Open-Source Phone Pushes The Boundaries Of DIY Tech

Tired of high cost mobile phones? Feel guilty that while you’ve got a paper thin phone, it’s hard to recycle elements are destroying the planet ? Turns out, you don’t need Samsung or LG to stay in touch with those you love.

David A. Mellis, from MITs High-Low Tech group, has created a DIY mobile phone out of easily obtained electronic parts and a little bit of plywood. It may not have the internet connectivity or giant touchscreen of your current mobile phone, but it’s a completely self-made, operational phone, which means it’s low impact and free from the constraints of mass production.

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Image via High-Low Tech

According to Mellis, the initial prototype combines a custom electronic circuit board with a laser-cut plywood and veneer enclosure. The phone accepts a standard SIM card and works with any GSM provider. Cellular connectivity is provided by the SM5100B GSM Module, available from SparkFun Electronics. The display may only be about 1.8″ across, but it does offer color images. Currently, the software supports voice calls, but the folks at High-Low Tech say SMS and other functionality could be added with the same hardware. Altogether the prototype contains about $150 in parts.

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Image via High-Low Tech

“By creating and sharing open-source designs for the phone’s circuit board and case, we hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones,” say the designers. Want to give it a try? The source code, circuit design files (Eagle), and case design files (Inkscape) are hosted in the damellis/cellphone repository on GitHub.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

    • Going to drive innovation as most prototypes do