Bluetooth handset hacks

Cramming Bluetooth headset circuitry into an analog telephone body has become an extremely popular hack. With declines in the prices of these headsets, and older telephones being seen as storage-room-clutter this hack is just waiting for you to get started. Join us after the break for a look at what others have already accomplished.

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PhoneTag helps you read your voicemail

AnsweringMachine

Have you ever been too busy to check in with your voicemail service? PhoneTag might have the solution for you.

Some of us might have done it before, let voicemails pile up if we know nothing urgent or important is coming down the pipes. Wouldn’t it be much simpler and more convenient if those voicemails played by our rules? PhoneTag is a speech to text service that converts a voicemail into text and sends it via email or SMS which you can read through and reference at will. The accuracy on this type of service is usually pretty good, but some translation is required as spoken words can sometimes be misinterpreted depending on the clarity of the call. On the security side of things, we tend to be a little hesitant of personal and business voicemails running through an extra service. PhoneTag does state that they use some kind of “special algorithm” that will guarantee voicemails are secure and private.

While there is a free trial period, this service is going to cost you. You can sign up for anything from a per message price of $.35 to an unlimited plan of $29.95/month. You are going to have to do your own calculations here to see if this is the best way to go, but this will save you from using your monthly minutes for checking the voicemails in your mailbox. As alternatives, Google Voice offers the same service for free and SpinVox charges a fee per use.

Create a temporary phone number with inumbr

Maybe you don’t want that one person that has barged into your life to know your private phone number? Could be a salesperson or a co-worker who you aren’t that impressed with, but have to get in contact with. Check out inumbr.

inumbr is a free online service that gives US users the ability to set up a unique phone number, have it forwarded to any number within the US and then have it set to expire without a trace when finished with it. The unique inumbr’s are never reused, and can be extended if longer terms are required. Users choose from a list of 22 area codes from major US cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, select an expiry date and set a number that it should be forwarded to. When the term is up, the number is expired from the system, and never used again for any other user. If you wish to use the number at a later date, you can log into the inumbr system and reactivate it.

As we are becoming more and more mobile and security conscious, the desire for these types of services grows. A phone number can now be given out at will, with security and privacy remaining intact. Google Voice is a major player in this arena. A somewhat similar service, they allow for a unique number with voice mail to forward to other numbers at will, creating a masked or unidentified private number that can be used to give out to 3rd parties. inumbr makes this process simpler with the ability to cut off and reactivate numbers as desired.

Hackit: Why we don’t need phone numbers

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We’re starting to think that phone numbers are deprecated; it may be time to integrate how we connect telephones with the new digital millennium. To get a firm grasp on this topic it is important to take a look at the reason we started using phone numbers, why we still use them, and the why’s and how’s of transitioning to a new system.

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Rotary DECT phone

phones

[Al] sent us over to his Rotary DECT phone project, and we think its pretty cool. He’s attending Hacking At Random, and as usual, there will be a DECT network there. Rather than having a normal DECT handset like everyone else, [Al] wanted something a little homier. He chose to combine the guts of the DECT handset into an old rotary phone. He had to use an Arduino to convert the rotary output to someting the DECT handset could use. There’s plenty more information as well as some source code on the project page.

Nokia schematics via Shenzhen

nokia

The silicon hacker behind the Chumby, [bunnie huang], was browsing through the Mobile Phone Megamarket in Shenzhen, China and stumbled upon an unusual repair book. It turns out the book had the schematics to hundreds of Nokia phones. It’s hard to tell if they are legitimate, but the amount of information makes them seem so. [bunnie] claims that the book is a learning experience because it shows how some sub-circuits are implemented. Also, it can be a good reference for sourcing parts. Since Nokia buys millions of each component, the supply of parts they use are stable. There are also editions for other brands, such as Motorola and Samsung.

Antique phone doorbell

doorbell

[Bryan] sent in this cool doorbell he made out of an antique phone. After seeing similar phones for $150 to $399, he picked one up on ebay for $10. After some cleaning and polishing, it was looking fantastic, but fairly useless. At this point, he broke it open and started hacking to turn it into a wireless doorbell. He picked up a cheap wireless doorbell and proceeded to gut it. The transmitter side got an aesthetic overhaul, a big fancy button and nice LED in a 50’s style  were added. The receiver side got hacked up as well. It was incapable of pushing the required voltage to ring the phone’s bell, so he had to do some searching for a better circuit. Since his knowledge of electronics was limited, he was looking for something that could be plugged in and work without much modification. Eventually, he found the Silvercom AG1170-s5. At $7, he swiped it up quick. It may be a bit of overkill, but he’s using an arduino to trigger the whole thing when it receives the signal. You can download the Arduino sketch on the site.