You too can build your very own cell phone from scratch for just $200
David Mellis, who occupies his time at MIT’s Media Lab, has provided all the plans needed for someone to build their very own cell phone. Notice that we are talking an actual mobile phone, like the type you make phone calls with, not a smartphone that does everything else.
The plans allow for either an LCD display or LED matrix display (a-la old-school Motorola flip phones from the early 1990s). The plans also allow for charging the battery via mini-USB, probably a cost consideration, though enterprising individuals will likely be able to adopt a micro-USB if they want.
The circuit board can be printed via OSH Park, where $60 gets you three copies (which could come in handy if you mess up and melt something). The case materials are up to your imagination, wood, plastic, whatever you can create that will enclose the other parts. Using a laser cutter for the wood is not a bad idea. You will also need to be able to handle a fair amount of hand-soldering. All told, to cover the basics, it should cost about $200-ish out of pocket.
Once you are done, pop in a standard sized (now mini) SIM card from either AT&T or T-Mobile (it has also been tested in Europe, India and China), and you have an honest to goodness cell phone. If any of you decide to build one, send us your progress, pictures and tell us the story of how it all came together, and most importantly, that it works.
The "Do It Yourself" Cellphone
sources: MIT Media Lab via The Verge
photos: Copyright of David Mellis, republished under the Creative Commons license. The images have been cropped.
1. madmikepr (Posts: 125; Member since: 09 Aug 2011)
this is the start of the PhoneBloks or project Ara maybe ??
3. Shatter (Posts: 2031; Member since: 29 May 2013)
They don't want phone blocks to become a reality because it means they lose a ton of $.
9. TechBizJP08 (Posts: 495; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
another cellphone trigger for those crazy bomber.
Not good at all.
15. tuminatr (Posts: 693; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)
naa they would just go buy a prepay phone much cheaper
4. mturby (unregistered)
build this for $200 or buy a Moto G for the same price.
13. DAMONORIBELLO (Posts: 95; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
Keep buying what they're selling, monkey. ; )
7. Jurdiales (Posts: 121; Member since: 10 Oct 2012)
What if we put an EB40 battery on that piece of wood? (The EB40 is the Droid RAZR MAXX battery - 3300 MAh!)
11. TheOldOne (Posts: 105; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)
no need, you can have a wire going into your backpack, where you will keeping the (really huge) battery ;)
8. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2866; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)
Phonebloks! by Dave Hakkens may be a start for the project Ara or something similar.
14. DAMONORIBELLO (Posts: 95; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)
But what if you can learn to build a phone yourself? Then one day as the parts become less expensive, your new design is the next big hit. If we continue to just buy these things, eventually no one is left to invent.
16. ramblingal (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Oct 2014)
Where in the usa can I find circuit boards half that size? or flexi-boards? I have a design idea and sure could use help sourcing the components.