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How to set up a "asterisk" phone system with an Obi ATA
#21
Okay, should have checked this first...

Meh! Our dear friends at Microsoft really dumbed down the power control of Win 7 and server 2008 (probably vista too but don't have any of that any more) there is no way to trigger a script from the power control panel. Fortunately I have one machine left running server 2003 that has this capability so I was able to configure it to trigger the Pi to shutdown when the power goes out.

I'm not really happy with this setup as the Pi is on a different UPS than the 2003 server so there may be timing issues.

The UPS I have the Pi hooked up to is a Geek Squad unit of which Cyberpower is the OEM. I saw reference to UPS monitoring software for Linux that can be configured to talk to different UPS's. More to explore, but enough Pi for one day...

-Ben
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#22
Found the UPS monitoring voodoo, there is a package called nut that contains everything you need to communicate with a UPS either via USB or serial.

So between this site (option 2. find Update on 2009-01-06) and this site (which addresses an error when following the instructions on the first site) I was able to get everything working. Not for the faint of heart but doable. Here is the URL to the main nut site.

-Ben
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#23
Thanks for the added information Batwater. I really need to get back to updating the OP. I've just been busy with work and out of town as well. Perhaps one day I can get it finished!
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
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#24
Wow. I cannot believe I started this thread that long ago. I recently upgraded my system to the latest PIAF version (PIAF-Green). This motivated me to update - or maybe more accurately FINISH - the How To portion found in the first couple of posts.

Be sure to re-read the first couple of posts now that they are done. Let me know if you have any questions or if you see any errors.

Thanks!
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
Reply
#25
I added instructions in the first post about how to install IncrediblePBX11 and IncredibleFax. Those are two optional, but very helpful addons to the base PIAF-Green installation.

Actually those instructions were there originally and I had temporarily taken them out because I had issues with my PIAF-Green system after installing the addons. It turns out that something weird must have happened during my installation process, but there isn't a core problem with the PIAF files or addons. I ended up re-installing PIAF-Green and the addons and everything worked fine the second time around.

Now that I am confident that the addons work with PIAF-Green, I added the directions back in.
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
Reply
#26
I thought I would add a post about the SIP phones I have tried. I've tried some cheap ones and I've tried some expensive ones. The all work with the PIAF system, but they all have their pros and cons too. I thought I would write about some of my experiences with the phones I've used.

It's all about the features!
When you start looking at SIP phones, you will quickly realize that there are a lot of options to choose from. Those options vary greatly as does the cost of the phones. It is possible to get SIP phones for as little as $10, and it is possible to spend $$$ for sip phones too. To help you decide which phone might best suit your needs, you need to think about a list of features that you want in a phone and also decide if there are features that you really don't need in a phone. Here is a partial list of some features you may want to think about.

- Wifi - some phones have wifi built in and some phones have USB wifi dongle that have been approved to use with the phone. Having wifi allows you to put a phone in a location where you don't have a hardwired ethernet connection. You will need a power outlet to power the phone, so keep that in mind.

- POE (power over ethernet) - allows you to power the phone from the hardwired ethernet connection. This means you do not need to be near a power outlet. It is especially important for wall mounted phones, but it is a nice feature to use if you have hardwired ethernet connections as it means only one cord going from the wall and the phone instead of two (power and ethernet). You don't need an expensive POE switch either. I've successfully used this POE Injector to add power to my ethernet connections after they leave the switch.

- Bluetooth - having a bluetooth radio will allow the phone to pair with many of the bluetooth headsets available. If you find yourself talking on the phone for long periods of time, then this may be of importance to you.

- HD Audio - I'm not really sure about the technical details of this option, but I believe it is a new set of codex used for higher quality sound. What I can tell you is that it makes a huge difference in call quality and it effects both speaker phone and headset audio. You would be surprised at the quality of the audio you get from these phones. I've heard it stated that using a headset with HD Audio makes it sound like the person is in the same room, and using the speaker phone with HD Audio sounds like the person is using a regular non-HS Audio headset and not actually on a speakerphone. I would tend to agree with that statement as the speaker phone quality is so good, it is hard for people to realize you are on a speaker phone. I would definitely suggest getting phones with this feature.

- Soft Buttons - many phones will come with programmable soft buttons. I really like having these buttons. You can program them to dial extensions, intercom, speed dial, see the status of other extensions (BLF which means the light will turn red if an extension is being used, or green if the extension is free), or virtually any other need you might have. Generally the cheaper phones will not have this feature unfortunately.

- Auto Answer - some phones can be set to automatically answer an incoming call with it's speaker phone mode enabled. At first this sounds awful intrusive and not an option that anyone would want. However, it is actually a very useful option when set up to auto answer internal intercom calls. This way when a person uses the intercom feature, the extension(s) being called will automatically pick up in speaker phone mode enabling immediate two way communication. We use this feature in our house all the time when calling the kids to dinner, or telling someone they have a call on hold, etc, etc, etc. If your phone does not have auto-answer, then the person has to walk over to the ringing phone and pick it up to hear what the caller has to say and respond. If you like the idea of using your phones as a very effective intercom system, be sure the phones you select have this auto-answer feature available.

- Ethernet Ports - 10/100 or 10/100/1000, single or dual? Here are my thoughts. First, if you are going to want to daisy chain a computer to the phone (so that both devices have ethernet, but only use 1 ethernet connection), then you obviously need a phone with dual ethernet ports. In this case I would also suggest looking for a phone with 10/100/1000 connections. However, if you are going to use a dedicated ethernet port to the phone and not daisy chain another device off it, then 10/100 speed is plenty. These SIP connections don't use up THAT much bandwidth that you are going to need 10/100/1000 speed just for the phone.

- XML scripting - there are a few phones out there that allow a user to script in XML or PHP or similar language. The possibilities are only limited by the programmers ability. I think it would be possible to get scripts written that would control CQC. This, along with soft buttons, could allow a person to have a button that would turn the lights off, or set the thermostat back, etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately this feature isn't found on a lot of phones however.

- Multicast RTP - this is a relatively new feature that allows a phone to play an audio stream. Per a recent Nerd Vittles Blog, "Think of Multicast RTP as a radio station that streams data on a particular IP address and port. If you happen to have Multicast-aware SIP phones, they can "tune in" to particular channels of interest. And, whenever a stream is broadcast on one of the channels the phone device is reconfigured to listen to, it will" play that audio stream automatically. I can see this feature being used to play CQC announcements very easily.

- Video - some phones will come with a camera built into them and some phones have USB cameras that have been tested to work by plugging them into the phone. If you make a lot of Skype calls or even just want to see video from other parts of your house, this option may be of interest to you.

- Applications - if your phone allows apps to be installed, it is possible that you might be able to use the phone for other things than just speaking on the phone. Perhaps you can check IP cameras, or web pages, or emails, etc, etc. Obviously this is going to vary greatly from phone to phone however.

- Sidecars - sidecars are optional units that you can buy that add additional soft buttons. Typically used by a secretary or receptionist, these extra soft buttons make it very easy to manage a large number of extensions, speed dials, mail boxes, etc. Depending on how many soft buttons the phone has on it, you probably won't need a side car in a typical residential setting, but it is available on some phones.

- Number of "Lines" - each SIP phone will come with a number of lines that can be set up on it - probably between 1 and 6 lines are most common. If you have a need for more than one trunk, then having more than one line on a phone can make it very easy to call out using the different trunks. If you have a home number and a business number, then getting a phone with two lines is smart.

First Hand Experience

Nortel 1535 Color SIP Videophone
[Image: nortel1535.jpg]
My first SIP phone was the Nortel 1535 Color SIP Videophone. I got a pair of these off EBay for about $50 each. I bought these right as I set my system up and honestly didn't know a thing about SIP phones. I bought them mostly because of the strong recommendation given on Nerd Vittles. The phones I bought do not have wifi built in. Honestly I don't think ANY of these phones found on ebay now will have wifi. I knew this going into it as the auction made this point very clear.

Pros
- fairly cheap cost
- auto answer feature
- video camera and video calling is built in

Cons
- No POE. Also, the cord sits a little loose in the plug on the back of the phone. It actually pops out very easily. Most people end up wrapping the cord around the leg one time to help prevent the cord from getting pulled out of the power plug.
- No wifi on phones available for sale today
- single line only - not a big deal for a typical residential setting.
- no programmable soft buttons.
- no HD Audio sound - sound quality is OK, but not in the same league as phones with HD Audio

Conclusion
These are decent plain phones. They don't have any special bells or whistles. They are fine for less used extensions, but I personally want a more fully featured phone at my primary phone locations. I'm putting these two phones in my kids room as soon as I wire the rooms for ethernet. Truth be told however, there are probably cheaper options for a basic phone like this. These are OK if video is really important and you are looking for a cheap solution.
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
Reply
#27
Polycom VVX-300
[Image: vvx-300-lg-a.jpg]
A step up from the Nortel phone will get you to the Polycom VVX-300 and 310. I've used these phones in a business setting and the work very well. They can be purchased for about $110 (VVX 300) or $130 (VVX 310)

Pros
- HD Audio
- 6 programmable softkeys
- 6 lines
- POE
- Auto answer option
- dual 10/100 ethernet ports on the VVX-300 and dual 10/100/1000 ethernet ports on the VVX-310 (that is the only difference between the two models.

Cons
- no extra features really (no video, no scripts, no Multicast RTP, etc, etc).

Conclusion
This is certainly a step up from an entry level phone. The HD Audio quality is great, as is the 6 lines and 6 programmable soft buttons. But it is far from a fully featured phone. In other words, there are no glaring issues with the phone, but nothing that makes me fall in love with it either, specially when it comes to CQC.

Grandstream GXP-2200 Android Phone
[Image: grandstream-2200-android-2.png]
I tried this phone out for our office and then ended up winning two of these phones in an on-line contest. I really thought they would be the perfect phone for use with CQC, but I now have second thoughts about them. Here is the Nerd Vittles blog regarding the phones.

Pros
- Touch screen interface. The phone has it's normal hard buttons, but the screen is actually a touch screen. It basically works like a cell phone screen with swipes and touches.
- Runs Android OS 2.3 on the phone. This means the phone is capable of running the CQC Android Riva client (which I do) or any other app from the Google Play store - anything that works with Android 2.3.
- HD Audio
- Auto Answer option
- 6 lines
- POE
- Wifi available through dongle
- Bluetooth built in
- Supports VPN
- Obviously supports lots of apps through the Android system. IP camera viewer, email, music players, CQC Riva, etc, etc, all work on the phone.
- I like the fact that the hard buttons have the normal icons, but are also labeled. Sometimes the icons are not intuitive enough for people, but the labels make it perfectly clear what the buttons do.
- dual 10/100/1000 ethernet ports

Cons
- While the screen is nice and large, the resolution is a pitiful 480x272. To give you a comparison, the smallest smart phone screen I have used with CQC was the DroidX and it's resolution was 854x480, so nearly 4 times the size of the Grandstream GXP2200. In fact the screen is so small, it is hard to get more than a couple of buttons on each screen. This makes it pretty hard to use with CQC. Of course I can try to resize the buttons some (I've been using the stock buttons provided with CQC), but it is a major flaw IMHO.
- There are no programmable softkeys on the phone. This makes common tasks such as transfering a call, or using the intercom, harder than it needs to be. This is the one phone where I think getting the optional sidecar makes sense in every situation. I am lucky enough that I got sidecards with my phones, so this problem is solvable. But the side car adds cost and also makes the phone bigger in size too.
- No wall mount commercially available

Yealink T46G - my recommended phone
[Image: T46G2-01414933118.jpg]
The Yealink T46G is what I would call a fully featured SIP phone. About the only think it does not do is video and wifi. However it does allow for script programming and also supports Multicast RTP. I have used this phone in an office setting but have not tried one at home. So these are features that I while I think would be very beneficial to someone running CQC, I have not tried them myself.

Pros
- HD Audio
- 6 lines
- 10 programmable softkeys (but you can actually program up to 27 different keys by scroll through 3 pages of button options)
- Able to use program scripts and there are several examples on Nerd Vittles which are free to use. I utilize a "Call Park" script that makes it easy to see all calls that are parked with caller ID information which makes it easy to determine which call you need to pick up.
- Supports Multicast RTP - again this is a newer technology, but one that I can see being used to broadcast CQC announcements and other audio streams.
- POE
- Bluetooth available through dongle
- Auto Answer option
- dual 10/100/1000 ethernet ports

Cons
- No wifi available
- No video available
- Doesn't come with a power transformer, so if you are not going to use POE, you have to buy one for about $10. Of course if you are using POE, the fact that they don't supply one means you are paying less for the phone.

Conclusion
The Yealink phone is probably the best option available today at a reasonable price (about $155). Other than wifi and video, this phone doesn't really lack any features. Having 10 softkeys is very nice, and I think the XML scripting and Multicast RTP functionality lends itself very well to being integrated into a CQC setup.

Where to buy
Everyone is going to have their own favorite retailer. However, I have found that the best prices can generally be found at TelephonyDepot.com. At first, the prices won't look that great. But if you will create a "partner account" (which you can do for free without having your own business or a resellers license), then you can log in and see the lower prices. Just one thing to note. The site seems to timeout people's login credentials, but inaccurately show them as still logged in. However the prices displayed go back to full retail prices. So I suggest logging out and relogging back in when you want to be sure you are seeing the best price available.
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
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#28
I realized today that I had not written any of the benefits to running a digital phone system in the beginning of the thread. I've updated the first post to reflect some of the reasons why running a system like this can be beneficial. I guess I was concentrating so hard on the "How" part that I forgot to include the "Why" part!
Brian

"Really dear, it was too good of a deal to pass up. Besides, look at what it does now...."
I think my wife is getting a little tired of hearing this :-)
Reply
#29
Brian,

Nice writeup, thanks for taking the time to share! I was leaning towards the Grandstream and I had seen the the Nerd Vittles post about the Yealink but ignored it because I was fixated on an Android based phone, but now will have to take a look at the Yealink.

-Ben
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#30
Thanks for writing this all up -- it was very informative.

I've toyed with Asterisk a bit, but never implemented it. We switched to an Obi100 ATA with a voip.ms supplied DID and have been very happy -- especially with the bill: <10% of Bell price for our usage and more features.

I'd like to learn more about the mutlicast RTP support. Have you used this on anything?

In particular I'd like to try it on a Pi or maybe one of those 'Android-on-a-stick' PCs running a soft SIP client

Any recommendations on a SIP client to try?
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