An Analog Phone For Our Front Gate

DoorBellFone-250 A short while ago I briefed you on my years-long search and utterly frustrating search for the perfect, affordable, SIP/IP-based door phone, preferably with video. Having set aside that lofty goal, I resigned myself to retain primarily the “affordable” aspect of the prior set of specifications, which lead me to look for an analog door phone.

There are many analog door phones available from companies like 2N, Adtran, Avaya, Bogen, NEC, Panasonic, Valcom & Viking, just to name a few. For my project, based upon some advice from friends, I settled upon Door Bell Fon as a suitable choice.

As a vendor I selected Home Controls since they had inventory, a good price, and seemed to have some experience with the product. My order included the DP28C control module, a DP38 NBZF door station and DP38 BXFS surface mount box. The total cost was right around $300.

This combination of gear would provide the audio capability that I needed as a basic requirement, but not the video. In theory the door station can be upgraded as it has “a mount for a third-party 14mm security camera in the camera slot to see who is at your door.” I guess that such cameras are a standard in residential security systems.

The door station itself is fairly simple. It requires no local power. It draws its power from the pair of wires that connect it to the control module. If the existing pair of wires that once serviced our old-skool door chime prove unbroken I won’t even need to pull new wiring to the gate. That could save me a lot of trouble.

The control module is designed to support a pair of door stations, with a further hardware option to support electric door strikes. It’s intended to sit between the analog line from the telco and your traditional home phones. When someone rings the door phone the control module mimics an incoming calls, making your home phone ring. When you answer you’re connected to the person at the door station.

We don’t have an analog phone line anymore, so that side of the control module will remain unconnected. The RJ-11 that would go to the home phones will connect to the previously unused analog line jack on our Gigaset DECT base. It all seems simple enough.

Another approach might be to connect the control module to an ATA, then program the ATA to hotline dial an extension on our OnSIP account. That approach would have the advantage of access to voicemail, and the ability to call forward to a cell phone. We’ll just see how it goes once we have the gear installed.

I took a few moments to wire the door station to the control module with a short jumper cable, then connected the controller to the Gigaset. When powered-up the light on the door station comes on, and pressing the button rings the Gigaset as expected.

The one adjustment on the door station is a small trim pot to control the microphone sensitivity. However, if that setting is turned up too much it can induce oscillation, so we must be careful.

Even at this early stage, I have some concerns about the volume level. I expect that we’ll hear the person at the gate without too much trouble, but I’m not convinced that the door station produces enough volume to overcome the ambient noise at the street. We live directly across the road from an elementary school. When the kids are out in the schoolyard they make quite a racket.

Even so, if the gate phone is answered then it should be readily apparent that we’re at home. which should suffice to keep the delivery person at the front gate until we make it there in person.

As for fidelity, well HDVoice it certainly isn’t. In fact, it’s lot more like the all-too-common experience of drive through fast food dining, or Charlie Brown’s teacher. Nonetheless, all I seek to delay the departure of the Fedex or UPS driver. It should be sufficient to meet that goal.

The most difficult part of the project is mounting the box to the wrought iron fence, a task that I’ve yet to attempt. Perhaps in the coming week. There will be more to follow as the project nears completion.