Remote operated security gate lets you phone it in

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[Itay] has a friend who works in a rented office where the parking lot is secured by a remote-controlled gate. Unfortunately, while his friend shares an office with several people, they only received a single remote. To help his friends out, he built a small device that triggers the remote control whenever a phone call is received.

The remote modification was rather straightforward. He simply opened the device, adding a single wire to each button terminal. Rather than connect to the remote using wires, he decided to fit it with what looks like a scavenged DC power jack. The ring detector circuitry was constructed and stuffed in a small phone box, which is connected to the remote using a DC power plug. It’s a great solution to the problem, but let’s just hope no one gets a hold of the phone number they used for the trigger!

There are plenty of pictures on his site, as well as video of the ring detector being tested. Unfortunately [Itay] lost the original schematics for the circuit, so you will have to flesh that part out on your own if you wish to build a similar device.

Keep reading to see a few videos of the remote in testing and in use.

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Paging system for your TV remote

[Matt] brought together a TV remote and cordless phone to add a locator system to the remote control. One of the best features of a cordless phone is the pager button on the base. When you press it the handset beeps until found. Matt gutted one and got rid of the¬†unnecessary¬†parts. He then cracked open his TV remote housing and inserted the telephone handset’s circuit board, speaker, and battery. The base station is used just like normal to locate the phone/remote combo, and has been modified with a charging cable to top-off the telephone battery which powers everything in the newly hacked unit. [Matt’s] demonstration video is embedded after the break.

It’s too bad that he got rid of the microphone. It would be interesting to take calls on this thing.

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Automatic telephone recorder

[James Bond] types and those suffering from a hefty dose of paranoia can now record all telephone conversations. [Trax] built this module that monitors the phone line and starts recording when a handset is picked up. A computer does the actual recording, triggered by the microcontroller via a USB connection.

We like the use of an old PCB for a faceplate, we’ve certainly got some duds of our own sitting around. The three cords are a bit confusing though. One for the phone line, one for the USB, but what does the third do? Is it an audio-out connection?

We’ve asked [Trax] to post a schematic and source code if possible so that might clear up the mystery.

Update: [Trax] let us know that there is a red button with white lettering at the bottom labeled “download”. This contains schematic, code, pcb layout, and PC software. We just missed it the first time around.

Does your phone have a GOOG-411 button?

While visiting family we noticed that their telephone had a dedicated GOOG-411 button. We’ve been using Google’s free 411 service for what seems like years but seeing this show up in the form of an auto-dial button is astonishing.

The question that pops to mind: how is this not an antitrust suit waiting to happen? Directory assistance is BIG MONEY that Google undercut when launching its free service. By shipping phones that have the number pre-programmed doesn’t that limit choice and competition in the same way that shipping Windows with Internet Explorer does? Perhaps the difference is that Microsoft has a near monopoly on the PC OS market while GE can’t say the same about cordless phones.

We’re not antitrust lawyers, and neither are you, but we’d still like to hear your opinions about this in the comments.

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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Easy dial telephone

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[Taufeeq’s] Grandmother needed to be able to call her family members but due to ailing eyesight and memory this was a difficult task. He decided to help her with this by building a telephone that will auto-dial a number at the push of a button. [Taufeeq] built a case to hang on the wall which houses a hook for the receiver and two auto-dial buttons. The buttons are lighted and loosely based on the LED push buttons we covered in January. Housed in a separate box are a microcontroller and a dual tone multiple frequency IC used to dial the numbers. These are patched into a PCB from a standard telephone.

The result looks great and makes using the phone much easier with the simplified controls. We’ve included the demonstration video after the break.

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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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