Hackaday Prize 2022: Vintagephone Links The Past To The Present (and Future)

Brrrrrrrring! Movies and TV are one thing, but the siren song of a rotary phone ringing in the same room as you is one of those sounds you carry forever. Not old enough to remember them? Ah, so what? There’s no reason to lose these beauties to the annals of time. In fact, we think more old phones should be repurposed so that present and future generations can experience the finger-hookin’ good time of the rotary dial and the high-voltage peal of those brass bells.

That’s exactly what [Giulio Pons] has done with Vintagephone — turned a rotary phone into a digital assistant with an analog interface. He’s reused all the good bits like the rotary dial, the bells, the handset, and the hang-up switch and connected them up to a Wemos ESP8266 development board with a mini motor driver shield and a voltage booster to ring the bells.

When it’s all said and done, [Giulio] will be able to set an alarm by dialing in the time, ring a number to get the current time and date, and ring another number to get the weather forecast. Reminds us of our childhood pastime of calling Time and Temperature to get outside verification that time had, in fact, passed inside the house on those boring rainy days.

Follow along with [Giulio] as the Vintagephone comes to life in the logs, which already have some great instructions for doing a similar number to an old phone you may have lying around. You can find the code on GitHub.

Got some old tech lying around? Teach it some new tricks and enter the Reuse, Recycle, Revamp round of the 2022 Hackaday Prize!

21 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2022: Vintagephone Links The Past To The Present (and Future)

  1. Can you still get SLIC ICs (Subscriber Line Interface Circuit)? There really isn’t any need to modify the phone’s wiring. I do like the idea of using motor drivers for switching the bell current.

  2. I find one of the nice things about living in the 21st century is that we don’t have to use these old pieces of s any more, who doesn’t prefer handling a lovely shiny dark sleek smartphone instead of that plasticky rubbish?

    I have zero nostalgia for them despite growing up with them.

    1. When I was a young kid rotary and pulse dialing were the norm. By my high school years it was forgotten. While in college I picked up an old rotary phone from a thrift shop and set it up in my roomates and my shared living room to be funny. It was there for a year or two but I think I probably only ever made one or 2 calls from it. I had forgotten how SLOW the dialing process was. Unbearable when you are used to something modern!

    2. Those old phones have something your smartphone does not have: they can be used as a defensive weapon thanks to their weight and hardness.
      I confess that it’s not easy to put one of them in your pocket, but it’s not a bug: it’s a feature ! It acts as a dissuasive weapon :)

    3. You are a strange person. You didn’t have to worry about a screen breaking (or just cracking ugly cracks). Are you sure someone didn’t smack you upside the head with one of these Bell beauties? I imagine someone keeping a grudge about that.

      1. I second that. I like old phones like those. Even bought a few classic phones just recently. There’s something wonderful in operation those. The haptics is much better than that of a smartphone. It just feels real and nice in the hands, not like a spiky brick of plastic. And the physical feedback when operating the rotary dial or those big DTMF keys.. Aww. Wonderful, sensual. It feels so real, so down to earth.😍 The speaker quality is better, too. Okay, not so much the carbon mikrophon, perhaps. Those were so muffled sometimes.

  3. I have a type of “intercom” set up in my home. I used a device called a ringdown which can be found on the internet for a price. The ringdown has two phone jacks on the front and a power connection on the rear. The idea is if you pick up phone a phone b will start ringing. If you pick up phone b phone a will start ringing. I have mine set so there is 4 seconds of dial tone then ringing. The system is set up so if you pick up any phone upstairs then the basement phones will start ringing and vice versa. 2 phones upstairs and 2 downstairs. Nice and nostalgic hearing the ringing of the old rotary phone.

    1. Very cool. There are some older Panasonic (e.g.: KX-T616) mini-PBXs that will let you hook up a number of extensions and dial between them. Also allows you to use a normal POTS (or VOIP) line as a CO trunk to dial out. Relatively cheap on eBay. Support tone or rotary dialling.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.