Tag Archives: cell phone

Note to self: Build a solar-powered cell phone

So I’ve recently received a Spor (official site, Kickstarter page). I actually got two of them. I don’t really know what to do with them – my flashlight lasted 8 months on a single charge, and my phone tends to be kept off most of the time. I could use one to power my Raspberry Pi, but I really only use the Pi for traditional desktop/server computer stuff. It wouldn’t benefit from attaching an external battery and solar panel.

I ended up giving one of the Spors to my brother. The other I’m keeping for myself to use in a future project.

Did I mention the Spor is open hardware? That’s as freedom-loving, open-source as you can get. The PCB schematic is on Upverter and the case designs are on Thingiverse and YouMagine.

I honestly really like the Spor from a design perspective. It takes effort to create a device as beautifully simple as this. I would even say the Spor follows the Unix design philosophy: it does one thing (providing electricity to USB-powered devices) and does it well. The fact that Spor’s creators are making it open hardware, really encouraging people to further improve on and customize the design, makes this an even more beautiful product to me.

Now, to get to the actual reason I’m writing this blog post: There’s another project being funded on Kickstarter right now: RePhone. It’s an open source, modular cell phone. I’m apparently not the only person excited about it, since it’s already way over the initial goal of $50,000 with 17 days to go.

RePhone Kit - World's First Open Source and Modular Phone -- Kicktraq Mini

I don’t know yet whether it will be possible to power a RePhone using USB, but if it is, you can bet I’ll be hooking it up to my Spor. I might even 3D print a custom-designed case to combine the two devices. Imagine that: a totally open source, solar-powered cell phone. And the case design will be my contribution!

Update: I asked the RePhone creators about powering it over USB. Here’s their response:

For the Core modules you can use external power source in the range 3.3-4.2V as there are breakout pins for it.

The USB port can only be used for software debug/upload and battery charging.