September 10, 2012

How to Make a Silver Chatpad (The Right Way)

When it comes to the Xbox 360 Chatpad controller accessory, I’m a huge fan. It’s not perfect, but it still has its uses. While I do wish that it could be used for mapping hotkeys, I still appreciate what it does. From Windows Live Messenger, to Netflix searches, to renaming enchanted weapons and Armor in Skyrim, I’ve grown rather attached. I even prefer the feel of a controller with it attached, because I have enormous hands. So when I fell in love with a silver controller with a transforming D-pad and redesigned analog sticks, there was only one thing to do: make a matching Chatpad, since Microsoft hasn’t.

Now if you find yourself reading this before trying to paint yours, let me save you some trouble. The constant handling and contact with the oil on your skin would rub off all your hard work in hideous splotches of the original color. Even so, the paint always feels somewhat sticky. I tried this exact thing before the official black Chatpad came out, and was disappointed. So this is a tutorial on how to do it the right way: sans-paint.

All you will need for the whole process is a Chatpad, a T8 screwdriver, a Phillips head and a flat-head jewelers screwdriver, and the secret ingredient: one aerosol spray can of vinyl dye. Typically used in the automotive world to retouch or alter interiors, vinyl dye penetrates porous material like plastic to change the color of the material itself– not cover it. This means that it will never rub or scratch off, will not have a sticky coating, and will not alter the texture of the plastic. Now the careful observer will note that the parts in these photos are already silver. That is because I took these during my second pass– made necessary by not bothering to clean the plastic the first time. (hint-hint)


To begin, remove all the screws on the bottom of the Chatpad, then carefully pull the bottom half out and back (toward the end with the headset jack) to remove it. Don’t pull too hard, as the wires will still be attached between the two halves. Rather than unplug the wire harness from the circuit board, pop out the metal retainers fastening the jack to the bottom half, and pop the jack out. Once they are separated, you can use a flat-head jewelers screwdriver to gently peel off both stickers from the underside, as well as the black pads on the corners. Lastly, remove the 5 screws attaching the keyboard to the top half of the shell, remove the keyboard, and pop the key guard out by applying gentle pressure from the inside.

What you should be left with are these three pieces, ready to be dyed to a new color. To ensure factory-quality results, give the exterior surfaces a quick cleaning to remove hand oils or residue. After that, just follow the instructions on whatever dye you may end up using, and apply the dye from all angles. Do multiple passes if possible, and allow some time between each coat. After everything is dry, simply work through the disassembly process in reverse, and you’re done.

That’s it. The new color won’t rub off or chip away, and the original satin texture of the plastic is left unaltered. It is, essentially, as if Microsoft made it that way just for you. Now have fun thinking of all the cool things you can do with vinyl dye, now that you know about it. I know I already have a plan or two forming up.



1 comment

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