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Hacking a rotary phone with an Arduino and a GSM shield

Hacking a rotary phone with an Arduino and a GSM shield

While cleaning out his closet, Instructables user “Acmecorporation” discovered an old rotary telephone. Instead of tossing it away, the Maker decided to give the old-school device some modern-day technology using an Arduino Pro Mini and a SIM900 GSM shield.

Acmecorporation is able to use the aptly named TOWA Phone (There Once Was A Telephone) to make and receive calls, send single DMTF tones, and even program numbers on speed dial. Aside from its classic bell ringer, there’s an RGB LED that indicates GSM status: red for offline, green for online, and blue for an incoming call.

The Maker briefly explains how it works:

To make a phone call you have to pick up the handset and dial the number, that’s all. Terminate call hanging up the handset.



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When phone is ringing, pick up the handset to answer. Terminate it hanging up.

If you call to a support center or an office, usually you have to dial numbers to connect a specific department. You can do this because TOWA sends single DMTF tones.

Inside the Arduino script, you can add your favorite telephone numbers and combine it with a specific integer number. For example, I’ve stored my favorites combined with numbers from 1 to 8. So when I pick up the handset and dial 1, it starts a call to my wife. When I dial 2 or 3, it calls one of my sons, and so on.

Although Acmecorporation didn’t design TOWA for everyday use, it has become a permanent fixture on his desk. Do you have a rotary phone lying around? Time to brush off the dust and rig your own!

 




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