Make a Remote Controlled Camera From a Cellphone!





Introduction: Make a Remote Controlled Camera From a Cellphone!

About: Name: Bård Lund Johansen Engineer, Materials Technology

Want to know what your cat is doing while at work? Send a text message to your newly made surveillance-cellphone and receive pictures and videos seconds later. Sounds like a dream? Not any more!

This video explains how it works:

Step 1: Parts and Tools You Need

A brave camera-cellphone (including SIM-card). I'm currently using a Sony Ericsson T630.
A microcontroller (I use a Picaxe 18x)
Solenoid relays
Photoresistor (LDR)
A few resistors might come in handy
Soldering iron
Solder, cutters, tape etc.

Oh, and another working cellphone.

Step 2: Making It

The idea is to replace your fingers with the relays and your brain with a microcontroller. Depending on how complex your phone is, i.e. number of different keys to press in order to send a picture, choose your microcontroller accordingly.

My setup uses four outputs (four different keys on the phone) and one input on the microcontroller. It allows me to send a SMS text message (or call) to my hacked phone and it then cycles through the code, clicking its way through the menus, taking photos and returning them to me.

I was optimistic about the joystick and quickly soldered up the wires. The joystick has up, down, left, right and center as possible connections. I had to crack open another joystick to figure out the connections. "Making a "right" or "left" requires many different pins to be connected in a certain manner and order, e.g;

First; yellow + black + blue + brown
then; purple + orange

I experimented and found that I could rationalize by always keeping some wires connected. This worked but made the joystick on the phone immobilized. For "Right" I ended up using two relays:

on relay 2
on relay 1
off relay 1
off relay 2
Relay no.1 is the top left button on the key pad ("Select" and "capture"). Relay no.3 is the top right button on the key pad ( "more" and "send").

Step 3: The Code

This is actually my first project involving a microcontroller. I recently acquired the Picaxe Experimenter board (and USB Programming Cable ) and I would highly recommend it for those interested in learning about micros.

Let it be said; I'm a terrible coder and there are thousands of ways to do this better. The code is ugly but but it works and can be snatched below.

The red standby-Led helps in confirming that the program is running:


high 5
pause 100
low 5
pause 300
goto main

When a text or call is received a LED connected to the speaker output shines onto the LDR (light dependent resistor). The value is then read:

readadc 2,b0

if b0 < 90 then standby

if b0 > 90 then run

The start of the "run" command:


wait 2

high 3
pause 100
low 3
pause 400

wait 6

high 1
pause 100
low 1
pause 300

high 2
high 1
pause 100
low 1
low 2
pause 300

Step 4: Relays

Why do I use relays? Well, I tried using transistors but my phone was so sensitive to stray voltages that I quickly opted for relays.

The relays are actually great for this project because they give you a visual and audible confirmation at each step as the code is running. Another great advantage is the fact that you can interact directly by just tapping them. And besides, they look amazing don't they?

Step 5: The Result

The surveillance-phone works like a charm and there's no end to the possibilities of this device. I plan to monitor my dorm while away for the holidays.

Please don't forget to rate me and be sure to visit my other Instructables!

Have fun!



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    138 Discussions!/

    Could you send me schematics at I would much appreciate this. Thanks in advance.

    you got 5 star from me very good work. please add elaborate pictures, schematics and more intructions. better yet a detailed video on how to construct one step by step. thanks

    1 reply

    hi this sasi
    you got the schmatic diagram for that,if you can send me pls this id,

    very nice kindly send me schmetic diagram ,than only i will try,nice consept, and how to program the programmble ic,and part list and all pls send me my e mail id or
    i am exporting your reply i need to make project this nice consept

    nice prject!! can i have the full schematic diagram? pls send me it here thnx n advance

    yup... at first it does look like a remote controlled bomb..

    great one man.. keep this goin on and on and on...

    So you technically have to pay for 2 phone bills? Because im pretty sure texting has to have a service to like connect to and stuff...just curious ;D

    Hy guys! I'm from Romania (Europe)
    - i'm new here (in fact i just signed up, because i had an similar ideea and i just had to tell it to somebody)
    - I have got no electronic knowlege, but I had another ideea for this rig (and I say it's much smaler and kuicker to build)
    - but i got to say i never tried to build it (is just an ideea)
    - its probably more expensive (the phones i mean) but they both are perfectly usable (you don't mess with them in almost any way)

    what you need:
    - 2 phones (both newer models with 3G network (with video call available) - one electric motor
    - one light sensor (posible from a solar garden lamp)
    - a carboard box (around the phone and everithing ealse - exept for a little hole for the camera, ofcorse)
    ->for the power to the motor - you can use any old phone charger (or other tipe of ellectric power transformer)

    -how does it work :
    -first everithing must be in a box to be totaly dark inside
    - when the phone receives the video call, -> the screen lights up
    -> the sensor sees the light and activates the motor
    -> which tries to spin, but it only pushes a little bit the little solid metal bar -> which puches the answer button
    -> and you stick the box where ever you want the phone insaid to see (and show you)

    - OK - how you build it - that's for everyone imagination to change - you buy a solar garden lamp (probably 1-2 $ ) - they all have a light sensor - you soulder a little electric motor to the terminals that lights up the LED (in the night time) [the thing is (and i don't konw exacly how it works) you will have to solder contacts inversed - or inver the contacts to the light sensor] - i don't know for sure - but you need the sensor to start the engine when is light not when is dark (as it does normaly) - and then you soulder again some kind of little stick (bar) of metal - to the head of the motor and positioned straight to the ansering button of the phone (in order to push the button when the motor tries to spin) - and thats the more complicated part - - now you will have to place the hole phone in an perfectly light sealed carboard box (with the execpt of the little camera, which needs to see outside ofcorse -you make the configuration to 3G network for both phones - in order to have a video call betwen them -how does it work - when the phone receives the video call, -> the screen lights up -> the sensor sees the light and activates the motor -> whic tries to spin, but it only pushes a little bit the little solid metal bar -> which puches the answer button

    can u plz mail me its schematics on (

    Has anyone had any luck using the usb port on the mobile phone to communicate serial codes from the microprocessor? just a thought to clean up the design....

    You can use a mosfet instead of the relays if you wanted to make it smaller. When the mosfet is on it is considered shorted with 1 ohm generally resistance. transistor wouldn't work due to current needing to flow. I like this concept alot.. taking existing hardware and modifying it for a new project. Lots of cheap cellphones around for projects like these. Thanks for the inspiration

    5 replies

    Will give those mosfet's a go. I had some problems with the key pad matrix since you can't have a common ground.

    The way the keypad matrix work is just shorting the 2 pads together using graphite which is in the key.. so by soldering a wire to each pad and then connecting one wire to drain the other to source.. applying voltage to the gate of an N channel enhanced mosfet will then connect the two pads ^_^ hope it works for you. Haven't done it for cellphones but have done similar for other projects

    It's a bit more complex than that on the phones I've been working on. The Nokia I'm working on now (old 3310) has 5 negative and 4 positive rails in the matrix. This gives up to 20 different keys, the Nokia has 16. E.g. connecting two or more negative rails together won't work. I think there must be some kind of pulsed/ switched mode matrix. Any info is welcome!

    How do you think it detects the key press it connects 2 pads or columns and rows.
    You are talking about DTMF keypad most likely Basically you have 4 rows and 4 columns (3 columns for a standard phone 4 for a test phone) and each one produces a frequency so when you press 1 you get a tone of 697 Hz mixed with 1209 Hz which tells the controller that you pressed that button.. So with 7 pins you can control the whole keypad or just send a tone using an ic which would be another viable option
    a pic of a dtmf decoder

    Hope this is the same as you are talking about?
    Buy a keypad from an electronic store and see how it detects a press ^_^

    Some more info on the phone; On the 3310, each pad consists of a ring with a dot in the middle. It's got 4 rails of positive rings(lets call them columns from A to D), and 5 rails of negative center dots (rows from E to I). Connecting any column with any row produces a single unique value e.g."7" or "Menu" or "Arrow up". This I have tested. Any keystroke can be replicated by combining a column and a row. Connecting two negative rails and one positive rail will NOT work and no value will be produced. This is why transistors have failed. Measuring with a multimeter shows equal potential between all pos. and neg. Without an oscilloscope I can not be sure, but I suspect a pulsed mode matrix. The concept is this; Column A, B, C, and D are switched on and off sequentially. For each column, every row (E, F, G, H, I) is switched on and off in the same way. For example; Column B: ON Row E ON Row E OFF Row F ON Row F OFF ... ...etc.... Column B OFF This looping must of course occur very fast as not to miss any key strokes. Will try to use a micro with A, B, C, D as inputs and E, F, G, H, I, as outputs. The micro will then only turn on E to I when the appropriate input is on. Basically I don't know what kind of matrix this is but I'll try to find out. A regular keypad (like the one I'm holding in my hand now, ) can be used in MANY different ways including DTMF, resistive, pulsed, or by using diodes.