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.

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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.

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Controlling Applications From Asterisk

asterisk1Many thanks to Dave Michels who earlier today passed a link to this blog post from New Zealand’s James Forman about Controlling Applications With Asterisk. James’ project is an excellent example of the sort of thing that sets Asterisk apart from everything else. He used a multi-step process to have DTMF tones issue commands to control a VLC VideoLAN media player.

His approach is very similar to what I had initially envisioned for my home automation project. Where James is dealing with the VLC commands I was going to have the IVR process call AGI scripts that would cause xsend.exe to send predefined commands to various X-10 home automation modules. That was part one of the project.

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Questioning The Future Of Home Phones

Many folks, including Tom Keating, Garrett Smith and Dave Michels are looking for a next generation consumer electronics device. Over the past while I’ve seen some enthusiasm expressed for the Open Peak’s prototype gadget. I hesitate to call this device a phone although the Open Peak prototypes appear to be a cross between a cordless phone system, a tablet PC and an iPod Touch. I certainly agree that it’s really pretty.

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Vera, Z-Wave & I: Day 1

logo-zwaveToday was the day that I finally got around to taking the Vera home automation system out of the box. It was a simple beginning as I have only one Z-wave device to control at present, a Monster Cable lamp dimmer. In about two hours I was able to get Vera on the network and upgraded to the latest firmware. I also had it controlling my one lamp. Woo Hoo!

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