back to article Chap builds mobe based on Raspberry Pi

A clever chap named David Hunt has built a phone based on a Raspberry Pi. He has, of course, called it the ”PiPhone”. Hunt explains he's bolted together the Pi, a small touchscreen, a GSM module and a battery into a working phone. He also created a dialler interface for the phone, which doesn't seem to run any other apps. …

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A fairly basic electronics/code project is news?

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Anything that shows people (especially children) that this level of design/construction really can be done at home is a good thing.

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GSM modules for the Arduino are available and probably much simpler for children to work with than a Raspberry Pi.

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Anonymous Coward

"GSM modules for the Arduino are available and probably much simpler for children to work with than a Raspberry Pi."

So do the project, show the world.

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>So do the project, show the world.

It's been done -> http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoGSMShield, learn to Google.

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Where are your contributions Daniel? Stop belittling others from your armchair.

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>Where are your contributions Daniel

Contributions to what exactly*.. what does taking some off the shelf parts and wiring them together contribute to anything? Apparently some people are way too easily impressed.

*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics; If you look around hard enough maybe you'll find where I removed BGA chips from devices and reverse engineered the PCB to work how to hack extra features on via test pads. Obviously that's not high enough level for the register so you might not have seen it.

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Anonymous Coward

Clever project, even though it has been done before and it is really a bolt together off the the self parts device but I can still buy one for a lot less and it would have a years warranty.

Now if someone would find a way of producing a homemade device for say £10, then that would be something.

I'm just not that easily impressed, just like making a home made trifle using supermarket bought ingredients.

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Happy

re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

Do you live near Jake?

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Anonymous Coward

">So do the project, show the world.

It's been done -> http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoGSMShield, learn to Google."

Alternatively, you could learn to differentiate between sending a link about an OTS GSM module and a link about an actual project.

http://blog.arduino.cc/2013/08/12/diy-cellphone/

Oh hey, look at that. It appears I'm slightly better at using Google than you are.

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Re: re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

No, otherwise I would have gone to parties at Steve Job's house like Jake apparently has..

I'm just glad I don't live close to the reg users that think the internet is contained in a black plastic box with a red led sticking out of the top.

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Hi Daniel,

Technically you are correct in everything you have said in your posts and I don't doubt your awesomeness in the field. However, for those of us not as awesome as you we think this non-usable phone project is quite cute. Easily impressed due to our own ignorance? Perhaps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

What colour box do you think it's contained in then?

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LEGO for the modern era

> Apparently some people are way too easily impressed.

Yes, they are. But what more should we expect? The crucial aspect of this project, in the author's own words, are:

... where’s the fun in that. I got a great kick out of the first phone call I made with this thing. And it wont’s stay in one piece for long, I’ll be using those parts for other projects very soon!

So no-one is saying it's a practical solution. It was meant to be fun, nothing more. And power to his elbow for doing something that he enjoyed. CERTAINLY no-one is saying it's supposed to be educational (for the children - what an insult to adults who like playing with Leg Pi's) and the creator himself says that it was only meant to be fun and that it will be torn down (or "recycled" if you prefer) to another project later.

However, so far as ease is concerned - and being impressed. The referenced article does point out that all the parts are Off-the-shelf, hence the LEGO analogy. However that GUI looks a bit handy, I might just use that code myself, when it comes out.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era

I do find it tremendously sad when you get a bunch of people (like the above) who cannot see past 'yawn, seen it all before' when they see projects like this. It's usually Jake (who has, actually, done everything in the world worth doing), but there are many others. The fact that these people generally have not done it themselves make it even more sad.

They really really do not get it at all.

Yes, it has been done before, in other ways by other people. Apple, Samsung, Nokia would be prime examples. That does not make the educational aspects of this particular project any less useful.

Another recent case - the number of people who see pictures and hear of SpaceX soft landing a rocket first stage, and say "Yeah we we doing that in the 60's" or "The DC-X did them 10 years ago". They, also, do not get it.

I'm not sure if this is the internet generation seeing so much online that nothing is interesting or groundbreaking to them anymore. Very sad.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era

@Pete 2

All very true. I just wasn't sure why this was considered newsworthy enough for this site.

Projects like this are posted on a daily basis to hackaday, instructables etc.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era

>The fact that these people generally have not done it themselves make it even more sad.

What's even sadder is when someone that clearly hasn't done it and totally lacks the skills to even attempt to do it writes some gushing comment comparing a very trivial project to other things that are clearly innovations, even if they have been done before, as if they are even comparable.

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Re: re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

@obnoxiousGit

>What colour box do you think it's contained in then?

It's transparent so the NSA can see the individual bits going around of course.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era

> Yes, it has been done before, in other ways by other people. Apple, Samsung, Nokia would be prime examples

And the lesson we learn (at least: those who have tried / failed to productionise something electronic: or even been rash enough to put some of our work up for scrutiny on a website) is that getting the prototype to "proto" is often the easiest part of the process. The really tricky bit, as almost every OSS project is proof of, is the human interface, the support documentation, the standards compliance and the 100% perfect, works-under-all-circumstances reliability.

And when I see all of that in an amateur project, then I really am impressed.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

You two really take the biscuit. You clearly do not get it. Both clearly glass half empty people.

Please try to think back to when you were learning. It's projects like this that teach, and inspire. They don't need reams of documentation, they don't need standards compliance, they don't need to be particularly difficult, they just need to teach, and hopefully get people interested.

THAT is where these projects work so well. They take a common object, and show people what's in them, how they work. That, in itself, is impressive. Inspiring a student, getting a child enthused. That is the impressive part. Not the technology. That is simply an enabler.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

@James Hughes 1

I'd say that this project probably isn't a great example for children as it has a lipo battery which aren't really designed for being mistreated and are very nasty when they go wrong.

>how they work.

The only thing this project could possibly teach are how to use a UART, the AT command set for the GSM module and some bits about SPI or whatever he's using to drive the screen. I would be impressed if most kids could get SPI (considering you need to know about clock edges etc) and then how to write the framebuffer for the display... and considering it doesn't say anywhere on the page that this is a "oh won't somebody think of the children?!?!!"(TM) project I don't think making it easily accessible to young learners has been considered in the least.

The Arduino GSM shield would seem to be much more suited for young learners but if you want to see every project that includes a Raspberry Pi as some attempt to get all the kiddies into coding when they clearly aren't that is up to you.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

Daniel's not far wrong, in the world of hacking this kind of thing is considered to be the equivalent of playing with Lego. I'm pretty sure I have all the bits I'd need to do the same kind of thing on the shelf at home, but just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

What is considered clever in that world is either coming up with a use for the parts that no one has thought of or done yet (I remember one project that implemented a Harry Potter style clock, that used the clock hands to show where you were, based on a GSM module) or are technically very complicated or intricate (one guy reverse-engineered a failed custom IC in a HP logic analyser, and built a replacement from surface mount parts on a tiny board that plugged into the original socket). The fact that this uses a Pi for a controller may get it a mention on El Reg, but it's small beer compared to the kinds of things that are presented every day in that world.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

> It's projects like this that teach, and inspire.

Inspire: yes. Teach? definitely not.

As we have all been told: a crucial part of learning is the mistakes. Hence a project (and the author, to be fair, of this piece of work makes no claims for its educational validity: only that it was fun to do) that contains no information about the problems encountered and solved, nor the dead-ends, nor how to recognise and deal with errors, nor why one solution was chosen above any others will teach very few people and discourage many, many more. If all of that knowledge requires "reams of doumentation" then so be it. it's that "reams of documetation" that others will learn from: not from seeing one example of anything, presented fully realised as an end result. It would be like writing a cookery book and only having photos of the food you're prepared with no recipes or discussion of technique. Lovely as food-porn, but useless to anyone who wants to make their own.

So it's wrong to dismisss "reams of documentation" as not necessary for the learning process. For most people. it's vital - and it's lack in most OSS applications makes them little more than app-porn (to coin a phrase). Great if it works out of the box, and for the tiny minority who have the skills, inclination, tools and time to fix or adapt it: who disingenuously say "the code is available for anyone to use". But as "productised", as that was the essence of my comment, piece of work: ready for the full spectrum of talents who would wish to use it, undocumented stuff fails as an educational tool. Big time.

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Anonymous Coward

Newsworthiness

As much as this is a celebration of DIY, 'making' and 'inspiring people' it does seem that such projects are only considered newsworthy when they involve a raspberry pi.

Perhaps we could have some balanced coverage of pi alternatives?

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Re: re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

Biege box?

Or grey racks with loads of fans and LEDs.Seen those.

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Re: Newsworthiness

> Perhaps we could have some balanced coverage of pi alternatives?

Nope.

The embedded "revolution" of SBCs is proceeding quietly behind the scenes (just waiting for the 8-core SBCs to appear). However the Pi is the sizzle, not the steak.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

"You two really take the biscuit. You clearly do not get it. Both clearly glass half empty people."

Wasn't it a Far Side cartoon that had a survey of personality type, offering glass half full, glass half empty and "hey, I ordered a cheeseburger!"?

This seems closer to "glass half full" / "glass half empty" / "i have an idea for a better glass than that, so this glass isn't interesting" ...

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

FFS. Really, you lot (the Pete's, Daniels etc) have no bloody imagination. Or any idea of how to enthuse children. I really do despair.

All of your arguments above are wobbling around, failing to make any ground. Stop trying to think up reasons why this isn't good, and try to think of reasons why it is. If the best you can up with is that LiPo batteries are a bit dangerous, well...and so what if in the hacking world this is common place. Education is NOT the hacking world FFS.

Your sort of negativity is why our education system is such a mess. Of course, there are reasons why it isn't good - after all, in your own words, it's only teaches people how to use a UART, and SPI. Oh, hold on, they would be bloody brilliant things for people to learn....

But that is NOT the point, the point is that this project (whether intended for teaching or not) is a great example of getting people involved. You only have to try and access the guys website to know this has garnered a lot of interest.

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

>FFS. Really, you lot (the Pete's, Daniels etc) have no bloody imagination.

>Or any idea of how to enthuse children. I really do despair.

Do you have children? I have two. I doubt telling them "hey look, there's this thing on the interwebs that shows how to make a barely working basic phone!" would really make them jump out of their seats. To be fair the oldest only 2 but he's sitting next to me browsing thomas the tank engine videos on youtube by himself... I doubt he'll be impressed with something like this when he's old enough to start to understand any of the technical concepts involved. He did like controlling some chains of WS2812 leds from a tablet but I doubt that taught him anything about the bitbanging the beaglebone black under the table was doing to drive them.

>If the best you can up with is that LiPo batteries are a bit dangerous,

lipo batteries are *VERY* dangerous. They should not be mishandled. Just shorting them out on something can cause them to explode.

>Education is NOT the hacking world FFS.

So why are you trying to make out that every quick hack project is something that kids should be taught in school?

>Your sort of negativity is why our education system is such a mess.

No, your sort of "we need to teach everything that we think is amazing but have no idea about" is why the education system is such a mess. The whole push to try to teach every child to "code" whatever the fuck that means is a ridiculous farce by people that have no fucking clue.

>how to use a UART

I said that's the only things you could potentially learn. UARTs are character devices in Linux. You write chars to them and read chars back. Other than maybe learning that "UART send data" and "RX go to TX" there isn't much you can really demonstrate at that level of abstraction. Learning how to setup the UART on a microcontroller would be more worthwhile.

>and SPI.

Again, SPI from userland on Linux abstracts how SPI actually works to the degree that it would be very hard to learn much. I'm not sure you want to have to teach kids that everything in unix is a file and things that can't be done via read() or write() have to be done via ioctl and SPI is one of those cases because read() and write() might need to happen at the same time.. to do that you need to create a structure with the transaction and pass it to the right ioctl.. insanely dry stuff that teaches you nothing about SPI.

>Oh, hold on, they would be bloody brilliant things for people to learn....

I learned these things at college once I had the prior required knowledge to actually make sense of the concepts involved. That's the place where things like this should be being taught (and they are) not to every single kid from birth.

>is a great example of getting people involved.

It's a great example of something some guy hacked together and put a post about it on the internet.

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I'm in favour of kids playing with Lego

Similarly teaching them the principles of programming on the Pi or Arduino is a good thing.

Given that, would kids playing with Lego be worthy of a news article? Would complaining about such a news article be expected on any news site that doesn't deal with children's play as a major theme?

There are some powerful and interesting toys out there. People are coming up with interesting uses for them on a daily basis. Comparatively this phone isn't special (it's not even the first phone to be built out of similar bits), but it involved the Pi, which somehow elevated it to newsworthy.

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Re: re:"*If you want contributions to the hacking of electronics;"

>>What colour box do you think it's contained in then?

Please tell me this was a reference to the HHGTTG.

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@ obnoxious Git

"What colour box do you think it's contained in then?"

Depends. Will this be fitted nasally?

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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

I have three children. All seem fairly sane. Going to be teaching Python soon to the eldest. Via Minecraft. Going to be fun.

I'm giving up. You just DONT GET IT. (as shown by the proportion of up to downvotes I've just noticed).

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half baked?

Ow! Hot hot hot hot hot!

Mmmmm pi

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PiPhone

Nice looking device; probably wouldn't want to try taking it through airport security though...

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Black Helicopters

Re: PiPhone

The fact that he knows enough about 'technical stuff' to do the project almost certainly already has him on a watch list. Can't trust people who know things!

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Thumb Up

Great project...

Better build quality than most Android phones I see if car phone whorehouse.

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Re: Great project...

also better designed than the other thing; at least it lets me change the battery !

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I'm impressed

I could just about still do the electronics side of things despite it being more years than I like to admit since working in that field.

When it comes to actually programming things - well I haven't done that for even longer and I wasn't that hot at it to begin with.

And let's face it, when you're 'tinkering' you're using 90+% of knowledge that's out there and applying it. In fact, when you're engineering you're using other people's knowledge as building blocks for your own.

I can't remember the last time I heard of an engineer coming up with something completely unknown before. Scientists in R&D that may be working with engineers (and vice versa), yes but not engineers.

Happy to be proven wrong on that, by the way.

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@ daniel

Basically mate you are a wanker - where's your home made phone? .... Thought not - you may well have the capacity to make one but before you spout off about how useful/useless the project is, show us yours. Oh yes, you could have made one but were on more important stuff - again, you effing wanker!

This is the way technology progresses - someone takes bits from other people and makes something - not necessarily new - that other people can build on.

Why is it that the idiots of the world cannot just be happy that someone has done something? No, they have to big-note themselves because they "could" have done (and mostly didn't do) better.

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Re: @ daniel

>where's your home made phone?

Here's my homemade Android tablet in a cardboard box running my own port of Android from AOSP http://imgur.com/deFO4Pw

>you effing wanker!

You realise that this GSM modules just use AT commands like dial up modems right? it's not magic.

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Re: @ daniel

You are of course correct Daniel - GSM modules do indeed use AT commands at the high level being discussed.

Still a wanker though. Anyone can make an Android tablet, it's not fucking rocket science. It just plugging known stuff together and doing an Android build to match. I do that every day (really). Post when you have done something actually complicated like a properly jointed walnut veneered case.

See what I did there? Exactly what you did above. In actual fact, making an Android tablet isn't trivial so well done. It certainly a good teaching exercise as its certainly not a particularly cost effective way of doing things.

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Re: @ daniel

>Anyone can make an Android tablet, it's not fucking rocket science.

Can they? Please tell me what changes are needed to make most cheap resistive touch screen controllers work. They don't work out of the box. Getting NFC to work with custom builds (not custom builds for existing devices) is a real pain because of the firmware blobs being in a shared library that seems to restrict what interface it can talk to the NFC chipset with. But you know all this don't you?

>I do that every day (really).

You'll be able to tell us how you would tackle the above points then won't you genius.

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Trollface

Re: @ daniel

I only come on here to ready the daily mail readers comments....

Seriously dude, all that anger isn't worth it. And as for your droid tablet....That's not going to cure world hunger is it? But pie on the other hand....What, oh Pi....nope that won't either. And Resistive? Seriously dude! shaking my head....

Now pass me the popcorn - its the food of trolls y'know

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Re: @ daniel

>Seriously dude, all that anger

No anger here.

>Resistive? Seriously dude! shaking my head

Big capacitive panels are pretty expensive. They are coming down though.

I think you'd be surprised how good that setup was though. You couldn't do multitouch but it was very usable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ daniel

My expertise is not in touch screen, but they are pretty easy by all accounts compared with the rest of the system. You want difficult, try setting up a dtblob for a Samsung prototype, with all the associated drivers and pain. That is Android development - sitting at 3am in a dark SS office trying to set up the Android build for a new firmware release. None of this mincing around in your bedroom with your cardboard box and shitty touch screen.

Anger? Yeah, I've got some. For people like you who think a fucking touch screen is complicated. Fuck off is it.

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Re: @ daniel

>You want difficult, try setting up a dtblob for a Samsung prototype,

you mean using the dtc compiler to compile your dts file and attaching it to the kernel image right?

For the cardboard box tablet I had to dump the pinmux settings from the memory of a running kernel and work backwards with the datasheet to map them back to the registers and settings bits and then put them into a dts file.. didn't help that some of the pinmux settings were wrong and I had to remove chips to probe pads to work out where they were really connected to.

>with all the associated drivers and pain.

I've written dts files for a few boards now. They aren't that complicated if the SoC is properly supported in the kernel and usually you have something to work from because the inclusion of a SoC usually brings in a dts file for a reference board... and for many Android systems the kernel in use is still using the old hardcoded board support files anyhoo.

>sitting at 3am in a dark SS office trying to set up the Android build for a new firmware release.

If you find it so hard to do maybe you should find a new job. Maybe you should have asked your vendor for their patches to AOSP instead of dicking around for so long.

>None of this mincing around in your bedroom with your cardboard

>box and shitty touch screen.

Now you're assuming that I have only brought up boards for personal projects.

>For people like you who think a fucking touch screen is complicated. Fuck off is it.

Can you tell us how to do it then? what changes need to be made? What do you do if the screen orientation and touch screen orientation doesn't match what Android assumes it is? What do you need to do to handle calibration because InputReader doesn't know anything about calibration. Setting up a dts file for a board, even one you don't have complete docs for, is a walk in the park compared to digging around in some of Androids lower level and totally undocumented components like libnfc.

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Trollface

Re: @ daniel

Dude - this isn't XDA, maybe they will help you with your projects of awesome androidness.

Now bog off!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ daniel

Daniel, there may be something in what you are saying in all your posts above, but the way you've presented it does rather make you come across as the end of a bell. Give the guy a break.

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