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The PiPhone – A DIY Touchscreen Smartphone

The PiPhone in all its caseless gloryThe PiPhone in all its caseless glory


While you'll want to 3D-print a case for it before sticking it in your pocket, Dave Hunt's PiPhone project shows us that it's relatively simple to DIY a working cellphone nowadays. The device runs a Raspberry Pi Model B board at heart, which is attached to a small touchscreen, a GSM module (with antenna), a rechargeable battery, and a couple other parts.


Rear of the PiPhone; the GSM module board's facing the camera hereRear of the PiPhone; the GSM module board's facing the camera here


With a SIM card in, one can use the “not very clean” (in Hunt's words) software to make a call. As impressive as that might be, this is the Raspberry Pi platform we're talking about, a well-established computing playground. Piecing the PiPhone together and dialling someone aren't the end of the road – there's also the free modding of the software that ought to be part of the fun.


The right side, showing off the Raspberry Pi's composite video and speaker outputsThe right side, showing off the Raspberry Pi's composite video and speaker outputs


After all, there's that 240x320-pixel resolution touchscreen to consider, with all the smartphone-flavoured bits of code that could take advantage. Though, of course, the PiPhone isn't quite as powerful as a typical iPhone or Android phone. It's hamstrung by the Raspberry Pi's 700 Mhz single-core CPU and 512MB of RAM.

The battery, a small Li-Polymer 2500 mAh unit, probably won't allow more than a couple of hours of runtime, either, and the whole thing costs $158 in loose parts. That's a little bit pricey; cheap Android tablets and phones alike can be had for around that price point nowadays.


The left side; not too many cheap smartphones can boast an HDMI output, but the PiPhone canThe left side; not too many cheap smartphones can boast an HDMI output, but the PiPhone can


Still, there's an undeniable novelty attached to building a smartphone of your own by hand, with software that you can freely customize without worrying about warranties or locked bootloaders. You can read Dave Hunt's own commentary and thoughts on the PiPhone right here.

Rey M.L.
Inventorspot - Subscribe to my posts!

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