Bluetooth Portable Rotary Phone - Black

Replacement: None. We have unfortunately retired this product but you can always read about how we built it! This page is for reference only.

In a time when everyone is obsessed with making Bluetooth headsets smaller and lighter, SparkFun is bringing chunky back with two pounds of vintage style. A long, long time ago in the era of dial-tones and party-lines, there used to be something called a rotary phone. The original "click and drag," operating a rotary phone requires that you press the number you intend to dial and pull the dial back from there (Ask someone older than you). Now you can dial your friends the 'old school' way from your cell phone with our Bluetooth Portable Rotary Phone.

The Bluetooth Portable Rotary Phone (Or Blue Rotary, for short) is a Bluetooth device that you can pair with your Bluetooth-capable phone and then use just like 'the real thing'. Simply turn on the Blue Rotary, pair it with your phone (make sure Bluetooth is enabled) and pick up the handset. Not only does this phone have a dial-tone, but you can dial it using the original rotary dial and when you get a call it will let you know with the original, very loud, metal bells (the original 'ring' tone).

Each Blue Rotary was once a real-life rotary phone that we've specially modified. Because these rotary phones had past lives, there may be small scratches and such on the exterior (We like to think of it as 'character'). The included battery can run the phone for 30 hours and is charged by an external jack on the rear of the phone using the included charger.

**Note: **We've recently encountered issues with this phone not completely working with Blackberry cell phones. It will not dial out via the rotary dial or hang-up properly. This has proven to be true with a Blackberry Storm, and may be the case with other Blackberries. Also older Iphones are compatible, however the Iphone4s has been found to not be compatible. Please be aware of this if you're planning on using the phone with a Blackberry or Iphone 4s. It seems to work great with most other Bluetooth enabled phones.

Weight: ~2lbs

  • Main controller board based on ATmega328
  • Ringer module drives the original metal bells!
  • Bluetooth Module allows you to pair the phone with any bluetooth-capable device!
  • 1100mAh Lithium-Polymer battery can run the phone for 30 hours
  • Built-in fast battery charger (2 hour max charge time)
  • Wall adapter (US spades but is 110-240V rated)
  • About the size of a rotary phone.


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Member #430425 / about 11 years ago / 2

    Can I buy just the controller board and convert my own phone? What do I used to compile the associated make and .c files?

  • Member #402838 / about 12 years ago / 2

    Ensure that it works with an iphone 5 and offer a kit, and you'd have a sale!

  • Pete Swain / about 13 years ago / 2

    Wondering where I can find a parts list to order the components (from SparkFun) So i can retrofit a similar phone I already have? Any help. I see the atmega in the schematic and the bluetooth module, but things like the voltage regulator and such, just looking to build a similar...

    • _Eric_ / about 13 years ago / 2

      Yes, it would be great if you guys could release a parts list! Thanks so much already for sharing the schematics and lay-out files!

    • we don't necessarily carry each individual component. In theory you will need to use our schematic and tutorial to build your own since we don't sell the board directly. making your own will be a big task.

      • robotographer / about 13 years ago / 3

        RobertC. would you guys consider making a kit without the phone available in the future? i've got a couple phones too, and a classical style one i'd like to do this to.

      • JaggedDIY / about 11 years ago / 1

        As per the makers, hackers, and DIY enthusiasts below, I would like a kit sans-phone as well. I love this, but only 50% of the enjoyment is in having a cool phone- half the fun is making it! Plus I already have an awesome rotary phone I found.

      • Member #135200 / about 11 years ago / 1

        I agree, a blank PCB, plus maybe a parts list of the parts you do and do not carry would be awesome! (then it'd be easy to get the parts that you do carry from you, and have a concise list of other parts to get from somewhere else. :)

        I'd love to tinker one of these together, but buying it finished takes away all the fun.

      • pedroserano / about 12 years ago / 1

        Also just offering the blank PCB board would be super helpful.

      • pedroserano / about 12 years ago / 1

        I agree. Making a kit would be awesome for those of us who like other types of early phones and want to modify them. You would probably sell a lot of kits, judging from the buzz around hackerspaces, and the kit markup could meet or exceed the profit margin of the prefab model.

  • Tor / about 13 years ago / 2

    This.. is a must-have. But the price+shipping to here+VAT+charges will make it rather expensive I fear.. so there'll be a period of dragging of feet until I convince myself to buy (and/or waiting for the US dollar exchange rate to take a deep dive, as it does occasionally).

  • Member #569787 / about 10 years ago / 1

    I know that this has been retired but is there any way to make it work with newer phones. I would love to build one, I even have the right color phone to match my car, but if it will not work why bother

  • Member #294696 / about 12 years ago * / 1

    I just received mine and I must say the modification is quite well done. It's a nice tight little board and if it worked, I'd want one to retrofit the payphone we have in our kitchen. It's already been modded to be a house phone rather than a payphone so the board as it stands would work fine.

    Unfortunately, the device doesn't work with either my LG231 or my wife's Samsung T404. On the LG, it did pair but presented itself as an 'audio device' and not a 'handsfree'. As a consequence it would probably let you play music through it and that's it. The Samsung won't pair with it all and doesn't even see it.

    When I received it, I followed the online instructions, opened the phone and connected the battery. The power switch was not on board as the instructions said, but rather has been relocated to the shell (quite nicely!). The phone did not give a short ring once the status light started blinking as the instructions said. I don't know if they simply changed the firmware to not ring, or if this one is defective. Since I don't have a phone it will pair with, I have no way of knowing.

    It's a lovely device and I wish it worked for me, but I may end up sending it back. :(

    2012-11-18: I did end up having to send it back. It's too bad these things don't seem to work. I'm hopeful that tech support will figure out the problem and I'll get a working one back.

  • therealadrian / about 12 years ago / 1

    I am very sad. I wanted one of these phones for so long, and when I finally got one, my phone can't discover it. My phone is an HTC Thunderbolt. My lady's Droid Bionic has no trouble finding it. Is there any hope for me to connect if my phone does not find the Bluetooth phone when told to discover new devices?

    • David C Dean / about 12 years ago / 1

      I don't know if you're already returned yours, but mine came with the battery pack disconnected. The device would not work without it (even if plugged in). Once I opened the phone and connected that it worked.

      So far the inbound ring doesn't seem to work, but outbound dialing does. Using Android here.

  • frustin / about 12 years ago / 1

    Why is the red so much more expensive

    • The old red rotary phones are more scarce than the black ones, making them more expensive.

  • samdavis026 / about 12 years ago / 1

    This, this is just electrical engineering badassery at it's finest. I can't tell you how epically cool this is...a.w.e.s.o.m.e. No doubt it is expensive, but worth it? Absolutely. I don't regret this purchase in the slightest.

    I'm (new) working at a Law Firm (with an older crowd) and they oo'd and ahh'd at the wireless dial-tone. Guess who won brownie points for the intellectually mystifying vintage rotary phone in their office.

    Thanks Sparkfun! You made this girl's life more fun.

  • Tor / about 13 years ago / 1

    The 1100mAh battery is a bit on the small side.. seems like there should be room enough for something larger. My Pandora handheld (size like a small DS) has a 4000mAh battery. As far as I know prices are basically the same for small vs. larger li-poly batteries. Having to charge daily is slightly on the painful side.

  • jpvlsmv / about 13 years ago / 1

    Does the power jack connect via RJ11? It's suspicious to have a wall wart connected to this sort of "vintage" phone. But concealing the wall wart as a phone jack would be simple.

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