Over on Hackaday.io, [bobricius] took this technology and designed something great. It’s a GSM cell phone with a case made out of FR4. It’s beautiful, and if you’re ever in need of a beautifully crafted burner phone, this is the one to build.
The components, libraries, and toolchains to build a cellphone from scratch have been around for a very long time. Several years ago, the MIT Media Lab prototyped a very simple cellphone on a single piece of FR4. It made calls, but not much else. It was ugly, but it worked. [Bobricius] took the idea and ran with it.
The technique that goes into building an enclosure out of FR4 is something we’ve seen before, but we haven’t seen much of it since. Our resident old-school hacker [Voja Antonic] wrote a guide last year on using FR4 as an enclosure. The process is relatively simple – just leave some exposed copper around the edge of a panel, clamp it at about 90 degrees, and solder it to the edge of another panel. Adding captive nuts, standoffs, angles other than 90 degrees, and interlocking panels are slightly more advanced techniques, but still simple to implement.
[bobricius] has a few more tricks up his sleeve for his next version of this DIY cell phone. The nice, but hard to source, display will be replaced with a Charlieplexed 22×5 array of LEDs on a custom board, and the phone will feature QI wireless charging. If you can’t wait, [bobricius] is even selling a few of the current PCBs up on Tindie.
Of course, all this work would be for naught if the phone didn’t actually work. It does, at least until 2G networks are turned off. You can check out a video of that below.