Tag Archives: DIY Smartphone

RePhone is the world’s first open source, modular smartphone

Seeed Studio’s new kit enables Makers to create their own phone and hack inanimate things with the power of cellular communication.

When it comes to electronics, the concept of modularity continues to rise in popularity — and rightfully so. Rather than have to endure the high cost of a new gadget every few years, you’ll soon be able to swap out individual parts and simply upgrade your existing device whenever necessary. Reminiscent of Google’s Project Ara, our friends over at Seeed Studio have joined the party by launching a Kickstarter campaign for a DIY smartphone made entirely from open source components.


Called RePhone, the modular kit enables you to create your own phone as well as hack other objects around you by giving them the power of cellular communication. Pretty cool, right? The unit itself is built around the RePhone GSM + BLE module, or the RePhone Core 3G module which provides faster data connection yet lacks Bluetooth. But that’s not all.

Seeed will offer an assortment of Xadow add-on modules, each with their own set of unique features. These include a 1.54” touchscreen, an Arduino-compatible MCU (ATmega32U4), a basic sensor board, a GPS board, an audio board, a 5×7 LED board, a GSM breakout board and an NFC board. These can be connected using an FPC cable (11 or 35 pin), soldered wires, conductive thread or a breadboard. Plus, the DIY device is powered a 520mAh battery.


Additionally, Seeed has unveiled a RePhone Create Kit, which lets you design and customize a phone enclosure out of kraft paper. This material is sewable, washable, and most importantly, easy to draw on. Makers will be able to personalize their cases in all sorts of shapes, colors and styles.

The modular gadget is indeed a fully-functional tool, which can be used like any other everyday phone to make and receive calls, send text messages, and play music. Seeed has devised Arduino, Lua and Javascript libraries, as well as a full power SDK based on Eclipse for C/C++ developers. What’s more, the RePhone can be programmed with IFTTT logic. This allows you to define and implement recipes for various actions, such as being notified if your dog wanders off or your bike gets lost.


“The modular design of RePhone brings limitless DIY possibilities. Those tiny neat blocks can be fit into a phone enclosure of any size, shape, or style you like,” Seeed Studio writes. “You can make your RePhone even cooler with different materials like leather, fabric and bamboo. Build a sturdy case with 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC and injection molding.”

To top it all off, the device is compatible with both the Arduino and Pebble. RePhone creates alternative ways to communicate with inanimate things in your physical world over GSM and 3G, whether that’s a walking cane phone for grandpa, a GPS pet collar, an interactive t-shirt or a rigged desk lamp. The possibilities are endless.


Ready to piece together your own RePhone? Although Seeed Studio has already completed its Kickstarter campaign, which garnered over $276,000, you can still pre-order yours today here.

Now you can build your own DIY phone with Arduino

Adafruit’s Limor Fried shows us how to create your own $125 phone using Arduino and a FONA Shield.

Walking into your local Verizon Wireless store or going online to buy a gadget is so 2014. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for that iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, why not make your own for a fraction of the cost? Nowadays, nearly two-thirds of the American population own a smartphone, and for many, these devices are a key entry point to the online world. But what about the age of basic cellphones, like that old-school Nokia 5110, which packed just enough features to communicate with your friends and family via text or voice, keep busy playing Snake and set morning alarms? If you’re looking for something reminiscent of the late ‘90s, then you’ll love Adafruit’s newly-revaled Arduin-o-Phone — the brainchild of Limor Fried (aka Lady Ada) herself.


While you may not be able to accept Facebook friend requests, reply to emails or browse the web, this DIY project packs all of the necessary functions. Even better, it doesn’t require an extensive lineup of supplies to get started. As its name would imply, the Arduin-o-Phone is based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) along with a few other components including a FONA Shield for cellular network connection to make calls, a 2.8” TFT Shield for its resistive touch display, a GSM antenna and SIM card, and a LiPo battery for power. Additionally, the device can either be used with a headset or a speaker and mic combination for those looking for a more “hold it up and talk” style.


Designed with flexibility in mind, the capabilities of the Arduin-o-Phone can be expanded upon, or simply left in its barebones form. Using Adafruit’s libraries, Makers can devise their own dialer with less than 200 lines of code, as well as create their own interface and customize an app using the Arduino IDE.

“Most of the soldering happens on the FONA shield. Don’t forget to solder it with stacking headers,” Fried advises.


To piece it all together, attach the mini speaker and wired electret microphone, solder the vibrating motor disc, and add the LiPo battery. From there, insert the SIM card and GSM antenna into the uFL connector, and plug the FONA Shield onto the Arduino. Connect the Uno to the computer and upload the Arduin-o-Phone sketch.

And voilà, you just made your own phone! Intrigued? Check out a step-by-step breakdown of the build on Adafruit, and access its code on Github here.