WiPhone, A Phone for Hackers and Makers
Here Introducing an all-new WiPhone, A Phone for Hackers and Makers. Moreover, WiPhone is a VoIP mobile phone designed to be easily modified, repurposed, and adapted.
Basically, It’s designed to enable hackers by making it easy to extend and modify the electronics and software. Something typical phones are not good for. However, WiPhone is also a VoIP mobile phone. It uses WIFI to make HD voice calls, for free. Though, This means that there is no required service contract.
Additionally, WiPhone solves these problems and gives hackers, makers, and engineers the tool we all wish our phones could be. However, It is direct access to I/O, an easy to program ESP32 processor. However, All the basics are already set up the user interface, power management, and on/off the circuit, working code.
Furthermore, you also can get straight to work building projects, not setting up the boring parts like power management again and again. Though, No rats nest of wires or ugly stack of dev boards just to get the basic functionality.
WiPhone Tech Specs:
|Screen||320 x 240|
|Size||120mm x 50mm x 12mm|
|Battery||700 mAh, 8 hours talk/1 week standby time|
What is the WiPhone?
WiPhone is a unique, minimal phone.
It’s designed to enable hackers by making it easy to extend and modify the electronics and software. Something typical phones are not good for.
WiPhone is also a VoIP mobile phone. It uses WIFI to make HD voice calls, for free. This means that there is no required service contract – and it’s yours for life.
Yet So Stylish And Sophisticated!
WiPhone Pro with Clear Front Face:
Smartphones Are A Little Too Smart
What’s the best platform you can imagine for electronics hacking?
It should probably be adaptable, powerful, and programmable. Small and portable would be nice. Maybe with a durable case? What about a built in user interface with things like an LCD screen and button panel? A battery and built-in charging system? Wireless connectivity?
Hey… we just described a mobile phone!
But why aren’t people building more projects based on their smartphones? Well, there are a few issues:
- no electrical connectors to directly connect to the outside world
- no way to easily control the low level hardware, like processor output pins
- opaque development environment and huge IDE
- not designed for easy disassembly, repair, or modification
WiPhone solves these problems and gives hackers, makers, and engineers the tool we all wish our phones could be. Nice package, direct access to I/O, an easy to program ESP32 processor. All the basics are already set up: user interface, power management and on/off circuit, working code.
You can get straight to work building your project, not setting up the boring parts like power management again and again. And once you’re done it’s durable and looks great. No ratsnest of wires or ugly stack of dev boards just to get the basic functionality.
Modern smartphones are more and more a tool we don’t own, but instead one we’re only allowed to carry around. One that serves the interests of various tracking networks, corporate boards, and government organizations. 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 back in our control, optimized for our convenience.
Free Calling! No Hacking Required!
WiPhone is different beast from most smartphones these days. WiPhone uses the existing WiFi around you to make HD Voice calls. For free. Buy it once and it’s yours.
Works on most broadband WiFi networks (including most home WiFi connections). No service contract required, and you can even upgrade the firmware or expand the hardware to do things it wasn’t originally intended for.
What Is This Magical Free Calling You Speak of? Tell me more…
Free calling starts with a SIP account. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, and it’s a standard way to make call over the internet. VoIP is a related term that you may have heard of. There are commercial services that provide SIP/VoIP accounts, and some of them have free accounts. Most consumers use VoIP apps like Skype and Whatsapp, but we can still use the underlying technology directly. After the campaign we’ll spend more time testing services to make our software and instructions work as seamlessly as possible.
Step 1: Get a SIP account (many different ways to do this, but we wrote up a simple how-to that might get you started).
Step 2: Log in on your WiPhone using the credentials from your SIP account (user name, password, and server):
Step 3: Make a Call:
Note: we’re still working through compatibility with various SIP providers since many of them implement the standard in various ways. Once the WiPhones ship we’ll update our getting started instructions to use the servers we find to be most reliable.
What people are saying about WiPhone:
“This is a great cross over between what people know (phones) and what people really want to do (hack).” -Nathan Seidle, Sparkfun Founder
“The WiPhone is a really rather neatly put together project.” -Alasdair Allan, Hackster.io
“If you want a phone that respects your right to repair, this is the project to look at.” -Brian Benchoff, Hackaday.com
“So excited by this project I tried to make one myself” -Random Guy On Our YouTube Channel
First Class Expansion Capabilities
WiPhone is expandable through daughter boards. The whole back of the phone is a replaceable panel that accepts a standard 1.6mm thickness PCB, which you can use to add whatever functionality you like.
We made a WiPhone into an RC car:
And we also made the coolest way to ever to answer a phone:
The daughterboard headers have power, digital I/O, and all the common embedded busses like SPI, I2C, and UART.
Develop in Arduino/C++ or Python. We’ll also provide basic tutorials covering how to write to the screen, connect to the hardware, save data to memory, etc. We’ll let you give us feedback on what’s most important to you.
Note: Based on the backer survey, we’ll prioritize adding a cellular radio (LTE), and secure communications after the campaign. Back now to get first access to the new hardware as it becomes available.
See the relevant Project Update for details.
We have big plans for the WiPhone, but we also need to start off on solid footing. We’ve set a relatively low funding goal of $40k that will let us cover the costs to finish production of the phones themselves and not much more. That way we can get phones in the hands of people that want them.
But there’s a lot of potential waiting to be unlocked. If we reach $100k of phones, we’ll have enough of a cushion to thoroughly test the design and ultimately deliver a better product. It will also allow us to start taking on extra work. If we reach $100k we’ll start letting backers choose stretch goals.
Some stretch goals would add software features to the WiPhone itself. Others will be to take on design and production of daughterboards and other accessories.
- Wireless Firmware Updates:Wireless firmware updates will allow you to easily upgrade your firmware.
- Integrated Python Interpreter: Currently we’ll ship the WiPhone with a separate firmware that allows running MicroPython apps. This stretch goal would allow us to merge the Python interpreter into the main phone firmware to run user apps directly within the phone firmware.
- Remote Desktop: View and control your WiPhone through a webpage.
- Encrypted Communications: Add secure communication to calls and messages
- Threaded Messaging: Add an advanced view to text messages for a more modern chat experience
- Additional Colors: Add some variety to the clear/gray options we have now for face colors.
- Advanced Tutorials: Deeper tutorials than the basic ones we’ll ship for the basic campaign. We could go step-by-step through writing a complete app, using the phone to build an entire project, or designing a daughterboard from scratch. We’ll let you give us feedback on what’s most important to you.
Based on the WiFi / Bluetooth wunderchip, clad in a polycarbonate frame, and looking like something that would be an amazing cell phone for 2005, the WiPhone is now available on Kickstarter.
We’ve seen the WiPhone before, and it’s an interesting set of features for what is effectively an ESP32 board with some buttons and a screen. It’s become something of a platform, with expansion daughterboards for LTE, LoRa, a camera, a Bus Pirate, and a programmable NFC/RFID doohickey. If you’ve longed for the day of big ‘ol Nokia brick phones, want to hack your phone, but don’t really care about actually having cellular connectivity, this is something that’s right up your alley.
Although the WiPhone looks like a usable product that was designed by someone with a sense of design, it still is Open Source. You can build your own, and there are dozens of expansion boards that will plug into the back of the WiPhone for prototyping, experimentation, and RGB Gaming LEDs. There’s no cellular modem on the WiPhone, though; for calls you’ll have to turn to SIP or VoIP apps.
Considering how difficult it is to source a cellular modem in small quantities and the desire for a cell phone that respects your Right to Repair, we’ve got to hand it to the WiPhone for creating something people want. It gets even better when you consider this looks more like a product than the 3D printed pieces of electronic cruft we usually see, and we’re happy to see this crowdfunding campaign just passed its goal and is completely funded.
Phones are getting increasingly more complex, more difficult to repair, and phone manufacturers don’t like you tinkering with their stuff. It’s a portable version of a John Deere tractor in your pocket, and Apple doesn’t want you replacing a battery by yourself. What if there was a phone that respected your freedom? That’s the idea behind the WiPhone, and soon it’s going to be be a crowdfunding campaign. Yes, you will soon be able to buy a phone that respects your freedom.
We took a look at the WiPhone a few months ago, and the idea was solid: make a simple, cheap, handheld device based on the ESP32 WiFi/Bluetooth wonder microcontroller. There are a few other various bits of electronic ephemera for scanning the buttons, an audio codec, and a speaker driver, but the basics of the build are just an LCD and ESP32. The entire idea of this phone is to make calls through WiFi, and given the state of VoIP, it’s a marketable product.
Astute readers may notice that the WiPhone doesn’t have a cellular modem. Yes, this is true, but putting a baseband in a small, low-volume project is incredibly hard. You’re limited to 2G if you don’t want to deal with Broadcom or Qualcomm, and they’re not going to be interested in you if you’re not moving a hundred thousand units, anyway. Also, you’ve got service plans to deal with, multi-country radios, and you’re probably next to a trusted WiFi network right now, anyway.
The WiPhone is designed to be hackable, with daughter boards that turn it into a rainbow or RC car, and easy to assemble. It’s also going to be a crowdfunding campaign at the end of the month. If you want a phone that respects your right to repair, this is the project to look at, even if you don’t need a cellular modem all the time.
Over the years, we’ve seen dozens of projects that sell themselves as an ‘Open Source’ cellphone, a hackable cellphone, or some other confabulation of a microcontroller, screen, and a cellular module. The WiPhone is not one of these projects. That’s not to say it’s not an Open Source phone that’s intended to be hackable. No, this is a DIY phone that doesn’t make cellular calls, because this is a phone that only works with SIP and VoIP apps. It’s a WiPhone, and something a lot of us have been waiting for.
The hardware for this WiFi enabled phone is extremely minimal, but there are some interesting tricks up its sleeve. Instead of letting the main microcontroller handle capturing all the button presses, the team behind the WiPhone are using a SN7326 key-scan controller. This cheap part is able to scan 64 buttons, although there are only 25 buttons on the phone. The audio board is a WM8750BL, a cheap codec with a stereo microphone interface and a 400 mW speaker driver. The display is a simple SPI TFT, and apart from the microcontroller, that’s about it.
But it’s the microcontroller that makes it, and for that we turn to the incredible ESP-32. This chip has enough power to play Doom, be a Game Boy, and in this case, make and receive calls from a VoIP provider, scan and connect to WiFi networks, and yes, it can even play snake.
While this is just about the simplest phone you can imagine, and it only works where there’s a WiFi network, a device like this could be invaluable. And really, these days how far are you from a WiFi network you’re already connected to anyway? source
First Class Expansion Capabilities – People Like The WiPhone Hack It Like It’s Yours
A Phone You Can Own
(Not One That Owns You)
Modern smartphones are more and more a tool we don’t own, but instead one we’re only allowed to carry around. One that serves the interests of various tracking networks, corporate boards, and government organizations. 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 back in our control, optimized for our convenience. source