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Kite : 3D Printable DIY Modular Smartphones

Make & 3D print your own phone with sensors, displays, electronics, batteries and antennas. Customize Android and do exactly your thing!

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Kite is the world's first completely DIY Modular Android Smartphone kit. Kite is a kit of components based on KiteBoard (http://www.kiteboard.io/ ). KiteBoard Kit => Kite. With Kite, common electronic components, and your favourite 3D printer, you can build the phone of your dreams...

For a short video overview of the project, please watch this video:

Kite consists of:

  • KiteBoard
  • 5" 720p bright display module, with integrated 5 point capacitive touch screen
  • 8 MP Autofocus Camera
  • An expansion board that plugs into the KiteBoard and exposes
    • a Raspberry Pi compatible 40 pin HAT connector
    • Audio interfaces - Mono Speaker, Mic, Earpiece & signals required for stereo 3.5 mm audio socket
    • Common buttons - power, volume up and down
  • Antennas for 4G, WiFi/BT, and GPS
  • Vibrator, Speaker, Mic, Earpiece & 3.5 mm audio socket (Standard audio components of a smartphone)
  • Pogo pins for battery connection
  • Switches for Power, Volume up and down
  • Flex cables for display & camera
  • 3D printable designs for complete smartphones that use the components in the kit
  • A complete Android implementation, including the Linux kernel. Also includes examples of integrating external electronics.

The complete kit is pictured below, except for the 3D printed parts:

KiteBoard (http://www.kiteboard.io/) is a compact, low power, single board computer that integrates complete connectivity (4G, WiFI/BT), GPS, sensors, powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with excellent processing & multimedia features. KiteBoard is highly extendable - it has separate connectors for all important interfaces. Kite complements KiteBoard with important components, resulting in a complete smartphone design that is highly customizable.

Kite empowers makers to build their own phones that are customized to meet their exact needs.  Various types of customization are possible (be sure to look at the gallery & video):

  • Raspberry Pi HAT compatibility makes it possible to make a device that include useful HATs and pHATs. 
  • Common sensors that use I2C/SPI/UART can be added to your device.
  • Buttons & LEDs can be included and placed exactly where required.
  • Common Li-Ion and Li-Polymer batteries can be used as the power source.  These can be charged in the device.
  • You may also use an antenna of your choice for 4G, WiFi/BT and GPS.  KiteBoard has IPX connectors for each type of antenna, allowing you to use a wide variety of off-the-shelf antennas.  You can also use IPX to SMA connectors to allow usage of external antennas!
  • The 3D printable case designs can can be customized easily to integrate additional electronics. Common things like LEDs, buttons, sensors, displays, batteries, antennas can be included with reasonable effort.  Put your 3D printer to good use!  Want to make a phone that is customized to your grip - or reflects your personality ? Kite is your best bet. With commercial phones, you print cases.  With Kite, you make the whole phone. Appreciate that power. Let your imagination run wild.  Build something great!
  • Customize any part of Android - system services, frameworks, and also the underlying Linux kernel. Create new ways for user interactions. Tailor everything to a T.  

Kite is not limited to phones - it can be used to build various devices that could use the features of a smartphone - connectivity, location & intelligence (Drones anyone?)  With Kite, your ideas & hacks go with you in your pocket - they are no longer confined to your desk...

Kite provides a platform that is full featured, yet eminently extendable -- and more importantly, extendable with commonly available items. Kite's design places a strong emphasis on letting people create their own form of modularity. 

Kite is a work in progress.  The Kite project aims to provide makers with the tools required to build a pocket friendly, completely connected, high performance device with cutting edge features.  Kite will be...

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minchu-v01.zip

Design files for Minchu - Kite model that includes a name badge on the back, using Pimoroni Scroll pHAT HD. Includes 3D models, and source code.

x-zip-compressed - 2.04 MB - 02/14/2018 at 14:53

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poorna-v01.zip

STL files for the enclosure of Poorna - minimal 3D printable phone design using Kite. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

x-zip-compressed - 1.93 MB - 02/09/2018 at 11:11

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kite-design-v01.zip

Files related to Kite. Schematics of boards & flex cables. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

x-zip-compressed - 1.86 MB - 02/09/2018 at 11:10

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  • 1 × KiteBoard "Motherboard" of the phone, with connectors for low speed I/O, display, camera, IPX connectors for antennas
  • 1 × Expansion Board This breaks out the low speed I/O (and level converts) into a 40 pin Raspberry Pi HAT connector. Also provides 5V and 3.3V power. Plus breakout for speaker, mic, earpiece and buttons
  • 1 × Button Sized Vibration Motor
  • 1 × 3.5 mm Audio Jack Digikey P/N SJ-43515TS
  • 3 × Standard Push Buttons For power on, volume up, volume down.

View all 17 components

  • Can your phone double up as your name badge ?

    Shree Kumar4 days ago 0 comments

    After we built Poorna, our base model, we had a bit of a problem. We had engineered a lot of flexibility into our design. Folks asked us, “what can you do with this?”.  My typical response, invariably, would be “a lot – anything, in fact”.  It took me a while to figure out that this was not working….  “anything” is “nothing” unless shown to be “something”.  After that realization, I set about building some demos.

    Explaining a new idea (and certainly something with wide possibilities like Kite) to folks is a lot of work.  In today’s world, getting attention & creating a first impression is very important.  After racking my brains for a while, I hit upon the idea of adding a name badge to my phone.  This is the same model that’s shown in my pocket in our intro video:

    We call this model “Minchu”, meaning “Lightning” in the Kannada language (spoken in Karnataka state in India; Bengaluru/Bangalore is the capital city, and also our base). The idea behind this name will be explained towards the end of this post.

    I have visited Shenzhen, in China, a couple of times.  Each time, I have come back impressed with the bewildering variety of stuff sold at Huaqiangbei, all at shocking prices of course. My favorite trinkets, purchased there four years ago, were a few scrolling LED badges.  Back then, I had not seen these online, but now Aliexpress seems to have a lot of choices. These badges feature bright LEDs of a single color – red (cheapest), green, blue and white(30% more expensive than red).  They pack a lot of SMD LEDs, worked off a battery, the whole thing was programmable with a USB cable, and included a rechargeable battery plus a magnetic clip at the back.  In any case, I was hooked - I must have purchased 10 pieces, at-least, at bargain prices!  They were a big hit in my office as well. I sold a few (at cost) to a few lucky colleagues.  Walking around, with one pinned to my shirt pocket, was a surefire way of grabbing attention at conferences.  A great conversation starter!

    These commercial name badge is programmed via a USB cable.  The badge uses a PL2303 serial to USB converter.  I could have used the same name badge itself, with a bit of reverse engineering. However, I was more interested in showing off the Raspberry Pi compatibility that we had built.  So, I chose to add the Pimoroni Scroll pHAT HD to Poorna.

    The Pimoroni Scroll pHAT HD features 17x7 LEDs. It is based on the IS31FL3731 LED matrix driver chip.   Prior to ordering, I had a look at the datasheet of the IS31FL3731.  A couple of features grabbed my attention:

    • Picture mode and animation mode
    • 8 frames memory for animations

    Would it be possible to use these features to animate my name on the pHAT while my phone is in sleep? Kite is a phone platform. It features very low power consumption (<5mA) even when connected to the cellular network.   If I could configure the pHAT in “animation mode” & then send the phone to sleep, then the animation would be visible when the phone is in sleep, without any additional CPU usage

    Being the lazy types, I searched online to see if folks were using the animation feature. Nothing relevant turned up.  That kind of made sense.  Most folks use a Scroll pHAT HD with a Raspberry Pi, on Linux.  Animation is typically implemented by repeated draw calls, followed by calls to update().  Generally, folks don’t put the Raspberry Pi to sleep while expecting it to do something useful….  

    To accommodate the Scroll pHAT HD inside Poorna, we...

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  • Building Poorna, your first KitePhone

    Shree Kumar02/09/2018 at 06:40 2 comments

    A KitePhone is simply a phone built using the Kite Kit. Consumer phones go through a teardown, so that folks can understand how they are built. Kite is built for makers, so we take a "build" approach here. 

    In this post, I will show you how we’ve put together a minimally complete model of a phone.  We call this model, “Poorna”. Poorna is a Sanskrit word, commonly meaning “complete”. It can also mean “zero”, and there are philosophical interpretations too, but then I digress. Poorna is a complete phone providing functionality like the smartphone in your pocket.  No additional bells & whistles, just pure Android.

    Here is a short overview video (2 minutes, 17 seconds) of how to build Poorna, starting from Kite:

    Still reading, and interested to learn more?  Great. The complete details are down below, in quite some detail.  I need to warn you again: this post is long, and extremely detailed. It details the entire kit, some design decisions, throws some light into the mechanical design, and kit assembly. If I were you, I'd grab a cup of coffee (perhaps more), and then proceed!

    Read more »

  • Hello, World ! Details coming soon !

    Shree Kumar01/30/2018 at 10:04 0 comments

    Hi All !

    My first post on hackaday! I am excited to start this; my first project here...

    Few folks (and I thank them for their interest in the project!) are asking me, "where are all the documentation & stuff about this project?".  I am telling them, "I am adding it".  (Yes, I am adding things - just had a good fight adding the component list.  For some weird reason, I am unable to keep the list in the order I want -- the site seems to rearrange it according to it's own wish. Anyone knows why ?)

    It may look that I made this project  "public " too quickly - without adding adequate details.  I'd like to believe that there is a method behind my madness (is there - hmm? ) . Documenting a project like this in one shot is a lot of work. I'd rather have digestible chunks uploaded in phases. But that's just me.

    I do know that hackers & makers would love to see the details, not just a slick video (patting myself on the back here - I'd like to hear any comments about the video too!). My request for a few days - please bear with me while I make the details available in phases. 

    Thanks, again, for your interest in this project!

    -- Shree

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Discussions

brtnst wrote 02/09/2018 at 10:10 point

Wow, this is a very cool device! Do you use it as your everyday smartphone? What is the battery life? Do you have any estimations on how much it will cost? Can it run something other than android? (some normal linux distro with xorg?)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shree Kumar wrote 02/09/2018 at 10:38 point

Thanks! I have used it as an everyday smartphone for about a month.  Battery life is about as good as a consumer phone.

We are planning to put this up on Kickstarter soon.  If that interests you, then please subscribe for updates at our website http://www.kiteboard.io/contact . Also, watch out for an update I will make later today, on this page. I am quite sure you will like that!

Yes, it can run Linux... like your SDA project. I am catching up on a lot of documentation. Will get to that - hopefully next week.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sourabh S Nath wrote 01/31/2018 at 03:14 point

Why is it running an older version of Android? If it isn't powerful enough to handle it could you try Android Go? 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shree Kumar wrote 01/31/2018 at 04:26 point

The phone can already run Android N (with somewhat lower performance - N is RAM hungry).  Our demos are running on Android L at the moment.

A bigger reason, though, is that we are putting all our efforts towards our concept of modularity - interfacing various types of hardware, finding good use cases, making demos, spreading the word, and getting feedback. That's why the older version of Android.  

However, we do understand the value of upgrades. We are planning to address this in time for our Kickstarter campaign. If you're interested in that, please sign up at http://www.kiteboard.io/contact !

  Are you sure? yes | no

Stuart Longland wrote 01/29/2018 at 10:39 point

Have you considered support for the 850MHz band?  I think Telstra (here in Australia) mainly uses that band.
I have a ZTE T83 which, whilst okay, I'm fed up with ZTE's lack of support for the device… completely ignoring its pirated OS.  The thought of having a nearly fully open phone with a SMA connection for an external antenna (there are places about 30km from Brisbane that have pathetic mobile coverage) is a real winner, but it counts for nought if the device can't connect to the bands the local networks use here.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shree Kumar wrote 01/29/2018 at 10:58 point

Yes, we do support the 850 MHz band - LTE Band 5.  Do checkout the gallery for a picture of the signal receive strength with the SMA connector and external antenna. Just for reference : the LTE antenna in that picture is http://www.taoglas.com/product/tg-08-cellulargpsglonass-beidou-monopole-antenna-2/

  Are you sure? yes | no

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