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ZeroPhone - a Raspberry Pi smartphone

Pi Zero-based open-source mobile phone (that you can assemble for 50$ in parts)

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This is a mobile phone that is:

1) As open-source as possible *while also being cheap*
2) Easy to get parts for if you want to assemble one
3) Easy to assemble and repair
4) Free from apps with privacy concerns
5) Easy to write apps for

It costs about 50$ in parts, and all the parts are available on eBay. Most of the phone can be assembled with just a soldering iron. User interface is written using Python, it has an UI framework for easier app development - and it gets better every day.

A crowdfunded manufacturing run is expected in a month - subscribe to newsletter below!

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Project description and FAQ

Read previous newsletter editions

  • Modern phones are getting more and more complicated and hardware-packed. Unfortunately, that means they're becoming less modifiable and repairable.
  • Phones are getting more and more integrated. Unfortunately, that means more and more possibilities for manufacturers to lock them down without allowing us to modify them.
  • More and more software&hardware is kept closed-sourced. That means it's harder to learn, experiment and customize your phone.

The factors I've listed (integration, complexity and closed-source) are necessary in the world we're living in, with all the advances in engineering, competition between companies, as well as laws in different countries.

However, what if we could have a phone free from those constraints?

We can, and this is the reason ZeroPhone project was born. Nowadays, we can assemble a phone from easily available parts, using available SBCs that run Linux, and we'll be able to adjust it to our needs - unlike with modern phones, when we have to adjust ourselves to suit the workflow the phone offers. With ZeroPhone, hackers can finally have smartphones that are going to work for them, not against them, people with special needs will be able to have to have custom-tailored phones, and people that want to protect their privacy will have a phone that respects it.

Our technical challenges are: developing PCBs that'd be feature-packed, but with components that'd be easy to source and solder, as well as developing mobile phone software that'd be open, high-quality and highly modifiable to suit any needs people might have. However, much bigger challenges are - building a community of people experimenting with ZeroPhone platform, keeping ZeroPhone open-source and independent of any harmful influences, and experimenting with new ways of intergrating smartphones in our lives without selling our lives in the process.

Features:

  • Raspberry Pi Zero in a PCB sandwich
  • No proprietary connectors, hard-to-get parts or chips that are tricky to solder
  • All the specifications for making this phone yourself will be available
  • Python as the main language for developing apps (aiming to add other languages later)
  • UI toolkit making development quicker and easier
  • Numeric keypad, 1.3" 128x64 monochrome OLED screen (with screen header supporting other types of screens)
  • 2G modem for phone functions, can be replaced with a 3G modem
  • WiFi (using an ESP8266), HDMI and audio outputs, a free USB host port
  • GPIO expansion headers for customization
  • RGB LED and vibromotor - for notifications
  • Tons of Pi Zero-related hacks that were discovered along the way, that I'll share with you as the project goes =)

Licensing:

#pyLCI fork used for ZeroPhone is licensed under Apache License

ZeroPhone PCB files and keypad controller firmware are licensed under GPL v3

zerophone_alpha_v1_0.zip.torrent

ZeroPhone SD card image for alpha prototypes - torrent (665MB)

x-bittorrent - 26.52 kB - 03/06/2017 at 03:38

Download

  • Hardware switches and new discoveries ("paranoia worklog")

    Arsenijs3 days ago 0 comments

    Let's talk about hardware switches, advertising profiles and side-channel leaks. ZeroPhone is different from many smartphones in that the GSM baseband is separate from the CPU, so there's no proprietary code running on the CPU that comes from the GSM modem manufacturer. The communications happen through UART and are controlled by and directed through open-source software.

    I sometimes got questions about hardware switches. It's a niche but nice feature - not only it's the ultimate power consumption decreasing mechanism, it's also a way to ensure the radio-enabled components can't work when you absolutely don't want them to work - for privacy and safety. ZeroPhone is using off-the-shelf GSM modules - and they have an inner CPU which runs some kind of firmware, and that firmware running on the modem can make it transmit, even though you might not be telling it to transmit. We can implement software kill switches, but maybe the software itself is going to have bugs? The simplest and most powerful "just make sure it's off" hack is cutting the VCC line to the modem, ensuring it doesn't work at all and thus doesn't have the ability to transmit when you want it turned off.

    One more reason for that - what if the GSM modem firmware is malicious? We don't know, SimCom doesn't provide much of source code and SDKs, and one of the modem batches they send out could be programmed with a firmware that's slightly different from the widely-used firmware, with some *extra features*. Can we *trust* the modem? No, not really.

    Read more »

  • Project state - prototype batch will soon be built

    Arsenijs05/10/2017 at 21:46 6 comments

    Components arrived, PCBs ordered

    A week ago I received a box full of goodies:

    Most of the parts pictured are ZeroPhone-specific, and some parts are either extras or parts I ordered for myself =) The bag in the bottom center is full of 18650 holders, all three models pictured. Tape with white squares are the coolest BIOS chip holders ever, that I was trying to find for ages until I finally did find them for very reasonable price on TaoBao. Next to the laptop bag you can see a tape of 50 ESP-12 modules, and the bag next to it is full of Arduino Pro Minis. Ziplock bags in the center, to the left, are full of pushbuttons - the biggest of those bags has 750 buttons, and the plastic tube has 30 MCP23017 ICs. And, of course, there are 25 screens and 20 GSM modules - the latter I didn't have problems with, but screens just keep breaking on me.

    Read more »

  • 4) Publish at least one (1) image illustrating how the project might be used.

    Arsenijs04/30/2017 at 19:34 1 comment

    This may be a sketch, schematic, flow chart, rendering, or other type of image. - from Hackaday Prize rules.

    So, @Radomir Dopieralski drew a sketch:

    And I made a diagram:

    Over these three months, while explaining ZeroPhone to people, I understood one thing - it's a platform, and platforms can be hard to explain because there are so many possible usages. ZeroPhone is a platform for hackers, people not happy with their smartphones, people that want privacy, people that want the power of Linux in their pockets and many more. I hope we'll see a lot of usage examples from all those categories as the project grows =)

  • ZeroPhone software - pyLCI TODO and challenges

    Arsenijs04/30/2017 at 12:20 0 comments

    Introduction:

    When I started developing pyLCI, it was meant to be an interface for 2x16 character displays. Therefore, it was optimised for having only two lines of text on the screen and 5 buttons. I'm not aiming to maintain backwards compatibility between pyLCI for character displays and ZeroPhone pyLCI. In fact, the ZeroPhone version of pyLCI might as well be renamed to signify the fact that it's a similar, yet different version of software.

    Right now, ZeroPhone pyLCI is not too far from original pyLCI in terms of capabilites. I'm listing those problems so that there's a list of problems that currently interfere with pyLCI being a good ZeroPhone interface.

    The problems listed are either finished, WIP or still waiting to be solved - I encourage you to help me solve them by either helping me find a good solution, or contributing to the development (I've opened GitHub issues to keep track of problems, they're linked in the titles and sometimes in the text.)


    Naming

    pyLCI is Python-based Linux Control Interface. However, right now it's becoming ZeroPhone-specific and moving further from pyLCI concept. I'll be thinking of a better name - it obviously has a low priority, but if you have some ideas, please throw them here.

    Read more »

  • Project state: Gamma boards finished, beta boards released, components on the way

    Arsenijs04/30/2017 at 11:35 0 comments

    One more iteration of hardware - I wish I could say it's the v1.0, but I made enough changes to know there will certainly be bugs. Therefore, it's a Gamma revision - this is the revision that's going to go to project contributors and reviewers. I already know about some changes that I want to make for the next version, but I'm afraid I don't have time to re-trace what I want to re-trace (to be exact, I want to move the GSM modem to the back of the back board, along with GPIO expander, and move the charging breakout to the front). However, that might just be the change I make today/tomorrow if I have enough time =)

    I have ordered components for 20 ZeroPhones from Taobao - using Spreenow agent. They ordered everything for me, which was something I couldn't really risk, with about 30 different things I needed to buy. I spent 630 EUR on all the components, from which I think 400-450 EUR were spent directly on ZeroPhone parts (other were either extra parts or stuff for my personal projects). I'm surprised about how TaoBao is cheap, really. Before this, I didn't know about a good way to order stuff from China quickly. With Spreenow, I was able to submit a list of parts, they ordered them, checked all of them and sent them by EMS in a single box. When I tried to do the same with an eBay vendor, the price would have had been consolidated in a really expensive way, and last time I tried to negotiate a better price with a seller ('cause DHL from China shouldn't cost 150$ for 100$ shipment), the seller said "No, use the rate eBay gives you" and I was like "Fuck it" and re-planned the project I was working on at the time, which wasn't a pleasant thing to do.

    Now I have all the PCBs I need, except one - I have to make a 7x4 board which would house the 18650 battery holder I'm using. Other than that, I'm ready to order panels filled with misc boards. The soldermask is blue - to look like all the Chinese breakouts the phone is using =) After that, it's time for software work - all the things I didn't yet code, I'll be coding them now. For that, there's a separate worklog - go read it if you're interested in software problems that ZeroPhone is facing.


    Read more »

  • Why not a large display (with a touchscreen)?

    Arsenijs04/15/2017 at 22:00 2 comments

    This is a complicated question to answer. Part of that choice is a design decision, another part is a matter of convenient development for me at the time I was working on ZeroPhone base, and there are also hardware limitations, let's start with those!


    Hardware limitations

    Raspberry Pi has a couple of display interfaces - or interfaces we could use for a display. Let's count - there's DSI, DPI (parallel RGB), HDMI, composite video and SPI, let's get through those.

    DSI is supported by many cool displays, like iPhone screens. However, it's not available on Pi Zero, and is out of question for RPi in general - it's locked down, only peripheral that works with it is official Raspberry Pi touchscreen, which is large, expensive and consumes a lot of power. Next!

    HDMI is good, it's GPU-accelerated, powerful and compatible with lots of stuff. However, there aren't many small screens compatible with it, it's proprietary-ish and the available HDMI chips don't have the best power consumption. Moreover, Pi Zero has MiniHDMI and it's hard to integrate stuff with this kind of connector. Let's leave it for an external display, next!

    Composite video is ubiquitous, has been there for ages and is very cheap. It also has a fundamental video quality cap, and market is full of small shitty screens with no quality ones. The power issue is there, too - not only popular chips for analog video still use 5V, most Chinese product designers would use a linear regulator for in-screen 5V, and say that "it requires 12V" - bam, the power consumption is "horrible" on top of "bad"!

    DPI is GPU-accelerated, supported by many displays and actually has software support. However, it would take most of GPIOs we have on a Pi Zero, and most of those aren't re-mappable, meaning we'd lose I2C, SPI, UART and some more cool things.

    SPI is what ZeroPhone uses now. It's not GPU-accelerated, but we don't always need that - especially not in the case of a 128x64 monochrome display (though AFAIK it becomes relevant when screen is bigger and a color one). It doesn't use too much power, can reach high enough speeds for quick redraws (unlike I2C, for example) and is compatible with lots of existing displays.


    Read more »

  • Resuming work - boards, coding and Taobao

    Arsenijs04/11/2017 at 21:37 5 comments

      After quite a delay, I'm resuming writing worklogs. Even with lots of donations, I still wouldn't have enough money to order all the parts and boards, and pay for all the shipping I'd need. So, I accepted a freelance project offer a couple of weeks ago, and completed it successfully - right now I have enough money to not worry about money, and to not be pressed to cut corners on things. I still need to go the TaoBao route, but with the funds that I have, I can build 20 to 24 phones instead of 10 to 12 (depends on how many boards DirtyPCBs will send me). So, I'm returning to full-time ZeroPhone work.

      With that out of the way, roadmap for this month is simple:

      1. Writing logs and answering emails - through this week
      2. Ordering parts - starting from tomorrow
      3. Writing software - starting this week, till the parts arrive.
      4. Preparing crowdfunding - main worry is financials, along with writing good PoC software for demo units
      5. As soon as parts arrive, assembling phones and sending them out

      I'd elaborate more, but it seems that my habit to write logs only when things are more defined and complete is getting into the way of how much I should write =)

    Read more »

  • Pi Zero W - first impression (designed in 2016?)

    Arsenijs03/07/2017 at 12:06 4 comments

    I got this beautiful board in the mail yesterday, put it in my pocket and forgot about it till I needed something from that pocket, about 20 hours later. Anti-static bags FTW, also, Zeros are small and this one is no exception.

    Zero W 1.1, Zero 1.3 and back board of ZeroPhone Beta

    This review is going to derive as much conclusions as possible from the PCB layout (comparing Zero W to a simple Zero), components, specs and datasheets - I don't even have enough components to assemble a Zero W-based ZeroPhone, never mind the time.

    First of all, a closer look of the front - comparing the Zero W and the usual Zero.

    Read more »

  • ZeroPhone - streaming to Youtube Live, Facebook or Twitch

    Arsenijs03/04/2017 at 01:00 0 comments

    I recently spent a weekend on a hackathon. It was organized by Garage48, an organization that makes hackathons, among other things. This hackathon was called "Hardware&Arts", naturally, it's hardware-centered, with a really small part of "arts" in it. I pitched an idea, assembled a small team interested in it - and we've made it in 48 hours! More importantly, it can work with ZeroPhone, too.

    %YOUTUBE_VIDEO_OF_OUR_PITCH%

    The idea is Streamo. It's a lifestreaming device, a camera and a microphone streaming your life to the Internet 24/7. It's not for the faint of heart, but I have a friend who believes it could be the next cool thing, and is willing to do whatever it takes. And, of course, it's Pi-powered (I've described it here earlier, it's #Twitch Your Life - a Raspberry Pi streamer device, but it's an old description).

    Read more »

  • Project state - testing beta hardware, CrowdSupply,

    Arsenijs02/26/2017 at 01:16 1 comment

      I've had about a week of a delay in the project - went to a hackathon, then did some work on the #ICeeData project, then fell ill for a couple of days. When I came back to my hackerspace, I got a note saying the back board shipment was waiting for me at the post office, and this was a powerful reminder about ZeroPhone. I went to the post office, received the boards and started assembling the next version of the hardware.

      It's not fully assembled yet - I need to get some more parts, but as soon as it's done, I'll test it, find bugs, make v1.0 of the boards and send them to the board house (should I get the blue soldermask option so that it goes well with the Chinese module PCB color?) That's for the "sending prototypes out" part. I wanted to do more of this in parallel, but now I see that this part of hardware prototyping can't be done in parallel. I need to get the boards, assemble a phone and then see if it works - only then I'll have boards I could send to reviewers.

      Tl;dr, current targets:

      1. Quick newsletter edition (it's been 20 days since the #3)
      2. Testing hardware
      3. Ordering parts for the prototypes
      4. SD card image (alpha testers)
      5. BOM (for crowdfunding)
      6. A big project video

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Discussions

Radu Motisan wrote 4 days ago point

this was on my todo list as well

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Arsenijs wrote 4 days ago point

Hey, join the project if you feel like helping =)

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Andrew Pam wrote 05/04/2017 at 17:12 point

2G mobile has already been switched off in Australia, so this won't be useful without at least a 3G modem.

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Arsenijs wrote 05/14/2017 at 01:24 point

Yes, that's sad. The new version is soon to be in the works, I'm currently consulting people about component choice because a part of the back board needs to be redesigned for a bigger modem.

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Ramon Schepers wrote 04/15/2017 at 21:16 point

i see you are using the pi zero (w), though i wonder why though.
i mean:
1: the pi zero has high power consumption unlike a stm32l4 (for example), so you can use a smaller battery as well
2: if you want to shrink down to a thinner device, you'd need a custom pi zero pcb (including bga package soldering!)
3: the size of a pi zero ain't optimal for a phone-like device.
4: do you really need a pi zero (with it's half gb of ram) for a (dumb?)phone?
5: the pi zero does not have a ADC built in* by default, so if you want the call audio go trough the pi, you'd need to hack a adc in first

note: this is not meant offensively at all, just curious why you did these design choices :)

* = if i am right

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Ramon Schepers wrote 04/15/2017 at 21:17 point

i forgot to mention though: i had a similar idea for quite a while by now :)

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Ricardo Ferro wrote 04/15/2017 at 23:46 point

make one with stm3214 , that thing has ultra low power at 8 nA!

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Arsenijs wrote 04/15/2017 at 22:28 point

Well, it's not "just a DIY phone", and it's not evena  dumbphone, there are enough of those =) It's a Linux-based smartphone, which re-uses all the wonderful software available for Linux, and it's also based on Raspberry Pi - a platform that many people are familiar with. When it comes to "just dumbphones", yes, you can make one with an AVR or an STM, and you'd learn a lot on the way, but it won't have as much potential than a Linux-based phone will - and you'd never out-compete Chinese dumbphones on price!

In general, it's more like a platform for developing whatever you want that could be based on a smartphone. Therefore, it needs to be as much high-level as possible - that's why user-exposed parts are mostly in Python, not a lower-level language =) It's so powerful in terms of capabilities, you can easily use this phone to develop software for itself - and if that means I'd need a bigger battery, I'll just attach a bigger battery. Yes, the size is not the best, the pinouts aren't the best - but then, hardly everything always fits perfectly. Shrinking down would be a problem, but see the #RPi Zero WiFi-Enabled Hardware Password Manager - it's pretty damn small, I have one and I don't see why you'd actually want to make a phone that's even smaller than that =D

*yeah, there's no ADC, but I'm using an ATMega328P on one of the boards, it takes care of all my ADC/PWM needs.

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kunstenaar wrote 04/17/2017 at 18:22 point

Did you have the time to measure, how the Zero W behaves...?

Other options to provide options for lower power consumption? Things like this?: https://www.jeffgeerling.com/blogs/jeff-geerling/raspberry-pi-zero-conserve-energy (see also comments there)

http://www.earth.org.uk/note-on-Raspberry-Pi-setup.html (you need to scroll down a bit to come to 'Initial Adventures in Power Reduction')

https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/issues/1335 (the question what you can achieve with cpufreq, but I do not know its current status on RPi, and if such 'tricks' work) 

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Rishaldy Prisly wrote 04/30/2017 at 20:32 point

COOL!!!!! 

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Louis Pearson wrote 04/14/2017 at 05:27 point

I am really intrigued by the possibilities of this project! Definitely interested in getting one when the crowd supply campaign starts :)

In a possible future iteration, might you consider using a EOMA68 (https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68/micro-desktop)? It isn't quite there yet, but it would make this device even more repairable! Just thought I'd let you know about it.

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Arsenijs wrote 04/15/2017 at 22:10 point

May I interest you in a survey? https://zerophone.github.io/newsletter/survey/ =D

I'm following their campaign, it seems they're close to having the computer cards manufactured (IIRC last time I got an email update, they were smuggling PCBs and components across the border =D ). Once I'll get through this whole manufacturing thing, and will have enough software (by the end of this year, at least), I'll be looking at making a touchscreen ZeroPhone, or perhaps a tablet, and this is where EOMA68 will be one of my likely picks =) Thank you for the tip!

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Louis Pearson wrote 04/16/2017 at 05:47 point

You're welcome! =) 

I posted this project on the mailing list and the possibility of using an EOMA68 for something like this and lkcl (the creator) seems to like the idea of making a phone using a computer card. He did point out that the EOMA68 might be a little to big to be practical, and actually wants to make a smaller version called EOMA54 for something like that. Here's a link to the concept he has for it: http://rhombus-tech.net/community_ideas/hybrid_phone/

Looking forward to the crowd supply campaign - I'll try my hardest to support you on there. Looking forward to trying my hand at developing software for the ZeroPhone.

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Arsenijs wrote 3 days ago point

If you're interested in ZeroPhone software development and you have some ideas in mind, you can play with the UI emulator already: http://wiki.zerophone.org/index.php/PyLCI_emulator_setup

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Louis Pearson wrote 2 days ago point

Sweet! I'll check that out. Actually, I have a raspberry pi 3 and a oled screen available, so I might try using that for testing. Keep up the good work! :)

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kunstenaar wrote 04/05/2017 at 06:57 point

Update pls... :)

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Arsenijs wrote 04/11/2017 at 21:39 point

Done - https://hackaday.io/project/19035/log/57132! Sorry, had to freelance a bit =)

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Arsenijs wrote 04/30/2017 at 18:37 point

Hi! About your links on power saving - thank you! I've already read through all of them by now, and my power saving plans include assembling a ZeroPhone, cutting its power traces that lead to different components and inserting voltage&current measurement sensors in between, then experimenting with various clock rates, peripheral power saving modes and other software tweaks. I really want to discover new things about Raspberry Pi power saving, since, well, all those available solutions can get you up to some point, but no further, and I don't want to blindly turn features off without actually knowing what causes what level of power consumption and how exactly things could be tweaked for maximum power saving/usability ratio.

EDIT: and no, I didn't yet have the time to measure Zero W power consumption, but that's mainly because I don't expect many surprises, and for now I'm concentrating on other things - but I'll get to it sooner or later =)

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Ember Leona wrote 03/31/2017 at 22:54 point

WOW.

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alasdair wrote 03/21/2017 at 14:24 point

Really looking forward to your CrowdSupply campaign and the success of this.

Have you had a thought about a permissions system (if required), lets face it the permission system on *droid is bollocks?

Also are there (respected) hardware crypto modules (that are affordable) which could be incorporated - obviously not at the $50 mark you are aiming for?

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Arsenijs wrote 04/11/2017 at 21:50 point

What's wrong with the permission system on Android? I recall two problems - granularity (seems to be improved recently) and the fact that you couldn't just deny the app some of the permissions is asked for (IIRC got fixed in 5.0 and later). I'm not much of an Android guy, so would be interesting to hear your take on this =)

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alasdair wrote 04/11/2017 at 23:21 point

You pretty much hit the nail on the head there however I still noticed issues on 5.0+ (not sure about latest) in that a) not all permissions asked for in the app were toggleable b) some were there that hadnt been asked for. There still seemed to be issues with granularity and inconsistencies with what ws requested upon installation and what you were able to selectively permission once installed (assuming the app had not already abused any of those permissions between installation and toggling). I hope that makes sense. Sorry to hear you needed to take on another project I am sure you will be swamped when you launch the crowdfunding for this.

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adam.klotblixt wrote 03/08/2017 at 16:40 point

A very nice project, looking forward to see the future updates.

One feature I look forward to is WIFI-hotspot, so that this phone could be the ONLY data access point, and all my other commercial pads and smartphones talk through it, with the possibility to REALLY be sure what data comes through. A true portable router of sorts. 3G or better is of course nicer and surely in the path.

Please, make sure the phone audio can be recorded properly, ideally into separated stereo (left: caller, right:callee). Many smartphones are really bad at sound-mixing and audio-paths.

And I also see a great potential to be able to use ANY size battery for this phone! Imagine having a phone that has the potential to dock several size batteries. Mmm...

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Arsenijs wrote 04/11/2017 at 21:48 point

Will keep the audio advice in mind. As of now, GSM audio and Pi Zero are not interconnected, but I'm already adding a way to connect an add-on board to output/input audio data to GSM modem. With the setup that I'm thinking about, recording audio into any combination of channels would be a matter of software.

We'll get to having WiFi hotspot app sooner or later =) Also, I've already experimented with batteries - as long as it's 1s and Li-Ion (the usual kind of chemistry), you should be able to just power it from that without any modifications or addons. I've used a 450mAh battery for a while, then got tired with low battery life (there are no significant optimizations for battery power in ZeroPhone software yet) and upgraded it to 2x18650 in parallel - I figure it now has about 4000mAh of battery, and it does get me through a day of listening to music non-stop =)

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Arsenijs wrote 02/28/2017 at 17:30 point

I ordered two of those, expect my review in a week or two =)

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Craig Hissett wrote 02/15/2017 at 13:17 point

Received my kit buddy - thank you so much!

As soon as my screen arrives I'll get this bad boy assembled and start having some fun!

:-)

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Arsenijs wrote 02/15/2017 at 13:20 point

Nice! Thank you for notifying, I will get to preparing the SD card images tomorrow =)

You can actually assemble everything without the display - if you have some free time, the display can easily be soldered last.

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Craig Hissett wrote 02/15/2017 at 13:33 point

Awesome sauce! Thanks mate!

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kunstenaar wrote 02/15/2017 at 12:24 point

Just fyi:

https://blog.rosenzweig.io/blobless-linux-on-the-pi.html

Sounds we getting closer to 'bloblessness'... Have a good read. ;)

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Arsenijs wrote 02/15/2017 at 15:45 point

It was a very educational read, indeed! Wondering if it'll ever get usable - maybe, with all the interest to both this and the ZeroPhone project, it will =)

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Samurai wrote 02/13/2017 at 16:38 point

How long did it take for you to build this marvelous nerdy great thing?
I wonder if I wonna do the same...

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Arsenijs wrote 02/14/2017 at 12:15 point

About two months of work since I've started it, and many more to come =) As for the "assembling it from the kit" - shouldn't take more than an evening of drinking beer&soldering.

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kamathln wrote 02/13/2017 at 05:15 point

HI, 

I feel a couple of jog dials would be an awesome usabiity enhancement. Adjusting volumes, scrolling though menus, file lists etc., will be a breeze.

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Arsenijs wrote 02/13/2017 at 09:58 point

Hi! I had a very early Sony-Ericsson phone with a side jog dial, it was awesome =) I won't be including that in the mass-produced version (they're hard to source), but it can be a keypad PCB mod (I've added 5 pins to the keypad PCB that have I2C, so would be very easy to implement jog dial readouts with a small MCU). Thank you for the idea!

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Hacker404 wrote 02/13/2017 at 00:00 point

Hi, it's RÖB, you mentioned the new 4G/LTE modules on a HAD article. Thanks for the heads up. 

When I started my M2M / IoT project I just ordered some 2G modules from China as I didn't know 2G was being phased out here. 

I see you have used a SIM800, I have one in transit and I also have a SIM900 in a COMSAT 1.1 Arduino shield. 

These are three band. I know it's a long shot but is it at all possible to get these to use a 3G band for HTTP traffic. I wonder if they can be re-flashed, if someone has written the code.

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Arsenijs wrote 02/13/2017 at 09:54 point

Hi! Nice to hear from you, was seeing your comments on the blog from time to time, didn't know you also had an .io page =)

So, 2G has disappeared in Australia? Or is it just some carriers and other will follow soon?

You think it'd be possible to make a 2G module firmware that'd make it work on 3G? I don't understand enough of 2G/3G/those modules' capabilities, but I do know that Simcom isn't helpful about SDKs (read: you're not getting any). To be fair, I don't have any first-hand experience with this and have only heard about it from my colleagues, but if that's true, making any kind of GSM module firmware fixes is going to be tricky for sure.

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Hacker404 wrote 02/13/2017 at 10:23 point

We basically have three mobile carries here. One killed 2G on the first of January and from memory the other two will be killing 2G by mid year. 

From what I understand from the application notes for SIMCom modules, they have an embedded micro-controller that you run LUA code on. I assume the same micro handles the protocols and could (possibly) use the 3G band if it had the right code unless there was some hardware limitation that I am not aware of. I don't have enough data or the ability to reverse engineer the modules like the SIM900 or SIM800 to do this though. 

Obviously it's better for the company to sell new modules anyway so they wont be releasing a firmware update. 

Anyway - love this project and it good that there is so much interest. 

Some link about Australian mobiles - 

https://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/Will-my-phone-work-in-Australia-carrier-network-frequencies

http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/Mobile_Phone_Frequencies

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Samurai wrote 02/12/2017 at 11:15 point

A new cool thing!
Its freacking!
Does it have the potentiallity to be mass producted?

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Arsenijs wrote 02/13/2017 at 09:59 point

Hi! Yes, I plan to crowdfund some mass-production, follow the updates, I'll tell more about it in a month =)

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Samurai wrote 02/13/2017 at 16:35 point

Happy to hear that!
Sure! I follow the project eagerly. ^__^
I want to do smth like you did but with a little difference.
I wish you the best,my friend...

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Reinhardt wrote 02/11/2017 at 10:44 point

Wow, that's great!

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Krokofant wrote 01/27/2017 at 14:23 point

I've been pointed to this by the Linux Action Show podcast and I am really excited by the project.

I think I am not able to contribute at this stage, but I hope to get my hands on a revision 1.0 kit  when it's ready. 

If/when the base apps are materializing I would like to help with translation to german language if you can use that.

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Arsenijs wrote 01/28/2017 at 00:52 point

Hi! I'm happy to hear you're willing to help (and Linux Action Show is awesome, I'm honored to see my project reviewed by these guys!). I'll ping you once I'll be making kits, and once more when I'll implement translation support in the phone's applications (basic apps will definitely materialize, it's just a question of "when" now, I'm laying the groundwork next week =) )

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jackie wrote 01/27/2017 at 09:17 point

Could we possibly get a list of stuff that i set in stone and we can buy today if we want to build one later when everything is finished?

Thanks!

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Arsenijs wrote 01/28/2017 at 00:12 point

Hi! This is my goal, I just need to make new PCBs and test them, then I absolutely can and will set stuff in stone =) I'll ping you when I'll have everything ready, would love to hear your feedback!

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s.stevenson.1992 wrote 01/24/2017 at 23:41 point

Can you offer any advice for someone trying to make one out of salvaged parts? I have an old Alcatel gathering dust and it has the perfect form factor, comfortable keys and a tiny screen (which I am not entirely set on but I need to get it working first anyway).
I was hoping to build off your project and add the Zero4U USB hub and then get the case 3D printed locally from a modified version of the existing case.

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Arsenijs wrote 01/26/2017 at 02:20 point

Hi! If you want to build off my project, check the GitHub repo - I'm going to soon release beta boards as soon as I release them, it'd be a great starting point (it is already). See the schematics, you can get insights into how it works, see what features you need and do not need and don't be shy to ask for advice =) The project is not even v1.0 yet, but there's already plenty to start from. As for more detailed advice, I'll go comment on your project now.

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Ninjalicious wrote 01/18/2017 at 16:10 point

Love this project! Direly needed by hacker community, small cheap phones built on modular components!

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