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Man Builds DIY Cellphone Using Raspberry Pi 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-already-sued-for-patent-infringement dept.
Photographer and software engineer Dave Hunt has posted an article about his most recent project: a DIY cellphone based on a Raspberry Pi (he calls it a PiPhone). It has a touchscreen dialing interface for making calls, and it's built with off-the-shelf components. The total bill of materials clocks in at about $158: $40 for the rPi, $35 for the 320x240 touchscreen, $15 for the LiPo battery, $48 for the GSM module, and about $20 for miscellaneous other minor parts. Hunt says, '[The GSM/GPRS module] allow us to send standard AT commands to it to make calls, hang up, send texts, data etc. Overall a very clever module. Towards the bottom of the white PCB, you can see the SIM Card, which allows the module to associate with my local GSM network, and it’s using a regular prepaid SIM card, bought in my local phone store for €10. Below the GSM module, you can see the on.off switch and a DC-DC converter, which converts the 3.7volts from the LiPoly battery to 5volts needed by everything else.' He points out that the phone is not terribly practical, but it's a neat project. Hunt has done several others, including turning the Raspberry Pi into a controller for time-lapse photography. He'll be publishing the code he wrote for the PiPhone next week.

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Man Builds DIY Cellphone Using Raspberry Pi

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  • by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:47PM (#46845489) Homepage Journal
    It guides the user through a series of steps to download tunes off the internet and create their own custom ring. The fedex guy thought it was great.
    The cops just kick the door in.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Make it play the COPS theme bad boys, when they, kick it in.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:48PM (#46845491)

    it doesn't have the catchy logo nor the rounded corners!?!? Also isn't a cell phone covered by like 250,000 patents? [techdirt.com]

    He's takin our Jerbs!!! [youtube.com]

       

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:48PM (#46845495) Homepage Journal

    Not only will nobody try to steal that stack of electronics, but if they did try to mug you for it, you could hit them with it.

    Besides removing that header connector, it could also have the USB connector desoldered, and one of those tiny wifi modules could be soldered directly on there, perhaps after having the connector part of the board cut down with a dremel. That would give you the option to do WiFi SIP as well as GSM.

    • Re:Wow, a brick! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dos1 (2950945) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:01PM (#46845593)

      For WiFi SIP you could just use phones like Neo900, GTA04 or maybe even Freerunner. Each of them will give you better battery life, better performance (except Freerunner) and won't require you to run proprietary software on them, unlike Raspberry Pi.

      Such DIY project is very nice thing to do as a part of your hobby, but any practical usage will be killed by lack of proper power management.

      • Re:Wow, a brick! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:44PM (#46845797) Homepage Journal

        Such DIY project is very nice thing to do as a part of your hobby, but any practical usage will be killed by lack of proper power management.

        I thought we all understood that a project like this wasn't really practical, only an amusement. That's what the first bit of my comment was about. But the second part was about making it better, because why not?

        • by dos1 (2950945)

          Because extending the scope of cool project from cool to pointless is just... pointless :)

          • by amiga3D (567632)

            Because the project IS the point. It's learning through doing which is, in the end, what the Pi is all about.

            • by dos1 (2950945)

              That's what I've been referring to. Putting some parts together to get modem working on Raspberry Pi maybe isn't hard, but it's definitely a great experience for a hobbyist doing something like that for the first time. In contrast, adding WiFi module and installing some SIP software on it is actually brain-dead simple (apt-get install linphone? :P) - it won't teach you anything more, and it won't work in any reasonable way as well thanks to Raspberry Pi limitations.

              Doing stuff like that is great when they'r

      • Well, considering the amount of bloat, crap, surveillance and simple bullshit the average phone runs that you can't get rid of (short of risking a bricking), I'd say he should be on par with contemporary "smart" (I'll use the term loosely here) phones.

    • by morgauxo (974071)

      And then it wouldn't have a USB port anymore.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And then it wouldn't have a USB port anymore.

        So what? The USB is crap, just barely good enough for something like low-rate USB WiFi.

    • Not only will nobody try to steal that stack of electronics, but if they did try to mug you for it, you could hit them with it.

      I'd like to see him get that thing past the TSA w/o getting a cavity search - I mean "enhanced pat-down".

  • I'd be pissed if my phone started ringing incessantly because it was in a video on /.

    • He displays it publicly on his website, so hasn't tried to hide the fact.

      Y'know, maybe it's a marketing ploy to get one of the 3.5M slashdot readers to discuss business opportunities/offer him a job?

  • That's a bit of a stretch... it doesn't even play Candy Crush.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    nt

  • So, really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoMaster (142776) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:09PM (#46845641) Homepage Journal

    $40 for the rPi, $35 for the 320x240 touchscreen, $15 for the LiPo battery, $48 for the GSM module, and about $20 for miscellaneous other minor parts.

    So, really this is "Man Builds DIY Cellphone Using DIY Cellphone Module".

    • by dos1 (2950945)

      Any other interpretation is basically impossible, so well...

      • Re:So, really... (Score:4, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:32PM (#46845753)
        Well it's all a matter of degree. The phone is impressive. On the other hand, the prefab GSM Module is really the core of the phone.

        Oooh, car analogy time! This is like a kit car where you use a Chevy or Ford engine and transmission. Very few hobbyists go further than that, and if they do, they aren't hobbyists by the time they're done :)

    • Re:So, really... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:53PM (#46846239)

      Were you expecting him to fab his own chips? Maybe he should grow his own silicon wafers while he's at it. Although, if he really wants to make a DIY phone, he must first invent the universe.

      • Well, he could use a software radio module, and reverse engineer the whole GSM thing (but leave the SIM card to do the crypto with the towers). Should be possible, and you'd end up with a phone that could use the software radio to do funky low-level things across the spectrum.

        Of course, such a thing would be illegal in most places where phones are used.

      • by rastos1 (601318)

        he must first invent the universe.

        Hah. I really could come up with a few improvements ...

      • by NoMaster (142776)

        Were you expecting him to fab his own chips? Maybe he should grow his own silicon wafers while he's at it. Although, if he really wants to make a DIY phone, he must first invent the universe.

        Oooh, sarcasm!

        You're being stupid, but yes - I do expect a bit more from a so-called tech site than "Man Builds Cellphone By Plugging Together Bits From Adafruit & Micro4You". Maybe a little bit of soldering, or at least a reasonable bit of commentary on how it all plugs together & works?

        In case you didn't rea

        • Since he doesn't appear to have really incorporated many "smart" functions using the pi, it could have all been done with the GSM module, a keypad, a PIC, and a generic 44780 based LCD display. That would, of course involve soldering, and assembly language, and no fat module idling along running linux.

        • by Smallpond (221300)

          He didn't really discuss the software in the demo, but it looked fairly polished (not surprising from a professional software engineer) and if you noticed even had a PiPhone logo boot screen. It was certainly a lot more work to do this than the people who claim to have "built their own computer".

  • I'm sure there is better components out there but this is really cool and make me wonder if I could build my own 1960's Star Trek communicator at some point before I die and have that as my cell phone.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      1997 called, they want their idea back.

  • By the way, this is not the first DIY mobile phone: here's a phone made out of Nokia N810 Internet Tablet: http://talk.maemo.org/showthre... [maemo.org]

  • He bought premade modules and did something you've been able to do since just a few months after the RPi came out. Its been possible with Arduino shields for far longer.

    Why exactly is this here? Just because the editors have no idea what articles their posting and have just realized that for way too much money you can make a really shitty cell phone?

    I've got an arduino based cell phone buried in my desk somewhere, all using off the shelf modules, I'm pretty sure all of which I bought from radioshack thoug

  • Lovely! Linux with complete access to the mic and speaker. Should be able to pair these up and have reasonably secure scrambled voice communications.
  • I built one using a picaxe + GSM module in 2010. It was pretty challenging fitting enough AT commands in the limited eeprom on the picaxe. Worked great on the protoboard but I never bothered making a PCB for what is really a pretty pointless device. Even in 2010 I could have bought a better phone for $20. GSM modules are really useful: using one to make a phone seems like a waste! They're much more interesting for things like remote monitoring or smart SMS-enabled devices...

  • Would be better with a floppy raid attached for backup: http://www.wired.com/2009/05/f... [wired.com]

    Actually a neat project but I wanted to be snarky...
  • NOT. I've seen a friend doing the same thing for his thesis(he was an undergraduate) back in 2006 were everything was more expensive(boards,controllers, various modules) and more primitive. Back then there were no IDEs for boards like arduino, you had very few libraries to work with and everything was done mostly by hand, I remember him building some of the circuits too(custom pcb with components like the gsm module), as some module were to expensive or had a strange shape and couldn't feet with the rest
  • is it that people who probably don't have the skills to do something like this, always say that it is rubbish? Geeze, give the man some credit for ingenuity, after all thinking like he does is how technology progress.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday April 26, 2014 @04:34AM (#46846951) Homepage

    Apple is going to sue him so hard he'll think he's Samsung.

  • You can even here the distinctive radio interference GSM phones make at about 2:26. Whenever my clock radio makes that sound I know I'm about to get a text message.
  • I'm a second year student of Ethical Hacking. About a quarter of my class chose to do the "Raspberry Pi" project this year, where most of us successfully came up with basically that very same device (minus the touchscreen, our uni doesn't have any, although I can't imagine it would take us more than a couple of weeks of hacking at it to have decent touchscreen support). Mine also has Metasploit and can launch attacks in response to phone call/SMS :) So yeah about 20 second year students this year, probably
  • Using off the shelf components to clone existing functionality is boring. What would be much better is to build a secure mesh network phone. Sure, it would take a bunch of them to be very useful, but you have to start somewhere. Start with local capability that would work in your college dorm or something. And make sure it's end-to-end encrypted from the start. There's something that could be world changing. Kickstart it if necessary.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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