Lower Productivity By Using A Rotary Num Pad


[Maximilian Ernestus] sent us a quick little demo that shows him using a rotary phone dial as a num pad. We’re often frustrated when notebooks and netbooks prohibit us from using our mad 10-key skills (alternate key mapping doesn’t count). This makes coding and using GnuCash undesirable on small form factor portables.

Instead of fixing the problem, [Maximilian] made it worse by interfacing a rotary phone as a num pad. An Arduino counts the pulses and feeds them to the computer via a serial connection.  From there it’s just a bit of software handling to issue a keypress.  He mentions that a future version should register as a USB keyboard. This is a great opportunity to ditch the Arduino and use the V-USB library.

Want to dig a bit deeper into this old technology? Don’t miss out on the information available from the Magic Phone hack.

30 thoughts on “Lower Productivity By Using A Rotary Num Pad

  1. It’s a hack, but…

    “An Arduino counts the pulses”

    Really? I’m not an Arduino hater (hell, it’s been ages since I was an electronics hobbyist), but sometimes this stuff is just ridiculous. How much does Atmel pay Hackaday for all the publicity? How soon will it be when every Hackaday post simply reads:

    [Arduino Arduino] arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino. Ardui’no arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino arduino ar-duino arduino (arduino arduino arduino arduin’o arduino)…

    In other news, man builds a nuclear weapon in order to swat a fly that’s been aggravating him…

  2. Productive people always assign a dollar value to their time. If one beleives their time is worth, say $40 an hour, that person would not mow their own lawn, instead they would hire a gardner for $20 hour. Now, if the use of this rotary encoder consumes 10 extra hours of time over the course of a year’s use then the “cost” is $400 to implement. Take this same device and give it to an impoverished person (whose value is $0 per hour) and you now have a savings of $400! Adoption of this technology in low income areas could save billions of dollars. Any investors out there?

  3. Why all the hostility Mike? The guy made something cool. It may not increase efficiency, but he had an idea and he made it real.

    Why hack at all? Why not just leave the creating to others so we can increase our “productivity”?

  4. >and, atmel could care less of arduino

    This is a patently silly idea. The idea is that people will get hooked on a particular brand name and when they get a real job doing what they were doing when they were hacking for fun that brand loyalty will translate into “industrial/consumer product sales.”

    Did you ever stop to think about why it is that semiconductor companies give away so many free samples?

  5. cool hack, maybe could translate into some sort of homebrew accessibility gadgets…

    Would like to say, though, that these old phones are so well-built that it’s a shame to use them up for hacks. I have a Western Electric from the ’50s mounted on the wall in my office. Great phone that’ll last until the heat death of the universe, and it’s so clear and crisp that it gives me chills.. just only sayin’

  6. @Jeff – agreed.

    I want to buy a SNES, so will buy 2, one dead unit and one “ALIVE, ITS ALIVE!” unit. The dead will be parts and the case for a mod project.

    I love old shit like this. If I had a bigger house (or somewhere better to hide it all from the wife) I would never stop collecting it all for ‘future projects’.

    Keep up the good work.

    Arduino (others are available) = Win for lower skilled EE hobbyists lookig for results first, refinement later.

    I use arduinos, if you want to convince me, recommend something in the next price bracket up for me to learn and I shall, just don’t bash it without a decent follow up with suggested options – cunt nose :)

    1. My personal distaste for Arduino overkill is not that you can do it a price bracket upwards with even more misapplied sophistication, but one or two orders of magnitude cheaper, and several orders of device complexity lower, with a single transistor in many cases… i.e. Arduino turns lights on when it’s dark etc etc etc. There’s terabytes of $50 solutions to 50c problems out there now. Sure, you’re chuffed about your “hello world” test run, but it’s not the most frackin’ awesomest thing you can do with an arduino evarrr.

      RW222s law of Arduino parsimony… if it can be built with 3 or less discrete semiconductors (Including transistors, standard logic, 741s, 555s etc) then it’s a training wheels project and shouldn’t be promoted as the best thing since sliced silicon. That’s not including output drivers or voltage conversion. Which in some cases an Arduino might actually need more of, vs more parsimonious discrete device selection.

  7. Interestingly cool, thanks for posting this little gem.

    …I laughed so hard at your post. All serious and ‘reserved’ like then wrap it up with cunt nose. Classic.

  8. Now I will have to reverse this. Use the USB I/F to control an Arduino that then uses a stepper motor to dial phone numbers on a rotary phone.
    Does the UK phone net work still support pulse dialling ?

    Matt ;+)

    BTW the Arduino rekindled my love practical electronics. It just works ! I now wish I had never picked up a PicKit2, 2 years of free time down the drain !

  9. I’ll be honest, I didn’t skip nearly as many hackaday articles when it really only was updated once or a very lucky twice a day, and most of those were stuff like railguns and experiments in walking robots…

    Now if you strap an arduino to a toaster you’ll get a writeup from hackaday. Double-length post if it runs some kind of open-source software.

    The twitter projects are getting old too,

  10. @Jeff No phone has to really die here with this project. all that is need from the phone is 2 wire connects at the wall end of the phone cable.

    Beyond that comments here at Hackaday are still retaining their pattern. Those not doing anything, or if they are they aren’t sharing it are still complaining out those who are both doing something and sharing it. In addition to complaining about those finding the projects.

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