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ESP32 WiPhone

The WiPhone project is an open source mobile IP phone. WiPhone is intended to be hackable, modular, cheap, and open, while remaining usable.

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The campaign is over. You can pre-order here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wiphone-a-phone-for-hackers-and-makers#/

Or join the mailing list to follow along:


Description

WiPhone Prototype
WiPhone Prototype

The WiPhone project is an open source phone capable of making free calls through the internet. It makes calls over WiFi, without the need for a cellular radio.

It's also an open source, self-contained Arduino development platform. It comes in a nice package, with a battery, power supply, and on/off circuitry, unlike most other dev boards. Once your project is done, instead of an eyesore of tangled wires, it's discreet and visually appealing.

The phone is intended to be hackable, modular, cheap, and open, while remaining usable by everyday people.

Motivation

Modern smartphones are more and more a tool we don't own, we're only allowed to carry around. One that serves the interests of those who allow you to buy it in return for the tentacles that get inserted into your life. You don't own it, it owns you. It tracks you, serves you ads, and sucks away your time with mindless dopamine hits. We want a phone that's firmly in our control, optimized for the convenience of the owner, not various corporate boards, ad and tracking networks and government organizations.

We want a phone that reverses that, and puts us back in control. Maybe even fights back a little. Full control of the firmware to allow us to repurpose the phone into whatever application we want. Hardware with accessible I/O and an easy disassembly process.

Benefits

  • Completely free calling, as long as you can set up an account and install a SIP/VoIP app on the devices you need to call.
  • International calls are same as local ones. No restrictions based on borders or calling plans.
  • Don’t need to deal with another country’s SIM cards or radio compatibility when traveling.
  • Keep the same address all over the world.
  • Set up your kid with a phone that lets them contact you without the distractions of a smartphone.
  • Give a pre-configured phone to an elderly relation set up with just the numbers they need.
  • Keep a spare in a bag in case your primary phone gets broken or lost. Don’t need to maintain a service plan for the backup.
  • Avoid being tracked by cell tower triangulation or IMSI catching (Stingray).
  • Load your own firmware to implement different calling protocols or completely different use-cases. The firmware is unlocked and freely modifiable.
  • Commercial phone interchange services are available if you need to call someone on a regular phone. Typical plans cost about $25/year (US or Europe providers).

Planned Features

  • polished enough normal (non-hackers) are happy to use it as an everyday phone
  • open source
  • can call other WiPhones using the internet
  • can call smartphones or computers (using an app installed on the device being called)
  • wireless firmware updates
  • Arduino compatible software
  • Espressif ESP32 processor
  • roughly 120 x 65 x 12mm
  • 320 x 240 (2.4“) LCD screen
  • spare I/O broken out to user-accessible header

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  • Production Parts​

    stupid10/23/2019 at 01:57 0 comments

    Note: This post is out of date. Our blog is updated more frequently.

    Status

    Mostly doing assembly and reliability testing while we wait for the certifications to finish. So far we've spent a lot of time on choosing a clear adhesive for the front covers that looks good, is manageable from an assembly standpoint, and strong enough to work well with our limited bonding surface. We've also tracked down why the buttons would sometimes miss clicks. The 3mm metal domes we were using have issues with even slight misalignment so we're moving up to 5mm with a flat on both sides. Like these:

    We did recently exchange a few messages with the compliance lab. Hard to know when they will finish, but at least they are making progress. Fingers crossed for finishing in the next few weeks and then we can order production quantities of the main PCBA.

    We'll also be sending everyone the Cutest Screwdriver Ever for removal of the back cover:

    Daughterboards

    While I've been concentrating on the production side of things, Aamir has been working on releasing a few daughterboard designs: the Mega Battery Pack, LoRa, and a 4G LTE backpack. We committed to LoRa during the campaign, and hopefully at least these other 2 will be ready by ship time. If you want to upgrade, send a message to support@wiphone.io and we'll work out how to send what you want along with your pledge.

    Color Choice:

    After considering the replies, here's the plan: we'll do a green board overall since that's easy for production as well as rework, but we'll add some black to just the areas visible from the front. Best of both worlds. I briefly flirted with the idea of using black FR-4 with clear soldermask (which would have looked absolutely amazing), but backed away from the edge since it would be a colossal pain to find a vendor, expensive, and we need to actually ship parts soon. Maybe some sort of special edition later.

    Slideshow

    Some random pics from recent work:


  • FCC Certification and Reliability Testing

    stupid09/18/2019 at 12:13 0 comments

    Note: This post is mirrored from our Kickstarter page, and is a bit out of date.

    Status

    We got the next board rev back. Board fab took quite a while longer than it was supposed to, but so far it's looking like we may not need another significant revision before we make the real ones, so that's nice and it knocks a big chunk out of the schedule. Sorry for the relative silence, but from the time we got the boards back until now we've been doing everything we could to verify they worked well and prep for certification since that's currently what's blocking the final ship date. Currently working on:

    • debugging the soft reset circuit
    • amp chip isn't accepting the config on the new board. probably because the timing of the signal
    • RF tuning (just finished today)

    As soon as the remainder of the debugging is done we can start the certification process for FCC/IC/CE, assuming we don't find any show-stoppers on this board rev. Certification takes about a month, so we've lost any chance of shipping units in August unless we ship a few to places that don't require certification. But as soon as certification is done we can fab the rest of the production boards. Most of the mechanical parts are starting to be made over the next week or so.

    Board upgrades on this rev:

    • SMD vibration motor and mic
    • better ear speaker
    • added a footprint for a loudspeaker
    • added a footprint for a rear mic
    • brighter backlight, and now dimmable
    • SD card easier to remove

    Mechanical Design Tweaks: For the most part the mechanical design is done now and we've been concentrating on making it durable, easy to manufacture, and user friendly. Some changes:

    • Spent some quality time mashing keys and scratching my head. Finally ended up modifying the design to remove most of the material on the back side. This lets the buttons compress freely and gives a much better button feel. I am satisfied with it now.
    • Finished design of the little grills that go over the mic and ear speaker. These are kind of cool. The tiny holes are actually etched, the stainless steel sheet stock is stamped into a dome shape, then the (black) color is added by vapor deposition.
    • Tightened up some areas for better alignment and fiddled around specifying tolerances for various things so we don't have surprises later where things don't fit right.
    • Added a couple more locations for keypad backlighting to even it out. There were a couple dark spots.
    Mic and Speaker Grill
    Mic and Speaker Grill

    Reliability Testing:

    We're also in the middle of a testing and selection process for the adhesive to bond the screen to the frame. We want to get this right since there's not a lot of area for the bond and it will be exposed to UV over the life of the phone.

    To that end, we bought an oven so we can do some accelerated life testing on the adhesives, as well as general accelerated life testing on the overall phone. We've also been carrying the phones around and generally playing with them for a while now.

    What Color?

    We need to pick a color for the main PCB. I think either green or black would be good. Green is going to be obviously recognizable as a PCB and should provide a nice hacker aesthetic as well as an accent to the otherwise monochromatic color scheme of the front. Black is... black. A hacker-friendly color that matches the rest of the phone. Who has strong opinions on color?

    Backer Surveys

    Backer surveys will go out soon. I think we will try to send the survey to a limited number of people first so we have time to realize what questions we forgot to ask before we blast everyone with it.

    ...

    And finally, some people were asking about the results of the Noisebridge meetup: It went well. I think around 8 different people showed up over the course of the evening. Nobody obviously disliked the phone, so that's cool :). Had a few nice chats about how the phone works and various applications people...

    Read more »

  • Big Dead Bug

    stupid06/28/2019 at 14:25 1 comment

    We finally got to the bottom of some audio issues that had us running in circles for a while. This was a tricky one because there were actually 2 separate issues and we added a codec and changed our audio library at the same time we started noticing them, so we wasted a while thinking it was our stuff, or the new audio library (spoiler: the one that had us spinning our wheels the longest was an ESP32 issue).

    Issue #1 was the clock source for the audio codec. Originally it was coming from a separate oscillator, but apparently the right way to handle it is to drive it from the same source as the I2S.

    Solution: delete the external oscillator and add a jumper the existing boards to use a pin from the ESP32 as the clock signal.

    Issue #2 we originally called the drunken codec because we noticed it around the same time we implemented G.711 and it seemed like that was the source of the weirdness. It make you sound drunk. Funny, but hard to debug. Andriy spent quite a while trying to see if we had some sort of endianness problem or a math mistake in the codec, but everything looked right. Shortly after that we added an audio library so that we could play MP3s, and that sounded great. Yay! We fixed it. Except, no, actually it only sounded good for audio playback. Calls still were still coming from someone who had been at a drinking establishment for quite some time. So we started looking at the network stack and audio buffers used for calling. A lot of debugging later and the audio pipeline for calling is simplified considerably, but the issue remains.

    So eventually we tried recording audio in various situations and noticed something weird:

    For a 16kHz sample, it looked like high frequency (around 8 kHz) noise was overlaid on the signal. Except there was no noise when the input level was low. And we also noticed that what sounded "drunk" at 8kHz sounded like sort of a buzzy robotic voice at 16kHz. Strange.

    Now that we had some real observations to play with, the issue quickly unraveled itself as the following:

    • The ESP32 was doing it.
    • "It" being chronological swapping of every other audio sample.
    • But only for mono. Stereo came through as expected.

    One of the things that made it so hard to debug (apart from all the other changes we made clouding the issue near the time we noticed it), was it only happened in calls since that was the only time we used mono. And it only happened when the call was between a WiPhone and something else (not between WiPhones) since the error self corrected if the audio got sent to and processed another ESP32.

    Anyway, now you will only sound normal instead of drunk or robotic during calls.

  • First Production Candidate PCB

    stupid06/21/2019 at 07:28 2 comments

    The bank situation is resolved. We managed to pay some vendors yesterday. Hoping to switch banks ASAP once I'm back in the States. No sense in wasting any more words on an inefficient system with no hope of influencing changes.

    So, moving on to things we can have a positive effect on:

    Upcoming Board Revision

    Hoping to send out the next PCB revision within a week or so. This is the first production candidate (likely there will be at least one more revision).

    Other Miscellania

    • New speaker sounds better, but it's too thick. The actual part dimensions of the sample didn't match the drawing.
    • Also got a new vibrator motor sample.
    • Switched to a locking style SD card holder
    • Looking into why boot takes so long (bootloader + loading data from the external flash takes around 3 seconds)
    • Changed the I/O to eliminate screen flashing on boot
    • Started work on an automated tester/programmer
    • Added a dialing screen.
    • Ongoing call quality debugging.

  • Chase Bank: #$%^&!!!!

    stupid06/17/2019 at 16:35 3 comments

    Stuck in China due to Chase Bank simultaneously fucking the project in the ass and being a giant bag of limp, helpless dicks.

    Their fraud detection algorithm locked our account and now the WiPhone project can't move forward until Chase unlocks it again. Which apparently requires buying a plane ticket and fly half way around the world. Which requires money that's currently locked in the account. And time that could be more productively spent doing practically anything else.

    Details:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2103809433/wiphone-a-phone-for-hackers-and-makers/posts/2537406

    And a twitter thread with Chase here. Feel free to join in and let them know what  a bunch of helpless incompetents they are:

    https://twitter.com/Hack_EDA/status/1139769365119684608

  • Shipped Some Early Evaluation Units

    stupid06/11/2019 at 12:49 0 comments

    We Shipped! (...technically)

    The first evaluation units are on their way to the early testers. These are closer to beta hardware than the final version, but it's a good milestone regardless. Looking forward to as much constructive feedback as we can get, and hopefully some cool projects.

    The Ongoing Keypad Saga

    Extracting the keypads from our current (soon to be previous) vendor was a bit of an adventure, and I'm pretty unhappy it took so long... we really need to be iterating, but that's near impossible if the vendor drags their feet over a month getting the samples made. Luckily the samples we have now work reasonably well and we did learn a good deal about what needs to change in the next revision. The main takeaways are the area around the button needs to be more flexible for easy actuation, and the membrane that supports the dome contacts seems to require surprisingly precise alignment to make button actuation reliable. We will look into this more later and if alignment is as important as it seems to be, figure out what can change on the design to make alignment accuracy less important.

    The backlights also work now:

    Someone is apparently a closet fan of energy drinks. The production version will use white backlight LEDs.
    Someone is apparently a closet fan of energy drinks. The production version will use white backlight LEDs.

    It's kind of a cool process how keypads like these are made. They start out as white translucent compression molded silicone, then the black layer is sprayed on, and the lettering is etched by laser. Under the keypad there are a few LEDs on the PCB, that provide the backlight.

    Electronics

    Aamir has been hard at work rooting out bugs and he has a pretty impressive collection of dead ones at this point:

    • backlight brightness improved with correct resistor value
    • audio codec running on appropriate clock now, audio is sounding quite good
    • software shutdown circuit debugged (software shutdown allows the phone to close the SD card connection before shutting down, so as to avoid SD card corruption)
    • ongoing power testing to maximize battery life and overall power system reliability
    • found a surface mount mic and a spring mount speaker to replace the previous ones that had wire leads
    • testing with a 2W loudspeaker (the phone likely won't ship with a loudspeaker, but the hardware currently supports adding one and we want to make sure it would work well)
    • switched to a GPIO expander with PWM functionality. This lets us control the LCD backlight brightness, keypad brightness, and vibration motor without running out of processor pins.
    • testing adding an extra mic on the back of the phone so people can do things like echo and noise cancellation.

    Software

    • updated code to handle the new audio clock source (MCLK of I2S is now synchronized with ESP32 directly instead of an independent crystal, fixing audio quality issues)
    • added a simple MP3 player app and MP3 ringtone
    • store multiple SIP accounts (use one at a time)
    • back up of critical config files to non-volatile storage (WiFi networks, SIP accounts)
    • added querying of the in-memory save-file (this is how large message threads could be handled later)
    • fixed multiple minor UI/UX bugs, like improved input of special symbols
    • a sample graphic app: ported Fairy-Max chess engine

    Schedule

    I think we are actually still on track to start shipping the Pro versions in August. However, we have ate up most of our schedule margin and we haven't started the injection mold yet because there are a few mechanical design considerations that need to be resolved before we should jump into making tooling. So while it's likely that the Pro versions can still start shipping in August if we continue to track our current schedule (since they are made by CNC the lead time isn't so long), because we haven't started the tooling the regular ones won't.

    A major unresolved issue right now is bonding of the clear face to the frame. We really don't want those coming off later, and it's going to take some longer term testing to prove any particular...

    Read more »

  • Crowdfunding Video Preview

    stupid03/22/2019 at 07:36 6 comments

    Feedback appreciated... please let us know if you see something that could be improved, or clarified.

    Hoping to launch next week.

    Can also check out the Kickstarter preview page here (the campaign won't be live until next week):

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2103809433/338898127?ref=761478&token=f27f373c

  • A Hot New Place for Sexy Pics

    stupid02/28/2019 at 15:32 0 comments

    We added an Instagram account and will probably be posting more of the "finished product" type pics there.  Some uploaded already as we get ready for crowdfunding.

    https://www.instagram.com/esp32wiphone/

    Nerd pics still go here :).

  • Testing the Keypad Mold

    stupid02/21/2019 at 15:51 0 comments

    Our prototype keypad mold arrived and we made some test parts, and also learned a few things about handling silicone.

    Some pics of the mold:

    Top Surface of Assembled Mold
    Top Surface of Assembled Mold

    This mold is a very simple clamshell type that's only going to be used for manual testing. We just want to figure out if the keypad geometry is correct before moving to a production mold, and also get a few parts to use in the latest batch of testing phones. We will fill it by hand using a syringe.

    Views of the inner surfaces. One side for the buttons, and the other side makes the inner features, including the little pips that push the dome contacts and close the electrical circuit.

    Button Side
    Keypad Inner Surface

    We also had some silicone compatible dye on hand, so later pours were tinted blue. The keypad will probably be black in production, but we didn't have any black dye.

    Before using the dye in a casting we made a few small test batches to make sure it would cure correctly. The supplier said it should work, but since we bought the dye and silicone from different places we wanted to test it first.

    The silicone is a 2 part condensation cure type. The first rubber hardness we tried was Shore 50A, which turned out to be too soft.

    We also learned a few tricks to make the process go smoother.

    This particular mold has some critical features on both sides that form natural bubble traps. Button surfaces tend to trap air on the outside, and the pips that press the dome contacts trap air on the inside. So we have to be careful when filling to mold to eliminate bubbles. Since the silicone is thick and not prone to running, we could fill the bubble trap areas using the syringe before closing the mold and pouring the reminder through the main sprue. There were likely still a few bubbles caused by this method, but they all end up in areas we don't care about.

    Filling Bubble-Trap Areas
    Filling Bubble-Trap Areas

    Another trick was to vacuum degas the syringe after loading it with silicone. It's almost impossible to mix silicone by hand without introducing bubbles, but the degas step pulls them back out.

    The pour process:


    Some results:
    This first one was not degassed. As you can see, there were lots of bubbles:

    Next pour went better. We degassed, were careful to fill the critical areas of the mold, and used the blue dye we had tested earlier:






    Some shots of the keypad in the prototype phone:

    The buttons weren't pressing the dome contacts enough to easily make the electrical contact, so we added some foam underneath. With the foam it works better, but is still a little soft. Later we will try some harder silicone. We will also need to modify the shape of the mold to add more silicone near the dome contacts so that the production parts make better contact.:

    Result after using the blue dye:

  • Another Hackaday Blog Writeup

    stupid02/06/2019 at 15:26 0 comments

    On the main page right now (2019/02/06):

    The WiFi Phone That Respects Your Right To Repair

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Discussions

James Hall wrote 09/06/2018 at 14:21 point

The new picture of the project is extremely attractive. How are you doing the buttons? Are those 3D printed?

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 09/06/2018 at 14:37 point

Thanks! I did the mechanical design and model making.

Buttons are CNC + a really light coat of spray paint.

We have a pretty cool video we just put together of the assembly process that's about to go out to the mailing list if mailchimp ever finally decides we aren't Nigerian princes.

Looks like you're already on the email list, but if anyone else wants to see the video (and other early-access stuff) feel free to join. The form is at the top of the project details.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Neo wrote 08/26/2018 at 19:50 point

Neat project, the hardware is looking really nice. I'm curious about the actual VoIP part: how does it work, what protocols are used, what kind of server does it require? Is it based on some libraries or existing code, or is it an all new implementation?

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 08/28/2018 at 01:06 point

SIP is the protocol used for VoIP. There are a bunch of commercial services that can act as a server, including some free-to-use ones if you don't need a phone number.

It should be possible to run Asterisk if you want to run your own server. We haven't done this yet so I don't have details.

We are not currently using an existing SIP library.

  Are you sure? yes | no

william wrote 06/21/2019 at 14:49 point

would it be possible to compress a voice recording and send it over LoRa...?

i forget the project name, but we were doing something like that back in 1982 at point loma naval research center...   (whiskey-5 network, we called it "turkey-talk")...

william...

(where my ... habit was born, 35 years and still can't break it)...

( ... = STOP/EOL )...

btw: finally got m/c to work (bank edited my billing address, don't know why)...

ordered "2 Pro WiPhones + 2 LoRa"...

gonna attempt am make a daughter board keypad using your scan chip...

(be my first use of new american beauty resistance soldering system)...

[ got any old prototype boards laying around...?  could be without display, just something with i2c traffic which a i2c monitor could watch... ( i could pay shipping both ways...) ]

so, when will they ship...?   ;-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 06/22/2019 at 10:01 point

@william

cool! thanks for the order.

Voice recording: I thought not, but a few people have mentioned codec2 possibly being a solution. This link seems to have a proof of concept that runs over LoRa:

https://github.com/x893/Codec2WalkieTalkie

--------------

We do have some old hardware, but I need to understand what you want a little more before I can say if what we have would be useful to you. What do you want to learn from it? We have a few wiphone PCBs of the most recent revision that don't completely work, and also one breakout board we made back when we were prototyping that is just a keypad. This one:

https://cdn.hackaday.io/files/1598116837353824/SN7326_keypad.jpg

Also getting ready to make a new batch of boards soon, and I'm sure a few of those will have issues. May be a month before they are completely debugged, though.

--------------

The production version of the Pros is still scheduled to ship in August. There is every possibility we could have delays as we continue to do reliability testing, etc. But at least for now the schedule is still looking like August.

  Are you sure? yes | no

otstoypuksa wrote 08/26/2018 at 07:05 point

SN7326 seems to be missing from my common chip suppliers. Where should I look for it? Are here any more readily-available alternatives? Thanks! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 08/26/2018 at 15:44 point

I believe you can get them on Aliexpress.
As to readily available alternatives, it's hard to say without knowing what you are trying to do. I don't know of any drop in replacements if that's what you're asking.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ramon Schepers wrote 08/24/2018 at 23:30 point

Love the design alot, but have you thought of using a tft with capacitive touch instead of tact buttons? And what is the idle power consumption like in milliamps? I see you plan to include bare bone games too, are thise inline compiled, or sideloaded over wifi?

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 08/25/2018 at 00:44 point

We've played around with a few capacitive touch concepts and something other than physical buttons may still make it into the final version, but buttons won out so far because they are cheap and we felt that interacting with physical buttons would be easier for beginners to deal with. Like, if you want to adapt the hardware to something else it's simple to do so.  We do have a capacitive button panel in prototyping (not a touch screen, but actual capacitive buttons instead of tactile ones). I'm not sure if we can make it work with the tiny button sizes we need, but it would result in a nice flat screen if we can.

Power consumption: Haven't gotten to that yet. We are still debugging the hardware on the first integrated phone and after that is done we should know. It will likely be driven by what's achievable in the ESP32. From reading around, it has the capability to enter a low power mode where it periodically wakes to check in with the access point, so I'm hoping we'll be able to have our cake and eat it too.

Games: We will likely do something, but who know what, yet. Andriy keeps putting games on the menu screens, I think because he wants to implement them instead of all this boring debugging and system bring-up :). But for now we are spending our time getting the basic functionality up and working.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Renne wrote 11/07/2018 at 12:38 point

Using the capacitive touch button function of the ESP32 saves a lot of mechanical work in mass production. It is possible to etch the symbols of the keys into the copper pads and use the substrate of the PCB as light-spreader by drilling conical blind holes for the LEDs in the backside of the PCB.

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 11/08/2018 at 01:42 point

@Renne, we tested a capacitive button panel, and for the main keypad it doesn't look like it could work. The buttons are too close together and it's too easy to press multiple buttons at the same time. Might be OK for a single button somewhere.

If you look at other capacitive button panels, they usually need a grid size of something like 10mmx10mm. but that's much too large for our application.

This is the initial testing we did: https://hackaday.io/project/159811/log/153139-capacitive-button-panel-testing

Later we also made a panel the same size as our keypad (not posted yet), and that one sort of worked, but as I mentioned, it was much too easy to press multiple buttons. Maybe with some more engineering time we could tune the circuit to get it working, but right now we need to concentrate on getting the core functionality working well.

  Are you sure? yes | no

prosto wrote 08/24/2018 at 15:45 point

look at gotenna , You project + lora = sucess

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nate.damen wrote 08/21/2018 at 22:52 point

This is awesome! I'll definitely be digging in deep into this 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Arsenijs wrote 08/16/2018 at 09:57 point

Hello from one open-source phone to another =)

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 08/16/2018 at 14:43 point

We should schedule a call to congratulate each other directly on such great projects :).

  Are you sure? yes | no

fabian wrote 09/18/2018 at 15:57 point

interesting, imagine ssh + terminal and usb C host for normal keyboard.

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