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Old August 10th, 2012, 07:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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So something sparked my interest recently. We can add RAM to our computers, right? Well why not add RAM to cell phones?! Well duh, the hardware itself probably wouldn't allow it.

That got me thinking again. What about creating a new cell phone, pulling together the best devs from forums like this? I should post this to the forums!

And then I got thinking one more time. Why stop there. You can custom build your computers and laptops. Why not choose what hardware goes into your phone? Lets create free to the public phone designs, where you can choose your processor, choose your RAM, choose your ports, choose your screen, etc...

Thoughts?

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Old August 10th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You could also order it with any one of a few ROMs, request it be overclocked, and other customizable options like that. I would assume one of the biggest issues would be making the phone compatible with the carriers.
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Old August 11th, 2012, 10:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think your main problem would be type approvals, especially as this involves telecoms and wireless. Whatever you intend to make, has to be FCC approved in the US, CE in the EU, then there's UL, GSM Association etc, also many other contries their own various regulations and rules you'd have to deal with. Also you have to have IMEI numbers. Probably at quite considerable cost. GSM Assoc membership alone could cost you over $50,000, which AFAIK you must be a member of if you wish to make cellphones.

These things are never a problem if you're the likes of Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, ZTE, etc. but for a hobbyist or community of devs and hackers, who wants to make their own cellphones, it's certainly a problem. The nearest thing you're going to get is building custom ROMs for exisiting cellphones, because they're already approved, and you're not doing anything with the electronics, radios, IMEIs, MACs, batteries, chargers, etc.

I'm sure if a phone doesn't meet whatever required approvals, no carrier is going to touch it, plus it would be illegal to sell and use as well. If you haven't got an IMEI number, it's not going to work anyway.

I think the difference is between making a cellphone and building a PC, is that most of the parts like mainboards, PSUs, hard drives, etc are already type approved by the makers. And when you "build" a laptop you're not really building it, you're fitting a HDD and RAM into what is a pre-made computer.
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Old August 11th, 2012, 02:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think your main problem would be type approvals, especially as this involves telecoms and wireless. Whatever you intend to make, has to be FCC approved in the US, CE in the EU, then there's UL, GSM Association etc, also many other contries their own various regulations and rules you'd have to deal with. Also you have to have IMEI numbers. Probably at quite considerable cost. GSM Assoc membership alone could cost you over $50,000, which AFAIK you must be a member of if you wish to make cellphones.

These things are never a problem if you're the likes of Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, ZTE, etc. but for a hobbyist or community of devs and hackers, who wants to make their own cellphones, it's certainly a problem. The nearest thing you're going to get is building custom ROMs for exisiting cellphones, because they're already approved, and you're not doing anything with the electronics, radios, IMEIs, MACs, batteries, chargers, etc.

I'm sure if a phone doesn't meet whatever required approvals, no carrier is going to touch it, plus it would be illegal to sell and use as well. If you haven't got an IMEI number, it's not going to work anyway.

I think the difference is between making a cellphone and building a PC, is that most of the parts like mainboards, PSUs, hard drives, etc are already type approved by the makers. And when you "build" a laptop you're not really building it, you're fitting a HDD and RAM into what is a pre-made computer.
I agree. You beat me to the punch, as they say.

I have had experience with getting such approvals. A huge effort in those says; an even bigger effort these days.

Then you have to build the darn things. That is a huge project as well. Especially if you want to make them for a cost that is reasonable and naturally, profitable.
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Old August 11th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well... We are in something of a rising world of DIY projects. Maybe some deal could be reached with a carrier where kits and compatible parts are sold to the consumers, but to be used on a network, a special activation fee to the carrier has to be paid, and the carrier covers costs like gsm assoc membership in return for those fees.

Or even start with kits for wifi-only tablets, see if there is interest? I could see it catching on a little more with tablets than phones, because they wouldn't need the ruggedness of phones, so assembling them would be easier.

I would buy a kit if this type of product were out there. It'd be fun to put it together, and work a little more hands on with Android and kernels. I also think it would spark other Linux based mobile operating systems to be brewed up by devs.
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Old August 11th, 2012, 05:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well... We are in something of a rising world of DIY projects. Maybe some deal could be reached with a carrier where kits and compatible parts are sold to the consumers, but to be used on a network, a special activation fee to the carrier has to be paid, and the carrier covers costs like gsm assoc membership in return for those fees.

Or even start with kits for wifi-only tablets, see if there is interest? I could see it catching on a little more with tablets than phones, because they wouldn't need the ruggedness of phones, so assembling them would be easier.

I would buy a kit if this type of product were out there. It'd be fun to put it together, and work a little more hands on with Android and kernels. I also think it would spark other Linux based mobile operating systems to be brewed up by devs.
I think DIY projects have always been around, but I'm sure these days constructing the actual electronics required for something like say a tablet is well beyond the average hobbyist with just a soldering iron and a pair of side-cutters. It's not like the good old days of soldering a few transistors, diodes, capacitors and resistors into a piece of strip-board.

Projects certainly do exist, I think the Raspberry Pi is a good example. That's where a group of people did get together, and designed something. However people are not building their own Raspberry Pis, they're all made in a factory here in China. But something like that can be used as building blocks for something bigger, by adding touch screens, wifi modules, Linux hacking, etc.

Companies like Velleman make kits for the hobbyists, but there's nothing particularly advanced here. It's things like amplifiers, power supplies, sirens, strobes, electronic dice, etc. But all projects that can easily be constructed ed at home, with just a few simple hand tools. They're certainly not doing anything like Android tablets. It used to be Heathkit years ago, and magazines like Elektor and Practical Electronics.

You could have a look at some of the projects that Element 14 is doing. They have a very active electronic, hacking and dev community.
www.element14.com
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Old August 11th, 2012, 06:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree. You beat me to the punch, as they say.

I have had experience with getting such approvals. A huge effort in those says; an even bigger effort these days.
I know what getting telecoms approvals can be like myself, I worked for a telecoms approvals agency for a while in the UK.

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Then you have to build the darn things. That is a huge project as well. Especially if you want to make them for a cost that is reasonable and naturally, profitable.
I've always been interested in home construction. But hobbyists have just never made their own telephones. While it was always quite easy to build a telephone from readily available RadioShack parts, there was just no way you could legally use the thing. So hobbyists just never bothered.
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