It’s ugly, bulky and dumb (at least for now), but the PiPhone proves that one can build a working Raspberry Pi-based cell phone with ease. Developer David Hunt turned a Raspberry Pi Model B computer that retails for $40 into a handset by spending an extra $120 on other components, including a PiTFT Touchscreen, a 2,500 mAh battery and a SIM900 GSM/GPRS module.

“As you can see from the cost of the components, you’d be FAR better off going into your local phone store and picking up a normal smartphone, but hey, where’s the fun in that,” Hunt said on his blog. “I got a great kick out of the first phone call I made with this thing. And it wont’s stay in one piece for long, I’ll be using those parts for other projects very soon!”

The heat-generating PiPhone will boot up into Raspbian and work as a regular cell phone, albeit sans the wits of a smartphone. It’ll also require a working SIM card to make calls, as the home-made device won’t offer users free calls to any network.

“I presented this to my local FAbLab the night before the publication of this blog article, and one question from the audience stood out: ‘Do you have to pay for credit?’” Hunt said. “That certainly made me think, and we had a good giggle at that. Yes, you still have to pay for credit in the usual way, purchase a SIM card from a local service provider. This is not going to get you free calls! Nice try though!”

A much better looking and smarter do-it-yourself Raspberry Pi tablet, the PiPad, has already been built by a different developer.

A video showing the working PiPhone prototype follows below.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.