Need a mentor for an Asterisk newbie

My current phone system is a set of analog phones connected to a Comcast cable modem.

I would like to host the phones on a PC running AsteriskNow so that it can function as a PBX. I would not want to replace all of these phones with VOIP phones - at least at this time.

I am knowlegable with Unix and I’ve done a lot of programming in a variety of languages. I have a variety of PC’s to select from that I could devote to this project.

Is there someone with whom I can set up an email conversation to discuss the very basics of how I might proceed?

Why AsteriskNow? With your background you should be able to install and configure Linux and Asterisk. I suggest you read the book then if you still have problems there are plenty of people here to help out.



Thanks for the response. Yes, I could do the straight Unix install and since you recommend it that’s what I will do.

I am much more concerned about the proper hardward configuration. Currently I get everything (TV, phone & Internet) from Comcast over a ‘cable modem/router’. My phones are the same analog phones that I had before we dropped our landline service and went with Comcast. I assume that I am VOIP but only outboard of my Comcast box - right?

I know just enough about telephony hardware to be really dangerous, but my guess is that the only ditigal phone stuff I have going is in/out of my Comcast modem/router. I would like to defer getting VOIP phones, so I’m looking to understand what my best starting Asterisk hardware configuration might be - if there is one.

My guess at this time is that I will have to start with some analog hardware. It’s not clear if I need just one access port or if I need one for each phone. Right now my phones are in the standard old parallel connection configuration on copper wire all over the house.

It would be really nice if there was one place that I could connect to my existing phone network (and, of course, disconnect it from the Comcast box) to the Asterisk box and then also connect the Asterisk box to the Comcast box.

As you can probably see from my extremely casual nomenclature, I’m not very up on the Asterisk hardware.

Your thoughts, or anyone else’s would be much appreciated.




Also, I did manage to print and review “Asterisk - The Future of Telephony”.


“One access for all the phones” or “one per phone” just depends on how you want your phones to work. You can get one “access port” for all the phones and it’ll act just like your phone line right now. Or you could get a port for each phone and each phone can act independently (i.e. calling other phones, making/receiving calls independently of other phones).

As a good point of reference, I had an Asterisk instance in my home. I had a VOIP ATA (analog telephone adapter) that plugged into the house wiring (I had the house wiring disconnected at the telephone box on the outside wall) and that drove 3 phones in the various rooms of the house. I also had a second ATA that was connected only to a cordless phone. And then I had an IP phone on my desk. Any combination of phones could be in use at any time and I could place phone calls out my VOIP provider, or by dialing a special prefix I had configured, I could dial extensions off the PBX at the corporate office (or even directly to customer sites).

I also, for a short while, had an IP phone out in my ham shack that I used as an intercom and to be able to answer the house number if someone called while the wife was out and I was in the shack.

I don’t have any experience with Comcast bundles, but I am going to look at one this week, so I will know more later! If it’s like most bundled services, although their phone service is VoIP it will not be directly accessible. So you have a run a separate Asterisk system. You can plug the Asterisk box into one of the router’s network ports and phones, either IP phones or adapters, into the others. If you don’t have a wired network, all your phones and server will be connected to the router, or you could use wifi phones, or cordless phones with the central station connected to the router. If you want to integrate your Comcast phone ‘line’ into the Asterisk system, you will probably have to get an analog card (FXO - see


I am trying to select a used PC to become my Asterisk box. Each seems to have some problem with it and the situation drives me to ask “for a simple system - one phone number and four phones - what would be your nomination for ideal NEW PC hardware?”

It’s hard to buy a new PC without having to pay for Windows… There was a time when Dell sold DOS only machines in the US, but I don’t know if they still do. If you are thinking about putting a card into it, make sure it’s big enough!