Custom built mobile phone with a Raspberry Pi.
Emutex is a company that encourages a maker culture among its engineers. This helps promote innovation and the development of new ideas. As an engineer who is very interested in Making and Maker Culture, both in and outside work, I’ve developed several projects based on Raspberry Pi as part of my hobby activities. Since another one of my main hobbies is photography, it is no surprise that many of the projects are based on an integration of embedded computing and photography. This crossover has resulted in several projects, many of which have featured on the front page of www.raspberrypi.org.
However it was my most recent project that gained the most attention. This took the form of a DIY touchscreen cellphone based on a Raspberry Pi, a TFT touchscreen, and a SIM900 GSM module. The project took these components, added a Lithium Polymer battery and a Graphical User Interface. The result was a device that allowed the user to associate to a cellular network, and make phone calls. I called it “The PiPhone”.
As for where the original idea came from, I have to say it was built on top of previous projects, which included a time-lapse controller that used a Raspberry Pi to drive a camera along a motorized rail. A later project added a touchscreen with a Graphical User Interface. Then came the idea to incorporate a GSM module to make phone calls. Since most of my other projects feature the word ‘’Pi” in some form or another, the name “PiPhone” came to me with a smile. The name probably has a lot to do with the project’s popularity on the Internet.
One of the main objectives of my projects is to get people learning and teaching about technology, so I was delighted that at the time of writing this article, two people had successfully built their own PiPhones using the instructions on my blog. I’ve even suggested it as an educational tool. How cool would it be to have a classroom of children build some PiPhones with components supplied to them, then to call each other with the results? I think it would be a great way to get kids thinking about technology, which is badly needed in this day and age.
This is what the PiPhone looks like.
I produced a video demonstration of the PiPhone making a call and published it on YouTube. Within a few days the video went viral and featured on numerous tech blogs – Engadget, Gizmag, Tom’s Hardware, Hackaday, etc., as well as appearing on Sky News and featuring in Linux User & Developer magazine.
The video was shot with an iPhone in one hand, and the PiPhone in the other; very much a “maker” video, not very professionally made, but it got the point across. This may, in part, have helped with its popularity.
Creator: Dave Hunt
For more information on this project including technical details on how it was built, parts list, etc., please visit: