DIY cellphone


David Mellis at the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab built a DIY Cellphone, making a custom circuit-board and laser-cutting his own wooden case. The files are hosted on GitHub in case you'd like to try your hand at it.

An exploration into the possibilities for individual construction and customization of the most ubiquitous of electronic devices, the cellphone. By creating and sharing open-source designs for the phone’s circuit board and case, we hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones. Freed from the constraints of mass production, we plan to explore diverse materials, shapes, and functions. We hope that the project will help us explore and expand the limits of do-it-yourself (DIY) practice. How close can a homemade project come to the design of a cutting edge device? What are the economics of building a high-tech device in small quantities? Which parts are even available to individual consumers? What’s required for people to customize and build their own devices?

The initial prototype combines a custom electronic circuit board with a laser-cut plywood and veneer enclosure. The phone accepts a standard SIM card and works with any GSM provider. Cellular connectivity is provided by the SM5100B GSM Module, available from SparkFun Electronics. The display is a color 1.8″, 160×128 pixel, TFT screen on a breakout board from Adafruit Industries. Flexures in the veneer allow pressing of the buttons beneath. Currently, the software supports voice calls, although SMS and other functionality could be added with the same hardware. The prototype contains about $150 in parts.

Mellis's Master's thesis is "Case studies in the digital fabrication of open-source consumer electronic products" and includes a 3D printed mouse, fabbed speakers and a fabbed FM radio.

High-Low Tech – DIY Cellphone (via Hacker News)

(Images: Laser-cut plywood and veneer case, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mellis's photostream; Making a call, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mellis's photostream)