Performing surgery on my Xbox One Kinect

Performing surgery on my Xbox One Kinect

My Xbox One Kinect has been acting strangely for a very long time. When the console first starts up from a cold boot the Kinect would work fine but shortly afterwards it would simply turn off, never to turn back on again (until the next full reboot). This appears to be a common problem online and seems to be related to the Kinect itself overheating. There are a number of theories as to why but most commonly this overheating seems to be caused by one of three things:

  1. The fan in the Kinect is dead and won’t spin
  2. The fan in the Kinect is trying to spin but is too dirty to do so
  3. The fan in the Kinect would spin but the controller inside of the Kinect whose job is it to tell it to spin is faulty and so it never gets told to spin

My understanding of the way things are supposed to work is that the unit turns on without running the fan and then only runs the fan, as needed, when an internal temperature sensor tells it to. If the temperature is too high the unit ‘overheats’ and turns off.

After a quick check to confirm that the fan in my Kinect never actually runs I decided to see what it would take to get it repaired. Because my Kinect has long been out of warranty Microsoft wanted about $70 to fix it which was a bit more than I wanted to pay for the convenience of yelling at my TV and having it sometimes respond to me. So I made the drastic decision to try and fix it myself.

What follows is how I fixed, or at least fixed so far, my Kinect by opening it up and messing with the insides. I should point out that doing this obviously voids your warranty – again I personally didn’t really care because my Kinect was already out of the warranty period – and that I’m not a licensed electrician or anything like that. So if you plan on also doing this to your Kinect please know that you do it at your own risk!

The first thing I did was unplug the Kinect from the Xbox One. This is perhaps the most important step because I didn’t feel like getting electrocuted while I fumbled around inside of the device.

Next I fired up the old Google machine and began searching for someone who has done this before. I came across this video on YouTube which seemed to offer a solution for my problem and decided to follow it because… well, what else did I have to lose?

Taking the stickers off the bottom of the Kinect and undoing the Torx security screws I was able to pull the fan out of the unit. After a good cleaning with a few blasts of compressed air I could see that there was nothing wrong with the fan itself and concluded that the problem was likely issue #3 described above. As this point I did something pretty dumb – I cut two random wires because someone in a YouTube video told me to… Allegedly of the four wires connecting the fan to the Kinect only two of them are important: red & black, which I’m assuming are for power and ground, and yellowish-white & blue, for fan control. Because it looked like the fan is never being told to run cutting the second set of wires apparently forces the fan to run non-stop as soon as power is supplied. So I went ahead and cut the yellowish-white and blue wires as instructed.

Mmmm tasty Kinect guts

Mmmm tasty Kinect guts

I put everything back together and plugged the Kinect back into the Xbox One. Immediately the fan came to life and started running. Better yet the thing actually responded to voice commands and the camera worked! Even better than that it has continued to work for the past few days without any issues whatsoever!!

It really does seem that cutting two wires, while driving up my power bill slightly now that the fan runs constantly, may have actually brought my Kinect back to life.