Here’s my latest DIY project, a smartphone based on a Raspberry Pi. It’s called – wait for it – the PiPhone. It makes use an Adafruit touchscreen interface and a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module to make phone calls.
Dave Hunt doesn’t just do photography, he’s a Maker through and through. And the components are out there, you just need to know where to look to buy them. Once purchased then you get down to brass tacks of what IS a cellphone anyways. And that’s what Dave has documented in his write-up of the PiPhone. Hopefully an effort like this will spawn copycats enough to trigger a landslide in DIY fab and assembly projects for people that want their own. I think it would be cool to just have an unlocked phone I could use wherever I wanted with the appropriate carrier’s SIM card.
I think it’s truly remarkable that Dave was able to get Lithium ion gel battery packs and TFT displays that were touch sensitive. The original work of designing, engineering and manufacturing those displays alone made them a competitive advantage to folks like Apple. Being first to market with something that capable and forward expansive, was a true visionary move. Now the vision is percolating downward through the market and even so-called “feature” phones or dumb-phones might have some type of touch sensitive display.
This building by bits and pieces reminds me a bit of the research Google is doing in open hardware, modular cell phone designs like the Ara Project written up by Wired.com. Ara is an interesting experiment in divvying up the whole motherboard into block sized functions that can be swapped in and out, substituted by the owner according to their needs. If you’re not a camera hound, why spend the extra money on a overly capable, very high rez camera? Why not add a storage module instead because you like to watch movies or play games instead? Or in the case of open hardware developers, why not develop a new module that others could then manufacture themselves, with a circuit board or even a 3D printer? The possibilities are numerous and seeing an effort like what Dave Hunt did with his PiPhone as a lone individual working on his own, proves there’s a lot of potential in the open hardware area for cell phones. Maybe this device or future versions will break somewhat of the lock current monopoly providers have on their closed hardware, closed source code products.