Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Progress is slow but steady...

So the parts are arriving and assembly has begun. The two time consuming / fiddly bits that I am yet to do and rather actively avoiding are:
i) Soldering the wires to the phone's PCB (I've managed to break a phone in the past on this bit).
ii) Cutting and stitching the leather. Leather is rather hard work and I need to get the fingers just the right size and shape to contain the tactile buttons and wires.

Other parts are coming along. I have created a rather novel way to turn on the phone using a key lock and then a pair of tactile buttons that must be "squeezed" to operate and power up the phone. I still love the idea of using an analogue meter, but they are just too big and cumbersome to be worthwhile.

The boxes have been painted, but I'm not happy with the colours (they look too bright and happy; not the sombre, rusted copper of many other steampunk gadgets).

The vibrate feature needs to be finalised. I like the idea of the vibrator sit against a cat bell, which should make it ring like an old phone (or closely approximate it).

I'll put some preliminary photos up here soon.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

how to hold a SIM?

With the glone2 still in the initial design phase, I am finding it very hard to keep my ideas simple, lest it quickly become another pipe dream.

Having said that, I am adding new bits to it at an alarming rate. Recently, I have been looking at the idea of an aerial in the product. This obviously must be functional and also away from the body and relatively efficient. It must also however, fit the "look". I would like to have it resemble a light bulb coil; sitting externally to the phone casing. I am thinking carefully coiled 2mm copper cable.

Of course, I have no idea whether this will function as an effective aerial. I don't know the wavelengths of Nokias, how coiling the wire will change it and indeed what to do with the facts if I were to be handed them. The last thing that I want to do is just to blindly build it and find that the device has no signal.

Secondly on the ideas board is the battery holder. This is another box that will sit on the forearm. I'd like to have an LED and ignition key attached in series with the battery terminal. This way the phone won't be permanently live and might save it from being damaged.

Finally is the issue of the SIM card. Now the original Glone had this hidden away on the underside of the pcb. This is not the case on the Nokia, which handily has a small plastic block with the terminals on it. The Glone2 must have a way for the user to insert a SIM card with little fuss, but how? It could be a small slot that the user pushes the card into, leaving a little sticking out for later retrieval, or design a hatch to access the SIM card "bay". Either way will require some fancy construction to create an object capable of holding the card in place. This was why I avoided it on the original.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


With the publication of the glone, it has been really interesting and rather rewarding to finally get some feedback following weeks of fiddling in my bedroom (teehee).

My intention was to always end up with a steampunk looking device, which I feel that the glone sacrificed for usability/feasibility.

This time, the theory has been proven, and so it is time to make one that fits the second part of my ideal: to have the right look.

Interestingly, following the feedback, certain other things have come into view.

1) What is the health risk of keeping a phone so close to the skin?
2) Are buttons really ideal?

I had looked at alternatives to the buttons earlier on, but small buttons lent themselves to the design due to their ease of application and general look. However size is now more important to me. With the Samsung, the designers in their wisdom did not include a common earth on the buttons (don't ask me why). The new phone I want to use is the Nokia 3310, which does have this feature.

It may be possible to therefore have contact "pads" on the side of the fingers and an earth wire on the thumb. Attaching the earth comfortably to the thumb may be awkward, but from then on, it would just be a matter of touching the pads to make a button press. A wired metal thumb ring perhaps?

Finally the radiation issue. After a lazy 5 minute Googling, it seems that the major issues are to do with signal strength, phone heat and distance of the antenna from the body. The aerial is the small plastic flat panel on the back of the phone. Perhaps this can be moved and modded to be a separate component. Maybe disguising it as something more ancient, like an antenna or satellite receiver? Ideas on a postcard please.