Converting an Old Mobile Into a Steampunk Deskphone




I am a home constructor, an inventor and a dreamer. If you ask me who guided me and who inspired ...

A couple of month ago I received a headset from a vintage phone as a gift.
The first idea was to attach the handset to my Android phone and use it there.
To find out what quality is possible with such a headset I bought a Nokia handsfree.
Than I started some experiments.

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Step 1: The Headset

I removed the coal microphone from the vintage handset and replaced it by the whole handsfree set from Nokia.
Then I replaced the original earphone of the handsfree set by the speaker inside the vintage handset.
The sound was loud and clear.  :-)
The keyboard of the Nokia mobile was a bit damaged. So I changed my mind and decided to build a new keyboard by my own.

Step 2: The Keyboard

I removed the whole keyboard from the front of the cell phone.
Than I polished the small contacts there are located under the keyboard an soldered two wires on each pair of contacts.
From the Internet I bought a couple of push buttons.
I redesign the keys on my computer and printed it on glossy photo paper.
With a 14 mm hollow punch I punched them out and covered them with plastic film.
With some brass washers and silicon glues I glued them on top of the pusch buttons.
After this I started to solder evrything together. (See photos below)
The Nokia headset was connected back to the cell phone.

The small lever on the right hand set is for switching the phone on and off by its original
push button on top of the phone.

Step 3: The Case

The case was made from wood and coloured with stain.
On the front case you can see the display cover, the keyboard and switch to power the phone on and off.
I placed the charger inside the case.

The phone works very well and I use it one steampunk conventions to take phone calls via the Aethernet ;-)

Have fun,




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    16 Discussions


    4 years ago

    nice & attractive with nice concept


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This project drives me nuts, I was sitting here trying to think up a unique project that used the antique style keys, but not a keyboard (computer) so I thought a phone would be fun, then I take a look and my project is finished with your name on it, I will not be discouraged by your excellent project, since I don't have an old phone to use parts off I'll have to scratch build mine......

    Since I was not the first to think this idea up I'll have to fall back on the saying;

    Go out there and be UNIQUE just like everybody else.

    I hope you see the attempt at humor here, your projects are an inspiration!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Rather than attempting to access the keypad(s) electronically, how about you, or someone else out there, creating a mechanical linkage between the retro keypad and the cell keypad. Wait! What am I saying? Am I nuts?

    Can you imagine what that would be like? At least it wouldn't be as complex as a typewriter, which has been done only via an electronic interface.

    All that aside I love what you have done!!

    I am in awe!

    Fanatstic 'ible!
    I love all things antique and retro. But I would like to see more pictures!, every little part of the phone and the build process would be great.
    Anyway A++++ :-)

    2 replies


    thank you for your reply.

    I think the build process (the main parts) is written as well.
    The rest is some woodwork ;-)

    If I am back from the steampunk convention in Luxembourg I will take some more photos and put them online.
    I am going to disassemble the handset to make some more and detailed photos.

    Regards from Germany,

    H. Steam

    Wonderful thanks.
    The instructions are good, but for someone who can't be bothered to read and has a short attention span, pictures are better :-P hehehe.
    Anyway how did the convention go? I bet that was exciting.
    Thanks for your reply



    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, that could be much easier. Because the keypad is better to interface than the keypad of a mobile.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is sweet! How'd you come up with this idea?
    Can you do this with an blackberry because its just a paperweight right now.

    1 reply

    Really neat idea!
    *side note*
    I would have ran the flexible metal tubing through a fabric cover.... (steel like that I don't think (personally) is very steampunkish... Although It would be easier to just paint the tubing coppery-ish... or even better run the wiring from the handset to the phone through some old vinyl or natural rubber tubing...

    1 reply

    Yes, i really thought about this.
    But the metal tubing is the originals tubing and I would keep it.
    But, yes you are right I am still thinking about using a shoe lace as a cover for the connection.

    Thank you