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DIY mobile phone made from $150 worth of parts


May 3, 2012

MIT PhD student David Mellis has designed and built a fully operational mobile phone, name...

MIT PhD student David Mellis has designed and built a fully operational mobile phone, named the DIY Cellphone, using about US$150-worth of parts (Photo: David Mellis)

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MIT PhD student David Mellis has designed and built a fully operational mobile phone, named the DIY Cellphone, using about US$150-worth of parts.

What's more, he's published source code, circuit designs and case designs on GitHub so that others can do the same. The phone features a quad-band GSM module and 1.8-inch 160x128-pixel TFT display, but its most eye-catching feature is plainly the laser-cut plywood and veneer body.

Mellis describes the project as an experiment into the individual, customized construction of the what is usually the most ubiquitous of mass-produced gadgets: the mobile phone.

"We hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones," Mellis writes. "Freed from the constraints of mass production, we plan to explore diverse materials, shapes, and functions. We hope that the project will help us explore and expand the limits of do-it-yourself (DIY) practice."

The current version is an early prototype, and at the moment the phone's software only allows voice calls. However, it sounds as if there are no hardware limitations with the current setup that would prevent the extension of the phone's function, including SMS, Mellis suggests.

Source: DIY Cellphone project page via Make.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway

$150 for parts.

$150,000,000 for patent licensing costs.

3rd May, 2012 @ 06:04 pm PDT

This is great - gets one away from the techno-horrors of the commercial goods.

Mr Stiffy
3rd May, 2012 @ 06:31 pm PDT

this is cool and all...but whats the point when you can go to walmart and buy a better phone for 10 bucks?

Calico Jack
4th May, 2012 @ 12:04 am PDT

@Species (in my best Dr. Evil voice) "You just don't get it, do you Scott?"

Thomas Roberts
4th May, 2012 @ 10:11 am PDT

i expect the point would be moving toward a future of cellphones that have modular components like PCs do now. not to mention cell phones that don't have big brother built in right at the factory. and how 'bout phones that can be locked and unlocked at will. given the trends in power and utility of these devices, and the increasing miniturization of peripheral devices, i'd say the DIY aspect might be just what a lot of consumers need.

4th May, 2012 @ 10:38 am PDT

... aren't PhD's supposed to be awarded for Original work? Otherwise, this is a non-story. Species Human is right: What's the point?

5th May, 2012 @ 12:22 pm PDT

@christopher, what do you mean?! I have brought a GSM chip off eBay and have developed my own mobile phone, just for myself( which happens to be way better than this by the way) but i am using it as my mobile every day. Am I infringing copyright/IP in doing this?

Kay Warner
30th May, 2012 @ 02:37 pm PDT

So I'd like to see how you'd go about getting service through say Verizon O_o

Eric Veritas Blair
3rd February, 2014 @ 02:57 am PST
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