Remember that “PhoneDrone” scam from a while back? With two tiny motors and props that could barely lift a microdrone, it was pretty clearly a fake, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pretty good idea. Good enough, in fact, that [Nick Rehm] came up with his own version of the flying phone case, which actually works pretty well.
In the debunking collaboration between [Mark Rober], [Peter Sripol], and the indispensable [Captain Disillusion], you’ll no doubt recall that after showing that the original video was just a CGI scam, they went on to build exactly what the video purported to do. But alas, the flying phone they came up with was manually controlled. While cool enough, [Nick Rehm], creator of dRehmFlight, can’t see such a thing without wanting to make it autonomous.
To that end, [Nick] came up with the DroneCase — a bicopter design that allows the phone to hang vertically. The two rotors are on a common axis and can swivel back and forth under control of two separate micro-servos; the combination of tilt rotors and differential thrust gives the craft full aerodynamic control. A modified version of dRehmFlight runs on a Teensy, while an IMU, a lidar module, and a PX4 optical flow sensor round out the sensor suite. The lidar and flow sensor both point down; the lidar is used to sense altitude, while the flow sensor, which is basically just the guts from an optical mouse, watches for translation in the X- and Y-axes.
After a substantial amount of tuning and tweaking, the DroneCase was ready for field tests. Check out the video below for the results. It’s actually quite stable, at least as long as the batteries last. It may not be as flexible as a legit drone, but then again it probably costs a lot less, and does the one thing it does quite well without any inputs from the user. Seems like a solid win to us.
Continue reading “Bicopter Phone Case Might Be Hard To Pocket, But Delivers Autonomous Selfies” →
We’re not sure about the rest of you, but to us, a keyboard without a number pad all the way over to the right just seems kind of — naked? We might not be accountants, but there’s something comforting about having the keypad right there, ready for those few occasions when you need to enter numbers more rapidly than would be possible with the row of number keys along the top of the keyboard.
What we are sure about, though, is that rapid numeric keying is not what this rotary dial numpad keyboard is all about. In fact, it’s actually an April Fool’s prank [Squidgeefish] played on a retro-phone-obsessed coworker, and it worked out pretty well. Starting with an old telephone dial from what must be an exceptionally well-stocked parts bin, [Squidgeefish] first worked out the electrical aspects of interfacing the dial with a cheapo mechanical keyboard. It turns out that there’s a lot of contact bounce in those old dials, leading to some software hacks to keep the Arduino happy.
There was also a little hackery needed to stuff a USB hub into the keyboard, as well as literal hacking of the keyboard’s PCB. A 3D printed enclosure allows the rotary dial to nestle into the place where the regular numpad would be, and it looks pretty good. We also like forcing the issue by replacing the entire row of number keys with a single massive prank key.
While this was all for fun, there are a couple of cool tips here, like chucking a bit of printer filament in a Dremel tool to stir-weld parts together. And even though we’ve seen that parametric keycap generator before, it is pretty cool to see it in action.
While it might seem like mobile phones are special devices, both in their ease of use and in their ubiquity in the modern culture, they are essentially nothing more than small form-factor computers with an extra radio and a few specific pieces of software to run. In theory, as long as you can find that software (and you pay for a service plan of some sort) you can get any computer to work as a phone. So naturally, the Raspberry Pi was turned into one.
[asherdundas], the phone’s creator, actually found a prior build based around the Raspberry Pi before starting this one. The problem was that it was built nearly a decade ago, and hadn’t been updated since. This build brings some modernization to the antiquated Pi phone, and starts with a 3D printed case. It also houses a touchscreen and a GSM antenna to connect to the cell network. With some other odds and ends, like a speaker and microphone, plus a battery and the software to tie it all together, a modern functional Raspberry Pi phone was created, with some extra details available on the project page.
The phone has the expected features — including calling, texting, and even a camera. A small WiFi USB dongle allows it to connect to the Internet too, allowing it to do all of the internet browsing a modern smartphone might want to do. The only thing that it might be pretty difficult to do is install Android apps, and although there are ways to get Android apps working in Linux, it’s not always strictly necessary to have this functionality.
[poprhythm]’s Touch Tone MIDI Phone is a fantastic conversion of an old touch tone phone into a MIDI instrument complete with intact microphone, but this project isn’t just about showing off the result. [poprhythm] details everything about how he interfaced to the keypad, how he used that with an Arduino to create a working MIDI interface, and exactly how he decided — musically speaking — what each button should do. The LEDs on the phone are even repurposed to blink happily depending on what is going on, which is a nice touch.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. [poprhythm] also makes use of the microphone in the phone’s handset. Since the phone is now a MIDI instrument with both a microphone and note inputs, it’s possible to use them together as the inputs to vocoder software, which he demonstrates by covering Around the World by Daft Punk (video).
We love how [poprhythm] explains how he interfaced to everything because hardware work is all about such details, and finding the right resources. Here’s the GitHub repository for the Arduino code and a few links to other resources.
We have seen MIDI phone projects before, and each one is always unique in its own way: here’s a different approach to converting a keypad phone to MIDI, and this rotary pulse-dial phone went in a completely different direction with the phone itself completely unmodified, using only external interfacing.
You can admire [poprhythm]’s Touch Tone MIDI Phone in action in the short videos embedded below, with each one showing off a different aspect of the build. It’s great work!
Continue reading “Touch Tone MIDI Phone And Vocoder Covers Daft Punk” →
Historically, there have been a few cases of useful wireless power transmission over great distances, like a team at MIT that was able to light up a 60 W bulb at several meters, and of course Nikola Tesla had grand dreams of drawing energy from the atmosphere. But for most of us wireless power is limited to small, short-range devices like cellphone chargers. While it’s not a lot of work to plug in a phone when it needs a charge, even this small task can be automated.
This build begins with a 3D printed cradle for the smartphone to sit in. When the device detects that the phone has been placed in the cradle, it uses a linear actuator to drive a custom-built charging cable into the phone’s USB port. Similarly, when the phone is lifted from the cradle the cable is automatically removed. It appears that there is some play in the phone’s position that lets the charger be plugged in smoothly, and the project’s creator [Larpushka] points out that the linear actuator is not particularly strong so we don’t imagine the risk of damage is very high.
While wireless charging still may have the edge when it comes to keeping debris out of the port, we still really enjoy a project like this that seems to be done for its own sake. There are some improvements that [Larpushka] plans to make, but for now we’re delighted by this build. For anyone looking to add true wireless charging to any phone that doesn’t have it, though, it’s not too difficult to accomplish either.
Batteries are a really useful way to store energy, but their energy density in regards to both weight and volume is disappointing. In these regards, they really can’t compete with fossil fuels. Thus, [bryan.lowder] decided to see if he could charge a phone with fossil fuels as safely and inoffensively as possible.
Obviously, with many national grids relying on fossil fuels for a large part of their generation, most of us are already charging our phones with fossil fuels to some degree. However, the aim here was to do so more directly, without incurring transmission losses from the long runs through the power grid. Continue reading “Powering A Cellphone With Gasoline” →
Perhaps the weakest point in modern electronics when it comes to user servicability is the lifecycle of the batteries included from the manufacturer. Without easily replaceable batteries, many consumer goods end up in the landfill when they’re otherwise working perfectly. If you’d like to get more out of your devices than the manufacturer intends, you might have to go to great lengths like [Théo] did with his JBL speaker.
This was a Bluetooth device produced by JBL nearly a decade ago, and while the original device boasted several hours of battery life, after so many years of service, it was lucky to get a half hour before the battery died. To replace it, [Théo] removed the original battery and extended the case to be able to hold a larger cell phone battery. He also decided to use the original battery management circuit from the speaker with the new battery after verifying the voltage and chemistry were close enough to the original.
Since the phone battery is a proprietary Samsung device, [Théo] also decided to build a version that uses standard 18650 cells instead, although he prefers the slimmer design with the phone battery for his use case. Straightforward as this build may be, it does go a long way to demonstrate the principle that if you can’t fix your devices, you don’t really own them.