Welcome to the CircuitMess Ringo build guide!
In the following 5 chapters, we’ll help you build your own mobile phone out of the components you received in your Ringo kit!
Recommended age group
We believe that an 11-year-old child should be able to assemble a Ringo with some help from an adult.
The estimated age group is 11+.
The estimated build time is around 5 hours, but it can vary depending on your skill level.
CircuitMess Ringo was designed to bring the basics of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to beginners in a fun and interesting way.
Despite that, it is not the simplest kit out there and if you’ve never soldered before, you should consider practicing your soldering skills or watching a few tutorial videos before you get started.
Useful skills for assembling the Ringo:
- Basic soldering experience (just a bit of practice beforehand)
- Ability to recognize basic electronic components
If you aren’t sure of your skills, don’t worry. By following these instructions carefully, you’ll be sure to catch up in no time.
What You’ll Learn With the Ringo
Ringo’s main goal is to educate and motivate you to learn something new or brush the skills you already have.
In the process of assembly, you’ll learn:
- How to solder
- What are the basic electronic components and what is their function
- How can electronic components be connected and why
- What are microcontrollers and some basics of digital electronics
If you go further and follow our coding and hacking guides, you’ll learn:
- How to program a microcontroller in C/C++
- how a simple video game works
- how to interface a microcontroller with external peripherals
What’s in the box?
You’ve got your CircuitMess Ringo kit? Awesome!
Thank you for supporting our project!
First of all, follow the list of components below and make sure you have all of them on your table and ready for soldering.
Your Ringo kit was hand packed with love in Croatia by us (humans), and humans sometimes make mistakes.
If something is missing, please tell us via [email protected].
Here’s a list of components that you should’ve received in your box:
- Acrylic casing set:
- Front protective casing
- Front aesthetic casing
- Bottom aesthetic casing
- Bottom protective casing
- Main board
- Brain board & SD card
- Display board
- Sound board
- Analog joystick
- Micro USB cable
- Micro SD reader
- Li-Po battery
- Network board (this one can look differently depending on your kit version)
- FOUR small component bags
- Button cap sticker set *(only in older versions of the phone)
Following is a section with each component’s close up photos and detailed descriptions.
Meet the components
1. Acrylic casing set
Ringo’s internals are protected by a casing made out of CNC laser-cut acrylic plastic.
The casing consists of 4 parts:
- Front transparent protective casing
- Front aesthetic color casing
- Back aesthetic color casing
- Back transparent protective casing
Everything is stacked together using metal bolts and spacers. This style of casings is called “the sandwich design”.
NOTE: Both back and front protective casing come with a protective layer that should be peeled off. You can do this right now or later before putting the casing on the phone. We will also cover this in Chapter 4.
2. Main board (PCB)
“PCB” stands for “printed circuit board”.
Basically, this is a fiberglass board with copper traces on it, along with some protective paint and insulating material.
Copper layers on the board form traces that connect various components on your Ringo phone kit so that they can work together as an electronic device.
This is the equivalent to a PC’s motherboard.
3. Brain board & SD card
This board is what makes your phone do smart stuff such as display text on the screen or read the SD card.
It contains the main microcontroller (the big silver square thing), as well as an SD card slot and an RTC chip.
“RTC” stands for “real-time clock” and it’s the main timekeeping chip on the Ringo. Basically, that’s a chip that counts time and triggers alarms, every microwave has it nowadays.
It also contains the power management and shutdown circuitry that can turn the whole device ON/OFF, charge the battery, measure the battery voltage, etc.
The on-board micro USB port is used for both charging and programming the device.
A regular Micro SD card is Ringo’s main storage device and is used for storing media, apps, games, settings and more.
The SD card comes included in every kit and is inserted in your Brain board.
4. Display board
This board’s main component is, of course, its display.
LCD stands for liquid crystal display and when applying a current to the crystal layer inside the display, it changes which color that part of the screen will be.
It features a 160×128 pixels display with 8-bit color depth at a 1.8” screen size.
The display should provide you with plenty of possibilities to make some amazing pixel art in your games and apps.
NOTE: 8-bit color is a method of storing image information such that each pixel is represented by one 8-bit byte. There is a palette map with three colors: red, green and blue (RGB), where each color is represented by a value between 0 and 255, thus creating 16,777,216 color combinations.
5. Sound board
The Sound board contains a DAC chip, a microphone and a headphone jack that need to be soldered onto the board.
DAC stands for digital to analog converter and it converts the digital data (1/0) to an analog signal (a.k.a. music and sound effects that are played out on the speaker).
The board incorporates a DAC chip that with a 3.4W amplifier in a single package!
6. Analog joystick
This joystick is the phone’s main navigational input, whether it’s scrolling through a text message, flying around in a game or navigating down a menu.
The joystick has two axis and cannot be clicked.
7. Micro USB cable
This is a standard USB to micro USB cable.
With it, you can charge the Ringo, as well as upload your own programs and games.
8. SD card reader
In order to make your life a bit easier, we have also included a handy Micro SD card reader.
Just insert the included Micro SD card in and then you can put all your favorite songs and photos, as well as Ringo-compatible games (.BIN files) onto it.
9. Li-Po battery
This rechargeable battery serves as the main power supply for the Ringo.
1300mAh should provide up to 3 days of moderate usage, like playing games or listening to music.
In case you don’t know what “Li-Po” means, when it comes to batteries, this indicates its structure and which materials it uses to store electrical energy. (Li-Po stands for lithium polymer.)
It comes with a male JST power connector (the white connector at the end of the red-black cable).
The battery will come connected to the main board.
The reason for sending you those components like that is a regulation that doesn’t allow us to send the Li-Po batteries via airmail if they are not embedded in some kind of a “device”.
Before assembling the Ringo, you will have to disconnect the battery from the main board and then reconnect it when the time comes.
Never solder or modify a device that is “alive”. In other words, always unplug the battery or some other power supply from the device’s PCB, otherwise, you might make a short circuit with your soldering iron or screwdriver and damage the electronic components.
Electronics 101: the positive pole of any electrical power source (+) is usually marked with a red wire. The negative pole of any electrical power source (-) is usually marked with a black wire (in some cases green and brown colors are used too).
10. Network board
Without this module, you can’t make calls, send messages, or get the correct time from the cellular network.
Basically, this board has a secondary microcomputer that handles everything related to mobile phone network communication.
These chips come pre-certified and pre-approved and they’re used in other products that need to communicate via cellular network.
Every network module has a unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) assigned to it and written on its front side.
Depending on which Ringo version you ordered and which version you’re located in, your network module may differ.
The 2G standard version comes with a SIM800C module (the black board), and the 4G version comes with a more powerful SIM7600 module (the green board).
11. FOUR small component bags
The smaller components are divided into 4 smaller bags and we’ll go in detail about what’s inside them.
As a matter of precaution, we usually put one piece extra for the smaller mechanical components, such as nuts, bolts, and spacers.
A) 1x Lanyard (hand strap)
B) 2x M2.5 white nylon nut
C) 5x M3 black nylon nut
D) 6x M3x4mm brass (golden) spacer
E) 12x M3x5mm brass (golden) spacer
F) 1x microphone
G) 1x headphone jack
H) 1x speaker with JST connector
You can’t have a phone that doesn’t ring!
The speaker can be used for all sorts of sound effects, game soundtracks, music, notifications, and ringtones.
A) 6x M3x8mm metal bolt
B) 6x M3x12mm metal bolt
C) 5x M3x10mm black nylon bolt
D) 2x M2.5 white nylon bolt
These basic mechanical components fixate the different modules to the Main board and hold the entire casing together.
A) 2x big yellow pushbutton
B) 16x small black pushbutton
C) 3x machined header pin stick
There are two types of buttons on the Ringo: the smaller ones that are used on the numerical keypad for entering phone numbers and the bigger buttons used for navigating through menus.
They’re the essential input sources for navigating menus, playing games and using apps.
The pin headers come in long sticks and are used to connect all the different modules to the Main board.
They will need to be cut to appropriate size and soldered onto the other boards.
- 16x small black pushbutton cap
- 2x big black pushbutton cap
The button caps are easily attached to the top of the pushbuttons and are also replaceable.
NOTE: Earlier versions of the phone come with empty caps that should be covered with button stickers. However, later versions will come with already printed letters and numbers directly on the buttons so no stickers will be necessary.