With its constant siren song of distraction and endless opportunity for dopamine hits, a smartphone can cause more problems than it solves. The simple solution would be a no-nonsense flip phone, but that offers zero points for style. So why not build your own rotary dial pocket cellphone?
Of course, what style points accrue to [Justine Haupt] take a hit in terms of practicality, but that was never really the point of this build. And even then, the phone appears to be surprisingly useful. It’s based on the rotary dial from a Trimline phone, which itself was an epic hack back in 1965 when it was introduced. The 3D-printed case contains an ATmega2560V microcontroller and an Adafruit FONA 3G cell module, while a flexible mono eInk display adorns the outside. Some buttons, a folding SMA antenna, and some LEDs for signal strength and battery level complete the build, which easily slips into a pocket. The dial can be used not only to dial the phone but to control the speaker volume; in practice, [Justine] mainly uses the speed dial buttons to make calls, though.
We’ve seen rotary phones converted to cell before, but this one is a next-level integration of the retro and the modern. It’s simple, intuitive, and distraction-free, and best of all, it’s a great excuse not to return a text.
Thanks to [J. Peterson] for the tip.
In honor of my-own-damn-self, we’re going to call it Elliot’s Law: “When any two interesting parts get cheap enough on eBay, someone will make an interface PCB for them.”
And so it is with [Johan Kanflo]’s latest bit of work: a PCB that mounts an ESP8266 module onto the back of an ILI9341 color display, with user button, power supply, and an auxiliary MOSFET. Four bucks for the screen, four bucks for the ESP8266 module, and a few bucks here and there on parts and PCB, and you’ve got an Internet-enabled, full-color, 320×240 graphical display. That’s pretty awesome, and it’s entirely consistent with Elliot’s Law.
However, we almost can’t forgive [Johan] for the extreme geek-baiting. Posting the cuuuute little screen next to a Stormtrooper Lego figure is already hitting below the belt, but displaying a Commodore-64 startup screen, in what’s got to be exactly the right font and color combo, borders on being pathologically emotionally manipulative. You’re playing with our hearts, [Kanflo]!
We love projects like his ESP8266-and-RFM69 mashup and his gutted-Macintosh-planespotter-gizmo, so we’re inclined to forgive. And besides, we’re still on a high from naming our first law and we’re wondering which two eBay parts are up next.
Remember “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey”? We do, and we always enjoyed the quirky mix of soothing music, soft-focus nature images, and random absurd thought scrolling across the screen as bumpers between segments on Saturday Night Live. Clearly, [tvm78] remembers them, because his picture frame mashups of the r/EarthPorn and r/ShowerThoughts subreddits could have been written by Jack himself.
While [tvm78] shares no photos of his build and offers no tutorials, he makes it clear that this was his first build of any kind. He does offer a few details, like the fact that he’s driving a display with a Raspberry Pi, and he handily references a similar build that includes the code he borrowed to make his frame happen. While we feel that the original mashup works well, several helpful redditors offer suggestions for other combinations, like r/ArchitecturePorn and /r/nocontext, or r/abandonedporn and r/onelinehorror. Of course a straight grab from r/demotivational could be fun too.
We’ve seen tons of web-enabled picture frames before, and plenty of “magic mirror” builds that display useful information on a two-way mirror. But this one appeals to the cynic in us, and would make Jack Handey proud.