The Open Source Rotary Cell Phone, Two Years Later

We know the pandemic has screwed with a lot of people’s sense of time, but we doubled checked, and it has indeed been more than two years since the Internet first laid eyes upon the incredible rotary cell phone put together by [Justine Haupt]. We’re happy to report that not only has she continued to develop and improve the phone since the last time it made the rounds, but that the kits for this open source marvel are currently available for preorder.

A lot has happened since this phone last graced the pages of Hackaday. For one thing, it’s now officially known as the Rotary Un-Smartphone. [Justine] has also spun up a small company for the express purposes of putting these kits into production, which clearly speaks to just how much attention the project picked up in mainstream circles.

The new rotary mechanism is based on modern components.

In terms of hardware, while the phone might look more or less the same externally, [Justine] says that there’s not a single unchanged component from the previous version. The 3D printed case has given way to a beautiful injection molded enclosure offered in several retro colors, and the rather incongruous rubber ducky antenna has been replaced with an articulated aerial that serves as a kickstand.

Speaking of reception, the original 3G cellular modem has been upgraded to a LTE-compatible model from uBlox, so it should still get a signal for a decade or so before your carrier kicks it off the network. When ordering the kit you can choose between a global version using the TOBY-R200 modem, or a North American variant with the TOBY-R202.

Even the user interface has been spruced up — while the previous model featured a simple LED indicator on the front to show when you were in a call, the new version features an OLED display that will show you the currently dialed number as well as status information such as battery life and signal strength. Some may be disappointed to hear that the authentic Western Electric model 10A rotary dial has been deleted in favor of a custom designed mechanism that uses all modern components, but we can certainly understand why the change had to be made from a production standpoint.

Continue reading “The Open Source Rotary Cell Phone, Two Years Later”

Apple’s Satellite Emergency Texts, How Do They Work?

There is always some hype surrounding an Apple product announcement, and while maybe it’s not in the same league as those for the original iPod or iPhone, their iPhone 14 model will include emergency texting by satellite has generated quite a bit of coverage. It’s easy to find a lot about the system from the software end in terms of its interface and even Apple’s use of compression, but what about the radio side? Whose satellite constellation are they using, and how does it work?

As has been widely reported, their communication partner for the service is Globalstar, a provider of satellite data services that like their competitor Iridium have their origins in the 1990s when satellite phones were briefly seen as the Next Big Thing. They have a 24-satellite constellation, and they sell a range of off-the-grid voice, data, paging, tracking, and IoT connectivity services. The Apple emergency texting looks a lot like Globalstar’s Spot texting service. It’s only available in North America for now, we’re guessing because the satellites aren’t smart relays but straightforward transponders, and the network lacks sufficient ground station coverage outside that region.

With all the talk about low-earth-orbit connectivity surrounding services such as SpaceX’s Starlink it’s a bit unexpected to find ourselves back with a satellite constellation using 1990s technology. But we can see that as well as a major win for Globalstar as their service begins to look outdated by comparison to Starlink, it’s a perfect match for Apple in not requiring a complex ground station for low-bandwidth text messages. We expect that there will be some form of exclusivity in the deal, so it will be interesting to see how the larger Android vendors respond.

It’s worth noting, we’ve looked at satellite IoT services before.

Wilderness image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public Domain.

Nokia 5110 Gets Android Stowaway And A Keyboard

Even though Nokia is largely an afterthought in the phone market now, there was a time when their products represented the state-of-the-art in mobile devices. Some of the their handsets even featured slide-out keyboards and the ability to sent emails; largely unheard of for a device from the late 90s. [befinitiv] was a kid back then and couldn’t afford one of these revolutionary devices, so he built his own modern version that still looks and feels like the original.

To do this he borrowed the case and structure of a Nokia 5110 phone, but modified it to hold a small Android device in the old battery compartment along with a tiny Bluetooth keyboard (which was also built from scratch by [befinitiv]) that connects to the Android phone to mimic the old slide-out style. This isn’t just a case mod, though. He also reverse-engineered the original PCB of the phone and included a Bluetooth module there as well, which allows the phone’s screen and keypad to work mostly as originally intended.

This project goes pretty far to scratch the 90s phone nostalgia itch while still being largely usable as a real phone in the modern world. Assuming you aren’t too hung up on the literal phone aspect, the Notkia project is also an impressive effort to bring new life to these old handsets.

Continue reading “Nokia 5110 Gets Android Stowaway And A Keyboard”

On the left side, there's a smartphone. On the right side, there's a hairdryer turned on. On the smartphone screen, you can see the working end of the hairdryer shown, as well as a jet of air coming out of that end. In the background, there's an LCD screen showing a noise pattern.

Observe Airflow Using Smartphone And Background-Oriented Schlieren

Multiple people have recently¬†shared this exciting demonstration (nitter) with us – visualizing airflow using a smartphone, called ‘background-oriented schlieren’. On a hot summer day, you might see waves in the air – caused by air changing density as it warms up, and therefore refracting the light differently. Schlieren photography is an general set of techniques for visualizing fluid flow, but of course, it can also be applied to airflow. In this case, using some clever optical recognition tricks, this schlieren method lets you visualize flow of air using only your Android smartphone’s high resolution camera and a known-pattern printed background! Continue reading “Observe Airflow Using Smartphone And Background-Oriented Schlieren”

Automatic Turntable Makes Photogrammetry A Cinch

Photogrammetry is a great way to produce accurate 3D models of real objects. A turntable is often a common tool used in this work as it helps image an object from all angles. [Peter Lin] wanted a way to run the photogrammetry process with minimal human intervention, and set about building an automated turntable setup.

The build relies on a smartphone to take images of the physical object. The phone is triggered to take photos by an ESP8266, which fires the shutter via the phone’s audio socket. The microcontroller then turns the turntable on for a short period of time after each shot, rotating it by a set angle.

The build still requires objects to be repositioned in various orientations on the turntable now and then, in order to capture the top and bottom areas that would otherwise be obscured. However, the grunt work of taking the photos and rotating the objects is now entirely automated.

It’s a useful build for anyone that finds themselves regularly imaging objects to create 3D models. The results of [Peter]’s rig look great, and as a bonus come with life-like textures ready to go. We’ve seen some other great photogrammetry builds before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Automatic Turntable Makes Photogrammetry A Cinch”

Monitor Space Weather And The Atmosphere With Your Cellphone!

Above our heads, the atmosphere is a complex and unpredictable soup of gasses and charged particles subject to the influence of whatever the Sun throws at it. Attempting to understand it is not for the faint-hearted, so it has for centuries been the object of considerable research. A new project from the European Space Agency and ETH Zurich gives the general public the chance to participate in that research in a small way, by crowdsourcing atmospheric data gathering to a mobile phone app. How might a mobile phone observe the atmosphere? The answer lies in their global positioning receivers, which can track minute differences in the received signals caused by atmospheric conditions. By gathering as much of this data as possible, the ESA scientists will gain valuable insights into atmospheric conditions as they change across the globe.

The app requires an Android phone equipped with a dual frequency satnav receiver, and having been duly installed on the trusty Hackaday Motorola it in turn started picking up all the different constellations of satellites. The instructions are to leave it somewhere such as a windowsill with an unobstructed view of the sky and move it as little as possible, to which we’d add clicking the “Log in background” button and connectign a charger. There’s a promise that uploaders can win prizes, so aside from contributing to scientific discovery there might be an unexpected benefit. More details on the app can be found here, meanwhile many readers will know that this isn’t the only crowdsourced atmospheric data gathering effort.

Galaxy Users Accuse Samsung Of Throttling Performance And Benchmark Rigging

A lot of Samsung Galaxy users think that Samsung has been throttling smartphone performance, so much so that they don’t live up to their published specifications. At issue is the game optimizing service (GOS) which is intended to throttle the CPU while playing games to prevent overheating. S22 owners have recently discovered that it’s not only games that are throttled, but there’s a list of over 10,000 apps which are subject to GOS control, and there is no way to disable it.

What they’re really upset over is the fact that popular benchmarking apps are not subject to GOS throttling — something that’s hard to see as anything but a blatant attempt to game the system. In fact, this past weekend the folks at Geekbench banned four generations of Samsung Galaxy phones (S10, S20, S21, S22) for benchmark manipulation.

Admittedly, thermal management is critical on today’s incredibly powerful handheld devices, and the concept of throttling is an accepted solution in the industry. But people are upset at the opaqueness and lack of control of GOS, not to mention cherry picking apps in order to excel at benchmarks. Furthermore Samsung has removed their vapor chamber cooling system from recent models. This makes GOS even more important and looks like a cost-savings measure that may have backfired. Currently there’s a petition with the government claiming false advertising, and users are actively pursuing a lawsuit against Samsung.