CircuitMess Ringo: The Educational DIY Mobile Phone Hobby Kit

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The Ringo Phone Box Cover.
This past Christmas, my 8 year old son received the gift of a Ringo (manufactured by CircuitMess). The Ringo is an educational kit, a do-it-yourself build your own mobile phone set that actually functions with micro SIM cards. And my son, being very creative and inventive and always wanting to build his own phone was ecstatic to the idea. It also helps that by education and profession, I am an engineer and can assist with such projects. This past weekend, we finally decided to put it together. It was also 9° Fahrenheit outside and we had no other plans.

Anyway, it is a really nice kit intended for a young audience and it did not feel too complicated. I believe it had the right amount of components with just the right amount of work necessary to put it together.

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The Ringo Phone box opened.

You have your major parts, such as the LCD screen, battery, network module, main PCB, embedded computing board (which runs the software preloaded on the SD card), etc. In the top right area of the box are three bags with all the little stuff such as pin headers, buttons, button covers, screws, nuts, etc.

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The Ringo phone components.

I set up shop for my son and I to get to work and I guided him through every step. He did the majority of the work that did not include soldering. The soldering was handled by me. I also relied on my multimeter to ensure that my soldering skills were good enough (by running continuity tests on every pin soldered).

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The Ringo Phone being assembled photo 1.
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The Ringo Phone being assembled photo 2.

When I downloaded the PDF instruction manual from the CircuitMess website, it warned me that the project will take approximately 5 hours to complete. I was in it for the long haul and expected to be working on it for 5 whole hours. Fortunately, it did not take nearly as long. About 3 hours later and all pieces were assembled.

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The Ringo Phone assembled front.
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The Ringo Phone assembled back.

Then came the moment of truth, would this thing even turn on? Or would I need to take it back apart and go back to testing my solder points with my multimeter? My son plugged it in, he turned on the power button, and…

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The Ringo phone powered on.

The smile on his face was priceless. He successfully built his own mobile phone. He was able to learn a few things in the process such as the components that make up a phone and the process in putting it all together.

The first thing he did though, was find the game section and play some games. Preinstalled came Pong, Snake, Asteroids and a couple more. There are also your basic apps such as the phone dialer, address book, flash light (which lights up the LEDs in the back), calculator, etc. And while we have not looked into it yet, supposedly, you can also create your own applications or games and uploaded them to the device. Maybe this will be our next project.

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Losing in a game of Snake.

Ending this review, I would like to say that this was an extremely fun and entertaining project. Not only was I able to spend some quality time with my son, we created a mobile phone and a memory he will always remember. If you have a child that is into creating or inventing things and one or both of you have mediocre soldering skills, I highly recommend this kit.