The Rotary Cell Phone


It’s happened. It’s finally happened. In a move that has hipsters donning their good flannel and breaking out that case of Genesee they were saving for a special occasion, the rotary cell phone is now a reality.

[Jaromir] created this astonishingly retro future device as an entry for the NXP LPC810 challenge, a contest to do the most with an ARM Cortex M0+ microcontroller in an 8-pin package. Having only six I/O pins for controlling a GSM module, display a few buttons, and the fancy rotary dial meant [Jaromir] needed to expand his I/O some way. He chose a shift register to handle the buttons and display in a somewhat impressive demonstration of using a shift register as both an input and output expander at the same time.

From the videos [Jaromir] uploaded, the rotary cell phone isn’t ready for Think Geek to do a production run quite yet. He needs to enter the PIN for the SIM card, AT commands for the GSM module, and is, of course, a horrible method of user input for the younglings who have only seen rotary phones in old movies. That being said, it’s a rotary cell phone running on an 8-pin microcontroller. What more do you want?

Videos of this awesome this truly awesome phone in action below. If you’d like to build your own – and why wouldn’t you – all the files are available on [Jaromir]‘s git


  1. Tired Juan says:

    What’s sad is, I was thinking of modding an old cellphone to do this. Now that someone has done it, it seems pointless (/hipster) lol

  2. Eccentric Electron says:

    I love this… what an awesome hack!

  3. Volkemon says:

    I got one years ago…FUN FUN FUN and made everyong jump when it rang on the table…with NO cord attached…

  4. TheRafMan says:

    “Give me a minute, I have to reply to a text… whirrll, tic, tic, tic….”

    • Thinkerer says:

      I was thinking the same thing, only many, many minutes…and no backspace key. Onward to a digital camera that requires an expensive roll of plastic that must be loaded in the dark….

  5. andrewjhull says:

    I wonder if you could squeeze *everything* in to the footprint of the dialer, a small circular oled display where the paper phone number sticker lives, and the rest of the works in a clear case on the back. So much cooler than an iSlab … it would also have the added advantage of rolling in to an inconvenient location if you dropped it rather than shattering expensively like a miniature glass bus shelter.

  6. Ken says:

    I would like to respectfully object to linking Genesee beer to hipsters. My father-in-law would disrepectfully disagree with a violent stare, if he were alive. Genesee beer is fuel to a whole generation of Rochester working class men who would gladly defend her honor with a shovel. It’s not some trend hipsters get to “discover”.

    • dorl says:

      There’s nothing you can do about it. In big cities, where hipsters live, they are the ones who drink it. Thus, people who live in cities associate it with hipsters. Sorry dude

  7. Paul Kastner says:

    He forgot to grab the miniature ringer from an old Princess or Scandiphone.

  8. Hirudinea says:

    Where’s the giant handset?

  9. Daniel says:

    Cool! Now make a nice bakelite case for it. And don’t forget to add a bell :)

  10. Rusty Shackleford says:

    To what end?

  11. Trui says:

    It should have been made without the display and the push buttons.

  12. CaptainClank says:

    It’s cool, could have been implemented many other ways but it is what it is. I look forward to seeing other readers submit their own iteration. Thank you for sharing.

  13. zuul says:

    remember when you would go to call someone and you would hold off on putting in the last number until you were ready to talk

  14. I used to hate these old rotary dials. So did it’s inventors at Bell Labs. That’s why even in early 20th century they did try push button phones. If you ever saw the stepper relays at a central station you would be amazed at the electromechanical technology. An old rotary dialer will still work on your landline, however, it used TTL logic now.

    What I would like to see is the mind-controlled dialer. There is a new technology that reads your brain signals to the throat before you actually speak. You just think the words or numbers and move your tongue in unison and words and numbers appear on the screen.

  15. Robert Hudson says:

    Its the gut of Maxwell Smart’s Shoe Phone!

  16. CoolMod says:

    Here is one great!

  17. Smorges Borges says:

    I can remember trying to dial faster by using my finger to force the dial back more quickly. The benefits seemed to be limited by some sort of governor in the mechanism.

  18. Smorges Borges says:

    This reminds me of a project I was thinking about yesterday – a TV remote control with an analog detent knob, like the old TV’s had.

    Unfortunately it is hard to duplicate the speed of nearly instant channel flipping we had in the analog era.

  19. igotapochahontas says:

    SERIOUSLY?! I made a steampunk rotary phone app for androids like two years ago (still have it on google play) this one is pretty sweet though, im not gunna lie. mine looks cooler though. although it looks kind of stupid on the big screens people are toating around now….

  20. static says:

    What’s the encore? Setting up a way to use hand crank magneto to get the operator on the cellphone network so she can patch your call though on switchboard?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,380 other followers