The 970-HA-JOKES Payphone Project

Do you miss buttons? Coins? Questionable publicly shared surfaces?

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Have a listen to this classic hold music on infinite loop and be taken back to a time when pay phones ruled the street corner and peppered the mall food court.

It all started because they moved the parking meters around my neighborhood. When our city (Boulder) got new pay stations, they left behind concrete pads with metal mount points.

Abandoned parking meter pad

Abandoned parking meter pad

I mentioned to my wife, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if someone put a payphone there?’. She agreed, and down the rabbit hole I went... This is not the first time she has led me to fun projects.

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to take apart a payphone. The first time I called my parents for a ride home from a payphone outside the movie theater I noticed the screws and the locks. I had basic knowledge of screws and these were obviously hex bolts, but what were the pegs in the middle? Fast forward 30 years and obviously everything has changed. You can buy security screw bits at the local hardware store, and payphones are a thing of the past, but the retro curiosity was still there. If I was going to covertly put a payphone out on the street, we better make some people giggle before we get in trouble.

The 970-HA-JOKES Payphone Project is an Arduino based, fully functional, payphone that utilizes VOIP over WiFi, with a bunch of easter eggs built in. Let’s dig in.


This was just a preview - the start of the amazing and hilarious journey of our little payphone. To read the whole thing, head on over to the project page (we promise you won't be dissapointed).


Comments 1 comment

  • Member #134773 / about 2 weeks ago / 3

    Methinks you should set up 970-HA-JOKES in the SparkFun lobby so that visitors to SF can enjoy it! An inconspicuous wire to a "wall wart" could also be used to keep the battery charged...

    Here in the Phoenix area we also have Qwest. I think that rather than labelling the phone "Qwast" I would have went with "Qworst"... ;-)

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