In this past couple of weeks, I’ve begun a new project; a mobile phone that will be based around an ATxmega384C3 microcontroller, which I’m calling the megaPhone. There are a few homemade phones on the internet, such as David Hunt’s PiPhone and David Mellis’ DIY Cellphone. I’d like to have my own go at it though, to give myself practice with PCB design and manufacture on a fun project and so I can learn about how USB works (more on that in a minute).

My requirements and functionality for the phone are the following:

  • Send and receive calls and texts
  • Look professional
  • Use USB Type-C for charging/connecting to a PC
  • Battery life of at least two days

I’ve chosen to use USB Type-C as it is the USB connector of the future and is now entering the mainstream, but also offers a great deal of flexibility with protocols such as USB Power Delivery (PD). While my megaPhone won’t need to make use of any of these advanced protocols, I’d like to build up experience with Type-C hardware so I can look to implement protocols like PD in later projects.

The design is in an early phase of development at the moment, so I’m investigating which components will best fit my needs. For the screen, I’m aiming to use a small OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen, due to their low battery usage compared to LCDs and high contrast. For prototyping, I’m using the 1.3″ screen bought off eBay that you can see at the top of this post. The battery will be a small Li-Po unit, probably around 1 Ah in capacity. These are very widespread and provide a good amount of capacity in a small package.

I also intend to use this project as an incentive to learn how to do computer-aided manufacture (CAM) in Autodesk Fusion 360. To that end, I’m going to try to make the case for the megaPhone out of milled aluminium, which will definitely help towards my aim of making the phone look professional.

So, follow along as I start this exciting new project. I’ll be tweeting about it with #megaPhone and you can find all my posts about it under the megaPhone category on my blog. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for email updates on my progress (don’t worry, they won’t be too frequent)!