Open Source: Sketchy but Awesome

First some definitions:

sketchy, adj., not thorough or detailed.

Most people take sketchy to describe, for example, a bad neighborhood — dark, shady, dangerous, etc. When I use the word “sketchy” I use it as its literal meaning: not thorough or detailed; unpolished; rough, etc. For example, this is sketchy:

The iPhone -5(A very early iPhone prototype)

This is not:


The iPhone 5(The iPhone 5)

So, speaking of phones, I made my own cell phone! Here is a picture:

cf81f411-3b07-4558-8e32-ccae7e0f7c77(It doesn’t have a case yet, but it’s coming!)

I saw this project in an issue of MAKE Magazine, and decided to do it. I needed a cheap, basic phone anyway for my visits to NYC. With the help of this guide, and a forum that goes along with it, I now have a fully functioning cell phone (it can do texts and calls, and store contacts–that’s about it).

It is ALL open source as well, so I can go into the code of the phone, and tweak anything I want. I’ve already added some new features such as a brightness indicator, and I’ve started on being able to save and view old text messages. While building it I learned that it is possible to solder surface mount components by hand (they are usually done with a machine and a large oven all at once). I had some challenges with soldering the speaker though, since it is a fragile part, and it was awkward to solder.

This phone is SUPER sketchy. It looks very home made at the moment, with all its parts out in the open, and it is not as reliable as a cell phone you could buy. In spite of this, it is still awesome. I can modify anything about the phone that bugs me and customize it to my liking!


2 thoughts on “Open Source: Sketchy but Awesome

  1. “…not as reliable as a cell phone you could buy”

    Maybe, maybe not. Alex’s iPhone 5 – like the shiny polished one above, but white – has had a flaky power switch for a while, which she recently had fixed as part of an Apple recall program (apparently she’s not the only one with this problem). After well over a week in the hands of Apple, it’s come back with a repaired power switch but a very flaky microphone connection. So even a half a trillion dollar megacorporation can mess up an SMD repair from time to time…

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