1930′s Skype Phone
After seeing these fabulous fake vintage adverts for Skype and Facebook, I thought it was about time to mention another one of the projects that we’ve been working on.
The 1930′s Skype phone is a genuine, period Bakelite telephone that has been upgraded with an Arduino and a USB sound card. The arduino controls the telephone bell, duplicating the authentic English ring tone when a call is received, and sending a signal to Skype when the phone is taken off the hook.
A simple Python application interfaces the computer with the telephone, making an API link to Skype, and monitoring Google Mail for incoming messages. When an email, chat, or skype message is received, the phone bells ping to let you know that there is an incoming message. It is possible to extend the python code to use any of the popular APIs for voice/text messaging, but since we only use Skype and Gmail, we didn’t feel the need to go any further.
Before any vintage phone enthusiasts start shouting at us for ruining a vintage phone, we should probably point out that (apart from a couple of solder joints that will need reconnecting) the phone is unharmed by the conversion, and can be reverted to it’s original state in a couple of hours.
The original microphone and speaker have been preserved, and the vintage sound from the receiver is really something. The original speaker is a whopping 36 ohms, so it was necessary to add a separate amplifier and power supply to the usb sound card. These are installed using hot glue, which will peel off without leaving any trace if the phone is ever dismantled.
The 1930′s Skype Phone will be appearing in Make Magazine later this year. You can see a poor quality video of the phone in action here: