cost less than 20 euros— about 30 bucks.
Many intrepid makers used these instructions to
build their own microphones but many didn’t, or
more realistically, couldn’t. Between the fine-detail
soldering and the extremely tight space considerations for the dock connector, iPod Touch fans begged
Képesi for a pre-built solution. He handcrafted
several more microphones for online acquaintances,
but the time investment was prohibitive.
“Ridax” ( home.swipnet.se/ridax) is a hobbyist
in Sweden who frequents the iPodLinux forum. In
2005, Ridax began working with Taiwanese and
Chinese sources to buy iPod dock connector supplies in bulk, which is the only way they’re normally
available. He resells these in small quantities to
hobbyists who want to build their own iPod accessories. Képesi quickly hooked up with Ridax, whose
web support pages provided the iPod connector’s
pinouts and other important developer information.
Képesi put together his
parts list and posted
the circuit details so
anyone could build the
open source, dockable
Képesi sent over his design and asked if this was
something that could be assembled by automation. Ridax looked it over, checked with his Chinese
contacts, and said yes. After building a couple of
prototypes locally, Ridax worked with the job shop
in China to design and then ship the microphone.
The first order was for 1,200 pieces. Képesi and
his small team kept 50 on hand and quickly sold the
rest through Ridax’s online storefront. The storefront took care of all fulfillment details, including
shipping. Within the first few months, they’d sold
more than 1,000 microphones for € 29 ($46) each.
To give some perspective, this price is similar to
those for Belkin and MicroMemo microphones in
the United States, but in Europe these products
sell for about € 80. Képesi and his team were selling
their microphone for less than half the going rate.
While Képesi worked on the microphone, hackers
Eok (in Germany) and Vinson (in France) worked
on the iPod’s VoIP software. Vinson was the author
of a VoIP system for the Nintendo, based on the
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
As Vinson didn’t actually own an iPod Touch, he
developed the software “blind.” He compiled his versions and sent them over to Eok for testing.
Before long, the team was able to get basic SIP
sessions going and Vinson managed to connect the
SIP software into the iPod Touch’s low-level audio
system. That’s when the microphone and the software came together.
By New Year’s 2008 you could buy a microphone,
download the new Siphon software, and make and
receive phone calls by setting up an account with
Asterisk or with a VoIP provider like FreeCall or
In February 2008, the team decided to split. Vinson
wanted to focus on the Siphon software, commercializing it with a French VoIP company. Képesi and
Eok committed themselves to further developing
the TouchMods project ( touchmods.net), focusing
on open source hardware and software development
for the iPod Touch. After this hugely successful
collaboration, they agreed it was time to move on
to pursue their specific interests.
» For more information: touchmods.org
» TouchMods useful links: touchmods.wordpress.
» Want to buy your microphone without building
it from scratch? Visit Ridax at home.swipnet.se/
ridax/ touchmic.htm. You can also order dock
connector supplies if you’re looking to build your
own iPod accessories.
» If you read German, there’s a good interview with
the development team at Die Welt: makezine.com/
Erica Sadun has written, co-written, and contributed to
almost 30 books about technology, particularly in the areas
of programming, digital video, and digital photography.
Soft Drink Recycling
The bottom of a soft drink or beer can
makes a dandy mixing container for
small batches of epoxy or other noxious
concoctions. —Frank Joy