Antique phones lovingly retrofitted with Alexa functionality


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/11/12/antique-phones-lovingly-retrof.html


#2

While the reuse of old telephone sets is nice, it’s still Alexa. So, ehhh :neutral_face:


#3

The author makes it sound as if it’s hard to reuse the original earpiece. Seems to me that all you have to do is connect it - they are the same impedance as modern headphones. It’s the one part of an old phone that’s easy to reuse.


#4

“Antique phones lovingly retrofitted with Alexa functionality”

So they’ve made them worse…


#5

They’re a close second to:


#6

But can you retrofit Alexa so that instead of saying “Hey Alexa”, you have to summon her by saying “Ahoy hoy”?


#7

Wow, these look great. Let me take a big sip of tea and check out the price…

spittake


#8

Fixed that for you.


#9

Waste of a good phone.

Fortunately, unless he removes and discards components instead of just disconnecting them, the phones are probably fixable. I repaired a WE 554 last summer, all you need is a screwdriver and a wiring diagram for most repairs, they’re perfectly engineered: simple yet work very well.


#10

If he went to all that trouble, I hope he made the dial work.


#11

Sadly, no: “We take care to preserve the dialers on the telephones, so that the original tactility is preserved. It does not dial phone numbers, and it is not hooked up to the electronics, but it’s incredibly satisfying to play with.” (from https://www.gra.in/about/#faq-alexaphones)

I happen to have a 1960-mumble wall mount Bell system phone in “Russia on the Line” red sitting in my archive of Old Electronics Not Ready for the Scrap Dealer, and when it’s connected to an actual hard line, it still works just fine. (for some reason, it does not work worth a hill of beans on the old Ooma I had, and I’m leery of trying it on it’s replacement.)


#12

Most VoIP adapters don’t support pulse dialing. You’d either need Asterisk with a telephony card, or a device that converts pulse to tone (even some old PBXes can do that), or a rare unicorn VoIP adapter that accepts pulse.


#13

Huh. I’d probably try out Alexa (or similar) with a form factor like this.

I’d rather a kit, though. I’ve got old phones already.


#14

The “old phone hobbyist community” is hot on this device, which not only makes sure pulse dialing and ringers work, but also automagically ties your cell phone into the system so you can make and answer cell calls on your real phones.


#15

It seems like a similar device, but with Alexa built in, would be a great solution to getting an antique phone working without any modifications or $1500 price. Just plug the phone line into a little WiFi connected box.


#16

POTS over wifi should be easy (since the bandwidth is low), but I don’t know of anyone making one. Closest would be wifi-based POTS extenders and POTS over ethernet adapters, but these are expensive.


#17

I should probably clarify: the old dinosaur doesn’t work at all with the Ooma- no dial tone, no ring, nuthin. My guess is that the ooma doesn’t have enough oomph to run the old phone’s guts. (I haven’t gotten around to locating a circuit diagram of the old beastie to see if it’s a fault, or if there’s some way I can inject power into it without it backfeeding into the ooma and blowing it up.)


#18

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