We’re not sure why this use didn’t immediately come to mind when we got our hands on a Raspberry Pi board, but the hardware is almost perfect as a PBX system. PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is basically an in-house phone system. This guide which [Ward] put together shows you how to do some interesting things with it.
When talking about PBX setups the most common software package is Asterisk. That’s what’s at work here, rolled up with a bunch of other helpful software in an RPi targeted distro called Incredible PBX. All it takes to get up and running is to partition and burn the image to an SD like any other RPi distro. The configuration ends up being most of the work, starting with changing the default password, and moving on to customizing the environment to match your phone numbers and your needs. As with PBX setups on other embedded Linux devices, Google Voice is your best friend. The service will set you up with a free phone number.
This guide doesn’t delve into hardware connected hand sets. You’ll need to use a SIP phone. But that’s easy enough as there are free apps for most smart phones that will do the trick.
[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.
As you well know, today is March 14th – aka “Pi Day”.
Celebrated in math classrooms around the country, this truly is a celebration that belongs to the geeks. Here at Hack-a-Day, we too love Pi day, though we might not outwardly celebrate it with as much gusto as expressed by some of our readers.
[Chris Poole] is one Hack-a-Day fan who knows how to make the most of this mathematical holiday. He has put together a neat SIP-based phone service that reads Pi aloud to anyone who calls. He is running Asterisk in combination with Perl to read off the numbers, and is using a free SIP DID number to accept the calls. We gave it a shot earlier today, and were greeted by a gentle synthesized voice reading off the numbers of Pi. We’re not sure how many digits it is programmed to handle, as we stopped after about 20, so give him a call and let us know how many digits you make it through.
As a parting note, no Pi Day would be complete without a few obligatory Pi-related (albeit old) web comics and pastry concoctions, so here you go!
XKCD – Pi Equals…
XKCD – e to the Pi Times i
XKCD – E to the Pi Minus Pi
Spherical Pi Pie
[Greg] has been working on a version of Debian/ FreePBX/ Asterisk for people to be able to drop onto a SheevaPlug. If you haven’t seen it, the SheevaPlug is a tiny computer housed in a wall plug. They made some waves when they were announced last year, and we’ve spoken of them several times. [Greg] is offering up the operating system in a pre configured format for SD cards so you can just download it and drop it in your SheevaPlug. Yeah, there’s a little bit of work to do before it will boot, which you can see in the video above. Thanks for sending this in [Greg], keep up the good work.
Starfish PBX takes the very popular Asterisk telephony platform and adds an open source, fully functional web management interface. Asterisk allows you to be your own private branch exchange; think of it as your own telephone company. You can setup extensions in your home or office, configure an intercom system, implement a hold system with music, manage voice mail, and integrate Voice over Internet Protocol. Starfish PBX, available in alpha release today, aims to make Asterisk available to a wider user base by simplifying the interface used to setup and maintain the system.