David Hunt shows how to build a smartphone out of electrical components worth £94, without any soldering
A software engineer from Limerick has built a fully functioning smartphone based around a Raspberry Pi board, with a total project cost of just $158 (£94).
David Hunt’s touchscreen-enabled ‘PiPhone’ already makes and receives calls, and could be capable of more advanced functions, as long as the Raspberry Pi enthusiast community writes the relevant software.
“It’s more of a proof of concept to see what could be done with a relatively small form factor with off-the-shelf (cheap) components. I don’t expect everyone to be rushing out to build this one, but I had great fun in doing it, as it builds quite nicely on my previous projects, especially the Lapse Pi, a touchscreen time-lapse controller, and uses most of the same hardware,” explained Hunt on his blog.
Raspberry Pi DIY
The PiPhone fits snugly into a hand, with its components sandwiched between the Raspberry Pi Model B board and the Adafruit 320×240 pixel touchscreen display.
To enable connectivity, Hunt has used a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module which allows the device to call, send texts and use data services. The power is provided by a 2500mAh Lithium polymer battery of the same type and capacity found in your iPhone 5 or HTC One.
The homemade handset can use a regular pre-paid SIM card to make and receive calls – Hunt had to develop a simple dialler interface to make this possible, and any additional features would need to be programmed manually.
“I presented this to my local FAbLab the night before the publication of this blog article, and one question from the audience stood out: ‘Do you have to pay for credit?’ That certainly made me think, and we had a good giggle at that. Yes, you still have to pay for credit in the usual way, purchase a SIM card from a local service provider. This is not going to get you free calls!”
The PiPhone is an interesting experiment, but it’s far from setting smartphone affordability records: in March, Mozilla showcased a reference Firefox OS handset design that is expected to cost just $25 when it appears on the market.
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