Tag Archives: FONA Shield

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.