Sneak peak – Pelican Case Xbox 360 designed for Overseas Active Service Use

Over the years I’ve received many requests to build portable games system that could be used by our troops overseas, but nothing ever materialized. I was also inspired when I saw the Pelican cases that were used by Clint Green to transport gaming systems around the Walter Reed clinic for patient use.

So one day I decided that I would just build one and see what happens – kind of like what I used to do with projects before the requests starting outpacing my creativity. Podcast co-host Jason Jones is chipping in on the costs. Below is the progress:

Oh yeah four speakers baby!
Wow, it’s obviously done and ready for a magazine spread!

The idea here is to stuff an Xbox 360 and LCD screen inside a Pelican 1490 case. There are no “through hole screws” so when closed the case maintains all of its sealing and protective properties. Thus the power plug and even DVD lid will be all on the inside surface of the unit when complete (requiring the DVD drive to be converted to a pop-open lid type rather than drawer, one of the trickier aspects of this job).

For some more pics and specs, click below. I’m posting this early because it’s kind of a slow, backburner kind of project and I’d just like to gauge the interest ahead of time, so if this might of use to you please email me. This will probably be finished in November after I get the THQ laptop done. Estimated cost is about 40% of what I usually charge for an Xbox 360 laptop. Display is a 17″ widescreen.

Oh yeah four speakers baby!

The case when closed. Keither Sutherland would probably be after one of these, but it will take longer than 24 hours to finish. Hopefully it’s cougar-proof!

Oh yeah four speakers baby!
Closer view of the screen. It’s framed in brushed aluminum and I doubled up on the speakers. There wasn’t a lot of room so I used 4 small ones rather than 2 bigger ones.

The hard drive will be removeable in a similar way to the THQ laptop I am building… however there will probably not be any memory card slots. The USB ports and Ring of Light will likely be on the main surface as well.

What do you think of this concept? Discuss below!

43 thoughts on “Sneak peak – Pelican Case Xbox 360 designed for Overseas Active Service Use”

  1. Looks really nice so far (at least the top half). I’m sure if keeping the price reasonable wasn’t one of the project objectives, you may go for the gusto and replace the Xbox HD with a solid-state HD? You know, less power & less moving parts out there on the rugged battlefield? Could that be something we can look forward to in a future BenHeck project? Keep up the good work!

  2. As someone that travels overseas quite a bit, I think this is a wonderful project. Make sure you leave space for at least one controller and foreign energy adapters (UK, Euro, South Africa, etc).

    Also, how about wireless? The adapter should be small enough to find a place to fit it in.

    Excellent concept bud!!! Props to you!

  3. another AWSOME project by ben. keep up the good work.

    @ Tone-C
    you can only replace the HDD with one certain Western digital drive. so ,although a great idea, a solid state drive wont work

  4. Not sure how much space you’ve got, but mounting the DVD drive at a mild angle (or allowing it to hinge) might be easier than converting to a toploader.

  5. i know your just kinda doing this project, and you are trying to keep cost down, but i hace to give a little negative response about it, first let me say i like the idea, but plastic would be my last choice unless it can withstand a good amount of force, or if you can line it with kevlar,(i know its expensive) but in iraq you would need a real rugged case to carry around, but since i havent really thought about it myself i guess ill just leave it to the expert,(you), i only know how to repair computers, and i used to be a video game tech, that would fix and repair gameroom games,jukeboxes,pinball machines,and the such, my hats off to you ben keep up the good work and if i ever get my own workspace here at home i might just try to tinker a little,

  6. It should be noted that there is a plethora of Plasma and HD TV’s overseas in use by the military. I’d be sure to include a way to run to HDMI and/or Component video outputs. also, you have to make sure all the components are shock-mounted. the trip over usually gets a bit rough.

  7. Hey Ben, glad to see that your making some progress on the concept. How goes the ideas for the other one that we discussed? I’ll be emailing you for instructions as per our last conversation. Looking good so far.

  8. Right Bond. RE holes, I’ve sanded the inner surface to break up the surface tension/area, then used industrial strength Velcro to attach things. Check out McMaster-Carr part #96055K23. It’s the kind where it sticks to itself.

    It actually works quite well as it increases the surface area used to hold the object (versus a single screw point of failure)

    Pulling the piece out, such as the screen, is VERY difficult. Possible, but difficult. So yeah, it holds pretty well, thus far.

  9. TopLoad DvD player will be tricky. I’ve not seen any for sale. Will you be modifying a PC drive or a DvD Player drive?

    I made a top loading CD drive many years ago, and it was pain…, but necessary, didn’t have a back up drive. Out in the field, drive wouldn’t open. I think the motor fried. Removed the case and modified the dummy spinning insert to be removed, and replaced. Only killed 2 CDs, until I realized I needed a latch to keep the arm down.

    Wish I still had the drive or my drawings to share with you.

    I’m really interested how you’ll implement the DvD.

  10. I am not really familier with the 360 but i recall reading something about them getting relativly hot. Are you worried about this in the plastic case?

  11. Relative to your previous laptop work, this is pretty fugly. I like the concept especially for people who want to build a laptop system but don’t have any way of making the slick casings you’ve done. A pelican case could serve as the shell. But then to just take the lid off the xbox and toss the PSU in there, the bottom looks way below your skill level. The screen integration looks nice though, looks like a great fit.

    If you don’ want to make holes in the case though the options are pretty limited because of the DVD drawer. I dunno… it’s just kind of ugly dude. It looks like something i’d make 🙂

  12. Michael: re: Peli case robustness, these cases are as near as you can get in consumer circles to bullet-proof. I use one for my laptop, one for my tools, and a larger one for shipping more expensive equipment country to country. Seriously – you can run over the laptop case in a car and the case / contents will still be in one piece. The laptop case has been to the former USSR, middle-east, Africa and all over Europe with no hitches – as has the toolbox. If it can put up with knuckle-draggers flinging it into a cargo hold and using it as a wheel chuck, then I’m sure it’ll protect a 360 no probs 🙂

  13. The only thing I’d worry about is the Velcro adhesive. It’s only rated to 120F. I’ve seen 110F at 9 am in Oman. I don’t think a few screws will hurt things. I’ve built a computer in a knock off pelican case that has screws and rp-tnc wifi ports through it and it will stand up to rain. I wouldn’t dunk it though.

  14. I think this is a wonderful idea. If I was still overseas, I would want one. (I still want one) I had a pelican 1490 case for my laptop, and because of it mine was one of the few laptops that survived. Water proofing was not so much of a concern, but dust and dirt will get in anywhere it can. Sandstorms were nasty. There is a very legitimate concern about the heat. I remember several days we spent at 137+ degrees. Overall one of my new favorite projects. Can’t wait to see the plans once it is finished. Unlike others I read what you wrote “Below is the progress:” when you showed the pictures. Looks great so far, Keep up with the incredible ideas!

  15. I’ve wanted to start a project just like this one only for a Micro ATX board and WIFI setup. These cases are some of the strongest I have ever seen. We use them to protect equipment in the Air Force and not a single pice has been damaged in transit to the Middle East. I’ve been over there 3 times and am always impressed that these cases survive and the equipment inside.

    I thought of using the (1490PF Special Application Panel Frame US$14.95 ) to mount the pannels. Are you using the panel frame? The Pelican says the frame does not penitrate the shell, but I wanted to confirm this before I pick the model case for my project. Can you post some pics of how you mounted the LCD?

    Bond, Looks like you are off to a good start. I have had good luck using a plastic welder on polypropylene. Harbor Freight has a cheap one, however I had to use a reostat to controll the heat. With some practice you can make strong joints and mounting points for your boards.

  16. As a person who’s tried this before (although with an old school xbox) I’d have to say that the biggest concern will be power. There’s a lot of ‘dirty’ power supplied to the guys overseas, and it can range between 110 volts to 240 volts with spikes anywhere in between. A power supply that can handle all of the differences in voltage will have to be a consideration, otherwise this entertainment center will be a brick before the guys first meal time. Just an observation, so don’t think this is a demand.

    also, I love the pelican case idea. In fact, you could make it an even bigger case (because there’s not much concern for how big the case gets, just that it’s secure and self contained.) and add in a UPS and maybe even a battery back up. And not just regular batteries, look into a more li-ion military type (BA-5590/U), they’ll be able to get them overseas no problems.

    Thanks Ben!!

  17. Thanks for all the input thus far! I had considered using a dual input PC PSU, but it’s hard to find one that fits.

    Keep the suggestions coming!


  18. How about Solar Power nm 360 uses about 9000 powers. um what about a dynamo workout bike powered. The military needs to be fit. so one guy exercises while the other plays then they switch.

  19. Great idea! It looks like the room you left in the case for the power cable could also house a controller or two, and possible a game?

  20. Maybe for the top-loading drive you can use a slimline drive (like that from a notebook PC) that is basically a top-loader with a sliding tray. You could either place it on top, glued open and forced into operating mode (or closed sensor controlled by a lid that you make, kinda like the playstation’s pushbutton latch sensor) or you could place it in such a way that it opens over a storage area [you are planning on having a place to store controllers, discs, etc., right?]

  21. Great idea! Let these murdering sons of bitches on their disgusting tour of raping and killing and stealing play some shooter games aswell when they’re in Iraq, probably makes the RL killing a little easier. Who the heck would want to REWARD these troops for ruining another country in the name of the USA. Omg, 911 again pls…

  22. All: The Pelican case is the best part of this project. I work avionics in the Air Force, and what diagnostic equipment we don’t have in metal cases, we have in Pelican cases (or clones).

    I only have two suggestions: Please make the case able to hold a controller (or two if you have the room) and secondly, shock mount the guts, or at least the hard drive. I’ve seen some equipment take quite the tumble out of the cargo bay.

    Omar: If that’s a lame attempt at sarcasm, then OK. But I’m sensing it isn’t, so DIAF, please. I take personal offense to what you said. Try visiting the middle east before you open your mouth again. I hope you run into a pissed off Vet in a dark alley. Go watch your Michael Moore fakeumentaries and leave us alone.

  23. Thanks for putting some work into ruggedizing the 360. I know I end up beating the crap out of a lot of equipment in the Army It’s great that your working to do this. I haven’t deployed to the sand box yet but one of these bad boys is definitely on my wish list. It looks good and I like that you didn’t break the integrity of the case. no need to make cable holes, that stuff will get ripped off anyway. some gel or foam support around the 360 case would help protect the hard drive. that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as the disc isn’t spun up. If you wanted to do a little work with the PSP I know that’d be useful, I’ll probably do that as my next project, extra battery power, external speakers, and a case that’ll keep the F*&^ing sand out. I like having something I can go for a swim with. don’t know why but I always end up jumping into water when I least expect it.

    Omar…karma’s a bitch

  24. Tank – did you even read the post or just look at the pictures? It’s not done, stupid.

    Those speakers appear to be PSOne LCD screen speakers, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve got a collection of them myself 😀

  25. WOAH thats one rugged 360 laptop, impresive ben, not as sleek as your prize one, but i assume (by comparison) this is a LOT easyer, thus quicker to make, still looks ausome.
    i just want to know, (because im going to be carrying out a similar project, ive got nothing to do) how did you make the smooth curves on your prize laptop, did you get some one to make it, cnc’d, what, i much prefer the look of the old prize, but i guess looks are not the first thing your thinking about in the millitary.
    definatly more fun than most other things in the millitary, except blowing stuff up. why not practice on the 360 then try in real life? dont expect to make halo distance jumps!

  26. Hey man, I just found your site playing around at work and I think this is awsome. I’m an EMT/Paramedic student (Emergency Medical Technician…for those of you who don’t know) and I love the idea of an armored 360, I’d like to have one myself for long trips in my squad. I’m honestly not too familiar with the Pelican cases but I get the gyst of them, but does anyone know how well they would stand up to bio-hazards/decontamination, fire, mud, etc.? I’d imagine actually being in a fire it would react like most plastics, but what about smoke?

  27. Well Looks really nice. I making one with the same case. Not really but it’s the same dimensions as the one your using ben. Oh btw can you post a Tutorial on how to wire DVI to HDMI.

  28. Like Eric said… try a slimline DVD. I took an old slimline CD apart to test this (watch out, the case and rails are really sharp), and it seems to work sans the case. I was worried the lack of a dark environment would hinder the laser pick up. It didn’t.

    Only thing I found frustrating was stopping the spinning of the disk. After reattaching and pushing the eject button or ejecting from explorer the disk did slow, but momentum kept it spinning for a little bit. Similar to a top load CD or DvD player, or if you open a slimline too fast.

  29. Great work thus far as always. I must say that this a great idea. I am going to start a simular project but I am thinking of using a bigger case. Maybe the 1650 or 1520. I know with your expert knowledge I am sure you can make this work with the case that you have, me I have to use more space. I would like a brief “how to” for the top part of the case if you don’t mind sharing. I offer this idea to you. I am going to mount the mobo flat in the bottom, stand the dvd verticle so that I will be able to load thru an opening on the surface of the bottom part of the case. The PSU and any other junk will be mounted at the bottom as well inside the surface mount. The surface mount will have the ROL, power & eject buttons, sync button, ir sensor etc. Also depending on how I do the PSU I will either flush mount the 3 prong plug to the surface plate or use one of your brilliant ideas and do the ATX plug mod and mount it flush to the surface. I may also make A/V out to connect this beast to bigger screens and more speakers. If space permits (which it should) I will use some of the space to make a storage area for extra controllers. Yes I know the this will make it bigger but it will still be portable, especially if it has wheels. 🙂 Just some food for thought.

  30. also I would like to add that the heat ducts will be vented to the surface plate which means more cooling fans. and I may be using a 20 inch samsung monitor. also consider the 1495 case it has a bite more usable space inside. Good luck with you project!!!

  31. Look cool. I could use one. Just add somemore about space issues and stuff. and will it have a space for the controllers. and a place for a memory card would be good.

  32. Why not try get a slimline slot loading DVD drive (like apple macs use) and encase it in plastic, then mount it in the bottom half of the case?

    Hinge the back of the drive and then mount it above the processing gubbins with a spring-load / push to release configuration at the front of the drive?

    Upon releasing the drive it would go from horizontal (with top side of drive casing flush to the surface) and pop the front end up 20 degrees or so so the disc can be loaded…. would need some hacking of sensor circuits to make sure the disc wasn’t ejected when the drive was in the down position!

    The benefit of this is that it would be reasonably small, dust-resistant and not require any cutting of the case, also the drive used would be left physically intact… more reliable and easier to replace.

    Effectively, just like a top-load CD player lid mechanism… but instead of the lid, the whole drive pops up.

  33. Great job on the Pelican, my company sends equipment over there in those things all the time and it never comes back damaged. I actually got a slightly larger Storm Case (to have enough room to keep the 360 intact) recently to attempt a project like this, and I was wondering what you used for the display. I would like to use something with 1920 x 1200 resolution, but finding that res under 26 inches is tough.

  34. Damn Ben. I have an extra 360 that I need to replace the DVD drive in. You can bet your genius ass that I will be making one of these when I learn how to flash the key of the xbox for the DVD drive and replace it. Sick stuff man. I wish I new about this when I was in country. I definitely would have commissioned you to make me one.

    Great job man!

    Omar: Maybe I got lucky and killed you before I cam back. Some reason I doubt it though. You sound like a pussy…

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