Dark Deal: Build an Xshok Controller

Dark Deal: Build an Xshok Controller

By - Posted Jun 11, 2003
kevin headshot - thumbWARNING: Shock Hazard. This mod should only be performed by experienced electrical technicians. Do not attempt this at home. This is extremely dangerous.

I love playing "Mortal Kombat." It's one of my favorite Xbox games. Our MK sessions consist of four or five guys, beer, and a lot of yelling. As we get better at the game, the competition is growing more fierce.

Taking it to the next level

I started thinking, "What could I do to make the gameplay more interesting, more exciting? We've added beer and gambling. There has to be something else." Enter Xshok.

Remember that old James Bond movie where they battled for world domination by playing a videogame that would shock you? That's what gave me the idea. If I got punched, I wanted to feel the punch.

Let me tell you -- 20,000 volts packs quite a punch. It's about 10 times worse than the static shock you might get from a doorknob in winter. For comparison a stun gun can pack around 100,000 volts.

The Xbox comes with force-feedback controllers by default, so if you're punched in "Mortal Kombat," the controller vibrates. I want to replace the vibration with good, old-fashioned shocking.

Here are the steps:

  • Find a professional electrician to perform this mod
  • Select the source shock
  • Have the pro pen the controller
  • The pro should remove the vibration motor
  • Add a 5VDC relay
  • Test it out

Find a professional electrician

I can't stress enough how important it is to get professional help when performing this mod. I know a lot about this type of thing, and even I had to get the help of an expert electrician from our engineering department.

If you're trying to do this on your own, stop reading now. Go get an expert's help before continuing. This mod has the potential to be really, really dangerous if it isn't performed perfectly.

Even if you are an expert or have the help of a professional electrician, the Xshok controller should not be used by anyone with a heart condition or anyone who is pregnant. The whole intention of this mod is to inflict a little bit of pain on the user, so please use common sense.

Selecting the source shock

We wanted something that would give a kick, so we selected the medium-powered 20,000-volt pest shocker from Information Unlimited. (Note: The Information Unlimited website gives different specs for the medium-power shocker, but the site specs are inaccurate.)

Pest Shocker

The pest shocker produces 20,000-volt pulses and has two modes of operation: 0.02 joules per pulse or 0.2 joules per pulse. This makes it easy to scale down if we don't want such a drastic shock. Either way, remember the shock can potentially harm people.

Opening the controller

The Xbox controller can easily be opened with a small Phillips screwdriver. We removed the screws and popped it open.

Open Controller

Removing the vibration motor

There are two vibrating motors in the Xbox controller: one on the left and one on the right.


Each motor is powered by 5-volt pulses from the Xbox controller. We decided which side we wanted the shocker on and removed that motor with our small Phillips screwdriver.

Adding 5-volt relay

We grabbed a 5VDC Relay from RadioShack. (We asked for part No. 275-240A.) Why a relay? The pest shocker comes with four wires: two to activate the shock by connecting them together, one that carries the voltage, and one that carries the ground. Connecting the voltage and the ground produces the shock.

How the relay works

It all begins with a fist hitting a fighter in "Mortal Kombat." The Xbox sends the controller a signal telling it to activate the spinning motor inside the controller that provides force feedback. A +5v charge is sent to the motor.

We replaced the motor with a relay, so the relay receives the +5v/ground. The relay then connects the two wires, activating the shock. The shock is sent from the shocker to the controller and zaps the user.

We examined the relay packaging and when hooking up the two switch-closing leads (from the pest shocker), we made sure to connect to the relay contacts that are normally open. Otherwise the shocker would always be on.


Hooking up the shock

We ran two wires (ground/voltage) from the pest shocker into the Xbox controller. We ran ours through one of the front memory sockets. We drilled two holes through the controller to the desired location of the shocker.

We made sure to keep the shocker in one hand! You never want to split the ground/voltage between two hands. If you do, the voltage runs through your heart, which is bad. As in really, really bad. It could stop your heart.

Shock Wires

We used small bolts and nuts to secure the positive charge to one bolt and the ground to the other.

Testing it out

We closed the controller, fired up "Mortal Kombat," and gave it a try! That wonderful shocking sensation in my hand meant it was working.

The XSHOK Controller

Again remember, you should not try to do this. It can be very harmful and potentially deadly. Only experienced, trained professionals should even think about it. Be smart. Don't try this at home.

Have questions, comments, or more ideas? Check out my message boards.

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