I just received 10 PCBs that I ordered from dirtypcbs.com a couple of weeks ago. I have to say that the quality is amazing. For $14, they are not dirty at all! They lack gold-plated pads, unlike PCBs from OSHpark, but if that is none of your concerns, then it’s a go! I don’t claim that OSHpark is obsolete now, but for simple prototyping, when you want to be allowed to make mistakes, dirtypcbs are filthy enough to allow you to do that.
The last couple of days, I have been trying to put my cellphone together. Using soldering paste with lead requires good ventilation. The fumes are poisonous, and you shouldn’t breathe them. That’s why I had a big fan by my side. Your friends are; soldering paste, flux for the hard ones, a soldering iron, a tweezer, and patience.
I discovered that I didn’t receive the correct LiPo charger, and I haven’t been able to power the phone to program and use it. I have contacted the supplier (Electrokit), and I am sure they will find and ship the correct one. Still, I have to wait over the weekend before I can use my phone, which is not fun =(
Here are some pictures from the soldering procedure:
I believe in a society like today, we need to have better control over our communications. Today’s smartphones have been accused of being devices of mass surveillance. Therefore I have decided to build my own cellphone. I found this guide on the internetz, which describes an open-source cellphone platform based on a GSM module and an AVR microcontroller. I selected it as a starting point for my cellphone. It will most certainly receive software updates from me (I want snake!), and probably even hardware updates in the future. Yes, I know, GSM is not secure at all, and it is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, but I still prefer the man-in-the-middle over nsa-over-the-internetz.
Enough jabber, for now, let’s get to the fun part! So far, I have received all the needed components from the Bill of Materials (BOM) for the phone’s LCD version, besides the PAS414HR-VA5R SuperCap, which has been discontinued. Since the proposed replacement part isn’t good enough, I managed to find some leftover PAS414HR-VG1 at Farnell and instead ordered a few of those. It will take some scratching and soldering to fit it on the PCB, but its values are correct. Since I am living in Sweden, I had to find alternative suppliers for my materials (Electrokit for some electronics, In-Time for the antennas, Farnell for the SuperCaps). Some had to be ordered from DigiKey anyway. Try to keep your parts ordered from DigiKey below your country’s import tax threshold. Otherwise, you might end up paying import taxes like me, which is not fun.
Here is a picture of the PCBs from OSH Park, which are of excellent quality. More will come once I receive the SuperCaps and start soldering the cellphone.