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Don’t Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Use Asterisk

With apologies to Sidney Poitier, yes, even your doorbell can now be part of your Asterisk® system. And it probably should. Kevin Flanagan and his wife run a ski lodge in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire. For baseball fans, you’ll be interested in knowing that Babe Ruth spent a lot of time hanging out in Room #2 at the Cranmore Mountain Lodge primarily because his daughter owned it in the 1940’s. Anyway, Kevin wrote us about his DOORBELL several months ago, and we’ve been chomping at the bit to publish his article but were just waiting for a lull in the Asterisk updates. I hate to even say that for fear that Asterisk@Home 2.8 will hit the street in the morning. [Footnote: Guess what? It did!] So, today, we’re going to show you how to hook up your doorbell to Asterisk. And, we’ll throw in an intercom as well. When someone rings your doorbell, they’ll get music on hold or a prerecorded announcement while your phones go crazy!

The product that makes all of this work is DoorBell Fon. You’ll need the controller and at least one Door Box, available now in white, ivory, or brass. Home Depot has this equipment as well if you prefer to window shop first. You connect the Door Box to the Controller using the existing doorbell wires. Then you add a cheap X100P card to your free Asterisk system and connect it to the controller. Check out eBay for the cheapest X100P deals. Next you adjust the zapata-auto.conf file in /etc/asterisk to point to a custom context to answer incoming calls from the Door Box. And finally, you set up a custom Call Queue to manage the incoming door bell rings. Once you have the equipment, it’s about a 60 minute project assuming you have an easy way to get a phone cord between your controller and your Asterisk system. Total cost: about $200-$250 depending upon the Door Box you select. Kevin’s step-by-step guide in PDF format can be downloaded here. Terrific idea, and thanks for sharing it with all of us, Kevin.

Google PhoneBook CallerID Update. For those already using Google phonebook CallerID lookups which were part of our Enhanced CallerID System for Asterisk, there is an update to fix a change in the way Google displays phonebook results. Just execute the following commands after logging in as root on your Asterisk server to update your system:

cd /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin
mv calleridname.agi calleridname.agi.old
wget http://nerdvittles.com/wp-content/calleridname.agi
chown asterisk:asterisk calleridname.agi
chmod 775 calleridname.agi

You’ll also need to reconfigure the settings in the script following the original instructions once you complete the download. Then try this slick trick.

Another Provider With Free DIDs and Free Incoming Fax Numbers. There’s another new kid in town. FreeDigits.com not only offers free incoming DID’s in area code 515. That’s beautiful, downtown Des Moines, Iowa if you’re curious. You also get unlimited free incoming minutes with your free DID, unlimited free calls to other FreeDigits subscribers anywhere in the world, and 60 free outbound minutes to try out their service. And you can get a free incoming fax number, too. All of your incoming faxes will be delivered as PDF documents to your email account without tying up your phone line.

For your VoIP calls, you can add another DID in your favorite area code or an 800 number for $4.95 a month. Inbound 800 number calls are 5¢ a minute (about double what we’ve paid for at least the last 10 years) and outbound calls in the U.S. and most of Canada are 3¢ a minute after you use up your freebies. That’s about three times the cost of voxee.com. International rates also are about triple those of voxee.com, but you can’t beat the free DID offer with free incoming calls. And the free number for incoming faxes is the only free service of its kind still remaining on the planet.

Here’s the Asterisk SIP trunk setup that worked for us. Use AMP to create a new SIP trunk with freedigits as your trunk name and the following PEER Details using yourphonenumber and yourpassword as assigned by FreeDigits:


Leave the Incoming Settings blank, and enter your registration string in this format: yourphonenumber:yourpassword@freedigits.net. Sounds great! Works great!

Nerd Vittles User Map. Thanks for visiting! We hope you’ll take a second and add yourself to our Frappr World Map compliments of Google. In making your entry, you can choose an icon: guy, gal, nerd, or geek. For those that don’t know the difference in the last two, here’s the best definition we’ve found: "a nerd is very similar to a geek, but with more RAM and a faster modem." The map still isn’t quite representative of where all of our visitors are coming from, but we’re getting there. Give it another week or two. Finally, we’re always looking for the best BBQ joints on the planet. So, if you know of one, add it to the map while you’re visiting as well. We’ll check it out one of these days.

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  1. Hi ALL

    The VOIP doorbell is certainly nothing new, I’ve had mine running for about 12 months now. Its made by Dallas-Delta in Melbourne, Australia and is a 2 wire telephone that you simply hook into soemthing like a SPA2K. With AAH, simply setup the extesion wiht the "appropriate" CLID ie: FRONT DOOR so when they press the button, all phones let you know there is someone knocking. Of course if you were using XAP and broadcasting asterisk changes and having it picked up by HOMESEER, you can announce the CLID over the house speakers.

    THEN if your out shopping, just divert the house phone to your mobile and answer the doorbell and drive the caller crazy.


  2. Thanks for the heads up on FreeDigits!

    I’ll give it a whirl. Did want to let you know there is a problem with the registration string you gave in the article:


    Should be (.net instead of .com):


    Couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get Asterisk to register!!


    – Paul

    P.S.: Speaking of Heads Up, anybody else waiting with bated breath for HUDLite from Fonality in April? I can’t wait- should be a great addition to Asterisk!

    [WM: Thanks. You win our "Pioneer Arrow of the Day." I fixed it. HUDLite looks promising, but it may be May from what we’ve heard.]

  3. The door phone article’s prompted me to revisit a thing or two. No problem with the phone & connections – however, how would you make asterisk unlock the door?

  4. I haven’t installed the doorlock module from DoorBell Fon yet but when I do I’ll update the information. As I understand it, you use keys on the telephone handset for unlocking, so it should be interfaced right through.

  5. I was able to get FreeDigits to work when I added my number at the end of the registration string. Other than that it would say that it’s not a working number. And mine is from Ogden Iowa.

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