Asterisk in a college house


#1

I saw the episode of Systm where an Asterisk developer helped Kevin Rose set up an Asterisk box in the studio. It intrigued me to find out more as to what this software might offer me as a college student renting a house with 7 other people.

We all have cell phones from our home area codes so we didn’t get a house line. Those of us that are not from the local area code are often unable to give our non-local area code phone numbers to business in the area.

I am hoping we can get use a P3 box and a local phone line into it to set up voicemail for all 7 of us and even do that neat voicemail to .wav then email trick.

Any ideas on what hardware I would need for the Pentium 3? It is a complete working system (700mhz/512mb/200gb) that we were using for a music server.

On a side note our house was built in the late 1800’s and the phone system is a real big mess, when we moved in we were told half the jacks aren’t hooked up at all. How might this effect my configuration and should we try and rewire with some cat5?


#2

What you want to do is fairly easy with Asterisk, and I have successfully used Asterisk with a P3 in a scenario similar to yours. You didn’t mention if you had high speed internet access available, so I’ll give you 2 scenarios you can mix and match.
The bare bones system you can do for very little additional cost and assumes you are using 1 plain analog incoming line:
Depending on your finances, get an X100P card from Ebay for about $15-20. These work well if you have a good phone line, but can be problematic if your line is noisy but they’re so cheap it’s worth a shot. If you want to be sure it works first try get a TDM400P card with 1 FXO daughter card (it will be called a TDM01b and will cost about $150) Either one of these will handle the interface to the outside phone line. For the bare bones install, you only need 1 phone on the system which can be either a hardware IP phone or an ATA (Analog Terminal Adapter) that allows you to plug in a regular phone. For flexibility and easy setup I would reccomend a Linksys PAP2 ATA. For about $60 you get two analog phone jacks that allow you to have 2 internal extensions in Asterisk.

You will need to set up 1 extension per person in Asterisk to allow for individual voice mails, but you don’t have to have a physical phone connected to each one, as you can access individual voice mail from any extension by authenticating with the system.
Also you’ll need to set up an IVR (Press 1 for Joe, 2 for Mike etc.) to allow callers to leave voice mail for the correct person, something Asterisk can do without a strain.
So, the barebones system will have 1 incoming analog line connected to Asterisk and 1 or 2 physical phones connected inside.

If you have high speed internet available and can spend a little more you can do some way cool stuff :smile: You can sign up with an Asterisk friendly VoIP provider such as Telasip or Broadvoice with a Bring Your Own Device plan and either use it in conjunction with your analog line or arrange for 2 “lines” with the VoIP provider. This will allow you to set up an IVR with options such as automatically forwarding the call to specific cell phones by user, i.e. when a caller presses 1 for Joe, Asterisk will forward the call to Joe’s cell phone.

If you can wipe out the hard drive on your machine, I would reccomend Asterisk@Home. (asteriskathome.sourceforge.net) It’s a downloadable ISO that installs Linux, Asterisk and a whole slew of other goodies and makes things pretty easy to configure.

One of the things you’ll discover about Asterisk is that it’s not “can I do this with Asterisk” because usually you can, it’s “how do I do this with Asterisk”. It’s an amazing piece of software!

www.nerdvittles.com is a treasure trove of how-to’s based on asterisk@home. Read his “soup to nuts” guide to asterisk@home and you’ll be well on your way.

Also, here are some reputable VoIP hardware suppliers that either myself or people I know have dealt with:
www.voipsupply.com
www.discountvoipoutlet.com
www.thevoipconnection.com
www.atacomm.com
www.digiumcards.com

Cheers,
Mike