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Build your own cellphone for $200

inhand diy (brighter)

David Mellis, one of the minds behind the Arduino platform, has released the blueprints to a cellphone that, with time and patience, anyone can build. Mellis used the readily available Arduino GSM Shield, which lets Arduino-based machines access the web over cellular networks, as the basis for his project, but greatly expanded upon the component's hardware and software, adding support for a display, buttons, speaker, microphone, and a full interface. The result is a basic cellphone that can make and receive calls, text messages, store names and numbers, and display the time.

Currently at MIT's Media Lab, Mellis has put all of the plans necessary to build and customize the phone up on Github, and also uploaded the circuit board plans to custom printer OSH Park, which will print three copies of the board for around $60. As for the casing, there are detailed instructions for a simple laser-cut plywood case, but several Media Lab members have crafted their own cases in a variety of shapes and hues, using milling, laser cutting, and 3D printing. Mellis describes his DIY phone as "a difficult but potentially do-able project" that should cost around $200 to complete.

  • A complete circuit board sits between its plywood shell.

    A complete circuit board sits between its plywood shell.

  • The edges of the circuit board are exposed when the phone is assembled, represented as a sliver of green in a plywood sandwich.

    The edges of the circuit board are exposed when the phone is assembled, represented as a sliver of green in a plywood sandwich.

  • The circuit board itself is cheap, but the parts that are fixed to it are more expensive. Among the priciest are the 8-character LED display ($39.19) and 6.4mm speaker ($11.83).

    The circuit board itself is cheap, but the parts that are fixed to it are more expensive. Among the priciest are the 8-character LED display ($39.19) and 6.4mm speaker ($11.83).

  • There are also instructions for an LCD-based variant. Despite being able to convey more information than the LED, the part is far cheaper ($9.95). Unfortunately, Mellis says the part breaks over time.

    There are also instructions for an LCD-based variant. Despite being able to convey more information than the LED, the part is far cheaper ($9.95). Unfortunately, Mellis says the part breaks over time.

  • Mellis' LED-based phone sits aside designer <a href=Dena Molnar's LCD-based "purpleheart" phone." src="http://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/9496949/LCDvsLED_verge_super_wide.jpg" title="">

    Mellis' LED-based phone sits aside designer Dena Molnar's LCD-based "purpleheart" phone.

  • A phone case is crafted using a laser cutter.

    A phone case is crafted using a laser cutter.

  • Dena Molnar repairing her phone.

    Dena Molnar repairing her phone.

  • It's like he made his own <a href=HTC Mini." src="http://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/9497193/sidebyside_verge_super_wide.jpg" title="">

    It's like he made his own HTC Mini.

  • Mellis' creation sits amongst a number of spare components.

    Mellis' creation sits amongst a number of spare components.

  • <a target=Amit Zoran, another member of MIT's Media Lab, constructed a far more complex case, exposing the Micro USB port and using it as a design highlight." src="http://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/9497013/connect_verge_super_wide.jpg" title="">

    Amit Zoran, another member of MIT's Media Lab, constructed a far more complex case, exposing the Micro USB port and using it as a design highlight.

  • Engineer Ben Peters used 3D printing to make this colorful enclosure for his phone.

    Engineer Ben Peters used 3D printing to make this colorful enclosure for his phone.

  • <a href=MIT Media Lab industrial designer Yoav Sterman's case places the internals in a milled enclosure, allowing for a more organic design without an exposed circuit board." src="http://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/entry_photo_images/9497153/yoavsterman_verge_super_wide.jpg" title="">

    MIT Media Lab industrial designer Yoav Sterman's case places the internals in a milled enclosure, allowing for a more organic design without an exposed circuit board.

All photos copyright David Mellis, republished under a Creative Commons license. Some images have been cropped, adjusted, or combined for aesthetic reasons. You can read up on the project, material costs, and download instructions at Mellis' MIT Media Lab page, or find more images on his Flickr.

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