Arduino Cellphone


The fact that you can build a cellphone around an Arduino is pretty neat. But we’re drawn to this project more as a testament to the advancement of hobby electronics. An [Average Joe] can build this thing with a minimum or background knowledge and without breaking the bank. Wow.

Of course this isn’t the first DIY cellphone we’ve come across. One of our favorites is this one which resides on a home etched PCB. There was even another Arduino offering with similar components back in September. But the one seen above really pulls it all together into a package that is usable for everyday life. The components include and Arduino Uno, GPRS shield from Seeed Studios, a TFT touch screen, Lithium battery and charging circuit, and a few other bobbles. All of it is mounted inside of a 3D printed case.

A simple phone calls for a simple UI and that’s included as well. The main menu has two buttons, one for placing a call, the other for sending a text. From there you get the virtual keypad seen above for typing out the phone number or composing a message.

[Thanks Victorzie]

27 thoughts on “Arduino Cellphone

  1. Was this device submitted for proper EMI testing/certification compliance
    with the necessary regulatory agencies ?

    I would be very annoyed as the network operator if users started to BYOD
    their homebuilt (‘hacked’) handsets on my network. Especially since the cell
    carriers spend huge sums of money to manage their spectrum.

    1. I’m pretty sure the GPRS module itself is tested. The testing would also cover what happens when unexpected things are connected to it’s input pins, so that in any likely circumstance it’s not going to shut down or flood the local base station.

      Worse comes to worst, I’m sure the network could track down an offending transmitter were it ever to happen. Since I’ve never heard of it happening, it probably hasn’t, it’d be big news if it did. These modules are based on popular chips, and are in use all over the place, cars, remote sensors, industrial equipment and burglar alarms are all full of them.

      How powerful would a GPRS jammer have to be, to spoil reception for an area of a few hundred metres?

      Apart from that, it’d take hella EMI for any of the other bits of the phone to harm anything. It’s well established technology now.

      What I’d REALLY like to see, I think is an obvious advancement… an entire hackaphone sold as one unit. A case with a PCB that does the basics. Possibly touch-screen or keypad built-in. But with room for your own circuits. Would come with simple, open-sourced software on board for the basic functions, but would be easy for the owner to add to or replace it with their own. Perhaps touch-screen / keypad-based could be two options, have a replaceable module for the whole thing, maybe the front cover is swapped for that. If you want to make it a joypad instead, just connect to the GPIO pins and implement it yourself!

      Could use Android but I think something much more basic would be helpful for hacking with.

      The advantage over the existing system would be buying a whole working phone to start with, in one (or two) pieces. Then you can tweak and add what you want from a fully-working start. Also of course it ought to be cheaper than buying the bits separately.

      I think there’d be a demand for it, wonder if any of the popular electronic suppliers would make a few?

    2. It employs a sim900 module on a gprs shield that carries the antenna line to the sma connector via a coax cable, and employs a proper high frequency antenna to transmit the signal. The only control that this guy has with the cellular spectrum is telling the gsm modem, via the hayes command set, to initiate calls and texts. Everything else is a regulated and enclosed metal box on a circuit board that gets soldered on a gsm shield. I would think that the compliance is inherited by the gsm module, and even if it technically wasnt, these modules are so hard to mess up so bad that interference can happen in the first place.

    1. We had fast, responsive systems in the 80s. Til A Certain Evil Company came along and somehow hypnotised everybody. For a simple phone it’s no problem. It’s a software issue!

    1. The main problem with doing it with SDR would be the cpu power needed to do it. I don’t think you could use SDR and get a decent battery life since the cpu would never really be able to go idle. Even going to an FPGA to do a lot of the heavy lifting, I think you’d still have problems.

    2. To be legal you would have to get it FCC type accepted. Unless you have the resources of a decent sized corporation that isn’t going to happen.

      If you somehow managed that, or if you just decided to skip the legal issues and be a pirate you would never get a carrier to let you on their network.

      1. I thought the GSM/GPRS shields used in projects like this are already typed and authorized for use on cellular networks? Adding the surrounding control, display and housing bits shouldn’t change that. I’ve seen these same shields used in all kinds of projects, registered on a prepaid carrier.

        I’m actually looking into putting one in a project for my car, so I’ll have A-GPS and a slow but cheap internet connection on the go without tethering my phone.

    1. ahh such constructive and accurate jabs you come with,

      i am sure plenty of the blogger/maker/whatever crowd emjoys engineering as much as others on here, trying to differentiate is where the problem lies.

  2. No matter how this phone came about or what’s used inside, I think it’s awesome that this and other DIY cell phones exist. Hopefully, one day there will be an open hardware cell phone project in the works. I’ve always wanted a completely open cell phone that I completley control… with exception to what the carrier does.

  3. Seems like the reverse would be more interesting– convert a $15 phone into a $60 GPRS shield. I saw one such project, where the phone keypad was hacked to send SMS from a remote sensor.

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