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Man Builds DIY Cellphone Using Raspberry Pi

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the apple-already-sued-for-patent-infringement dept.

Hardware Hacking 83

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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alkjdf;aldjfl;ajfda;ljfs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845423)

aldksjfa;lkdfjal;sjfalsfj

Re:alkjdf;aldjfl;ajfda;ljfs (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46846927)

Sent from his Rasberry Pi.

Time to hire some suicidal Chinese workers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845433)

Start mass producing these puppies.

Re:Time to hire some suicidal Chinese workers... (3, Interesting)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46845689)

There's [neo900.org] no need [gta04.org] for that [openphoenux.org] .

Re:Time to hire some suicidal Chinese workers... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46846237)

a small, cheap, programmable switch that can be accessed remotely.

obviously, the FBI must raid the house of everyone who posts a message for this article, as we are now more likely than not to be able to detonate a nuclear warhead anywhere within the US from our home.

Better then bloatware phones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845483)

big, bulky and hard to fit in pocket but still better then phones filled with bloatware

Re: Better then bloatware phones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846183)

Than*

i mad a doorbell out of my pi (5, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 5 months ago | (#46845489)

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:i mad a doorbell out of my pi (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845587)

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

Re:i mad a doorbell out of my pi (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46847791)

How about "cop killer" instead?

Re: i mad a doorbell out of my pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847835)

What about "F the police"? That'll make sure they kick the door in with extra gusto

Re:i mad a doorbell out of my pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846731)

That's nothing. I made a door stop out of my pi. It runs from 12V (8 AA batteries).

Re:i mad a doorbell out of my pi (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46848611)

That's nothing. I made a door out of several dozen raspberry pis.

In retrospect, and now that the medication is kicking in, I'm beginning to wonder why.

Wait, it'll never work! (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 5 months ago | (#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]

   

Re:Wait, it'll never work! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46845989)

One can only hope that he does.

Wow, a brick! (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46845495)

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! (4, Interesting)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#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! (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46845797)

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?

Re:Wow, a brick! (0)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46845817)

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

Re:Wow, a brick! (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46847799)

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

Re:Wow, a brick! (1)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46849735)

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're fun, you can learn something from it or you can brag about it. Implementing suggestions above will provide none of these things, while it might provide a disappointment when you'll keep your hopes too high.

Re:Wow, a brick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847987)

I thought we all understood that a project like this wasn't really practical, only an amusement.

Oh heavens no! This is the slashdot webzoneboardthingy, where the raspberry pi is only compared to xeon i7 desktops and thus declared worthless in every conceivable way, and is the work of the devil himself for having a non-open GPU compared to the complainers open-source nvidia card.

People list as a complaint that the raspberry pi doesn't include the uber-rare and only-for-sale-from-the-raspberry-foundation components such as a micro USB cable or USB keyboard - quite literally saying the rasp pi's target market would never ever have such a component on hand in massive quantities already.

The very same people who read enough of the documentation to know writing an image file to an SD card is required, yet somehow take from those instructions a process that ends up converting their toaster oven into a refrigeration unit while replacing their desktops BIOS setup code with a game of tetris instead.

No, the understanding that the raspberry pi is a low end computer+electrical hobbiest device and not a replacement for their gaming rig desktop, is in fact quite rare to see around these parts.
I think the entirety of all 20 people that realize that have stopped posting corrections long ago.

Re:Wow, a brick! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46845993)

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.

Encryption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847295)

With the Pi, could there be some kind of scrambling or encrypted voice?

Re:Encryption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847341)

Yes, just like with any other proper GNU/Linux phone - and in case of them, with added value of being able to last on battery for more than two hours.

Re:Wow, a brick! (2)

morgauxo (974071) | about 6 months ago | (#46846067)

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

Re:Wow, a brick! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46847143)

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.

Re:Wow, a brick! (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 6 months ago | (#46846647)

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".

Re:Wow, a brick! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847025)

I've always wondered: do they do deep vaginal cavity search on women ?

pre-slashdotted! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845513)

3 posts...

Re:pre-slashdotted! (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 6 months ago | (#46846599)

Well, when you run your server on a Raspberry PI...

phone number (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845539)

and now we all know his phone number!

Re:phone number (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847405)

For a small fee I will sell you a book listing the phone numbers of everyone in the entire town of North Platte, Nebraska!

Slashdotted phone number? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 5 months ago | (#46845541)

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

Re:Slashdotted phone number? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 6 months ago | (#46846031)

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?

Re:Slashdotted phone number? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847105)

3.5M readers is really stretching it nowadays.

Re:Slashdotted phone number? (2)

grub (11606) | about 6 months ago | (#46847263)

I think he's mixing his Arabic and Roman numerals. 3500 readers is about right for 2014.

Smartphone? (2)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | about 5 months ago | (#46845553)

That's a bit of a stretch... it doesn't even play Candy Crush.

Re:Smartphone? (4, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46845995)

See how smart it is? Smarter than a LOT of cell phone users already!

And evidently his website is also running on pi (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46845563)

nt

The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845627)

The real question is, what will airport security think of it...?

Re:The real question... (1)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46845663)

I guess it depends on the case you'll put it into. If it'll look like a regular old brick-phone, then there will be no difference between mass-produced and "DIY" one. Both of them will be subject to active eavesdropping by BTSes inside the airport and will be prevented to connect to regular ones outside the airport with jamming, so with "DIY" one you're just as "safe" as with the regular one.

Re:The real question... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46845805)

I guess it depends on the case you'll put it into. If it'll look like a regular old brick-phone, then there will be no difference between mass-produced and "DIY" one. Both of them will be subject to active eavesdropping by BTSes inside the airport and will be prevented to connect to regular ones outside the airport with jamming, so with "DIY" one you're just as "safe" as with the regular one.

Looks like he might be able to fit it into an old Motorola MicroTAC phone body:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

Re:The real question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846747)

I wouldn't go anywhere near the airport.with that.
They freak out and arrest people for having things looking much less like a bomb than that.

So, really... (4, Insightful)

NoMaster (142776) | about 6 months ago | (#46845641)

$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".

Re:So, really... (2)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46845649)

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

Re:So, really... (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#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... (3, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:So, really... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#46846825)

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.

Re:So, really... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46847817)

I think they have the death penalty for that now.

Re:So, really... (1)

rastos1 (601318) | about 6 months ago | (#46846955)

he must first invent the universe.

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

Re: So, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847157)

Nah, I'd just expect something more than engineering class assignment-tier project from something that is supposed to be newsworthy (otherwise it wouldn't be here, would it?)

Re:So, really... (1)

NoMaster (142776) | about 6 months ago | (#46847159)

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 realise, the GSM module is pretty much the complete phone by itself; it's got the radio, controller, mic input, & speaker output all on one board. All that's missing is something to send it AT dialling commands.

And it's not like the same thing hasn't been done several times before, using everything from arduinos and MSP430s up to ARM chips...

Re:So, really... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#46847173)

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.

Re:So, really... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about 6 months ago | (#46847421)

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".

WTF is up with the broken new look? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845655)

This is horrible. I've been away for about a year, and now I wish I had stayed away.

Re:WTF is up with the broken new look? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846353)

do a google search for "fuck beta"

or just go to the forks, pipedot or soylentnews

Re:WTF is up with the broken new look? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46846943)

What beta? I see no beta here.

DIY Cell Phone (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | about 6 months ago | (#46845791)

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.

Re:DIY Cell Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845835)

I miss my Motorola Startac phone sometimes

Re:DIY Cell Phone (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46849961)

Mine got taffed by an arab. I know this, because he left my SIM in it (it was a PAYG) and some of my friends called me before they knew.

For a while I used to call it at random hours of the day & night. If I could remember the number I'd do it now.

Also, the stupid sod never worked out how to change the voicemail message.

Re:DIY Cell Phone (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46845869)

1997 called, they want their idea back.

Re:DIY Cell Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847033)

Did you warn them about 911 ??

Not first (1)

dos1 (2950945) | about 6 months ago | (#46845807)

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]

And? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46845859)

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 though some may come from sparkfun just to save money. Its no more difficult than stacking some lego bricks together and moving an actuator with Lego Mindstorms.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846531)

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 though some may come from sparkfun just to save money. Its no more difficult than stacking some lego bricks together and moving an actuator with Lego Mindstorms.

So post a link to your build or STFU.

Re:And? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46847177)

No, I won't post a link to my build because its not impressive, but I'll help your lazy ignorant ass out a bit.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=arduino+c... [lmgtfy.com]

First link is a basic phone for fucks sake

GBoard Pro anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46845875)

You can buy an Arduino powered GBoard Pro for $58 with integrated SIM900 and add iTead Studio's LCD Display and do this without all the fuss. Just saying.

Scrambler (1)

bigfoottoo (2947459) | about 6 months ago | (#46846105)

Lovely! Linux with complete access to the mic and speaker. Should be able to pair these up and have reasonably secure scrambled voice communications.

Re:Scrambler (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847329)

...just like with any other proper GNU/Linux phone, like Neo Freerunner or Neo900?

Not to criticise his efforts but. .. (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | about 6 months ago | (#46846123)

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...

I am failing to see the "not very practical" part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846217)

OK, he needs to upgrade from that QVGA touchscreen to WVGA or something .. other than that it's not too bad for the price.

Cool, but missing one thing... (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 6 months ago | (#46846223)

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...

Impressive.... (1)

Tsolias (2813011) | about 6 months ago | (#46846365)

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 of the components.

Re:Impressive.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846717)

The fact that it was cheap and easy makes it impressive.

Why ...... (1)

thephydes (727739) | about 6 months ago | (#46846375)

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.

Re:Why ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847067)

Because obviously those people that spent SOOOOooo long doing it the hard way deserve all the credit ever.

Apparently you have to suffer insane levels of pain, stress and anger to ever be considered "impressive".
Sort of like ToadyOnes definition of FUN.

The day I knew I was old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46846881)

was when the olds kept turning up in the news. Another generation of hardware and software hackers have just learned to blink and LED and their imaginations are popping with the possibilities. Engineering is cool and I'm glad to see continuing interest in it. On the other hand, there is nothing newsworthy about this from either a technological nor an innovating standpoint. It has all been done before and it's about as difficult as using a serial port.

Can I get a /. for my "Man makes GPS with ATmega8" or "Man sends himself SMS messages with ARM Cortex M0" or maybe "Man makes PSX and USB gamepad with microcontroller" or "Kid mods own console by bit-banging SCEA over serial port." Uhhhh "College student builds 100MHz logic analyzer and VGA controller" etc.

Oh wait, I forgot I need to associate myself with a buzzword like Raspberry Pi, MIT, or Arduino to be relevant to the latest generation of nerds and thus newsworthy. Plugging a bunch of off-the-shelf modules together is something a 12 year old can do. News would be if somebody made a better calculator than the HP48G, not "ZOMG RPi WTFBBQ!!!?!?!"

"PiPhone" (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 6 months ago | (#46846951)

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

Interference (1)

GerbilKor (2926575) | about 6 months ago | (#46847297)

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.

What's to see? (1)

Alex Kasa (2867743) | about 6 months ago | (#46847493)

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 about 20 in each batch previous years for a few years did this. We didn't make it to Slashdot :'(

Re: What's to see? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46847885)

Geez.. Pipe down there Mr " me too mee toooo!!"

Build a mesh network phone. That's imoressive (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 6 months ago | (#46849083)

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.
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