Introduction: Hack a VOIP Box Into a Telephone Intercom

Picture of Hack a VOIP Box Into a Telephone Intercom

Ever want to use telephones as an intercom? This instructable shows you how to reconfigure a VOIP adatper to behave as a "ringdown" - meaning, when one receiver is picked up, the other rings until it is answered and vice-versa.

It's easy to find standard telephones - they are cheap and plentiful at flea markets, second-hand stores and yard sales. Telephones made prior to the AT&T breakup (1984) are also very well made - they were rented to the customer and were built to last forever. Some people (like me) even collect them!

Telephones, however, have specific needs for power supply and ringing which make them somewhat difficult for the experimenter to use. Telephones require about 20ma of talk current at 48v DC for the carbon mike and dynamic speaker to operate and they also require around 90v RMS AC at around 20 Hz to ring properly. Telephones also expect a line impedance of about 600 Ohms.

Commercial solutions exist for creating a ringdown, but they are expensive. Mass consumer technology to the rescue! Most any 2-line VOIP box has exactly what we need to power the phones and cause them to ring - for a lot less money.

See the video:

Step 1: Items Required

This instructable requires the following:

- an unlocked 2-line Linksys PAP2T VOIP adapter. Other brands will likely work, so long as the have two lines and you can figure out the settings if the names are different. It is important, though, that your adapter be unlocked - meaning you have access to all the settings. Most VOIP providers give you a locked-down box, either through custom firmware or a password. It may be possible to flash such devices to unlock them, but that is beyond the scope of the instructable. A new, unlocked PAP2T is inexpensive.

- a pair of land-line telephones - any kind will work, even rotary, since no dialing is required.

- an ethernet hub or switch. The PAP2T will not work if it detects the ethernet interface is unplugged. It might be possible to overcome this with an ethernet loopback plug - I have not tried it.

Be careful attaching the VOIP unit to existing phone lines. You want to make sure any line you plug in is not in any way connected to another VOIP box or the phone company. Use a voltmeter to see if extra lines in your home are active or not and be careful, the ring voltage hurts!

If you run wires outside your house, consider using a lightning protector at each point where the wire enters a structure.

Wireless phone extension adapters are available but see if you can borrow one before you buy, as they don't always have the best range or clarity. I have a set purchased cheaply secondhand, and while they worked from one side of the room to the other, they would not work between floors.

Step 2: Logging On

Picture of Logging On

First thing you have to do connect your PAP2T to your home network, open a web browser to its IP address and log on as a user. Then choose the link to log on as an administrator.

Step 3: Change to Advanced View

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Change the view to "Advanced". Otherwise you will not see the settings that have to be changed.

Step 4: Switch to Regional Settings Tab

Picture of Switch to Regional Settings Tab

Switch to the "Regional Settings" tab

Step 5: Optimize Ring Settings

Picture of Optimize Ring Settings

To most reliably and loudly ring a standard metal gong ringer phone, make sure your settings are as follows

Step 6: Gain and Impedance

Picture of Gain and Impedance

These are optional, but you may need to adjust them for best quality. Normally set your gains to "0", but if you find it too loud, turn it down to "-3". Set impedance to "600".

Step 7: How It Works

Before we go further, let's talk about how this works. Normally, your VOIP box goes out over the internet and authenticates and communicates with a VOIP server. VOIP traffic normally uses TCP port 5060, with additional lines at 5061, 5062 etc... We're not going to use a VOIP server, though, so we don't need to authenticate to anything. Basically, we're going to have the adapter talk to itself on what is called the "loopback" address ( We are going to configure each line with a port and a name. We are also going to enter a dialplan for each line that causes it to call the other line as soon as the phone goes off-hook.

Having the PAP2T plugged into a hub is only to keep the box thinking the network is available. It doesn't actually need to talk to anything else on the network.

Step 8: Select Line 1

Picture of Select Line 1

We will begin with configuring line 1

Step 9: Enable Line 1

Picture of Enable Line 1

Make sure line 1 is enabled

Step 10: Configure Line 1 SIP Port

Picture of Configure Line 1 SIP Port

Configure the line 1 SIP port as shown

Step 11: Configure Line 1 Proxy and Subscriber Info

Picture of Configure Line 1 Proxy and Subscriber Info

Configure the Line 1 proxy and subscriber info as shown. We're basically telling it to make and answer calls without talking to a proxy and to not bother authenticating.

Step 12: Configure Line 1 Codec

Picture of Configure Line 1 Codec

Configure line 1 to use the G711u codec only. Other codecs will not work.

Step 13: Configure Line 1 Dial Plan

Picture of Configure Line 1 Dial Plan

Configure the dial plan for line 1. This is what causes it to call line2 when line1 is taken off hook.

Here it is so you can cut and paste:

Step 14: Enable Line 2 and Configure the SIP Port

Picture of Enable Line 2 and Configure the SIP Port

Enable line2 and configure the SIP port.

Step 15: Line 2 Proxy and Subscriber Settings

Picture of Line 2 Proxy and Subscriber Settings

Here are the line2 proxy and subscriber settings

Step 16: Configure Line 2 Codec and Dial Plan

Picture of Configure Line 2 Codec and Dial Plan

Configure the line2 codec and dial plan as shown.

Here is the dial plan so you can cut and paste:

Step 17: Plug in and Test

Picture of Plug in and Test

We're done configuring, so be sure to click "Save Settings" in the PAP2T web interface. You only have to do it at the end, it is not necessary to do it between tabs. Let the box do its reboot. Now, plug in your phones and try it.

Here's a shot of the back of the PAP2T and the switch. Plug a phone into each line and the ethernet jack into your switch or hub. If you're connecting to the existing house wiring, be sure the line has no connection to any other VOIP adapter or the phone company.

Step 18: Configure Ring

Picture of Configure Ring

If it worked, you might want to configure your ringdown for a ring different from your regular telephones. Here is where you set it. Basically, switch another ring cadence with Ring1 Cadence. Be sure to click when done.

That's all there is to it! Enjoy your new telephone intercom/ringdown. Even if you bought your PAP2T new, you likely saved at least 66% off the cost of a basic ringdown module.


lpucci (author)2017-06-19

Hey uhclem, i was wondering if you know how can i setup a call forwarding if no answer.

Example, i dial de second extension, but no one answers. how can i forward this call an asterisk box for example?

I have found this info telling how to configure,

I did not implemented yet, but if i understood correctly, i will configure a call forwarding number that hits a secondary dial plan and sends the call to my asterisk box.
Do you think that this can be done?

Thanks again!

gurr (author)2012-02-02

It works with a loopback konnection/plug instead of a network.

You may of course make experiments with dial tones, and ring cadences etc.
This gives a good old British sound. Changing the sounds a little, and it could be old style sounds from USA or Norway:

Simoncu (author)gurr2017-06-08

Hy Gurr, just found this instructable, and you said that it worked with a loopback plug. Did you do it yourself ? if so could you tell me how ? I've seen to kinds of loopbacks, and they are wired differently, I don't know which one to use.... one is here : the other here many thanks

uhclem (author)gurr2012-02-02

That's great news. I figured it would but did not have one to test. Much better than having a hub around.

ghettocottage (author)2014-05-26

Several people (myself included) were curious about linking additional boxes/phone lines to a system like this. I was able to set this up so I wrote another instructable:

lpucci (author)ghettocottage2016-11-07

Both you guys are the best!

I have a cenario where the internet is not available all the time, so i need the pap2t to be useful in both cenarios, as a intercom module and also as a voip line!

Thank you so much!

NoelD28 (author)2016-10-16

Thanks for this amazing article. I had my intercom work in less than 30
mins. Well explained. I had a quick question. I am using my internal
cat 5 wiring at my home and I only have one line available for this
intercom. I would like to connect my telephone on the 3rd floor to the
telephone in my basement using this setup. How can I do it.

box99 (author)2014-09-21

Any reason a PAP2 (vs a PAP2T) wouldn't work for this application?

hansonsux (author)2014-03-22

Corrections: 1) It is 48vdc open circuit. Lift the handset offhook, and it drops to about 6 volts when the line is loaded to about 20ma. To try and put 20ma at 48vdc will let the magic smoke out. 2) The ringers are designed so that a minimum of about 40vac will ring them. 90 volts is a nominal value sent from the co so that something above 40v will be received on the other end of miles of cable.

magicstop made it! (author)2014-02-02

This works so well when I am testing component changes and ring sensitivity. I found some manuals at CISCO for the PAPT2 that might be helpful to some.

PAPT2 - Admin Guide:

PAPT2 - Provisional Manual:

End User Guide:

magicstop (author)2014-02-01

First and foremost: Thank you so much for producing this Instructable as now I can test my Telephony device builds far away from MaBell Phone Lines.

I only need one phone and my device that puts a load on the line 2 and line 1 rings until I pick it up. I then am able to listen to the recording my device sends to the line 1 phone.

This PAPT2 configuration will now allow me to test my ring detection circuit and inline live service testing of voltages that make it pass my audio transformer.

I do have a question though, Using VOIP like this I would assume that Ring voltage should not fluctuate as it does with regular phone lines do to storms and area usage of neighborhood phone lines ? Is that correct ?

As a note to others. I left the Ring Voltage at 85 volts as it mis-ringed at 90 volts.

Again Thanks,

uhclem (author)magicstop2014-02-02

I'm not sure what the standards are for phone lines as far as maximum voltages. I think the lighting arrestor installed by the phone company works at 300v. I would think a pair of zener diodes would work to clip each side of the signal down to something safe on the equipment side of the audio transformer.

magicstop (author)uhclem2014-02-02

Yes, that's my understanding as well. Many circuits I have seen use zener diodes on the audio equipment side of the audio transformers but, I have also see them on modems prior to the audio transformer as well.

Thanks for reply and again for doing this excellent Instructable.

joepaton (author)2013-11-18

Wow, this is great!
As a telephone collector myself, I have made basic intercoms in the past.
This is so much better because it rings the bells! other intercoms for old phones require a separate electronic buzzer.

Following your instructables, this took me about 30 mins to get it up and running.
I have started playing around with the ring to make it sound more like my Australian ring but I will need to correct it a bit.

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!!!

Kind Regards,

kbradt (author)2013-03-09

i was wondering is there a way to get 2 linksys voip adapters to call one another the one the voip adapter that i have is a UNLOCKED Linksys SIPURA SPA1001 VoIP Phone Adapter 1 FXS that only has 1 rj11 port and the other voip adapter that i have is a
Brand New Unlocked Linksys Cisco PAP2T Internet Phone Adapter with 2 VoIP Ports so can you plese make a totoral that will help me with the project that i want to do and i also want to make a adapter that will automaticley ancer the pnone and send the audio to a pa amps 600 ohm telephone audio input connecter

uhclem (author)kbradt2013-03-10

You should be able to do it like so:
(line1 ata1 dialplan)
<#1:> S0 <:line1@:5060>
(line1 ata2 dialplan)
<#1:> S0 <:line1@:5060>

kbradt (author)uhclem2013-09-08

well i need the dial plain to have the reciveing voip adapters ip address in it and i need help with it so can you help me plese

posloq (author)2013-08-20

I am a VOIP subscriber. Can I set something up like this with a neighbor and use it via our ISP?

kbradt (author)2013-04-15

i need help with a poject im trying to get 2 linksys voip adapters to call eatchor and i dont know what configerashions i need and i dont know what the dial plain is for them to work so can some one plese help me with the project

kbradt (author)2013-03-13

hi i need help i need to reset my linksys sipuraspa voip adapter to the factory defalt

Pirus (author)2012-05-11

You Rock!

I took an old Vonage pap2t, plugged in a phone and did the ****110# to get the IP. Then did a factory reset with ****73738# thankfully I didn't need to enter a password just 1#

Followed your directions!

Two notes for you though...
I had to set the voltage to 86 (default). Setting it to 90 caused the ata to reboot. Also I had to leave the ata plugged into my network. A loop back plug doesn't work since it doesn't activate the phones until it has an IP.

AxvoiceInc (author)2012-04-24

You get all these configuration details when you buy a new voip account. Don't worry if those instructions are a little bit different. Although most of the times, they are approximately the same as mentioned above.

dv3894 (author)2012-03-13

Could you create a network of phones using multiple VOIP adapters connected through the switch or hub?

uhclem (author)dv38942012-03-13

You can give each VOIP adapter a static IP address and then refer to it via that address in each units dialplan.

<#1:> S0 <:line2@>

You can also modify the dialplan so that dialing a certain number on the phone calls a certain VOIP box.

There's a limit to the size of the dialplan, so you can't become the phone company this way.

bponaugle (author)2012-03-01

I followed the directions and it worked like a champ. Thanks! This is a great idea.
I realized that I could make this process less painful using the linksys spc compiler. I generated a template and made the changes in the template, compiled them into a cfg file and put it on a server.

To load the file on a unlocked pap2x with internet access follow these steps:

Get access to your PAP2x web interface

1) Plug adapter in a network with DHCP.
2) Dial ****110#
3) Listen for IP Address
4) Enter IP Address into your web browser (For example.
5) When you see the Linksys PAP2x Web Interface select the admin login.
once authenticated enter http://(IP address from 2ed step)/admin/resync?
6) The adapter will reset and work as described in the instructable

richms (author)2011-11-05

Awesome idea.

Do you know if its possible to make a basic menu in the dialplan so I could have 2 of these connected to eachother but no internet and be able to dial the others with a single digit press?

uhclem (author)richms2012-02-02

That should work. You'd have to assign a static IP to each PAP2T and reference it in the dialplan. I only have one PAP2T so I can't test it myself.

uhclem (author)richms2011-11-05

In this example, each line has to dial #1 to reach the other:
(line1 dialplan)
<#1:> S0 <:line2@>
(line2 dialplan)
<#1:> S0 <:line1@>

If you set up G711u as a secondary preferred codec you can have this as part of a real dialplan where the VOIP box actually gets calls. I do this at my home. Each line can make and receive calls AND call each other internally.

(<:1508>[2-9]xxxxxxS0|*xx|0|00|[3469]11|1[1-9][0-9][0-9]xxxxxxx|1900xxxxxxx!|<#1:> S0 <:line2@>)

You can set this up with a pair of PAP2Ts and have it happen over the internet.

twocvbloke (author)2012-01-30

This is a pretty cool setup, and pretty easy to do, and I too just happen to collect old phones, so this could be handy to test the function of new acquisitions aswell as be a useful intercom, I have to try this at some point... :D

And using the Cadence options, you could have a US-style 2on-4off ring for US telephones, and for UK phones, a BT-style ring (0.4on,  0.2off, 0.4on, 2off), cos a US phone on a UK phone line just doesn't sound right (sounds nice, but not right!!)... :P

uhclem (author)twocvbloke2012-02-02

Glad you like it. It is so much easier than building your own ringdown and much cheaper than buying a 'real' one.

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Bio: I don't use instructables any more, so please consider all my projects here as archival.
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