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!

Surplus military gear keeps your hands free, calls private

heli_helmet

[Julian] was rummaging through a military surplus store when he spotted a pair of old helicopter pilot helmets that he absolutely had to have. At $25 they were a steal, but pretty useless in their current state. He decided to modify one of the helmets for use while playing video games, but he didn’t stop there.

The helmet had two decent speakers built-in so he kept them, but tweaked the wiring from a mono-only configuration to accept stereo input. A RF wireless headset was disassembled and wired into the helmet so he could use it for playing video games while his wife is asleep. As an added bonus, the headset he used happened to have an AM/FM receiver built in, so he can enjoy music while sitting around with his helmet on as well. A Bluetooth cell phone headset was also torn down and wired into the helmet for gaming and handling phone calls. The Bluetooth mic was extended into the original mic stem built into the helmet, keeping things authentic-looking.

Overall it’s a quite a useful recycling of some old military junk. It’s a great idea though the helmet looks like it could be a touch cumbersome after awhile.

Pi phone lulls you to sleep with the digits of Pi

As you well know, today is March 14th – aka “Pi Day”.

Celebrated in math classrooms around the country, this truly is a celebration that belongs to the geeks. Here at Hack-a-Day, we too love Pi day, though we might not outwardly celebrate it with as much gusto as expressed by some of our readers.

[Chris Poole] is one Hack-a-Day fan who knows how to make the most of this mathematical holiday. He has put together a neat SIP-based phone service that reads Pi aloud to anyone who calls. He is running Asterisk in combination with Perl to read off the numbers, and is using a free SIP DID number to accept the calls. We gave it a shot earlier today, and were greeted by a gentle synthesized voice reading off the numbers of Pi. We’re not sure how many digits it is programmed to handle, as we stopped after about 20, so give him a call and let us know how many digits you make it through.

As a parting note, no Pi Day would be complete without a few obligatory Pi-related (albeit old) web comics and pastry concoctions, so here you go!

XKCD – Pi Equals…

XKCD – e to the Pi Times i

XKCD – E to the Pi Minus Pi

Spherical Pi Pie

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