Payphone in the Home




This project probably started due to my odd obsession with quarters and coin operated devices.

I guess that the legends of the golden days of hacking and phreaking helped too. Added to the

fact that my cordless phones were never to be found when needed. So the decision was made I

needed a corded phone. After running a across a few look a like phones, I thought they looked

cheap. Then it hit me, why not buy a real one. I discovered that AT&T was removing a lot of these

phones, since it was not cost effective to maintain them. Once i learned this, off to ebay I ran.

With this being said

The legend begins....

Step 1: Obtaining the Payphone

After a few minutes searching I came across someone selling a large quantity of phones for well

under market value. A few transactions later, my treasure was on its way. I suppose that there

are other ways although I won't recommend riping one off the wall of your local quicky-mart.

Step 2: The Guts

Like I said mine was used so of course it suffered many hours of use and abuse. Luckily mine

survived with only cosmetic damages such as chips in the powder coat. Once armed with my

trusty can of spray paint, and screwdriver I set off to work. This pay phone is consisted of only

a few major parts, such as the Smart board, cash box, the keypad, and the coin verification and

relay circuits. The seller had included keys to all three locks, the faceplate and the cash box.

Step 3: The Shell

Once I striped the poor soul of any shred of dignity and scrubbed it clean from the years of grime ,

it was time to paint. Personally I kinda misted the entire peice blending it with the areas that

really needed it. On coin doors and such that are powder coated like this, I recommend a flat

black metal spray paint it blends nicely. Be careful to not puddle the paint up and by the way

remember to mask up threaded screw holes. I used the screws that went in the holes. Also

remove any chrome and clean it up. One more thing be careful with the screws I still can't find

where one goes.

Step 4: The Smart Board

The Smart board basicly decides how much calls cost and controllers coin verification relays.

There are 3 main maker of these board and they vary accordingly



3. Intellicall

Mines a Intellicall (aka. ultratel)

It requires a 24v@ 1.6A transformer, majority of them run off line voltage and a two pair phone

line for voice data. Programing can be done for Intellicall via Inet board or the phone line from the

company. The Protel board can be programed by pushing a button and a series of numbers

for each type of call.

Step 5: Reassembly

Reassembly isn't too bad as long as you remember where everything goes. There is really not

that many pieces. If you want there are a couple of cards attached to the back of the chrome face

plate that you could change out for your own if you desired. You will need to use the keys to lock

the phone back. There are a couple of switches that check to see if it is locked on boot up. I

suppose that you could just short them out.

Step 6: The Booth

Typical pay phones either require a backing plate or a enclosure due to the fact that they weigh at

least 45 lbs. This weight would destroy wallboard. I found and chose a simple indoor enclosure

and built it on top of a shelf versus hanging on a wall, I replicated it myself. I chose to use 3/4"

mdf which I found to be rather sound material. But I would recommend using mdf screws they

grind through and prevent splitting when drilled in slow. As far as paint, flat black paint as always

and I attached the phone with bolts. Add power and phone line, program the smart board and

presto you have dial tone.



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    44 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Any idea how to make a old rotary payphone work with a cellular home service (Verizon)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I use an old rotary dial phone with my cell phone. You just need a bluetooth gateway. The gateway may not be enough for a pay phone - I'm not sure the voltage it provides. You may need to add a second power supply to have it work completely.


    2 years ago

    It is lots of information and help here:


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Any ideas on how one whould modify one of these to use with Asterisk and a diy PBX.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I have a Protel 8000 series and I'm trying to get the coin operation to work. I'm pretty sure it originally got 48V from the carrier line. Is this what you used the transformer for?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    wow wonder if i could charge my guest with this maybe a pay toilet next


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Would the keys fit any payphones still in use? hmmmm


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Hi, how did you program the payphone?
    Also, I want to buy one, what do I need to look out for besides getting all keys?
    I want one to hook up at home phoneline (I understood some are not able to do this), then the programming part, is this easy or are you obliged to call someone to program this for big bucks?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm looking for info about how to hook up a Western Electric 317S wall phone. It's a design from the early 1900s. I'd like to be able to hook it up to answer calls in the house. No need to try to make it work to call out (no dial pad; it was from the days of party lines). Any clues?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    If you're not interested in the coin slot actually being used to activate the phone, it would be insanely easy to just gut it and use the parts of a regular phone inside, using the handset and cradle of the payphone. It's not as cool, and kinda cheating, but for some of us, it's an acceptable workaround.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    i am a 5th yr Computer ebgineering student and i am having a design of a payphone using a coin to be enserted to call, please help me on how to do it.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, If I want to use the coin slot can I be able to do and how I do. thank you, again


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm old school. I got hold of a Western Electric 1D2 pay phone. It has nearly everything intact except the coin relay which I have on order. I'm going to build an external controller for the phone that generates all the signals that Bell provided. I need a good engineering challenge like that.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Lol thats a good idea for the parents wich have sons that last long calling theyr friends hahaha


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Great tutorial! I recently purchased this model phone and am looking to heavily modify it. The problem is none of the cables where hooked up inside when I got it. I have learned a great deal on where everything goes from your page here but there where a few that I couldn't make out. What pins on the block the actual phone line connects to, Where the 24 volt power supply connects. In the long run, I'm trying to implant a Linksys SPA-941 (VOIP phone) into the payphone (gutting out the Intellistar board) and modifying Asterisk or FreeSwitch to acknowledge the redbox tones, but I need to grab a few things off of the Intellistar board first.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable, but too focused on aesthetic and not so much on functionality... With no programming instructions, it's hard to make this one work... Only got the dial tone so far. Hint: for the power source, and assuming you have an Intellicall "Intelli*Star" (aka Ultratel) board, you can find a power supply at Radio Shack (18-24 VAC) for less than $30. Caution, it's AC power, not DC as many may think. Also, cabling inside is easy to connect, except for the handset, there are four wires and only three connectors behind the dial pad... Any idea which color goes where?

    1 reply