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Author Topic: Open source cell phone projects.  (Read 7750 times)

superboyac

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Open source cell phone projects.
« on: September 17, 2012, 01:02:10 PM »
Hi guys, I'd like to perform a thought experiment on what it would take to put together an open source like cell phone.  It doesn't have to be 100% open source, just as much as possible.  Essentially, I'd like to learn about the components it takes to build a cell phone, the kinds of proprietary parts needed (such as the cell network band receivers).  Also, if you know of any cool DIY projects going ont hat I'm not aware of, I'd love to have them pointed out.  Basically, anything along these lines.  Here's what I have so far:

Android is free and can be downloaded here:
http://developer.and...om/design/index.html
Ideally, the cell phone would run stock Android and any updates can occur directly from google.  I don't know if that steps on anyone's toes, but that's the ideal.

I'm pretty sure it's out of my ability and most people's ability to have an open source cell network.  So let's say this was going to be manufactured for real, I'm pretty sure you'd have to use one of the existing carriers.  Maybe end up just being the cell phone hardware provider and not be the carrier.

Here's another open source cell phone software:
http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Main_Page
I figure Android would be a better choice currently.

MIT's hack DIY cell phone project:
http://hlt.media.mit.edu/?p=2182

My personal goal: a SMALL Android phone (~3.7" diagonal screen).  High ppi screen, responsive screen.  LTE speeds.  All universal connectors and cables.  replaceable battery.  well-made (rugged plastic or metal).  tight tolerances.  sd card slot.  as few restrictions as possible.

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 03:40:35 PM »
I think the biggest challenge would be being given access to the cell network. Unless I'm mistaken you need FCC certification plus the ok by the wireless providers.

I can't see them doing that in the US. Far too many opportunities for phreaking with homebrews. And way too much revenue from the phone manufacturers to allow hobbyist devices.

Nothing's less "open" than wireless. It's been tightly regulated since radio began. I can't see where "indy" or F/OSS fits into that picture the way things stand right now. They're just not gonna let that happen.
 8)

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 05:39:27 PM »
I think the biggest challenge would be being given access to the cell network. Unless I'm mistaken you need FCC certification plus the ok by the wireless providers.

I can't see them doing that in the US. Far too many opportunities for phreaking with homebrews. And way too much revenue from the phone manufacturers to allow hobbyist devices.

Nothing's less "open" than wireless. It's been tightly regulated since radio began. I can't see where "indy" or F/OSS fits into that picture the way things stand right now. They're just not gonna let that happen.
 8)
What if you were just the cell phone manufacturer, and just sell it to att/verizon?  Just another phone in the att store?

The only issue I care about is the hardware, they can keep all their wireless tech and service.  It's just the phone hardware.  Like apple.

(I must have asked this before I feel like)
So you're saying they don't want very hardware flexible phones period.  Like, you're saying it's not just Apple that doesn't want a usb port on the phone...it's Att and verizon also.

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 06:59:58 PM »
Yup.

I think there's a "gentleman's agreement" that they'll move more slowly than the technology allows. Look at the rest of the techno nations. They've all got more sophisticated phones than we do.  Or did last I heard.

Small surprise when you consider some parts of the US still don't have broadband.

Target

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 07:46:48 PM »
legal issues aside, you might like to have a look at hack a days Cell Phone Hacks section

Renegade

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 08:29:49 PM »
The actual hardware would be very hard to get open sourced. That would be a problem. e.g. Are there any non-proprietary APs out there? I don't know of any.
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40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 12:53:08 AM »
@SB - Related to what you're talking about.  (If you can't join them - beat them?)

Quote
Building a GSM network with open source
by Andrew Back

Over the last few years open source technology has enabled mobile phone networks to be set up on a shoestring budget at hacker conferences, on a tiny Pacific island and at a festival in the Nevada desert. Andrew Back takes a look at how this has been made possible and at what's involved in building a GSM network using OpenBTS and OpenBSC.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The origins of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) can be traced back to the early 1980s, and to agreements between European nations seeking network interoperability through a standards-based replacement for incompatible first generation networks. The initial GSM specifications were published in 1990 and networks were deployed soon after, with the GSM Association (GSMA) being set up in 1995 to drive standardisation and to promote the system.

The development of GSM has been led by incumbent telcos, large system integrators and multinational equipment providers, and its arcane terminology and formidable catalogue of specifications spread across more than 1,100 PDFs are not for the faint hearted. The comprehensive standards and recommendations produced cover everything from wireless protocols and voice codecs, to subscriber records and encryption. Many of these have been made freely available via the ETSI and 3GPP standards bodies, while some – for example, those detailing the encryption algorithms used for call privacy – are restricted to GSMA members.

The GSMA has been described as "one of the most powerful organisations in the world" – it boasts a membership of around 800 mobile operators across 220 countries, and entry to this prestigious club is a privilege and not a right, with subscriptions starting at an eye-watering £9,000 per year.

Fortunately, bewildering complexity and incomplete access to standards were not enough to dissuade a handful of determined open source developers, and thanks to them there are now two low cost routes to setting up a GSM network.

Full article here.
 :)

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2012, 10:14:46 AM »
^^That's also good stuff.
Ugh, I'm annoyed that the US gets lamer phones than other countries.  Feels like somehow Apple is the only company allowed to sell well made phones here? 

Renegade

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2012, 10:38:24 AM »
^^That's also good stuff.
Ugh, I'm annoyed that the US gets lamer phones than other countries.  Feels like somehow Apple is the only company allowed to sell well made phones here? 

Just goes to show that Apple has a good legal team. :P


@40hz - that was a cool article on the open systems there.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2012, 11:13:20 AM »
^^That's also good stuff.
Ugh, I'm annoyed that the US gets lamer phones than other countries.  Feels like somehow Apple is the only company allowed to sell well made phones here?  

Just goes to show that Apple has a good legal team. :P


@40hz - that was a cool article on the open systems there.

Agree. Way cool!

But I'm a child from the Watergate era who grew up on Tom Swift stories, Ham Radio, and Popular Electronics magazine articles - and saw the the birth of the personal computer (my first 'real' computer was a Kim-1!) so my counter-culture/street-techno/DIY/Whole Earth Catalog/science fetish roots are showing.

And now, my thanks goes to those responsible for the Arundino and Raspberry Pi. Those little gadgets (plus Linus Torvalds) are taking me right back to my roots. Woo-hoo! :up:
 ;D

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2012, 02:40:23 PM »
And now, my thanks goes to those responsible for the Arundino and Raspberry Pi. Those little gadgets (plus Linus Torvalds) are taking me right back to my roots. Woo-hoo! :up:
 ;D
Yeah, I can't wait to get my hands on both of those and start building shit.

Renegade

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2012, 11:07:55 PM »
And now, my thanks goes to those responsible for the Arundino and Raspberry Pi. Those little gadgets (plus Linus Torvalds) are taking me right back to my roots. Woo-hoo! :up:
 ;D
Yeah, I can't wait to get my hands on both of those and start building shit.

Thinking of becoming a cult leader? Or...

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superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2012, 12:25:25 PM »
That article above is very interesting.  Does this mean that if enough local people build these hack cell devices, you can create a local cell network?
Los Angeles is pretty packed...what if, for example, one of these devices existed every 1/4 mile or so.  Would that allow LA to have an independent cell network?  And would govmt or other people be pissed about it?  Or is it illegal?

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2012, 12:46:31 PM »
That article above is very interesting.  Does this mean that if enough local people build these hack cell devices, you can create a local cell network?

Nope. It would just mean the FCC enforcement division would have to start putting in a little more overtime. (As you already suspected.) :tellme:

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2012, 01:18:17 PM »
So what we're ultimately saying is, don't even bother.  There's not point trying to come up with a way to create a local cell network, however easy or hard that is to do, because it is illegal.  So don't play with cell technology, don't try to create a custom cell phone.  Why should I learn all that stuff and experiment with it if I'm not allowed to use it?

At least there's no FCC to stop me from playing piano, I suppose.

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2012, 01:21:15 PM »
At least there's no FCC to stop me from playing piano, I suppose.

Nope. But there is the RIAA. (Depending on what you're playing.) ;D

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2012, 01:34:35 PM »
What about MIT?  Why do they bother experimenting with the cell technology in the way I describe?  They're not doing anything new...the cell companies already have done the research and have figured anything out.  So MIT research is not helping them...and they're not allowed to use it, so what is the point?
Look <this is addressed to nobody, maybe the country in general>...I don't want to do what I'm currently doing in my career forever.  I see opportunities for myself doing other shit like this.  I have the skills, energy, capability to work with the technology and improve it for everyone.  Why am I not allowed to do this??  I am bored and wasted doing the things that people are asking me to do.  It's not hard for me, it's not interesting, yes I get paid well, but I don't care for it.  Why was everyone so encouraging when I was in school learning everything, proud of my abilities, bragging about my accomplishments, about my potential...but now whenever I actually try to implement my ideas which are a result of all that education and encouragement, the same people are fighting tooth and nail to keep me rooted to this stagnant position?  Why is there so much fear?  If I don't push myself, all anybody wants from me is to write a few emails and fill out some forms.  I didn't need to learn quantum physics for this.  I mean, I'm being pushed to the point where the only thing that I can do that is enjoyable for me and acceptable to others is play the piano.  Which is fine.  But I spent 20+ years formally getting educated as a scientist.  In 10 years of working, nobody has asked me to help them figure anything out.  So I took it upon myself to come up with projects that will put to use what I was trained to do.  And whenever I do, seems like people will aggressively fight to make sure I can't move forward with it.  There isn't even the slightest curiosity present as to these ideas or projects.  Just dismissed outright.

You know, I was very happy as a kid wandering about and observing the world.  Drawing, reading.  Then everyone asked me to perform and to get formally educated.  So I did.  And I did very well, better than just about everyone around me according to the rubrics and grading systems.  It felt good.  I didn't feel like I sacrificed the drawing and what not for it.  And now I'm a seasoned professional.  I know how to balance the idealism of a student with the practicality of the real world.  I know how to get shit done.  And now nobody wants it?!  I'm bothering them now?!  People are scared of me?  Think I'm anti-social?  I meet more people and talk to more people than all the ones calling me anti-social!  This is what they dragged me out of drawing for?  I ALWAYS feel like I've been duped.

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2012, 01:35:33 PM »
So what we're ultimately saying is, don't even bother.  There's not point trying to come up with a way to create a local cell network, however easy or hard that is to do, because it is illegal.  So don't play with cell technology, don't try to create a custom cell phone.  Why should I learn all that stuff and experiment with it if I'm not allowed to use it?


Not so much that as know what you're getting into. And don't be surprised or get upset if some people (some of whom have legal clout behind them) start putting as many obstacles in your path as possible. You're talking about playing in an area of tech that's highly regulated.

But so is power generation, aircraft engineering, and a bunch of other things. That still didn't stop people from finding ways to legally generate their own power, design and fly their on aircraft, or generally following their own weird.

I guess what I'm saying (in too many words) is: It's not so much a technology issue, as it is a people issue.

The technical considerations for doing you own cell network are nowhere near as formidable as an entrenched industry (and somewhat justifiably worried group of regulators) who are concerned you may do something that causes service problems for the existing cellphone system - or jeopardizes a lucrative business model.

That's the real challenge for indy cellphone projects. Getting around the way things are as far as the players are concerned. :huh:

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2012, 01:50:28 PM »
What about MIT?  Why do they bother experimenting with the cell technology in the way I describe?  They're not doing anything new...the cell companies already have done the research and have figured anything out.  So MIT research is not helping them...and they're not allowed to use it, so what is the point?

MIT patents most everything they come up with. They never willingly relinquish title to IP.  Licensing is a very lucrative business for MIT. And many other universities as well.

Quote
13.1.2 Significant Use of MIT-Administered Resources

When Intellectual Property is developed by MIT faculty, students, staff, visitors, or others participating in MIT programs using significant MIT funds or facilities, MIT will own the Intellectual Property. If the material is not subject to a sponsored research or other agreement giving a third party rights, the issue of whether or not a significant use was made of MIT funds or facilities will be reviewed by the inventor's/author's laboratory director or department head, and a recommendation forwarded to the Technology Licensing Office (TLO). The Vice President for Research will make the final decision on this issue and on any dispute or interpretation of policy relating to Intellectual Property.

Quote
13.1.4 Invention and Proprietary Information Agreements

All members of the MIT community — including visiting scientists and fellows — who participate in either sponsored research or Institute-funded research or who use significant funds or facilities administered by the Institute must agree to the terms in MIT's Invention and Proprietary Information Agreement and sign the agreement. By accepting such funds or using such significant facilities, the individual agrees to assign to MIT or its designate his or her title to Intellectual Property created through the use of such funds or facilities.

And it will become even more profitable in the near future when the US joins the rest of the world in the "first to file" rather than the "first to invent" rule when it comes to awarding patents.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 01:58:46 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2012, 03:08:39 PM »
these first to file vs first to invent really worries me.  If this is a legit concern for someone like myself, I'm going to just ask one of my entrepreneur friends to focus on those issues while I work on the actual project.  because I don't think I have the ability to do the work AND make sure all my eyes are dotted at the same time, while being effective at both.

40hz

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2012, 03:29:48 PM »
these first to file vs first to invent really worries me.  If this is a legit concern for someone like myself, I'm going to just ask one of my entrepreneur friends to focus on those issues while I work on the actual project.  because I don't think I have the ability to do the work AND make sure all my eyes are dotted at the same time, while being effective at both.

Very smart move. Too many start-up entrepreneurs (and social activists for that matter) shoot themselves in the foot trying to do it all by themselves. :Thmbsup:

superboyac

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Re: Open source cell phone projects.
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2012, 03:32:54 PM »
these first to file vs first to invent really worries me.  If this is a legit concern for someone like myself, I'm going to just ask one of my entrepreneur friends to focus on those issues while I work on the actual project.  because I don't think I have the ability to do the work AND make sure all my eyes are dotted at the same time, while being effective at both.

Very smart move. Too many start-up entrepreneurs (and social activists for that matter) shoot themselves in the foot trying to do it all by themselves. :Thmbsup:
ok cool.  that's encouraging.  my friends will be more than happy to be able to do that stuff, they seem to love it.  And they seem more than happy letting me do what I want.