Robotics engineering student Ken Bellonel dazzled the internet last month with a hack that managed to place a working USB-C port inside the iPhone X’s fully functional USB-C iPhone. And now, Pillonel has posted a more detailed video showing how he managed to hack, along with a Github repository with technical details, CNC instructions, and information about a custom PCB he built for anyone brave enough to try it out and come up with a similar hack.
The 13-minute video shows the nitty-gritty of the Bellonel Mod, which is simple in theory: combining the Lightning and USB-C connectivity together on a daisy chain to mimic a proper USB-C port.
The video shows almost the entire development process. It’s a fascinating journey, from proof-of-concept prototyping, reverse engineering a Lightning connector (and eventually reverse engineering a fake Lightning connector), ordering a custom flex circuit board, and shaping an iPhone case to fit the larger USB-C connector. .
The video also shows how difficult it can be to fit the additional circuits, with the plate flexing around the sides of Apple’s Taptic Engine hardware to squeeze all the necessary components.
Pillonel is also auctioning off his prototype on eBay, with bidding already at $3,400 as of the time this piece was published, for anyone with deep pockets interested in their own USB-C iPhone. Billonel notes that people who buy a phone shouldn’t restore, update, erase, unlock, or “use it like your everyday phone.”
Finally, Pillonel has made the entire project open source so others can build on its existing work, whether that’s making more custom USB-C models for the iPhone X or porting the design to other iPhones down the line (although the PCB design Full will not do that. It will be posted until after the auction ends). He also notes that he plans to continue building on the design, with goals to improve fast charging, waterproofing, and even enable USB-C accessories.