Old-school Rotary Phone gets GSM Upgrade

Sometimes, the answer to, “Why would you bother with a project like that?” is just as simple as, “Because it’s cool.” We suspect that was the motivation behind [Dirk-Jan]’s project to make portable versions of classic rotary telephones.

On style points alone, [Dirk-Jan] scores big. The mid-1950s vintage Belgian RTT model 56 phone has wonderful lines in its Bakelite case and handset and a really cool flip-up bail to carry it around, making it a great choice for a portable. The guts of the phone were replaced with a SIM900 GSM module coupled with a PIC microcontroller and an H-bridge to drive the ringer solenoids, along with a Li-ion battery and charger to keep it totally wireless – except for the original handset cord, of course. The video after the break show the phone in action both making and receiving calls; there’s something pleasing on a very basic level about the sound of a dial tone and the gentle ringing of the bell. And it may be slow, but a rotary dial has plenty of tactile appeal too.

Rotary-to-cell conversions are a popular “just because” project, like this conversion designed to allow an angry slam-down of the handset. The orange Siemens phone in that project is nice and all, but we really favor the ’50s look for a portable.

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Antique phone doorbell


[Bryan] sent in this cool doorbell he made out of an antique phone. After seeing similar phones for $150 to $399, he picked one up on ebay for $10. After some cleaning and polishing, it was looking fantastic, but fairly useless. At this point, he broke it open and started hacking to turn it into a wireless doorbell. He picked up a cheap wireless doorbell and proceeded to gut it. The transmitter side got an aesthetic overhaul, a big fancy button and nice LED in a 50’s style  were added. The receiver side got hacked up as well. It was incapable of pushing the required voltage to ring the phone’s bell, so he had to do some searching for a better circuit. Since his knowledge of electronics was limited, he was looking for something that could be plugged in and work without much modification. Eventually, he found the Silvercom AG1170-s5. At $7, he swiped it up quick. It may be a bit of overkill, but he’s using an arduino to trigger the whole thing when it receives the signal. You can download the Arduino sketch on the site.