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Use old telephones as intercom

Use old telephones as intercom

You may wish to use a 12 to 24V battery, like a Gel Cell, since the car power or cheap power wall wart style supply is probably too noisy. You may have to adjust the resistor value (1.2K for 24V). Whatever gets the phones working and does not use more than 30mA total loop current.
Talking over the phones is easy. You put DC current through the phone and it transmits and receives audio. So two phones and a current source (about 25mA) all in series will give you a talking circuit. A suitable current source can be as simple as a 9V battery and a series resistor whose value is adjusted (with both phones offhook) till about 25mA flows. You can then bypass the battery and the resistor with a capacitor to couple the audio straight across and get a loud and clear connection.


What is much harder is signaling the other end. To ring the bell you need to put 90V (RMS) 20Hz AC into the phone (nominally). Lower voltages will work (down to about 40V) but different frequencies won’t. You can’t ring the phone at 60Hz. I have a ringing circuit in a PBX I built but it consists of a 20Hz sinewave generator, a push-pull power booster and a big transformer. Much too elaborate for a simple 2-phone intercom circuit, and anyway the ringing voltage could painfully zap a kid.

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