When a new computer modem enters the household, the demands on the home phone line skyrockets. The Internet surfer can use phone time on a par with the most talkative teenager. And the computer modem user can be quite sensitive about his privacy: simply lifting another receiver can knock him off-line causing emotional stress. The phone wiring may be modified so that the modem is always in control by connecting the phone line directly to the modem and connecting the rest of the phones to the modem's "phone" jack. But this solution gives the computer user too much power over the phone line and it doesn't solve the problem if two computers share a single line. Here is a simple blinking LED circuit which will alert users when the line is in use before the receiver is lifted. The circuit loads the phone line so lightly that it meets the on-hook telephone equipment leakage specification and the short lamp flashes draw very little current from the nine-volt battery. One of these devices may be placed at each extension without significantly loading the phone line. The circuit is connected to the red and green wires for a single-line system or the yellow and black wires for the second line in a two-line system. Polarity doesn't matter, thanks to the full-wave rectifier. In order to preserve your phone line balance, do not power this device from a line-powered power supply. Only use a battery as shown and insulate the battery and circuitry by building the device into a plastic case. Do not ground the circuitry. The circuit will work with other batteries and battery voltage. Four AA, C, or even D cells (6 volts) will last considerably longer if you have teenagers burning up your batteries. A small 9-volt rectangular battery will be fine for most users.
The diode bridge eliminates polarity concerns. It may be left out but the wires to the phone line may need to be reversed if the circuit doesn't work properly.
- The 22 megohm resistors are sufficiently high to meet phone circuit leakage specifications.
- A 2N4401 will usually work in place of the MPSA-18 but if the transistor gain is too low the flashing will not stop.
Caution: The circuit generates a high voltage which can shock.
The Phone Ringer circuit will work with any ordinary phone including older bell ringer types. The circuit rings the phone in a completely realistic manner until someone answers. When the receiver is lifted the user hears the audio of your choice. It might be another telephone, a tape recording, a favorite talk radio show, a fake busy-signal, a scanner tuned to weather or police, cues for the actor who forgot his next line, or whatever audio source strikes your fancy. DC current is passed through the phone to activate the phone’s electronics.
Do not connect this circuit or the phones used with this circuit to the phone lines.
The phone cable will have red and green wires which are simply connected to the points indicated by the schematic. Polarity should not matter. Other devices may be connected as described but no connection to a "real" phone line is intended.
The circuitry is simple and not particularly critical. The first two inverters form a slow pulse generator which controls the ringing rate. Change the 0.22 uf capacitor to change the ringing rate and change the 22 Meg. resistor in series with the diode to change the length of the ring. The second two inverters generate the 20 Hz ringing signal. This frequency can be changed by changing the .033uf capacitor. Mechanical bell ringers have a resonant clapper and should be driven with a frequency near 20 Hz but a slight variation may give a better ring. The last two inverters buffer the ringing signal and drive the two output transistors. Practically any transistors can be used for the output including 2N4401 and 2N4403 but power transistors in a TO-220 package might be more desirable if a lot of ringing is anticipated. The transistors should be capable of handling several hundred milliamperes. Any low-leakage signal diodes will work for the 1N914s.
The power transformer must handle 20 Hz with at least some efficiency so it is best to use larger units. Molded transformers will work fine but of course they cannot be DC types which have built-in rectifiers. Choose a transformer with a low voltage winding rated for an output voltage well below the DC power supply used. The circuit as shown runs on 12 volts with a 9 volt transformer. Some transformers have 220 volt windings which can give a stronger ring if necessary. A 6 volt filament transformer powered by the circuit as shown will give a quite strong ring. Reduce the 10 ohm emitter resistors to 4.7 ohms to get more ring power if power transistors are used . (Don't leave them out entirely since they help prevent high frequency oscillations.)
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