variants of the Slim XDK. I have seen both white, and black slim XDK's in the wild, but no special edition/colors.

People often ask questions regarding some of the peripherals a devkit can come with. This section clears up the most frequently asked questions!
The sidecar is the most prominent part of what makes an internal kit, internal. Most people can recognize a development/test console via this piece of hardware, but what does it do? Well, it depends on the sidecar that you got on top of your console! We will go over a short glossary of all the possible ports that appear on a sidecar, and what their functionality is to the console. On phat development kits (Xenon, Zephyr, Falcon, Opus, Jasper) with a sidecar, you will need a 213w power supply for the console to function.

PIX Port: A little redundant on later motherboard revisions. These ports allow you to monitor CPU/Kernel activity via XbWatson over a USB connection to a Windows PC. You can install XbWatson by installing the Xbox 360 SDK I've linked in the Downloads section.
DVDEMU: Allows developers to quickly deploy builds to the console still stored on their PC. This eliminates transfer times by emulating DVD streaming over USB.
ETHERNET: Found only on XNA revision 4.0 consoles, some sidecars have a secondary Ethernet port which allows for faster transfers over LAN/Neighborhood.

If you have an XDK with a sidecar, you will need to ensure that you in fact have a 213w Development-Kit power supply. You can find a comprehensive guide to distinguish the difference here on se7ensins.
Lamprey boards are not only incredibly rare, but they are also perhaps one of the most useful tools for research, maintenance, and conversion of kits. These boards are multi-function, with the ability to reprogram serial numbers, convert retail consoles to developer/XDK (Must be a BRAND new, 0fuse ecu), Program Argon RF Boards, and much, much more. These boards are a middleman board, interfacing with both the target console and the developer's terminal.
For those that are curious what cable they would need to stream DVD Emu or Monitor Pix...

Tools - Game Development/Modifications

If you're looking to make homebrew applications, games, or modifications on your kit, you'll need tools. This collection should get you started in game development/modification
Tools - Data Preservation / Recovery - [FULL DUMP + RECOVERY TUT HERE]
If you're purchasing or getting an XDK started, you should create a 1:1 .img backup of your hard drive before booting. You can discover lost betas and keep a working recovery on hand.
XDK Setups + Recoveries [Click here to view this link]
HDD Raw Copy Tool - https://hddguru.com/software/HDD-Raw-Copy-Tool/
FATX Recovery Tool By Aerosoul - [Click here to view this link]
FATXplorer HDD Explorer - https://fatxplorer.eaton-works.com/
HvX Dump (Get CPUKey + XDK Revision) - http://www.mediafire.com/file/n6c414xgm47ivea/HvxDump-1.3.rar/file
Uncategorizable, but useful nonetheless.
If you are looking to hack an XDK to get online like a JTAG/RGH console, please reconsider. I am against shadowbooted consoles, as there is a rumor that an XDK is just an "unbannable RGH" where you can get unlimited MSP + game downloads through a service called PartnerNet. The service has been shut down for years, and if you are looking to purchase a console for this reason, I highly advise doing an RGH/JTAG. Developer/Long-Time Modder Chr0me has made a tool called[Click here to view this link] that allows RGH consoles to boot prototype/dev .xex from dashboards like FSD/Aurora.
[Click here to view this link] [Click here to view this link]
[Caution!] XDK Shadowboot https://www.obscuregamers.com/threads/shadowboot-17150-release.212/

Themes - XShell Launcher Themes
How to change your XShell theme: https://www.xboxchaos.com/topic/2942-how-to-change-your-xshell-background/
XeDK Beta skin [PREVIEW] - https://hddguru.com/software/HDD-Raw-Copy-Tool/
Xbox Live Enforcement Theme [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/cwqww75639ztl7b/Xbox_Live_Enforcement_Theme.zip/file
White XNA skin [PREVIEW] - http://www.mediafire.com/file/yhdbru3uk6llc36/XNA_2.0.rar/file
XNA "XDK" (Blue) by MainDude [PREVIEW]- https://rapidshare.com/#!download|725p7|2700481421|XNA XDK Blue.rar|3634|0|0
XNA "XDK" (Green) by MainDude [PREVIEW]- https://rapidshare.com/#!download|614p6|1175522182|XNA XDK Green.rar|3016|0|0
XNA "XDK" (Pink) by MainDude [PREVIEW]- https://rapidshare.com/#!download|837p6|799193032|XNA XDK Pink.rar|3627|0|0
XNA "XDK" (Purple) by MainDude [PREVIEW]- https://rapidshare.com/#!download|47p1|693070712|XNA XDK Purple.rar|3633|0|0
Windows Theme by Vonkova [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/743qaaa2bh22549/Metro_Orange.rar/file
Steam Theme by Vonkova [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/tl0375gc6j196r5/Steam_theme.rar/file
4Chan Theme by DevUltra [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/dfyi5bl3i05q16y/4chan.rar/file
Soundcloud Theme by CAPiiX [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/xj2ikam392tcojj/xlaunch.fdf/file
Halo Waypoint Theme by Vonkova [PREVIEW] - http://www.mediafire.com/file/39phkeur39oi4aq/Waypoint.rar/file
Paint Splatter Theme by Vonkova [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/7p5f0i7pb13sr0f/Paint_theme.rar/file
XboxChaos Forum Theme by Xbox Chaos [PREVIEW] - https://www.mediafire.com/file/xaom7tojxuxu05z/Xbox_chaos_V2.rar/file
"Microsoft XDK" Theme by Se7ensins [PREVIEW] -

Thank you to all the forums, communities, and users that I've spoken with that taught me all of this. I'm hoping this guide can help people getting into XDK as I've seen a lot of kits get bricked/destroyed over the past year that I've been going a little harder with the scene. If your console is in here, or you want credit for something, please let me know! I tried to give credit + keep links original so all the proper authors get credit.

Special thanks to JustAnyone, fate6, Xe, and Gunz4Hire for putting up with my nonsense + questions while I research this
Happy devving!

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Thanks, very informative for newbies like me
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