Author Archives: mellis

My open-source, do-it-yourself cellphone (built with Arduino).

via Arduino Blog

DIY cellphone (in hand)

For a little over a year, I’ve been working on an open-source, DIY cellphone as part of my PhD research at the MIT Media Lab. The current version of the phone is based on the Arduino GSM shield and Arduino GSM library. It sports a deliberately low-resolution screen (8 characters, each a 5×7 matrix of LEDs), a laser-cut wooden enclosure, flexure (living hinge) buttons, and a ~1000-line Arduino program that powers the user interface. The phone can make and receive phone calls and text messages, includes a phone book and caller id, and keeps the time. Everything you’d expect from a 20-year old Nokia! (Except snake.) I’ve been using various iterations of the project as my primary cellphone for the past six months or so.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

The phone is open-source and the design files are available on GitHub (hardware, software). Assembly instructions are on my website, although I wouldn’t recommend making your own unless you have experience with soldering surface mount components.

Second DIY cellphone workshop

Of course, it’s not just me that’s been building these phones. I’ve run two workshops in which other people have made them for themselves. A few people have been building them on their own, including someone who posted his result on Twitter.

Ben Peters' Phone.Dena's purpleheart phoneNadya and Jeff making cellphones

Here you can see some the variations on the enclosure that my friends have made. On the left is a 3d-printed case by Ben Peters, the middle is a CNC-milled purpleheart wood case by Dena Molnar, and on the right is a hand-cut cardboard case by Jeffrey Warren.

DIY Cellphone Prototypes

The phone has undergone numerous revisions as I’ve tried to get it into a robust, useable form. Here you can see some of those variations. I started with an LCD screen like those found on old Nokia phones, but it would break after a month or so in my pocket, so I switched to the more-robust LED matrix. The enclosure has had a few tweaks as well, primarily to find a good design for the flexure buttons.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the current incarnation. It seems to be relatively robust, simple enough to assemble by hand, and functional enough to use everyday (although a long way from a smart phone). That’s my DIY cellphone.

Take the 2013 Open Source Hardware Community Survey.

via Arduino Blog

Catarina Mota and I put together an updated version of the annual Open Source Hardware Community Survey for the Open-Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). Here’s a summary:

Our goal is to arrive at a better understanding of who we are as a community, why and how we use/make open-source hardware, and how our practices and numbers are changing over time. For this purpose, we are asking all those who use and/or develop open-source hardware to please respond. The aggregate results will be made publicly available after the survey closes. By publishing your responses, we hope to provide the public with insights into the practices and experiences of the people involved in open-source hardware.

Please help us understand the open-source hardware community by taking the survey.

You can also check out last year’s results.

Othermill on Kickstarter: a robust, personal CNC machine for milling circuit boards and more

via Arduino Blog

My friend Jonathan Ward and the rest of the team at Otherfab have posted their new CNC milling machine, the Othermill, to KickStarter. This is a robust, low-cost machine for milling circuit boards, wax molds, wood, aluminum and more. The machine is made from high density polyethylene with an ingenious snap-fit mechanism that’s strong, reversible, and easy-to-assemble (although the machines will come fully assembled). There are lots of other clever features to ensure good alignment, minimal / non-existent slop, and quiet / robust performance. The working area is 5.5 x 4.5 x 1.4″ and the machine itself is only 10 inches cubed.

This is a great tool for milling your own circuit boards, something that’s done a lot in How to Make (Almost) Anything and at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Bits and Atoms generally. It handles relatively fine-pitched components (down to 1/64″ or even 0.010″ between traces) and is great for doing arbitrary shapes and cut outs. Here are some examples from the Othermill KickStarter page.

Jonathan has a long history of making milling machines, and I’m excited to see them get out into the world.

Find out more or support the project on KickStarter.

Arduino 1.0.2 released w/ support for the Micro, Wifi shield, and starter kit.

via Arduino Blog

To accompany the new Arduino Micro, we’ve released a new version of the Arduino software, Arduino 1.0.2. This release also includes the WiFi library (for the WiFi Shield) and the examples for the Arduino Starter Kit. In addition, it contains many bug fixes and improvements, detailed in the release notes. In particular, it addresses many small incompatibilities between the Arduino Leonardo and other boards, which should ensure that the Micro also performs well (since it shares the same Atmel ATmega32U4 processor as the Leonardo).

You can download the software from the Arduino website.