After watching that Only Fools & Horses episode with Del and Rodney dressed as the 60's style Batman & Robin, my mind wandered back to the Adam West Batman TV episodes I used to watch as a child (they were already retro then, so I'm not really revealing my age).

I found the series on Netflix and after watching a few episodes, my phone rang. My boring, dull, black, modern phone.

I needed a Batphone!


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No contest really.

I figured that this would be a relatively simple project - just a red old-style phone with a flashing red light. Forget the actual details - in nearly everyone's mind, the Batphone was a RED PHONE with a RED FLASHING LIGHT. Some may remember the cake stand and cover for it, but they're not the important bits.

I didn't intend to get hold of an actual old phone, as I knew I'd be able to get a retro one from Amazon or eBay. The phone line itself would provide the current to flash the light when the phone rang, so I'd need to get an LED to put in the middle.


I looked on eBay and found a suitable phone - a red Geemarc Mayfair Classic. I'm pretty sure that I paid about £12 for it.

I bought a 10mm red flashing LED from Maplin for about £2. The problem with this was that the LED was colourless until it flashed, so I'd need to find a red cap for it (quite possibly called a bezel).

After buying these, I realised that there would be a bit more to the project. And by 'a bit', I mean 'a lot'. Amongst other things, I'd need to hide the rotary dial and open up the phone to get the LED wired up in the right place.

I looked on the internet for commercially-available Batphones, and they've all got the buttons for dialling hidden under a pop-up panel around the center. For a brief moment, I considered abandoning my project and buying one of these - but where's the fun in that? They're all sold out anyway (yes, I looked).

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Sideskirting the dialling issue, I justified a simple soution for myself...

I make all my phonecalls using my mobile, so the only people who ring me on my landline are my parents, tele-sales companies or scammers telling me that there is a virus on my computer and only they can fix it (at a small cost, of course). I do not actually need another phone that can dial out, so I wouldn't need to hide the dialling buttons - I could just remove them.

The Batphone from the TV show was only an incoming one anyway - only Commisioner Gordon would ring it, and Batman would never make calls. Not even to order pizza.

I unscrewed the central section of the phone and removed it. Without this support, the important dially bits sunk down and rested on the other circuit board and wires inside the body. I put plastic circles (cut from an ice-cream lid) on either side of this to prevent any shorting-out caused by stray wires.

I wired the LED in parallel with the speaker that caused the phone to ring. I thought that this would supply the same current to the LED and the speaker, but it just stopped the phone ringing. Something to do with the path of lowest resistance (I forget my CDT lessons from school). I rewired it in series instead, and it worked fine.

I sprayed one side of a clear CD spacer with a red spraypaint I'd found in InExcess for £2. It was a very similar colour, hue and depth to that of the phone, so matched it very well. When it was turned over, it was a glossy version of the same colour. Rather conveniently, the hole in the centre of this spacer was exactly 10mm, so the LED fitted through perfectly. I superglued this in position.

I added a silver curtain ring (about 3cm across) and superglued it in the centre of the disc.

I used the red spray-nozzle from a bottle of liquid fertiliser (or something else plant-related) to place over the LED. It was the first thing I tried, and it worked perfectly, so I superglued that on too.

This is a picture I took as I was assembling the face, but not the final one. The smaller plastic disc was not included in the final version as it looked very pink in sunlight.

I'm sure I could have Photoshopped the middle ring out, but that not very genuine and would call into question the validity of the process pictures I take.

We can't have that!

I made sure there weren't any stray bits of anything inside the phone casing, checked everything was plugged in and working, and went ahead supergluing the assembled disc to the phone.

Job nearly done. I nearly had a Batphone.


I was happy with the appearance of the phone, but I felt it needed to have a proper base, simillar to the TV version.

Within 2 days, I'd found a thick cheeseboard exactly the right diameter in a charity shop for £1. It was exactly the same colour as the tables and woodwork in my lounge, so it was perfect for me.

This happens to me a fair bit - I think of something I need or want, and it usually presents itself to me in one of the first charity shops I go into - not just something similar that would do, but nearly the exact thing I'm looking for. It's really quite useful.

I covered a Smash Tin with a piece light brown cardboard. I attached the cheeseboard on top of it to use as a stand.

This wasn't the same as the cakestand used in the TV show, but it elevated the phone and made it look unusual and a bit more important than my normal phone.

I secured the telephone line next to the Smash Tin using an elastic band. This hid it away a little and kept it out of the way of the coiled handset cord.

Job done. I had a Batphone.


 

Shopping List:

Retro Phone £12

LED £2

Red Spraypaint - £2

Clear CD Spacer - free

Curtain Ring - free

Nozzle from a Spray Bottle - free

Cheeseboard - £1

Smash Tin - free

Brown Folder - free

Elastic Band - free

Total - £17
 

Holy Understatement.

Ok, it was a bit pricey for something I didn't actually need, but it looks Bat-tastic.


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