Rotary Telephone Becomes Stylish Lamp

The vintage aesthetic is more popular than ever, and while things like rotary phones aren’t particularly useful anymore, there’s a lot of fun to be had using them in new and inventive ways. For this project, [Sander] built an attractive table lamp out of a Siemens rotary phone.

Switched off, the lamp appears to be nothing more than a phone with its handset floating in midair. However turn the dial, and LEDs mounted in the receiver begin to glow. Taking things a step further as good hackers do, [Sander] used a motorised potentiometer to control the LED brightness with a NodeMCU board featuring the ESP8266. This allows the LEDs to be dimmed either by hand, or by a smartphone connected over WiFi, without the dial getting out of sync.

By using a dual H-bridge setup, the NodeMCU is able to both control the motorized pot as well as generate an AC signal to activate the original bell in the phone, which adds a whole lot of nostalgia points. Fitting the motorized pot into the phone did lend some challenges but that didn’t slow [Sander] down – they simply used a cheap universal joint to allow the motor to connect to the rotary dial off-axis. A great trick to keep in your back pocket.

For the haunting floating effect, [Sander] used a meter of 4 mm brass rod, bending it into shape to hold up the handset. This was used as a ground, and along with a couple of extra wires for power, was covered in a black textile sheath recovered from another electrical cable. [Sander] tells us it wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off, but we definitely agree that the effect is totally worth it.

Thirsty for more vintage ephemera? Check out this rotary phone that runs on GSM. Video below the break.

16 thoughts on “Rotary Telephone Becomes Stylish Lamp

  1. I don’t know, while this is a very cool piece of art, it instills a very disturbing degree of angst that would suck the joy out of any room it was in while forcing itself into being center of attention.

      1. Yes and the handset looks frozen in a moment where it was suddenly dropped by the user upon hearing some dreadful news, or perhaps being the victim of an attack, or, they have suddenly vanished, sucked into the glowing, haunted instrument. It’s that caught in time with no explanation that gives it a transcendent anguish that is both powerful and disturbing.

  2. This is very impressive. From the title I expected that someone had simply ruined a phone and turned it into a lamp – but using the rigid “cord” to keep the handset in the air and having the dial turn remotely, well, it’s very cool. Now the payphone I turned into a working cellphone seems lame by comparison.

  3. Rotary phones are still useful and becoming more useful as time goes by. I have an old rotary phone similar to this one hooked up in my home office and it still works just fine. With the advent of voice activated systems that ask you to speak instead of push the buttons to reply – I can now do almost anything on my old rotary phone. Plus I don’t have to recharge it, update it, wonder where I left it, or worry about it not working when the electricity is out. It is also fun to use. My kids get s kick out of dialing the numbers to make a call. Long Live the Rotary Phone!!

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