In March 2017, 18-year old developer Albert Gajšak launched the MAKERbuino, an educational Kickstarter project that let anyone build an 8-bit, Arduino-based gaming console.
The project was a big success, overshooting its funding goal by 10 times. And now, Gajšak has used everything he learned from that experience to launch a more ambitious project: the MAKERphone.
The MAKERphone is again, an Arduino-based, DIY mobile phone which comes disassembled, as a kit. By building the phone yourself, you’ll learn a bit about programming in environments such as Python and Scratch as well as basics of electronics.
Once assembled and functional, the MAKERphone won’t be a match for your brand-new iPhone XS, but it will be a fully functional mobile phone that will also let you run apps or play games. List of parts includes a circuit board, a GSM module, a dual-core processor, a 128×160 pixel color LCD, antenna and a sound module (complete with a headphone jack, which is something the iPhone XS doesn’t have).
Visually, the MAKERphone is surprisingly cool looking and unmistakably retro. Given the right crowd, pulling it out of your pocket will likely produce some gasps, and I bet it’ll even look cool or at least interesting to non-nerds.
Gajšak, who celebrates his 20th birthday today, the same day the MAKERphone campaign launched, is a young enthusiast who has turned his passion into a startup. I’ve asked him what has changed between his first project and now.
“I still went to school when I launched my first Kickstarter. We didn’t even have a company, we just did the Kickstarter campaign to see where it goes,” he told me via chat.
Compared to his first project, MAKERphone is more sophisticated, more educative, has more lines of code and is prettier, Gajšak told me.
As for his startup, it’s now a “self-sustainable”company with seven employees that actually earns money, which he thinks is quite incredible.
The most important thing he’d learned so far? “It’s about the execution, not the idea.”
The MAKERphone starts at $89, and as is typical of Kickstarter campaigns, you can also invest more to get various perks, including an additional set of tools, a fully assembled phone (though that slightly defeats the point) or bundles of 2 or more MAKERphones at discounted prices.