April 20, 2024


Epicurean computer & technology

How to make your own mobile phone

This article was taken from the November 2012 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired’s articles in print before they’re posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by <span class=”s1″>subscribing online.

Here’s your next mobile-phone upgrade: the one you make yourself. David Mellis, from the MIT Media Lab’s High-Low Tech group, created the DIY Cellphone to “encourage a proliferation of diverse mobile phones”. The open-source prototype was built from a variety of standard electronics components, costing around $150 (£100): “it’s just pieces that can be put together.”

The phone contains a custom-built circuit board (“some challenging soldering,” Mellis, 32, says), inside a laser-cut plywood case, and takes any standard SIM card, thanks to a SM5100B GSM module; the colour display is a 160 x 128 pixel TFT from Adafruit. Version 1.0 can make and receive calls, but Mellis, a software developer for the Arduino platform, plans to add text messaging and an address book to the next iteration. “Will it eventually play Angry Birds? Maybe. I want to get it to the point where I can carry it as my main phone.”

If you want to build your own, the source code, circuit designs and case-design files can be downloaded from the damellis/cellphone library on GitHub. Collaboration is welcome: “I want to work with other designers to come up with cool, different ideas.” Watch out, Apple.