About a year ago, David Levin constructed an audio memory chest for his photos. After seeing his project at the Boston Makers makerspace, one of the city’s artists in residence asked him to create an oral history phone booth. The concept was that he would record stories from people around the city, and Levin would digitally insert them into a 1950s-era rotary payphone. The result is that when a number is — literally — dialed on this specially modded phone, people are able to hear one of the recorded stories on the headset.
To make this happen, Levin obtained an antique payphone, removed the broken insides, and gave it a new paint job. He then connected a pair of wires to the proper terminals via a custom wiring harness, feeding pulses from a the rotary dial to an Arduino Pro Mini. The Arduino then triggers a serial MP3 player, playing the selected story back on the original handset, complete with a dial tone and ringing sound where appropriate.
With the electronics in place, the payphone was installed into an actual booth, making for a very pleasing historical display. You can see and hear how it works in the video below!