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Picture of 'Can You Hear Me Now?' Telephone Practical Joke
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Great telephone based prank.  The victim can't figure out what's going on - Something is wrong with the phone.  They can hear the callers, but the caller cannot hear them. (Alternately the joke can be played with the roles reversed with the victim not hearing the caller, but it seems more effective if the 'victim' can hear the caller).  

Hello,  Hello? HELLO!, Yes i'm here! Wait, I can hear you.... Hello!  CLICK!  Dial Tone.....

The joke requires the temporary modification of the telephone handset.  The joke works with virtually any telephone that has a phone base and a separate handset that are connected together by a modular (snap in) connector.  Handsets with pushbuttons on them will not work, nor will telephones that have the handset and base 'hardwired' with no modular connector.

All you need is:

1.  'victims' telephone
2.  Some transparent tape
3.  scissors
 
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Step 1: Locate the Modular Connector on the Handset and disconnect it.

Picture of Locate the Modular Connector on the Handset  and disconnect it.
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The handset (the part you hold up to your head) is connected to the telephone base by a coiled cord with 4P4C connector (often called RJ9, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modular_connector#4P4C).  The cord and connector carries 4 wires; 2 for the speaker and 2 for the microphone.   The joke involves selectively disconnecting either the microphone or the speaker in the handset.

Locate the connector on the bottom of the handset (part you hold to your head) and disconnect the cord.  This is done by finding the tab sticking out of the connector and pressing it toward the cord while gently pulling the connector away from the handset.  It should easily slide out of the hole in the handset.  Do not force it.

Step 2: Tape over selected contacts on the connector

Tape over at least one of the outboard contacts (the ones closest to the outside edge) in this connector with transparent tape, which should disconnect the handset microphone -- the 'victim' can hear the callers but the callers can't hear the 'victim' (the prefered method).  Taping over one of both of the two inboard contacts should disconnect the handset speaker.

Taping over the contact is easily done by pulling out about an inch of transparent tape from the tape dispenser, but leave the tape hanging on the dispenser.  Take scissors and and cut down the length of the exposed tape to produce a thin strip just wide enough to cover the selected contact.  Tear the tape off of the dispenser and position it over the desired contact on the handset connector.  Press it in place and trim off any potion of the tape that extends past the connector body.

Note, that anecdotally it appears that the wiring convention shown may not always be followed, so it is always best to test the set up before putting this in the hands of the victim.

Step 3: Insert Connector (with tape) back into the handset and test.

Picture of Insert Connector (with tape) back into the handset and test.
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Carefully insert the connector back into the handset, pushing gently until it snaps into place.  

Test your work by calling an accomplice to see if you cannot hear them, but they can hear you (or vice versa if that is the arrangement that you want.)  If it does not work try rearranging the tape location.

Enjoy having your 'victim' get frustrated with the phone system that just does not work!


To 'undo' the joke, just remove the connector and remove the tape and replace the connector into the handset!

Enjoy!
iquimpo2 years ago
Does it work with smart phones or any cell phone?
hbk19663 years ago
Genius but don't have a wired house phone.

For everyone can be done with wireless home phone go to where the phone jack goes into the wall. If it has 2 pins it is the left 1. I don't know about the ones that have more so just trial and error:)
Plo Koon3 years ago
why not just call them yerself and pretend like you cant hear them
wannabemadsci (author)  Plo Koon3 years ago
You can, but the phone modification works for all calls... Incoming and outgoing. The more people that call as part of a normal day the more it drives them crazy.
Thanks for the comment.