Find a way to stop robocalls to grab this $50k prize

Here’s a challenge tailored to our community if we’ve ever seen one. You know those delightful unsolicited prerecorded calls you get from time to time? They might be political, but they also come from companies trying to sell you vinyl siding, or promising improvements in your business. Well they’re against the law in many cases, and complaints to the Federal Trade Commission have been piling up. So now the FTC is offering a $50,000 bounty to anyone who can find a way to block the calls.

It’s called the Robocall Challenge and you’ve got until January 17th, 2013 to get your entry submitted. The great thing is, this doesn’t need to be a fully working solution. Your entry may be: “proposed technical solutions or functional solutions and proofs of concept “. Even better, you retain ownership of the solution even if you win. This type of recognition will surely have telco related companies beating a path to your door.

Of course if you do have a solution, we’d love to hear about it too!

[Thanks Filespace via WCPO]

Make cell phone calls with your Arduino

Cellular shields for the Arduino have been around for ages, but this is the first one we’ve seen that turns your Arduino into a proper cell phone.

The shield is based around the SIM900 GSM/GPRS radio module, and is compatible with the SIM908 GSM/GPRS module that adds a GPS receiver. Also on board this shield are a pair of 1/8″ audio jacks, perfect for connecting a microphone and headphones. Yes, you can actually make cell phone calls with your Arduino now.

The real star of this build is the new GSM Shield library. This library of code includes the methods necessary for an Arduino to function as a cell phone (answer, hang up, dial a number), but also includes a lot of improvements for TCP/IP communication.

Even though the cost of getting an Arduino communicating through a GSM or GPRS network is fairly high, we’re thinking this would be the perfect starting point for a completely open source, open hardware cell phone. A phone with the same functionality as an old Nokia brick that is also a MiFy would be an amazing piece of hardware, and would surely make for a profitable Kickstarter.

Store your RFID transit card inside your cellphone

Check it out, this is a Boston transit pass — or at least the parts of it that matters. [Becky Stern] got rid of the rest in a bid to embed the RFID tag inside her cellphone.

The transit pass, called a CharlieCard, started out as a normal credit card shaped tag which you might use for access in the workplace. She unsheathed the chip and its antennae by giving it a generous soak in acetone. In about thirty minutes the plastic card looks more like paper pulp, and you can gently fish out the electronics. These are now small enough to fit in the back cover of a cellphone much like those inductive charging hacks.

[Becky] put hers in an iPhone. But the idea comes from [Dhani Sutanto] who used the same technique to extract the coil from a London transit pass. He then embedded the hardware in a resin cast ring.

Continue reading “Store your RFID transit card inside your cellphone”

µPhone is small and home made

[Victor] popped up in the comments of yesterday’s DIy Cellphone to show off his own home made phone, the µPhone (google translated). [Victor] has put some effort into making this thing very compact. As you can see in the video after the break, he even left off the number pad to save space. Instead, you do everything by using a small joystick and two buttons. He claims that he really only calls a small number of people, so this layout works fine once he has programmed their contact information in.

For some reason none of the pictures are showing up in the extensive forum thread on the project. It is fun though, to follow along as he tries to get this thing working.

Continue reading “µPhone is small and home made”

Candlestick phone goes modern.

[Adam Ben-Dror] recently tipped us off to a project that he worked on recently. In this build he gutted an old candlestick-style phone and added modern technology to make it work as a cordless phone. We really liked this project because he married together new and old technology into an elegant package. There are a few hacks that he had to perform to get this to work. One was converting the rotary pulses into DTMF tones. The other was making the cordless phone that he gutted recognize when the phone was on or off of the hook.

Details of his build after the break. Continue reading “Candlestick phone goes modern.”

Cellphone controlled retro-radio stores and plays your digital library

[Autuin] was worried about having desirable electronics stolen while on the road with his band. He didn’t want to take a laptop along on tour, but he didn’t want to be without his music either. To solve this problem, he built a music player inside of a cheap-looking radio. His write-up covers two different portable MP3 solutions, but it’s the second rendition that catches our attention.

After hollowing out the old radio he filled the void with an Asus WL-HDD 2.5. That hardware is meant to be an easy way to add network storage; it houses a laptop hard drive and has WiFi and Ethernet connectivity. But it also has one USB port, and can be hacked to add a second. [Autuin] did just that, using the two USB connections to add a Bluetooth dongle and a USB sound card. Music is synced with the hard drive via some cat-5 cable that’s hidden in the battery compartment of the vintage box. The NAS runs Linux, and the audio playback software is controlled though a Mobile Java application running on a somewhat broken cellphone. That’s an idea that might find its way into our next project.

One-click unbrick for Samsung phones

[Adam Outler] has been pretty heavy into mobile device hacking lately. The biggest problem with that field is recovering from back flashes or development firmware glitches. In many cases you can use a JTAG programmer to reflash stock firmware to resurrect a handset. Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find a phone that comes with a JTAG header, and soldering to the microelectronic boards is not for the faint of heart.

But a solution is here, [Adam] pulled together a wide set of resources to create a package to unbrick Samsung phones. Now we’re sure that there’s more than a handful of people who would argue that a bad firmware flash that can be fixed this way means that the phone wasn’t actually “bricked” in the first place. But what we see is one more barrier torn down between being a hardware user and becoming a hardware hacker. You’re much more likely to get in there and get your hands dirty if you know that you’ll be able to undo your mistakes and reclaim you precious pocket hardware. See just how easy it is in the video after the break.

Continue reading “One-click unbrick for Samsung phones”