Questions about setting up a home Asterisk PBX. Need tips


I have been thinking about setting up my own home PBX with Asterisk and various hardware and have some questions. I will detail below my current setup, and also my plans, but would like feedback if I am tacking things the wrong way, or any advice on my setup.

Currently we have a 3 year old house we had built. I wired the heck out of it during building with most rooms having multiple RG6, and cat5e lines running throughout. Everything comes down to a central location in the basement. All lines are direct from the basement to the various rooms (no line is split anywhere).

So basically every room has one or more live network lines back to a central switch (10/100 Switch). Every room also has a standard POTS analog line live also using a single pair of a cat5e line (the other 3 pairs are unused).

All the POTS lines from each room come down to a central panel where they are connected to the line from the analog phone company. All 4 pairs of wires are connected to the panel and that cat5e goes to the various rooms in the house where the middle pair is used for the analog phone line. The other 3 pairs are unused.

There is a home security system in between the main phone line and the input to the phone lines on the patch panel. This is so if there is an emergency with the security system, the security hardware can seize the line and make a call to the security provider. Eventually when this contract is up I would like to have asterisk possibly handle this and alleviate the need for the security companies fees.

So basically right now there are about 10 analog phones in the house, a fax machine, and multiple DVR’s that have an analog phone connection.

My initial plan is to buy something like a Sipura 3000 or an OpenVOX A400P with an FXO/FXS pair on it. Connect that to my analog phone line coming in and the patch panel so it feeds all the current phones/devices in the house.

Then do what most people do is setup asterisk for voice mail for everyone in the house.

Now what I would like to do, and I would probably do this in stages is start purchasing some VOIP phones and slowly get away from the current old phones we use.

  1. Is it correct in my assumption that I could buy a phone like the Grandstream BudgeTone BT-200 and connect it to my existing ethernet network and setup Asterisk to allow someone to make calls with it that go out the analog network?

  2. Can I also have it so incoming calls on my analog line ring on the regular analog network and the VOIP phone(s) like the phone mentioned above? Or does it have to be one or the other? If I have to replace all the old analog phones with VOIP phones, I will probably wait to do this project since it would be more $$$ at one point. But if I can buy a couple VOIP phones now, a few later, etc, and maintain service with the mix of analog and VOIP phone that would be ideal.

  3. Seems like most of the VOIP base sets have two ethernet ports that can operate in switch mode. So can I unplug an ethernet line in a room from a PC, plug it into the phone, and then plug the PC into the other ethernet port on the phone? To alleviate the need for a small external switch?

  4. Are there any good wireless VOIP phones that have a base station receiver that plugs into the ethernet network? Basically like home wireless phone works now? I don’t want a wireless VOIP phone that uses 802.11b/g to connect. For some rooms in the house having a VOIP phone like mentioned in #1 above is perfect, but for full “buy in” from the wife and kids it would be nice to have a wireless phone option that has one or more wireless phones that communicate with a base station that connects to the network. Do these exist? most of my current analog phones are 2.4GHz phones. So the family is use to using those and being able to roam a bit.

  5. If my fax machine and DVR’s are still connected to the analog line that is fed from the Sipura or Openvox A400P will they work correctly for data communication?

  6. If I got an openvox card and had it configured with 1 FXO line for my traditional bell analog line, and then had two FXS modules can I feed one of those FXS lines to the home analog phone network, and use one say to feed directly to the FAX machine? Then be able to have asterisk detect and incoming FAX call and route it to the FAX machine? Currently I have the fax machine set to not answer at all. If I am expecting a FAX I pick up the phone, hear the fax on the other line and just hit the fax receive button on my FAX machine. Wasn’t sure if it was possible to route a FAX through the asterisk box like this or if it is even possible.

  7. Any recommendations for VOIP base phones? I mentioned the grandstream one because it is cheap. Ideally I want to minimize cost, but it would be nice for the phone to have caller ID display, voice mail indicator and the ability to intercom to all or a specific other phone in the house.

I apologize for all the questions up front. I probably have a ton more, but this is the main stuff.

Any feedback/help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time!

Wow, that was a whole lot of text! :smile:

Alright, here’s what I can tell you:

  1. Yep, Asterisk supports SIP phones. I have 5 in my house.

  2. You can make whatever ring wherever to whatever, wherever that what ever is. :smile: So… Yes you can use a mixture and slowly upgrade to full on VoIP

  3. Internal switches on the phones are pretty slick. That’s what I use at home. Wall>Cat5e>Phone port1>Phoneport2>Cat5e>Computer Furthermore, if you use it in conjunction with a PoE switch you don’t need power adapters for some phones!

  4. Haven’t any experience with wireless VoIP phones, however, if you like the range and familiarity of your current cordless phones just use them with an analog adapter.

  5. Good question, I have no experience with this.

  6. It’s possible to route fax through asterisk. Check out Hylafax.

  7. I had a friend who went with grandstream and there were a few issues. I use cisco phones at my house. Great phones, have an internal switch, run on PoE and are easy to configure.

Questions are the best way to get answers!

Very nice I was worried if I had a mix of VOIP and standard analog phone that I couldn’t take an incoming analog call and ring the VOIP and analog lines and allow any to pick up the call.

Well I assumed that if I can eventually ditch the analog wireless phones and possibly get VOIP alternatives I can have more features when it comes to the home PBX. e.g easily transfer calls to any other VOIP phone, intercom, voice mail alerts for specific people,etc.

I am guessing that the analog lines still have all the limitations even though Asterisk is involved. e.g. I can’t ring a specific analog phone or transfer a call to a specific one unless each analog phone is connected to its own FXS module. So if I have one FXS module driving the entire analog phone network, I am limited in what I can do, and having a FXS module for each analog phone would be way too expensive. If I am misunderstanding how things work here, please let me know. All these options become confusing.

I have used Hylafax before, but unless it has changed since I last used it that is a software based fax product that works in conjunction with a FAX modem/card?

Ideally what I am curious about is if my standalone fax/copier machine can have its own FXS module and if Asterisk can detect an incoming fax call on the home analog line (the FXO port) and reroute it to the FXS module used exclusively by the fax machine. I wasn’t sure if this method would allow the FAX to work fine and also allow me to automate routing an incoming fax to it and not need to do the manual answer on the fax machine.

I was hoping that having an analog line going to an FXS module that asterisk can route it directly out the FXO module and still allow the fax modem to fax modem connection to work. I was under the impression that the big problem with VOIP and fax machines is the conversion of the analog fax signal to digital and transmitting it over the VOIP network and back to analog at the other end.

7) I had a friend who went with grandstream and there were a few issues. I use cisco phones at my house. Great phones, have an internal switch, run on PoE and are easy to configure.

Questions are the best way to get answers![/quote]

I was worried about the quality of the grandstream phones. I want to get something that is going to work well with Asterisk. For me the big things are that it works foremost, and if it has the ability to alert that user of a voice mail, have a built in switch, and support intercom features, I am sold.

Thank you so much Mark for taking the time to answer my questions, I do appreciate it.