Vintage Phone Has A Dirty Android Secret


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.


14 thoughts on “Vintage Phone Has A Dirty Android Secret

  1. oh man, i wish he could have replaced the word “call” with “operator, get me…”

    just like the olden days… i’ve thought about doing something like this for a while, its good to see someone actually doing it

  2. A travesty, destroying a genuine antique. With perseverance the phone could have been left stock and still interfaced with the tablet & android phone – such a shame to wreck genuinely classic hardware…

    1. I don’t think of it as destroying a genuine antique. Rather, giving a new life to a device that would have been otherwise thrown away.

      Unfortunately, both headset and ringer box had some parts missing. Instead of rusting somewhere on a junkyard it is a fully functional device that sits on my desk as I type these words.

    2. I don’t think of it as of destroying a genuine antique. Rather, giving it a new life.

      Both candlestick and ringer box had some parts missing. I am happy this device didn’t end up in a junkyard, but is fully functional and is sitting on my desk as I type these words.

  3. Nice mod. Regarding the purest out their. After looking at the wiring diagrams of this style phone I don’t see much that had to be changed aside from rewiring the candle stick and removing the insides of the bell box.If someone wanted to they could easily reverse what he has done assuming the original parts where saved. One of the nice things about working with really old hardware was that it was made to be worked on. Unlike much of todays hardware that to open it you need a razor saw. Might have to give this a try my self for using skype.

    1. Ok just looked at ebay for this type of phone. Ouch. Getting a good price on this phone probably means it was not in working condition let alone complete. I’ll probably give this a try with a replica. On a side note. Did they use leaded paint on these units.

    2. You are right, reversing these changes should be quite easy. And you are also very right that this hardware was made to be worked on. As I was taking the device apart, I could “see” hands of engineers that worked before me: patches of glue, random screws, couple replaced wires…
      By the way: Skype SDK license does not allow running SDK on Android.

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