There still seems to be a lot of interest in DIY Asterisk appliances. Make that DIY PBX appliances in general, because the Freeswitch folks are just as active in this regard. My prior article giving an overview of suitable target platforms continues to be well received, even six months after it was originally published.
One of the host platforms mentioned in that article was the HP range of thin clients. Every day I get an email from the HP SMB Outlet listing the refurbished and overstock offering du jour. In todays list I notice that they include a quantity of 24 HP T5735 thin clients offered for $ 149 each.
These little boxes would make great little DIY embedded PBX systems. Here are the specs:
AMD Sempron 2100+ CPU clocked at 1 GHz
1 GB DDR-2 memory (1 SODIMM)
1 GB internal flash storage
PS/2 mouse & keyboard ports
6 USB 2.0 ports
ATI Radeon X1250 graphics with support for up to 1920 x 1440, or up to 24 bit color depth
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
These little beasts are fanless and only draw around 18 watts. There is also an expansion chassis available that allows the addition of a riser for one PCI card.
At $149 each these devices are cheaper than a net-top. Granted, they’re not quite as powerful as a new net-top…they’re plenty enough to host a SOHO PBX or small music server.
In part 1 I addressed Soljon’s question about how to physically connect a G.722 capable SIP phone to a traditional audio mixer for use in an online radio project.
I understand and appreciate the intention to use a phone as the audio interface device. Phones are effectively appliances, offering excellent audio quality combined with simplicity of operation and high reliability.
This very logic leads me to use my Polycom IP650 in some unusual ways. For example, when I occasionally guest host the VUC calls I will call the ZipDX wideband conference bridge on one line, then call the Talkshoe G.711 bridge on a second line and perform an on-phone conference to connect the two bridges. Finally I engage the call recording function on the IP650 to give me an uncompressed WAV recording of the entire call.
Selecting hardware appropriate for a particular Asterisk installation has been a topic of discussion ever since the emergence of Asterisk. This typically centers around choosing hardware to handle n users or x concurrent calls. Often the focus is on how to scale up to the greatest number of users for a given server. However, there can be different but related considerations as we consider ever smaller applications.
In various circles I’ve lately witnessed a minor spike in interest in small form factor Asterisk systems. I have found it curious to survey the various hardware platforms that people are considering when creating their own DIY Asterisk Appliances. To establish some perspective on this I recently posted my own history of using Asterisk my own little Asterisk retrospective.
There are quite a range of small computing platforms available to the enthusiast seeking to tinker with Asterisk. It seemed to me that an overview of such hardware and related resources would be helpful.
For my purposes I’ll only consider generic platforms suitable for a DIY project , not the commercially offered embedded Asterisk devices, of which there are many. These small host platforms tend to be in the $50-$300 range which makes them approachable for hobbyists, home users and some small businesses.