Introduction: My Favorite Tool Is My Cell Phone

The cell phone has changed my world. In a few short years it has become an indispensable tool that I cannot do without. This "Instructable" will show how I use my phone in ways that are not common but are obvious once you think about it. Maybe you will pull out your phone, rather than a hammer, for your next project.

Step 1: My Phone Is My Reference Book

While I used to maintain stacks of charts and diagrams and decimal equivalents. I now use the phone to bring up a web page with the data I need at the moment. If I find a particularly useful page, I bookmark it, and now have a library in the "cloud" instead of my desk drawer.

New phone operating systems can now be queried with voice commands. "Siri" is good but you have to press a button to get her attention. "OK Google", on the other hand will respond to your questions without even touching the phone. (Amazing!).

Things you can use include drill sizes for taps, fitting sizes for pipes, color codes for resistors, and reference commands for computers such as the Arduino.

"Apps" add even more power to the phone. I use my phone to determine the name of a song that's playing, what movie stars played in which movie, and also as a tuning tool. I used my phone to determine resonant frequencies for the design of an Arduino chime player described in another Instructable.

Step 2: My Phone Is My Note Pad.

My grandson one day was helping me setup a home network and I was used to copying down all sorts of IP addresses, MAC IDs , port addresses and whatever....

My grandson took out his phone and took a picture of the screen data. From that point on, I reach for my cell phone camera instead of a pencil and paper to copy notes. (Thank you Alex).

This note taker is extremely good at reading labels placed where they are difficult to read. For example, the serial number on the back face of a TV set. Or a MAC ID on a modem placed on an upper shelf. Rather than reach for a mirror, I now reach for my phone.

Many notes you use are only required for a very short time... The cell phone gallery is a perfect place to put them. For longer storage, images can be saved to the cloud, using Apps like Evernote, or Drive, to name just a couple.

Apps are available which turn your pictures into pdf files, or even text readers... the choices are endless, but the camera is the key.

Step 3: My Phone Is My Flash Light

Everyone knows this trick... the cell phone is a candle to use in dark restaurants to view the prices in the right hand column. It is the night light next to my bed, in its charger stand, that also shows a clock .

Step 4: My Phone Is My Magnifying Glass

The newer cell phones "mega-pixel" cameras are truly impressive. Being in "the golden years", sometimes make the fine print difficult to see without a magnifying glass. I would guess even Superman with Xray vision would have a difficult time reading the identification of a SMD (Surface Mount Device). However, the newer cell phones can really make small stuff visible again.

Step 5: My Phone Is My Periscope.

You of course can simply hold the phone over your head and use it as a periscope, but...

Here is an unusual use for the cell phone camera...

Installing an additional ceiling light in a dropped drywall covered ceiling, required the determination of where the existing wiring was located as well as the stud placement. An existing flush ceiling light was dropped and produced an 8" diameter hole to peak through. I could get my hand and cell phone camera through the hole and just took a series of photos in a circle. Stitching the photos together produced a panorama view showing the studs and wire paths.

Step 6: My Phone Is My "Bubble Level"

Recently I had to drill some holes at a 10 degree angle from the horizontal. Rather than try to line the work up at this angle using a protractor, I downloaded and installed a "bubble level" App, and used my cell phone to align the work.

Step 7: What Other Tool Can Your Cell Phone Replace?

I know that I have merely scratched the surface of what this tool can do. Please feel free to suggest more unique uses in your comments.

Please be real..." I use my phone as a door stop", is not a good example..."

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016