Getting rid of telemarketers with a Banana Phone

Banana

The Federal Trade Commission really doesn’t like robocalls and other telephone solicitors selling you vinyl siding or home security upgrades. The FTC is even offering $50,000 to anyone who can do away with these robocalling telemarketers, and [Alex] looks like he might just claim the prize. He developed The Banana Phone, a device that eliminates those pesky telemarketers.

The basic idea of the Banana Phone is requiring callers to enter a four-digit pass code (played via text to speech over a relevant song to prevent a bot from getting through) before connecting them to the main line. Once a caller has been verified as human, their number is added to a white list so they won’t have to listen to [Raffi] every time they call.

The Banana Phone uses off-the-shelf parts  including a Raspberry Pi and a phone/Ethernet adapter with the total build cost under $100. You can check out a demo of the Banana Phone in action after the break starting at about 2:25.

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Dial 1 to get Siri as your operator

Back in the days of yore when hats were fashionable and color TV didn’t exist, there were real life people who would answer the phone if you dialed 0. These operators would provide directory assistance, and connect you to another number (such as KL5-8635). Apple’s Siri is a lot like an olde-timey phone operator, so [davis] decided to put Siri in an old rotary telephone.

The build started off with a very inexpensive Bluetooth headset and very old rotary phone. The single button on the Bluetooth headset was wired to a contact of the dial – in this case, the number 1. Dialing 1 shorts two contacts in the phone and the Bluetooth headset turns on.

[davis] came up with a very easy build but dialing 1 just isn’t the same as dialing 0. Connecting the Bluetooth button to 0 closes the button for too long. He says ‘0 for operator’ could be implemented with an ATtiny or similar, but we’re wondering if [davis] could make due with a dial-less candlestick phone.

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You Want How Much for a Phone Charger?

People quickly find out that I am a dork, and their next question typically is “why do you own that old as dirt dumb phone?”. Well to be honest, I don’t like phones. After a decade of Palm Pilots and Windows CE devices, I really don’t like touch screens either (fat man fingers and a bad habit of chewing nails does not help). I also do not like that in order to get a fancy PDA with a radio you usually have to sign up for a data plan, or pay for the thing in full.

Now get off my lawn! Seriously though, I really only need my phone to do two things, make phone calls, and send SMS messages. If I had a wishlist the only other things I would like is mass storage for MP3 files, and Bluetooth. Naturally when I started my new day job I found the geek in the department and shortly there after I got asked about my basic LG flip phone.

After a few days of interrogation I jokingly snapped back with “well since you are so worried about it why don’t you give me a better phone!” With a little hinting around and a bribe of a “Swiss Roll” at lunch, I was given an old HTC phone with Windows Mobile 5.

While it is not exactly an iPhone or an Android,  it is much more featured than what I had, and it has a mini SD card slot and Bluetooth! The only catch was, he could not find the charger. We did not know if the thing even worked (he had never seen the thing turned on) , or what condition the battery was in.

As a good little hacker I took it anyway,  join me after the break to see me get it fired up and save a quite a bit of change in the process.

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Security system gives you a call when it senses intruders

gsm_motion_detector_alarm_system

[Dimitris] decided to build a homemade alarm system, but instead of triggering a siren, sending an SMS message, or Tweeting about an intrusion, he preferred that his system call him when there was trouble afoot. He says that he preferred a call over text messaging because there are no charges associated with the call if the recipient does not pick up the line, which is not the case with SMS.

The system is based around an off the shelf motion detector that was hacked to work with an old mobile phone. The motion detector originally triggered a siren, but he stripped out the speaker and wired it to a bare bones Arduino board he constructed. The Arduino was in turn connected to the serial port of an unused Ericssson T10s mobile phone. This allows the Arduino to call his mobile phone whenever the motion detector senses movement.

The system looks to be quite useful, and while [Dimitris] didn’t include all of the code he used, he says others should be able to replicate his work without too much trouble.

Here’s a button, call someone who cares…

call_someone_who_cares_button

[Les] had thousands of dollars of expensive IP Telephone infrastructure at his fingertips, so he figured he might as well play around a bit – after all, what good is all that equipment if you can’t have a little fun?

Inspired by the “Awesome Button” featured on Make, he started thinking about what sort of feature he would like to have available at the push of a button. He must have had Travis Tritt on the brain the day he started building his creation, since he named it the “The Call Someone Who Cares Button”.

[Les] picked up an “emergency stop” button from eBay, wiring it to a TeensyUSB, just as it was done in the Make article. He mapped the button to the pause/break key, then whipped up a bit of C#code that listens for that key to be pressed. When toggled, the button sets forth a series of events that gets his boss on the line ASAP.

It’s a fun little project, and while I might have built a button that introduces fake static and echo into the line before dumping the call, I think it’s pretty cool all the same.

Since it seems that just about everyone has built some derivation of the Awesome Button, share yours with us in the comments, and be sure to stick around to see a quick video demo of the CSWC button in action.

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A breakout board for your Android phone

[sparkfun] announced a new board called the IOIO (pronounced “yo-yo”) this week that allows communication from your Android devices to your upcoming projects.

The board hasn’t been released yet; [sparkfun] is still pulling together documentation and waiting on their first production run. We do know that the board contains a PIC24F MCU, and will give your phone analog input,  and Digital I/O, PWM, I2C, SPI, and UART control. Communication with the board is over the USB port on your phone.

The brilliant thing about this board is that an external programmer isn’t required. Everything you connect to this board can be controlled from within Android apps. We covered Android development in a hackaday tutorial series before, so now it’s possible to put these skills to give your projects a touch screen, internet and bluetooth connections, a camera, or your phone’s accelerometers. Very slick.

Video of some basic functions demonstrating what possible with this board after the jump, but feel free to comment and tell us what you’d like to see done with this board.

Convert an old busted phone into a voice-altering prank machine

phone_mixer

Have you ever wanted to be someone else, at least over the phone? Do you dream of turning the tables on telemarketers, making them hurry to get off the line instead of you? If so, [Brad] over at LucidScience has the project for you.

A bit of a prankster at heart, he walks through the conversion of a normal telephone into a Data Access Arrangement device (DAA), allowing you to interface it with either hardware or software-based audio mixers.

The process can be completed in a relatively short time period, and doesn’t require much more than an old telephone, a handful of tools, and some miscellaneous switches and jacks. He disassembled a telephone and trimmed off all of the unnecessary circuitry while retaining most of the original functionality. Line in and out jacks were then installed in place of the handset microphone and speakers, respectively. The final result is a compact box that relays altered audio from any kind of mixing device to person at the other end of the call. Since the majority of the phone remains intact, your calls still sound natural as they pass through the phone’s existing voice filter and preamp circuitry.

Once the DAA is complete, you can use any number of effects on your voice, limited only by your audio mixer. [Brad] says he has long-time friends that don’t even recognize his voice after he has run it through his effects machine, so get started on yours before April Fool’s day arrives!

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