Free Home Phone Method Uses Parts We’re Familiar With

[Headsheez] found a way to get his home phone service for free. He’s using a set of tools that we’re familiar with to route service from a typical analog phone system (which involves the extensions wired into your home) through a server to the Internet. On the hardware side of things this starts out with an Analog Telephone Adapter which translates the analog signal for use in a PBX system. He uses a copy of the open source PBX project called Asterisk which we’ve also seen used on devices like routers and the SheevaPlug. The actual telephone number comes from a Google voice account which for now is a free service but there’s no guarantee that it will remain that way in the future.

This should provide seamless service just like you’re used to with a traditional home phone line. There’s even caller ID for the number – but not the name – for incoming calls. The one big feature that is missing from this setup is the ability to call 911 for emergencies.

[via Reddit]

19 thoughts on “Free Home Phone Method Uses Parts We’re Familiar With

  1. Nice project. I just completed a VoIP project by using the PBX in a flsah build of Asterisk at .

    The current build will use your Google voice account to receive calls and all you need to scrounge up is an ATA or a VoIP phone. THey’ve made it so easy that all you do is download the installer, answer a few questions, and it’s all built.

    Highly recommended

  2. I was going to use the sipgate route here in the US but they ran out of phone numbers. With the latest build of PBXiaF you no longer need that 3rd party SIP provider.

    All in all its a great project to be able to run VoIP at the house.

  3. Is there a regular 10 digit local number for 911? If so he could script asterisk to send 911 to that number instead. (Although some quick googling says that for Fairfax County at least it’s either 911 or the nonemergency line only). is also a great resource for this kind of thing. They have their own Asterisk distro and have pretty good guides that are updated frequently.

  4. @M

    The problem with calling 911 is not a termination issue, rather it’s being identified properly in order to provide a location. Your caller id needs to contain a real number which can be cross-referenced to your address. This issue has become a big problem with nomadic or semi-nomadic services like this one. Even cell phones have some means of providing location (albeit somewhat approximate).

  5. In most areas the simplest solution to the 911 problem is to install a jack in your house that’s hooked up to the phone company’s line. Everywhere I’ve lived you can still call 911 (and the phone company’s new service line) from a disconnected land line. If you want to get all hackey with it, you could spray-paint that phone red and rig it to automatically dial 911 when the receiver is picked up.

  6. There are plenty of way of doing this; I recently discovered DD-WRT do a VoIP build with MilkFish (VoIP proxy) built in, good if you have SIP phones or SmartPhones with SIP applications.

    If you want the whole lot to be open source, there is a hardware project ‘Mesh Potato’ which you should check out.

    David is currently working on a cheap FXO port done with a micro, rather than using a pre-made ATA board.

  7. Did this last nit actually. Zotac MAG\ION system, PIAF, and the IncrediblePBX script. Up and running quite fast with a softphone. Tonight I move my Linksys ATA off of the old PIAF install that used SIPgate and have handsets. No 911 is a HUGE concern but having to have calls made once a month to retain my SIPgate account was an issue of a different sort. Now I just have to worry about Google starting to charge . I have a cell, and I can even dock that with the Asterisk setup if I want using BlueTooth but it’s nice to have a second line out even if it does rely on the ‘net. Somewhere I’ve got a dedicated BT dock too – this stuff is fun to play with!

  8. PBX in a Flash is certainly one way to do it and I think many readers of this site would enjoy exploring its capabilities. But if ALL you are wanting is to make and receive Google Voice calls for free (at least until the end of 2011) then instead of dedicating a computer or more expensive device to the purpose, in a couple of weeks you’ll be able to buy an Obihai OBi100 adapter for about $44 from Amazon. This is similar to the OBi110 that they’ve been offering for a few months now for about $50, except is has no Line port, which you don’t need anyway if there’s no PSTN line (not even a line that only works for 911) available at your location.

    Either device will directly connect to one or two Google Voice accounts (no Asterisk required, but if you have Asterisk you can use either device to run an Asterisk extension, and the OBi110 can be used to bring a landline into an Asterisk box). And also, calls between devices are free through the company’s “OBiTALK network. There are a few reviews and how-tos on these devices on the Michigan Telephone blog and on the Voxilla site, and various other places on the web.

    Note you do have the same limitations with regard to 911 – Google Voice doesn’t provide it, but if you have a landline that provide 911 you could connect it to an OBi110 and then your phone would use Google Voice for all your regular calls and send 911 calls to the landline. And also, in theory Google Voice could possibly do something that makes these devices not function with their service, but even if that happens you can still use the devices to run extensions off of your PBX in a Flash box, or a commercial VoIP provider that lets you “bring your own device.”

  9. @Mike

    Very helpful post. I think I will go with the OBi instead of an Asterisk solution, which I think would be overpowered for my use at home.

    Again, thanks, that’s the solution I’ve been looking for.

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