Used for both console and PC gaming, the Xbox 360 controller comes in a few stock colours such as black, white and silver. However, many videogame enthusiasts express their individuality by replacing the exterior of their Xbox 360 controller with a custom shell. The process for executing this can be a manageable task, but having knowledge of the tools needed as well as the process is essential in order to properly disassemble and reassemble the controller.
Wired Versus Wireless Controllers
Xbox wireless controllers are generally more widely available than their wired counterparts. Therefore, it is much easier to find aftermarket shells for wireless 360 controllers. Regardless, the process for replacing the shell on either controller type is fairly similar.
The differences between Xbox 360 wireless and wired controllers are minimal, but will impact the process of replacing a shell. Tools play a significant role, but the biggest difference is the power source. The wireless controller requires a Torx T8 screwdriver in order to tackle the screws located on the body of the shell, while a size zero, Phillips head screwdriver is needed to detach and reattach the directional pad once the shell is open. The wired variety of Xbox 360 controllers requires fewer tools as all screws can be manipulated with a Phillips screwdriver.
Replacing the Shell
The most important thing to remember when replacing an Xbox 360 controller shell is that care must be taken to ensure pieces are not lost or mishandled. Perhaps the most sensitive part is the circuit board contained within the shell; it is best to handle this component after touching an already grounded object or using an anti-static mat to avoid the possibility of static electricity damage.
Opening the Current Shell
Wireless Xbox 360 controllers should have their batteries removed first, while their wired counterparts should be unplugged from either the console or PC. Once complete, use the proper screwdriver (Torx T8 for wireless, Phillips for wired) to remove all six visible screws on the back of the shell. Additionally, there is a seventh screw located in the battery pack compartment for wireless controllers. A barcode sticker covers this screw, and the tampering of this will void the controller's warranty if still active.
Wired controllers have a sticker on the shell's back which conceals a seventh screw that will need to be removed as well. After the seven screws have been placed aside in a safe location, remove the back plate of the shell carefully. Lay the controller face-down with the exposed controller components facing upward.
Removing Vibrating Mechanisms
Two round metal vibrating mechanisms are located in the left and right hand grips of the controller. Remove them from where they are located in the plastic housing, but take care not to disconnect them from their wires that connect to the circuit board. Place them atop the circuit board so the vibrating mechanisms are not dangling when removing the faceplate.
Removing the Circuit Board
Lift the circuit board from the plastic housing and place it to the side. Do not flip the front plate as there are components that will now be loose.
Removing Rubber Covers and Buttons
From the front half of the current shell that is sill laying face-down, remove the circular rubber pieces that cover the directional pad and face buttons. Place them aside and remove the A, B, X, Y, back, start and Xbox guide buttons. Place these aside as well.
Removing the Directional Pad
Using the Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws located at the back of the directional pad. The directional pad is made of two pieces that clip together; gently separate these pieces and set them aside.
Remove Miscellaneous Parts
On the front plate, remove the top bumper panel that has the LB and RB buttons. Afterward, remove the bottom portion of the front plate, which is known as the end-cap.
Attaching the New Shell
Attaching the new shell to the Xbox 360 controller is as simple as reversing the process to disassemble it. For wired controllers, ensure the cord settles correctly before closing the controller shell.
How to Buy an Xbox 360 Controller Shell on eBay
Reliable sellers on eBay offer a wide selection of products including Xbox 360 controller shells. Some shells are bare bone and will only include the front and back plates, but for greater customisation, search for shells with custom buttons and directional pads.
Additionally, custom kits are available that also include the screwdrivers required in order to limit the number of separate items that need procurement. Keep in mind that there is a distinction between the shells for wireless and wired 360 controllers so specifying this information when searching is encouraged.