Project Red Phone

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Executive Summary

We need a phone in the space so people can see if someone's there and the space is open. (Or to call for cupcakes in case of broken pinkie.)

Timeline: This should be a no-brainer. Can we get it done by end of Aug?


Initial idea is for a Skype-based solution. Perhaps we can dedicate a laptop as an always-on phone server? (Laptop b/c relatively portable, usually have built-in wifi.)

Elliot is doing interwebs reasearch now (Aug 18th night) but anyone know what details we need to sweat to make this work? Is wifi sufficient bandwidth? Are there soundcard requirements for the lappy?

Dead-easy (boring, but functional) way: Cut up a headset and stick it in the phone. Pros: USB or sound-card driven pretty easily, and we can just use the headset in the mean-time. Cons: It's cheating and we'll have to sacrifice a phone.

Fun way: Build an old-phone to line-level converter box and take it from there. Pros: Sexy, will work with any old phone that can plug in, would be a "real" hack. Cons: Experimental, will take time.

Will need to figure out ringer/alert system either way. I've been meaning to work on old-phone ringer circuits anyway, so this part could be fun. Otherwise, the quick-and-dirty buzzer should be ok. This can be realized incrementally.

Butt sets? Pulse-to-tone dialer-converters? So much fun to be had.

Another less phun, quicker, easier approach would be to use a commercial service such as Vonage and wire the pay phone as a regular POTS line. I've been using Vonage for ~3 years and am pleased with the service. It may be worth considering Asterisk as well ( (TC)


Bryce L. recently attended our weekly administrative meeting and offered to help with the project. Bryce has professional experience with VoIP, SIP and has offered to help prototype a system using Asterisk with Telephreak services. He proposed meeting after the 30 August Python class to give us a hand.

We've got a number: (202) 595-2274 253 243 2280 202 870 5002

Prior Art: Links and References