View Full Version : Cell Phone For A CPU

01-15-2009, 09:48 PM
Has anyone considered using a used cell phone for a bots CPU.
The reason I am asking is I have access to at least two newer cell phones that would be great to be able to recycle them into a mech.

01-15-2009, 10:19 PM
We've had discussions about it in the past.

In my experience, most cell-phones won't load and run arbitrary unsigned code. Anything that touches the cell network generally has to be carrier approved. If you have a cell that will run arbitrary code - tell us what it is and then by all means, go to it! :)

01-15-2009, 10:34 PM
I know one of the full size combat robots was running a mobile version of Windows from a PDA for full autonomous operation. I don't know much about it except that it was based off of .NET framework and that it was mostly a publicity stunt. I guess it all depends on how fancy your phone is.

P.S. Most phones won't run custom code? Curses, there goes my cell-disabling super virus idea. It would have been so fun to shut up all those annoying teenagers who live on their phones. I guess I'll just have to build a jammer.

01-15-2009, 11:21 PM
Dealexteme.com - buy a jammer cheap.

Yeah - that's exactly the reason why they won't run *unsigned* code (they will run custom code, you just have to sign it and then pay the $$$ to have the carriers approve it).

The iPhone is something of an exception, as one example. But it still has to be signed and approved and then sold in their appstore.

Running on a PDA with .Net framework is simple, or with Palm's framework - Palm's is free for the taking (for non-commercial) - microsoft's may be free these days, as a loooong time Enterprise Dev, it just shows up a few times a year in my mailbox. ;)

01-15-2009, 11:58 PM
on another forum altogether; we had hacked a cellphone so we could create a cellphone - cellphone transceiver modules

01-16-2009, 12:03 AM
So you wrote your own firmware then? And built your own transceivers? That's a federal offense as well as civilly prosecutable in the US, unless you also went through FCC, CTIA, and OTA certifications. [Having led the team that did that for Cell/GPS tracking devices just months ago, I'm pretty well familiar with 'em]

Or did you simply slap a sim card from one phone on another pre-certified approved transceiver module that you can just plop down $50 to Sparkfun for?

Regardless - I'm not sure how that impacts writing software to run on a carrier that isn't signed.

01-16-2009, 12:10 AM
we got a really old (i mean brick type phones - 1998) that were on prepaid. Don't forget i am in New Zealand. We used text based commands to control things. I didnt do it. i just gave some feed back on a guy who had did it in his garage...

01-16-2009, 12:10 AM
you still paid for the text messages

01-16-2009, 12:12 AM
Doesn't matter whether you paid or not, actually. The crime isn't theft-of-service, the crime is unlicensed devices.

Here in the US, those phones are utterly worthless. They won't even talk to the towers anymore.

01-16-2009, 01:08 PM
It is my understanding that if I do not use the transceiver part of the cellphone I can use it for what ever I want to.
I think I bought a book not to terribly long ago that had something to do with programing cellphones, so I guess I am on a treasure hunt for the next few days.
I also have a book I think on how to use a pda as a robot brain, which is something else to look for.

01-16-2009, 05:15 PM
It could be done on an Openmoko/FIC Freerunner. It's an "open source" cell phone and there are multiple software distributions that will run on it, all of them Linux based, including a version of Android. The hardware will run you $400 bucks though. It uses an ARM processor at 400Mhz and has a micro-USB port, which on most of the distributions defaults to IP over USB for network connectivity. Also has a touchscreen (no keyboard except in software) with a decent resolution (not sure off the top of my head), bluetooth and wifi. However the hardware capability support is a bit hampered by whichever distribution you choose to run.

The Openmoko community has all the Linux development tools you could want, best supported under Ubuntu. For robotic control the version of Debian they have running for the phone would probably be best.

Alternatively it could be done on a G1. If you went this path a rooted one that you can install your own compiled executables would be best, but the Android API may be able to do everything you want.

In both cases any compiled code would have to be done on a seperate machine with a compiler capable of working with the ARM instruction set and communication would have to be done over either USB, Bluetooth, or wifi to another controller attached to the sensors/motors/etc.

Also in both cases no software signing would be necessary.

I don't know about the regulations within the FCC and within the cell companies, but most if not all of the GSM based carriers will allow unlocked phones between networks. In fact t-mobile will give you the unlock codes for any phone you buy from them after 6 months, which would allow you to take it over to at&t, or a European carrier.

01-16-2009, 05:21 PM
Hi Dusto, welcome to the forum!

I agree that Openmoko or G1 compliant hardware would work fine. Hence the "most" in my post. ;)

Unlocked phones are one thing - and it's not so much FCC (they handle the hardware side) - any application that touches the network needs CTIA signoff. If you get caught running software that doesn't have CTIA signoff on one of the big carriers, there's pretty severe civil and criminal penalties possible. There's generally something in the contract about it. They really just want to make sure that you're not doing something silly that will impact the availability of services for other customers...

MSK Mech Commander
01-18-2009, 10:24 PM
...P.S. Most phones won't run custom code? Curses, there goes my cell-disabling super virus idea. It would have been so fun to shut up all those annoying teenagers who live on their phones. I guess I'll just have to build a jammer.

Lemme guess, prank callers?;)

01-18-2009, 10:43 PM
jammers - i think i have circuit diagram here somewhere.... lemme look...