An Analog Phone For Our Front Gate: Done Deal!

While I ordered the DoorBell Fone back in August the fact of our extreme Houston summer kept me from completing the installation. The buried wire run out to our gate was broken and there was just no way I was going to bury a new wire in 100+ degree heat. This past weekend I was able to find the time and temperature to complete the installation.

The largest task was to completely replace the wiring from the central closet in our house out to the gate. I replaced the old-skool solid copper pair with a length of Cat-5 cable. Using Cat-5 is a bit of future-proofing. It means that I can change to a POE-powered network device at the gate without replacing the cable again.

For the moment I’m using only one pair from the Cat-5 wiring, connecting the DoorBell Fone remote unit to the controller in the wiring closet. The total cable length is about 80 feet.

The RJ-11 jack on the controller is connected to the RJ-11 jack on our Gigaset DECT base. The result is that when someone presses the button at the gate the Gigasets ring as if being driven by a POTS line. It’s simple but effective.

The one analog adjustment on the DoorBell Fone is a small variable resistor on the back of the door station. This setting determines the mic level on the intercom. It’s important not to set this too high or the DoorBell Fone oscillates.

I aligned the device by turning the microphone level up until the device complained aloud, then backing it down until peace reigned once again. It’s a pretty simple process in reality.

So, as of this evening our new gate phone is functional. Functional, but not perfect. I would appreciate a greater degree of audio level than the DoorBell Fone & Gigaset combination allows.  The level at the door station could be higher to overcome street noise.

Also, the audio quality is merely adequate. But, what the heck, it’s a gate intercom….not a tool for lengthy conference calls. It’s nice to have a working solution.

Algo-Solutions-8032-SIP-Door-PhoneIn truth, I was very interested in the SIP door phone offered by ALGO Solutions . I first saw them at ITExpo last month. Their model 8028 SIP Door Phone seems like a bit more evolved solution. It priced out around $400, about 30% more than the analog DoorBell Fone. I may yet be convinced to try the ALGO Solutions device.

So, how did we celebrate the fact that the gate phone was working? We ordered a pizza, then waited for the delivery person to ring the intercom when they arrived. After years of needing to keep a constant watch for deliveries it was treat to just wait for the phone to ring.

Sometimes the simple conveniences can be so enjoyable.

  • I must say, I’m envious. Now with the Cat5e, you could do an IP camera too!

    • Yep. I’m thinking ahead to a day when I have some budgetary flexibility.

      • Rod

        Mike

        I’ve been considering this solution for well over a year, mostly due to it being one of the few available.
        I’m in Australia and ing if it will operate on 240VAC.

        Additionally, have you had a look at the Gigaset HC450 door intercom?

        • Rod,

          The DoorBell Fone unit that I have is not rated for use above 117vac. The power supply is built-in to the controller. However, they might make an international model.

          I would have liked to use the Gigaset HC450, but Gigaset Communications doesn’t offer that device in the US. They have not offered a version that operates on the US standard DECT band, which is a little different from the rest of the world.

  • Rod

    “..not rated for use above 117vac..”
    Looking at the attainable information I suspected as much. Thanks for confirming.

    “..they might make an international model…”
    Apparently not.

    “..I would have liked to use the Gigaset HC450..”
    So would I except that it’s way over priced at about USD equivalent $350. Also seems unavailable in Australia, although I could import from the UK, the added postage charhe would make the final cost close to USD400. Ouch.!

    “..US standard DECT band, which is a little different from the rest of the world..”
    Yes From memory 1900 instead of 1800. Some US band modesl are sold in Australia as DECTa.
    Legal although not too common. Just enough to confuse those not paying attention.

  • Rod

    PS Would a step down transformer facilitate the operation of the Doorbell Fone with 240VAC 50Hz

    • I suspect a transformer work. I’m actually a little surprised that the power supply is built-in. That’s kind of old-skool. Although, the design of the DoorBell Fone itself seems a bit vintage. Perhaps you might look at the Algo Solutions products. They have both SIP and analog devices to offer.

  • Rod

    ‘..Perhaps you might look at the Algo Solutions products..’

    thanks, will do.

  • Very interesting project! I guess you could achieve similar outcome using a Raspberry Pi as an Asterisk intercom, but then again, I am not sure how the sound quality would turn out with the inbuilt audio. And you would have to find a way to power it too (don’t think it does POE at the moment). Thanks for sharing!

    • mjgraves

      Some would probably like the hardware aspect that Raspberry Pi presents. In this case something ready-made was more appropriate.