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Did you know that building a DIY cell phone is totally possible? These guys all made one

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Did you know that building a DIY cell phone is totally possible? These guys all made one

Modern-day phones are, in general, pretty easy to use. No wonder that their makers don't bother throwing an in-depth instruction manual in the box anymore. But the process of designing a phone, both on the inside and on the outside, is undoubtedly a complicated one. And then there's a bunch of code that has to be developed, debugged, and loaded onto the device to make it work. That's why you can't just grab a bunch of off-the-shelf parts and build your own cell phone at home over the weekend. Unless you're a devoted tinkerer and DIY enthusiast – just like these guys.

The Phoenard

The Phoenard

Sumasta Pamungkas is a young, bright, and creative individual from The Netherlands. Several months ago, he scored an award for his awesome Phoenard project – a programmable gadget with cell phone functionality. 

Making calls and sending texts are far from the only uses for the device, however. Sumasta designed the Phoenard in a way that lets one write applications (called sketches) for the handheld. What's more, it can "talk" to other devices via its expansion port. This lets the Phoenard do all kinds of neat stuff, from making lights blink, to being the brains of a self-balancing robot. 

Hardware-wise, the Phoenard features a 2.6-inch touchscreen display, an Atmel microcontroller, Bluetooth, and GPS. If needed, expansion boards can be paired with the device to add Wi-Fi or MP3-playback capabilities. 

The PiPhone

The PiPhone

The PiPhone is another DIY cell phone built around hardware well known in the community. Its heart and brains is a Raspberry Pi, which is essentially an inexpensive credit-card sized computer aimed at anyone interested in learning how to code. For this build, the board has been outfitted with a GSM module, a 2.8-inch touchscreen display, and a lithium-polymer rechargeable battery. 

Its creator, David Hunt, says that the PiPhone project is more of a proof-of-concept thing demonstrating what can be achieved with easily obtainable components. Plus, building the gizmo has been a fun experience, he clarifies. The PiPhone is made of $158 worth of parts, in case you're wondering, with the GSM component costing the most – $48. The Raspberry Pi and the touchscreen module cost him $40 and $35 respectively.

The DIY Cellphone

The DIY Cellphone

Next up we have the DIY Cellphone, designed by David Mellis at MIT. It is one that can be put together by anyone who knows how to use a soldering iron well enough. Priced at about $200, it is being offered as a kit containing all the parts necessary for building the device. The case, however, has to be made separately, preferably using a laser cutter and the provided plans. One of two screen models can be used for the DIY Cellphone – one that's akin to the monochrome side-lit screens on older Nokia phones, or a more basic, yet more robust one displaying characters with its array of red LEDs. 

The Neo-Victorian cell phone

The Neo-Victorian cell phone

And then there's the Neo-Victorian cell phone, put together by Johan von Red from Poland. Basically, he ripped out the electronics from an old Sagem handset and put them inside this steampunk-inspired enclosure made of wood and brass. Sure, it is bulky, and texting on it would feel a bit awkward, but hey, you have to admit that the contraption has its own charm.

While this particular unit isn't for sale anymore, a newer and better model is listed on the creator's Etsy page. Its $516 price tag, however, might make you think twice before hitting that "Add To Cart" button.

references: Phoenard (Facebook), David Hunt, High-low Tech, Geekologie

  • Options

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 16:32 4

1. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)

"Did you know that building a DIY cell phone is totally possible?"


posted on 07 Jun 2014, 16:33 20

2. wilsong17 (unregistered)

it has more function than a Iphone :DD

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 19:01 4

7. PAPINYC (banned) (Posts: 2315; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)

iThought it was an iPhone.

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 20:54 1

13. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


posted on 07 Jun 2014, 16:39 1

3. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3806; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Now how about some for-home models? :)

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 18:58 2

6. zennacko (Posts: 237; Member since: 16 Jun 2013)

"Did you know that building a DIY cell phone is totally possible?"
Yes, but the question is:

"Can we get away safely from the fangs of justice from FCC as soon as they know there are 'unauthorized/uncertified devices' on the spectrum?"
Guess not.

posted on 08 Jun 2014, 12:32 1

19. wax33 (Posts: 45; Member since: 06 Apr 2014)

Uh? If it's legal to commercialize GSM modules then it must be legal to use them.Your FCC should've intervened before the GSM modules are offered for sale. (IMHO)

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 19:49 1

8. trollstjerne (Posts: 4; Member since: 04 May 2014)

Is it possible to upgrade/replace the hardware on a galaxy S3, Sony Z, or any other smartphone for that matter with a new camera, more ram, or a new cpu just like on a PC? Did anyone try?

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 20:17 2

10. romeo1 (Posts: 729; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)

It probably is possible but then you have make allot of changes in the software i think. Cause mobile os aren't as flexible as windows. If you change anything you have to write a compatible software thats why the updates take longer i guess

posted on 08 Jun 2014, 00:42

17. shuaibhere (Posts: 1986; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)

Wait for the project ara to come out...
That will make your dreams come true...as well as mine...

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 20:01 1

9. fireblade (Posts: 717; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)

yes, it's possible... for nerds!

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 20:42 1

11. iMemo (Posts: 113; Member since: 22 Feb 2014)

FACT: 95% of you dudes talk trash about Apple just to get some likes. DUMB FANDROIDS! -_-

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 20:53 4

12. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

iTruth hurts

Even if you Google it and goto YouTube to find out what Apple as a company and the overpriced hyped products they sell to their iUsers, the fact that Apple is laughing at their iZombies customers: which you we are, you will still deny the truth, cause God only knows, knowing the truth and ignoring the factual truth is utmost delusional.

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 21:21 4

15. wilsong17 (unregistered)

i this these day we are going to have a new vocabulary with ithis,icar,itv,idoctor etc..

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 21:48 4

16. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

And Apple is planning or will be patenting the word i

looks like it will or might be iJedii next, lmao

I'm wondering has or will Darkkjedii patent his name to i i iDarkkjedii.....

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 21:20 3

14. wilsong17 (unregistered)

say the guy with the letter i in the beginning

posted on 08 Jun 2014, 11:40

18. corporateJP (Posts: 2458; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)

Dudes I used to work with back in the day at Radio Shack were doing this with analog phones, nothing new.

Not my thing, but they'd take broken or water damaged phones people would leave when they'd upgrade or get a new device and pull the guts. Replace parts and build custom housings. It was very Stone Age.

Cool to see people still doing it.

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