How do I create a phone network?

Hey! I was wondering if there's any clever people out there who can help me with my ambitious project. I'm doing some creative direction for an event and aim to create a telephone network within the venue. I want to put phones on tables and use the table numbers as the phone numbers... I also would like a way of recording everything thats said over the course of the night through the telephones? I have a very basic understanding of how these things work, I've made circuits before- but i am an artist, not an electrician so please be kind and explain to me like you would a child! I've got my hands on a load of old phones, so I just need to rewire them I guess? Thanks!

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You MIGHT be able to put together your own wired setup with an Asterisk based exchange. The software is open source, but you'll need to buy the card that talks to the computer.

kittyjrt (author) 4 years ago
Thanks for the help guys. Where would I hire it from?
Google or a phone book. You'll need to find one in your local area so it's hard for people from elsewhere to make suggestions. Network companies might be a good start, they could probably get you set up with a VoIP system or a hardwired system.
An important question to ask, is how many tables (how many phones) do you have?

I think the usual number of jacks on an inexpensive PBX card is about 4, and that thinking is mostly based on me just looking at pictures of them, via Google(r) Images, here:

Anyway, I suspect that the hardware for doing automated switching will be end up being expensive, if you've got a large number (>4) of phones.

So why not do things the old-fashioned way?

Well, for that you'd need an old-fashioned switchboard, and a human volunteer willing to watch little lights (for to notice when a phone has gone "off hook") , and plug and unplug cables (for to physically connect one phone with one another).

So where do you get an old-fashioned switchboard?  I think the answer to that question is you have to build one.  Although I cannot guarantee that someone might not be selling one, somewhere. 

I think the tricky parts to building your own switchboard are going to be:
  • the little indicator light that tells you when one of the phones on the network is drawing current ( in "off hook" state)
  • the ring signal generator (for to make the phone being called ring, so that someone will take it off hook)
The patch cables, and the power supply are probably going to be the easy part.

I built an intercom one time: two phones connected to each other, and each with a ring signal generator, so that one phone could ring the other, but I never actually built a real switchboard, so you know, I might not know what I'm talking about here.

If you want to get started with just connecting a couple of phones, and a battery (or other suitable DC supply) to power them, I think the related panel there --------------------->
has some instructables on that subject.

I also noticed this page:

Creating Your Own [Minimal] Telephone Network (with two phones)
rickharris4 years ago
Hire a suitable system your not going to build one easily