Using old phones as an intercom in your VW bus (or anywhere else)

In case you haven’t noticed from my many comments on the subject, I drive a VW bus. It is a 1976 Westfalia camper with sage green paint and green plaid upholstery. I absolutely love it and so does the rest of my family. We go for drives in the country as well as camping regularly. We have found that the kids have a hard time communicating with us while we’re going higher speeds. These things aren’t the quietest automobiles in the world. Pushing this bread loaf shaped hunk of steel down the road with an engine that might top out at 75hp results in wind noise, engine noise, and of course, vibration.

I decided to employ a really old hack to put two functional telephones in the bus so my kids can talk to my wife (or whoever the passenger is) without screaming quite so loud. This hack is extremely easy, fairly cheap, and can be done in just a few minutes. The result is a functional intercom that you could use pretty much anywhere!

Continue reading “Using old phones as an intercom in your VW bus (or anywhere else)”

A Smartphone Dock for your Arm? Why Not?

Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph’s] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”

[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things.  However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!

[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.

via [reghardware.com]

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.”

Vintage phone has a dirty Android secret

android_based_vintage_phone

Instructables user [apple_fan] likes vintage telephones from the early 1900s, but while they are nice to look at, they’re clearly not too useful nowadays. He decided to change that, and retrofitted an old operator-dialed telephone with some modern amenities.

He gutted the phone, stripping out the large electromagnets and capacitor that were once used to facilitate placing and receiving calls. He added an Archos 28 tablet to the box, wiring it an IOIO board, allowing him to interface it with his Android phone. The old microphone and speaker were swapped out for updated components, and a new ringer actuator was built to replace the bulky old unit. The tablet and ringer, along with the rest of the components were then carefully hidden away inside the box as not to alter the aesthetics.

To place and receive calls, he installed CMU Sphinx on the Archos tablet, allowing him to interact with the phone using voice recognition, as if he was talking to a live operator.

It’s a pretty neat project, and while we might have opted for a small micro combined with a Bluetooth headset, [apple_fan] makes it clear why he made the hardware decisions he did. We’re always up for letting people show us a different way to get a job done, so we’re down with that.

Check out a short video demo of the phone in action after the jump.

Continue reading “Vintage phone has a dirty Android secret”

Hacking analog phones for VOIP

analog_phone

[Tyler] has been using Google Voice extensively for some time now, but he hasn’t quite found a microphone/speaker setup he is happy with. He tried a headset, but that just didn’t do it for him.

While browsing around at his local thrift store, he came across an old Model 500 rotary phone for just a few dollars and decided it just might do the trick. Once disassembled, he mapped out the circuitry and got busy wiring up the handset to a pair of 3.5 mm stereo plugs – one each for the earpiece and microphone.

Once everything was reassembled, he hooked it up to his computer and gave it a spin – success!

While he is happy with how the phone works at the moment, he already has plans for improving it. He is currently looking for a way to use the handset hook to disconnect calls as well as a way to implement the rotary dial for number entry. We think that hacking a Bluetooth headset would easily take care of the first part, as well as eliminate the need for any sort of wired interface to his PC. It would also make it dead simple to use with any other Bluetooth-enabled device such as a cell phone.

We’re pretty sure he is open to implementation suggestions, so let us know what you think.

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!

Cassette case cameraphone tripod

We see a lot of comments on shaky video asking why that person didn’t use a tripod. [Aatif Sumar] wants to use one when taking pictures and video with his phone but the threaded mounting hole you’d find in most cameras doesn’t come as a feature on smart phones. That didn’t deter him, he used an old cassette case for this phone tripod. The build started with a cheap flexible camera tripod. [Aatif] used a soldering iron to melt a hole in a plastic cassette case. We’re apprehensive about relying on the plastic’s ability to hold threads so we’re recommend epoxy to reinforce the joint. A bit more melting with the iron and he had a cradle on legs with a hole for the camera lens. It’s nothing fancy, but it also cost him next-to-nothing.