William Hayward

William Hayward

Software Developer

© 2020

Back on the Horse and Makin' Stuff

Hello DECO3850 blog, my old friend

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It’s been a while. Time to get back on the horse.

This week has been the most productive week of my university career. That title was previously held by CSSE2310 during assignment 3 crunch, but this week (and over midsemester break) I’ve made more things than I was expecting to.

First: The Social Dial. A member of the Social Provocateurs bought a 1980s cream rotary phone. It’s a gorgeous device, and I honestly felt guilty at the idea of gutting it to make a digital monstrosity.

So I thought about it - why gut it at all?

The Engineers of Yesteryear were working with a lot of the same building blocks as me. Electricity and copper circuits.

Naked Wiring

Exploring this 1985 device was a fascinating experience. The pins were set up for alligator clips so nicely that it feels intentional, and the circuit diagram on the inside of the shell is so convenient that armed with a multimeter and an inquisitive mind, I connected up the dial of the phone to an Arduino and got it to display your dials on a seven segment display.


It’s not 100% accurate, but when I was looking up why it turns out that even when they were new it was easy to misdial. I think that this is going to add an interesting dimension to the project - whenever a modern smart phone does something incorrect (pressing a wrong button for example), people consider that to be completely unacceptable. Having that analog imperfection in this project appeals to me, because the standards for technology have never been higher.

Keeping the interior of the phone in tact is ultimately tangential to the project, but it’s a challenge I’ve set for myself. Everything that we need - dial, speakers, microphone, etc. - are already in there, and I don’t want to let that go to waste.

The second device I’ve been working on: The TwitterTapper.

Morse code is an interesting one. It’s a binary system, but when translating to a computer code there’s an issue. Is “–” two individual dashes or two dashes grouped together.

I’m very happy with the devise solution, because it’s easily expandable and modifiable. It also used bit shifting, and who doesn’t love bit shifting?

Morse Code Code

Making a morse code device had some interesting challenges. Timing, formatting, outputting. At the end of the week, the prototype for this is mostly complete - complete with posting to Twitter.


Right now it’s a button hooked up to the Arduino, but from eBay I ordered a real telegraph key, apparently from the USSR.

USSR Telegraph Key