Turn it on and it's ready to receive.
Type and press enter, your message is sent.
No phone service, no internet, no power?
No problem! FreedomText stays connected.
A lot of care was put into the design to make sure that it performs as best as possible.
Find your way back, locate your group, or get help when stranded
No strings attached, no censorship.
Say what you want, when you want.
It can be used at home, outdoors, for work, for fun, in all crisis situations, including zombie attacks!
When natural disasters take out power and communications,
FreedomText keeps working.
It doesn't take much room and won't weigh you down.
You can take it anywhere.
It can be used stand-alone or interact with a phone or computer.
Every setting can be adjusted, channels, frequencies, power, privacy, and more.
In beacon mode the device can broadcasts its location continuously. At last you can easily find that emergency crate airdropped in the jungle by your team!
The most reliable way to stay connected
Now available on Kickstarter
FreedomText is our answer to the need for reliable communication between people, anytime, anywhere, independently from any external infrastructure and without any fees or restrictions.
For the people, by the people
The only purpose of FreedomText is to help people communicate with each other and stay connected in case of emergency. Freedomtext has no corporate ties, no hidden agenda, no constraints. Instead of providing the bare minimum for the highest price possible, we included every useful feature we could think of, no matter how much work it took, and will keep adding more functionality according to what people need. We also made it open source so that anyone can help us make it better for everyone.
FreedomText is easy to use
Our goal was to make it as simple and easy to use as possible. Turn it on, and it’s ready.
Because we believe in respecting people’s privacy and freedom, we made it possible to have public and private channels, and ultimately configure every aspect of the device.
Take it with you outdoors and keep in touch with your group, go deep into the wilderness or in the middle of the ocean, it will keep working.
It can be used in many situations. Leave it running at home at all time, and never miss a message from a friend or neighbor. If the power goes out, its internal battery will keep it running.
FreedomText has a built-in GPS
You can use it to share you current location with one or more people, just once or automatically (beacon mode).
Log and share way points during a journey to easily find your way back or points of interest, and it can tell you the direction, distance and ETA to someone else sharing their location.
The high-precision GPS can pinpoint its location within a few inches.
Freedomtext is all about freedom
You don’t need a service provider nor a subscription to use FreedomText.
Unlike with centralized online messaging, there is no corporate monopoly dictating what you can and cannot do, no censorship, no eavesdropping, no advertizing, no limitations.
Say what you want, when you want, where you want.
FreedomText is small and light
You can easily take FreedomText with you anywhere, it doesn’t take much space and won’t weigh you down.
Without its removable antenna, FreedomText is the size of a pack of cigarettes.
Even with the long range antenna, when folded it still fits in a jeans back pocket.
It measures 3.6″ x 2.5″ x 1″.
FreedomText can save lives
In case of a disaster or crisis, when there is no power, no internet and no cell service, FreedomText continues to work, keeping you connected with your local community and allowing you to stay informed and request or provide assistance and supplies.
For extended power outages or camping trips, a typical 10000mA USB power bank can keep it running for up to a month.
FreedomText for asset tracking
Using the beacon mode, it can continuously broadcast its GPS location, every few seconds, minutes, or however long you choose, allowing you to easily locate the person, vehicle or property you left it with.
At last you can easily find that emergency crate airdropped in the jungle by your team!
FreedomText is flexible
Because we wanted to make sure that every possible use case scenario is covered, we made FreedomText as flexible as possible. You can customize every aspect of the communications, privacy, radio transceiver, and power usage. You can use any antenna you want. Messages can be typed using the internal keyboard, an infrared keyboard, or via USB using a serial terminal on a phone or computer, also allowing the incoming messages to be displayed on the larger screen.
FreedomText is like a CB
Both use the public airwaves to communicate. A typical CB transmits analog voice, FreedomText transmits digital text. Some advantages of the textual approach are that you won’t miss a message if you are away from the device when someone sends a message as it will stay in the message history, it can be used in noisy environments, it can transmit GPS coordinates, it can use virtual channels on the same frequency, a computer can interface with the device to automatically send messages or process incoming ones, and more. It’s not a replacement for CB radios which have their own advantages but it’s a viable alternative or addition.
Q: How does it work?
A: FreedomText is like a mini computer with a built-in digital radio transceiver which can send and receive text using the public airwaves. Much like a CB radio or FM receiver can receive analog audio, FreedomText can receive (and send) digital text messages.
Q: Do you need two FreedomText devices to communicate?
A: Yes, the communication protocol used by the device requires another device using the same protocol.
Q: How far can it reach?
A: It depends on the environment, outdoors the range typically is between 2 and 4 miles at ground level, less indoors or in dense urban settings, and up to 6 miles above ground without obstacles. It is possible to significantly extend the range by using directional antennas.
Q: Can FreedomText be used with voice?
A: Not directly, as it is primarily meant for text communication. With the help of a computer, or by using a custom firmware, it would be possible to send audio and images, but it would be very slow.
Q: Why should I use FreedomText instead of a cell phone?
A: It depends on the situation, FreedomText is your best option when there is no cell service or if you have concerns about cell phone manufacturers and phone companies monitoring your communications.
Q: Can a cell phone user send a message to a FreedomText device?
A: No, but it is technically possible. Anyone could implement a software gateway to link near-by FreedomText devices to the Internet or cellular network.
Q: How is FreedomText better than other LoRa-based solutions?
A: FreedomText was designed specifically for off-grid text communication between people, so every aspect of the device is for the benefit of the user. Other solutions are typically designed to gather environmental sensor data and thus require registering each device with a LoRaWAN gateway connected to the Internet.
- Size: 3.6″ x 2.5″ x 1″
- Weight: 3.2 oz.
- Range: Up to 6 miles
- Radio system: Two-way SX1276 LoRa transceiver
- Frequency band: 915MHz (US) 868MHz (EU)
Default frequency: 907.5MHz (adjustable from 903.5 to 928MHz for custom/private use)
- Max TX power: 100mW (20dBm)
- Max RX sensitivity -148dBm
- RX gain: adjustable or automatic
- Antenna connector: SMA female
- Included antenna: 2dB compact antenna, optional folding 5dB antenna
- Battery: 500-1000mAH, 8 to 48 hours battery life
- GPS: All GNSS systems supported, time/date, location, altitude, speed, heading, way-points logging, location sharing, location seeking with real-time direction, distance and ETA.
- Display: 0.96″ SSD1306 128×64 OLED
- Keyboard: 50 key mechanical sliding keyboard with all symbols and programmable function keys, wireless (infrared) keyboard supported
- MCU: Dual-core ESP32 with WiFi and Bluetooth
- Message format: Text, up to 200 characters per message
- Public: Open, clear text, for 2 or more people
- Emergency: Open, clear text, for 2 or more people
- Custom: Open or encrypted with password, for 2 or more people, 64000 possible channels
- Private: Always encrypted with password, for 1-on-1 communication
The Making of FreedomText
Our good friend Vinnie asked if we could make a text communication device to stay in touch with neighbors, help each other and stay organized in case of disaster or black-out.This sounded like a great use for LoRa, the long range data communication system, and we couldn't resist the temptation to look into it and see what we could come up with.
We got our hands on a pair of LoRa modules, and started by getting the display working. These are the nicest modules we could find on the market, they feature an SX1276 LoRa transceiver, dual-core ESP32 with bluetooth and wifi, OLED screen, SD card slot, LiPo battery charging IC, and sturdy SMA antenna connector. The rest was up to us.
With the display working, the next step was to add code to read signals from an infrared receiver allowing the use of an IR remote or keyboard to control the device.
The Vizio XRT500 TV remote happens to have a very nice keyboard on the back side. After writing custom code to translate the key codes into the correct symbols, it worked nicely.
With the keyboard working, the next step was to create the user interface, text input/output, menus, navigation, etc. Getting the OLED display to scroll smoothly in all directions wasn't easy, but the challenge was fun and succeeding was quite rewarding.
The next step was providing a battery charge indicator using the measured battery voltage.
The infrared keyboard is handy but it's bulky so we opted for the M5Stack CardKB, a very nice mechanical keyboard small enough to fit inside of the device.
The keys were a bit difficult to press with big fingers. Fortunately we were able to find a great cover for it, designed by Leung Chan. After improving the design a bit we 3D printed it and it felt much nicer than the raw switches.
New breadboard and wiring for the keyboard.
To keep the device fully autonomous, a new protocol had to be created for the LoRa networking side. It doesn't need any service provider.
The GPS wasn't part of the original plan but it opened too many possibilities to pass.
After several weeks working on all the code, it was time to design an enclosure. To do so, all the parts had to be precisely measured and replicated in Blender.
While Blender is mainly used for 3D animation, its modeling tools are very helpful for industrial design. Using the stereoscopic 3D monitor on the right with polarized 3D glasses (like the ones used in movie theaters) makes it a lot easier to inspect the design.
After recreating all the parts used, module, GPS, battery, keyboard, etc. it's relatively easy to figure out what shape and size the case should have. A lot of constraints quickly became apparent during the process and required improvements to the original design on paper.
It took over a week to finalize the case design and feel confident that it was ready for 3D printing. Many design decisions are driven by limitations in the manufacturing process.
After a few failed starts with the case coming off the printing plate, we understood why quality printers have a plate heater. Ours doesn't so we had to use a soluble glue stick.
After successfully printing the case, the next step was to make sure everything fits properly.
We used solid wires to avoid sagging wires getting in the way of the sliding keyboard. There is something pleasing about working with wires that hold their shape.
The next step was soldering the GPS, IR receiver and keyboard wires.
Everything looked good, it was time to install the parts in the case.
Someone forgot to test everything *before* assembling it. The GPS wasn't working. We took the device apart and replaced the GPS with a new one but it still wouldn't work. Eventually we realized that with the GPS going upside down into the case, the wiring order for the pins was reversed. Fortunately it didn't damage the module and once the wires were swapped it worked fine.
We tested many antennas to figure out which one would work best. Surprisingly, the short stock antenna performed very well and the second longest only offered slightly better reception. The longest and second shortest didn't do well at all.
After completing the first device, we made a few improvements to the design, to address some issues we discovered during use, such as the keyboard coming all the way out of its slot, not being able to grab it when fully closed, and the USB port opening being too narrow.