Yayagram: Ingenious Device Helps Creator's Grandma Use Telegram

The creator's 96-year-old grandma suffers from arthritis and was struggling with instant messaging apps.
Chris Young

Twitter user @mrcatacroquer, whose real name is Manuel Lucio Dallo, built a device dubbed the "Yayagram," in a bid to make it easier for their 96-year-old grandmother to use Telegram and other instant messaging services.

Taking cues from old phone switchboards — that required cables to be linked for different phone lines — the creator developed a machine that allowed their grandma to control Telegram conversations via physical buttons and cable switches.

Why "Yayagram" you might ask? The word "yaya" is a term of endearment used by grandchildren in Spanish in order to refer to their "abuela," or grandmother.

The machine was created, Dallo said, to help their Yaya use instant messaging apps for phone calls, as she was struggling to get to grips with the touchscreen interfaces to navigate the messaging services.

Frankly, it looks like a great piece of machinery for anyone who wants to "go analog" for a while and disconnect from relentless on-screen updates in our digitized world — much like this rotary dial cellphone made by a space engineer last year.

Yayagram makes instant messaging extra accessible

In a series of tweets, Dallo explains that the Yayagram has two main features: to send voice messages via Telegram by pressing a button, and to receive Telegram messages and physically print them on thermal paper.

Three LEDs on the device are used to show the user that the Yayagram has power, that it is connected to Telegram, and whether a voice message is being recorded.

"To send a new voice message you need first to choose the destination grandchild, the selection is made using a Jack connector, like the #cablegirls used to do," Dallo explained.

The "#cablegirls" he referred to are, of course, the switchboard operators who used to link phone calls through to their receivers via cable links.

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Yayagram: Ingenious Device Helps Creator's Grandma Use Telegram
The Yayagram prints instant messages on a scroll of thermal paper. Source: @mrcatacroquer/Twitter

Recording a new voice message, meanwhile, simply requires the user pushing and holding an analog button that mirrors the virtual button on the Telegram app. Releasing the button sends the message.

Perhaps the most impressive function of the Yayagram is the fact that it will print any message sent to the user on a scroll of thermal paper, making it easy to pick up and read — as shown in the image above.

And the grandchild of the year award goes to...

As for how the Yayagram was made, Dallo explained that a Raspberry Pi 4 is "the brain of the project." It is all run on Python, and the creator used several third-party libraries for the back end of the machine. The rest, he said, is "all analog" and is composed of LEDs, jack connectors, cables, a mic, a push button, and a printer.

Dallo's twitter thread (linked at the top) gives a lot more insight into the build, including links to the third-party libraries the creator used for the machine's Python code, and tips on how he configured the machine's mic.

Yayagram: Ingenious Device Helps Creator's Grandma Use Telegram
Creator Manuel Lucio Dallo with his grandma, who is holding the Yayagram. Source: @mrcatacroquer/Twitter

Dallo, who has to be in the running for the grandchild of the year, explained that he was motivated to build the Yayagram amid COVID restrictions that made it harder for the family to visit their grandmother. His Yaya also suffers from arthritis, meaning using virtual keyboards is "out of her scope" Dallo explained.

The creator also said they will soon publish an Instructable project with all the build details and will release the source code on Github so that anyone can build one of the machines.

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