Travel To Future Past With A “Steampunk Cellphone” From Steampunk World’s Fair

steampunk cell

Editor’s Note: We’ve updated the images at the request of the subject.

For under $100, an IT expert turned an old phone into a cutting-edge piece of retro-futurism.

Steampunk fans are known for their inventiveness, and at this year’s Steampunk World’s Fair IT trainer and educator Russell Feeser showed off a brand-new fusion of old and modern technology – an antique telephone that can make and answers calls like a cell phone.

“The aesthetic of pulling a cell phone out of a pocket when wearing a Victorian costume didn’t appeal to me,” said Feeser, demonstrating the phone at the World’s Fair, which was held from May 16 to 18 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Feeser created the device out of an old phone he bought on eBay for $20, and then filled it with modern components.

As the steampunk community is pretty wide-reaching, its possible another had this idea first, Feeser said. However, to his knowledge, his is the first time such a device has ever been successfully demonstrated.

The phone is designed to be carried around by a leather strap, similar to a shoulder bag or purse. The phone can make calls using the rotary dial, thanks to adapters installed by Feeser.

The total components cost about $90. Feeser said the most expensive part was the lithium ion battery, at about $50. Other parts included a wi-fi radio, an RJ11 adapter and an analog telephone adapter, which Feeser described as the piece that “gives the (old) phone a brain and turns it into a smart phone with an IP address.”

The phone’s only limitation is that it can only be used while connected to a wi-fi network as it lacks a SIM card. Feeser’s certain he can add that in time for next year’s fair, though.

He plans to post the instructions for creating the steampunk phone on his websites, Iris7 and RZFeeser, soon.

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