For anybody who can remember when the first smartphones came out such as the original Blackberry, the technology was groundbreaking and changed the way we interact with each other and the world-at-large. Over the years, the various iPhone models have updated to make living in a connected world that much easier – so easy in fact that some are able to work directly from their phones by simply using any number of apps and email.
But just like most other products and technologies that exist these days, the combination of microcontrollers, 3D printers and some basic soldering know-how have enabled a new generation of Makers to create these products that were seemingly only able to be produced by tech giants only a few years ago. Today, users are able to create their own computers, video game consoles, drones and more thanks to not only the available (and in most cases, affordable) microcontrollers and 3D printed parts, but also the expansive collection of tutorials and build instructions that exist online and at a variety of community workshops or hackerspaces that are growing on a seemingly weekly basis around the world.
One of the more recent projects that makes use of existing Maker technologies to create an otherwise complex product is with the tyfone: a DIY smartphone that anyone can make.The project, which features fully-detailed build instructions over on Instructables by user Mach_5, uses a Raspberry Pi as an on-board computer and utilizes a 3.5-inch touchscreen. To be able to make calls, send SMS messages and receive other updates including the time, the phone uses an Adafruit Fona. In order to connect to the internet and cellular networks, the phone includes a USB wifi adapter. Finally, what would a smartphone be these days without a decent camera? The tyfone makes use of a 5 megapixel camera module that enables it to take HD photos and send them to any number of cloud accounts using the onboard wifi. Of course, all of these components are enclosed in a 3D printed case.
To begin the build, a user simply needs to acquire the necessary hardware components and free downloadable STL files. The list of components for the project is conveniently linked for purchasing from third-party retail establishments and include the Raspberry Pi A+, the Adafruit FONA uFL Version, the Raspberry Pi Camera, a GSM Antenna, a 1 W 8 ohm Metal Speaker, a USB Wifi adaptor, a Lithium Ion Battery, among other components.