It Starts With A Broken Doorbell

There’s been an odd converge of concerns around this place. The SIP-GSM gateway is about to arrive so I’ll be tinkering with Astlinux again. Also our doorbell is broken, which makes receiving deliveries a serious drag.

Doorbell Button 100 pixelThe doorbell is physically located at the gate in the front fence. There’s a zip cord line that runs underground from the house and a simple momentary contact switch in the frame of the wrought iron fence. It seems like there’s a problem with the underground line, not something that is easily repaired or replaced. The rest of the works are located in a central closet, with a second ringer in the office.

This past week Lonnie Abelbeck posted about an interesting project on the Astlinux Users Mailing List. he calls it the “Asterisk Doorbell Project.” His project is a hardware interface combining a doorbell switch and an ATA. Here are the particulars:

The result is that ringing the doorbell causes the ATA to auto-dial an extension. From there your Asterisk dialplan logic can make things happen as you like. It would be most ideal to have the phones ring with a unique ring pattern.

Lonnie’s project comes along at just the right time for me. While it’s D.I.Y. it’s simple enough, and I’m pretty handy with a soldering iron. Anything electrical has never been a problem for me. Plumbing is entirely another matter.

I wonder if I can amend the approach to make use of the XML browser on the Polycom & Aastra phones? That is, ring but also indicate that the doorbell in the source on the LCD display. That might be justification (stretching here) for a new phone with a colour LCD. Perhaps Linksys 942 as I have no experience with that range as yet.

This reminds me of a older idea about home automation and Asterisk. It’s just one step from the doorbell rings the phones to the phone release an electric strike at the gate. Then come on in! We have an electric driveway gate opened as well. That’s another candidate for automation…and telephony is just an interface type to the automation scheme.

Another idea involves integrating the X-10 lighting controls and Asterisk. Then when we’re pulling into the driveway was can call the home phone, dial a few numbers and turn on the house lights before we enter. Or call in from afar and turn lights off/on to make people think we’re at home.

Time is short in the coming weeks, but this idea simply won’t go away. Expect a recurring thread over the next few months.