Bloody Plastic's Bill and Ted Payphone

So a friend of mine bought a payphone and asked me to light up the buttons like they were in the Bill and Ted movies.

An Actual Payphone

These things happen.

After determining it was actually possible to disassemble the phone and get to the keys I started by casting the star and pound keys in clear resin.

Disassembled Payphone Clear Keys

Next I made a simple blinking circuit using a 555 timer and two warm white LEDs.

Breadboarded Circuit Assembly Closeup Finished Circuit Circuit Bottom

Here's a video of the circuit in action:

Next was figuring out how to install the lights behind the buttons. The payphone actually has two keypads, the heavy duty metal one that's exposed to the elements and public and a normal plastic one behind it that has the operation passed to it through a rubber membrane. This picture shows the underside of both button assemblies. This sits on top of a standard membrane/circuit board button setup.

Button Assembly

The membrane guides on the inner plastic buttons were perfect for my purposes. I drilled out the hole to accept a standard 5mm LED, through the front of the plastic button and trimmed out the rubber membrane between the plastic and metal buttons.


I then had to trim out the bottom of the grey frame so the wires could run out the bottom.

Cut Frame

The entire button assembly is held in a plastic case that needed guide holes cut into it for the wires. Then the entire electronics housing needed parallel holes cut in. After a bit of wiring tetris I got the lights installed where they needed to be.

Guide Holes Lights Installed

After mounting the phone electronics back in the shell I attached my circuit to the plastic body to keep it from rattling around and potentially shorting out.

Mounted Circuit Board

To get the lights to activate when the handset is picked up I mounted a contact switch to the back side of the lever with hotglue. It can be a little finicky as the lever doesn't like to lift but a rubber band could fix it if it gets troublesome.

Contact Switch Switch Activated

Lastly I painted the star and infinity symbols onto the clear buttons.

Painted Buttons Lit Buttons

The lit buttons don't have much "push" to them due to the tight fit of the wires and LEDs but I think it's a fair tradeoff for aesthetics. Here's a video of the finished phone:

Party on dudes!

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