Picture of Raspberry Pi in Rotary Phone
2014-07-20 15.42.21.jpg

I found an old Western Electric rotary phone in my attic. It's really an amazing piece of hardware. It seems to work fine several decades after its construction despite whatever abuse it took before ending up in my attic. However, I don't currently need a rotary phone.

So I decided to put a Raspberry Pi inside it. I decided to make it an MP3 player that's simple and robust for my daughter, but I guess it can actually be a general-purpose (if inconvenient) computer.

The pictures show the finished product. My goal was to leave the phone as intact as possible (ars est celare artem), so the main sign anything has changed is that the port on the back is now micro USB rather than a modular phone jack. I also added a switch to power down the Pi in the handle below the hook, but I wish I hadn't -- the handle was really comfortable for carrying the phone and the switch gets in the way. So these instructions don't show that part. Since I wanted to add as little as possible, I put the speakers in the headset.

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Step 1: Gather Hardware

Here are the things I used.

  1. rotary phone

  2. Raspberry Pi I used a model B but it should be possible to modify the instructions for another model instead

  3. 8G Micro SD card w/ SD adapter

  4. USB Audio Adapter

  5. 4x 10k ohm resistors
  6. 5x motherboard standoffs
  7. 5x motherboard screws
  8. Jumper Wires

  9. Wire Connectors

  10. 2x micro speakers

  11. Stereo plug

  12. USB MicroB Female Plug

  13. USB MicroB Male Plug

  14. Polycarbonate Sheet

Robibame7 months ago


travderose8 months ago

This is really cool!

jessyratfink8 months ago

This is a really great way to reuse an old phone, for sure!

amansell18 months ago

Great job!

ps: you should enter this into the vintage contest if you have not already!