DFR Telecoms VOIP Diary

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Posted on 19 January 2019 by John

Sam and Roger want me to move an auto auto with regenerator relay set from Parkend to Norchard but I am pretty sure that it does not exist. It was discussed but never built. I have the relay can and regenerator at home available for the build. It's probably a good idea for both Norchard to Asterisk junctions to have regenerators as this will clean up any dial pulses from faulty dials. No chance of doing this at Parkend also, but I guess that all calls to the digital network can be connected at Norchard only. Calls from the Parkend digital network to the Strowger can be handled at Parkend without any problem as the low back EMF relay set has been built and just needs cabling in.

Posted on 30 April 2019 by Peter

Sam and Peter met at the Jasmin cafe for lunch and to discuss the the Norchard - Asterisk gateway. Sam and Peter proceeded to the railway to get the Supermicro !U short server case from the loft. Whilst Sam was in the loft he recovered DP 10, an old fashion 4 wire cable terminated on B151 & 152. Peter recovered the MDF cabling for the scrap bin. The brand new, in the box server case, proved to be obstinate in giving up 1 of the case screws. Whilst at Norchard Peter and Sam indulged in a little retail therapy for men and surfed e-bay. They purchased a mini-itx motherboard for the new gateway, at the staggering cost of £30 including memory and an embedded CPU. They decided to go to Peter's to extract the stubborn screw. When they final removed the screw using a No 1 screwdriver in a cross point screw it revealed sadly that the SuperMicro case can only be fitted with a SuperMicro motherboard, cheapest on e-bay £229. Plan B. Peter had a dig around and came up with a couple of suitable VESA type cases, these are neat and compact and should be able to be fitted in the exchange without too much trouble.

VESA case
The day culminated for Peter in more retail therapy hunting for the additional parts required for the gateway. A successful day really. Anybody interested in how the gateway will go together have a chat with Peter on Wednesday.

Posted on 8 June 2019 by Roger

While Sam was manning the Beer Tent, Roger had a look at some of the Asterisk problems. First stop was Parkend. The Raspberry Pi that runs Asterisk and FreePBX was not working. It responded to 'pings' confirming it was powered and the network was fine. But the Pi would not serve up the FreePBX Configuration Web Page and ignored ssh remote login requests. As there is no monitor there all he could do was power cycle it. It failed to boot and looks like the SD Card had failed. Roger tried the SD card in a laptop. Initially it would not read but then sprung into life. Maybe the contacts on the SD card were dirty. The Pi has been taken back to Roger's home for investigation along with the spare Pi from Norchard.
Sam had mentioned the Grandstream HT802 ATA was having problems recognising the loop disconnect digital from some [rotary dial] phones. Roger had found the ATA worked fine with a digital keypad phone in Loop Disconnect mode, with a rotary dial phone he had and when driven from a DAHDI module on another computer. So perhaps the issue was down to the pulses per second. Roger borrowed the special 8 pps and 12.5 pps phones John had made for testing. Both of these special phones do not work with the HT802 ATA so that confirms the ATA needs quite exact timing for the pulses per second. That is unfortunate. At least there is the workaround of DAHDI cards on a Linux PC with Roger's specially modified software driver that can support a wider range of pulses per second if needed.

Posted on 9 June 2019 by Roger

Roger has repaired the Parkend Asterisk Raspberry Pi. The micro SD card had failed and gone into Read Only mode which meant that it could no longer function as it writes log files to the micro SD card for every phone call. At least the card was still readable so using a Windows laptop and some SD Card cloning software he could copy all the data onto a new micro SD Card. The Raspberry Pi now boots up again and all the configuration is retained. It will be installed on site soon. As for the broken micro SD card, Roger cannot remember where it came from. It has no brand name on it so was probably cheap one that got acquired along the way.

note from Roger : "It was a handy failure to have early on. When I used to make embedded systems years ago they always ran in a Read-Only mode so if the electronics failed they would still run, you just could not save any new settings. That got me reading the Asterisk forums where several people had workarounds to make their Asterisk read only. The drawback is when you power cycle you loose the logs. But I'd rather have that that then not booting up at all."

Posted on 15 June 2019 by Roger

Roger and Peter met at Norchard around 4:30pm to install the next phase of the Asterisk digital phone system at Norchard and to re-install the repaired Parkend Raspberry Pi that had a bad SD Card. We now have three interlinked Asterisk Digital PBX systems all talking to each other. They are "Norchard Pi", "Parkend Pi" and "Norchard Dell".

1) "Norchard Pi" serves 4 digit extensions 4500 to 4599. They tested it with three digital Avaya SIP phones and a Grandstream ATA which supports two analogue phones (both MF and LD). The test message can be heard on ext 4599.

2) "Parkend Pi" is back in service now. It serves four digit extensions 43xx and 47xx. It has as mix of Avaya digital SIP phones and Grandstream ATAs and MediaTrix ATAs for analogue phones. Test messages can be heard on 4399 and 4799.

3) "Norchard Dell PBX" is the original Asterisk computer that Paul used to run. It acts as the hub with links to Norchard Pi, Parkend Pi and Strowger. (it continues to serve the three digit SIP numbers (4xx) some of us have in our homes.

Peter and Roger spent some time making test calls between the Parkend (43xx) and Norchard (45xx) four digit extensions and making calls to and from the Strowger. The main problem identified was that some phones and ATAs had settings that assumed three digit extensions and needed to be changed to allow four digit extensions to pass. Once that was sorted we could call from any phone to any other phone. Next steps will be to get more phones installed onto the digital system at Norchard using either the Grandstream ATAs or the Avaya SIP phones.

Posted on 19 June 2019 by John

We started the day with a session configuring ATAs and SIP phones for use on the Asterisk scheme at home.

Posted on 20 July 2019 by Peter

Peter met Roger at the postage stamp. The plan for the day was to work with Roger on X 304 to increase his faulting skills. Sam had previously said to Peter that X 4322 could not dial out. Roger and Peter tested ringing X 4599 and X 599, all appeared to work. Andrew Woodrow found us lurking on the platform and told us X 4322 was faulty, really good that we bumped into him as he told us the phone went dead, further investigation revealed that the phone did indeed go dead. Andrew reported he could not ring the signal box at Norchard. A level 5 issue was suspect. Dialing X 599 did in fact fail on a large percentage of calls. We then tried to reproduce the fault from X 4303, no failures! Whilst Roger went into super asterisk mode Peter decided to check the other digital phones, all working except X 4302. No phone plugged in! Off to get the butt, no dial tone, in fact very dead, next stop frame and the ATA.
Check of Pair and Port on the records, no record for either, was it supposed to be a SIP phone? A quick dive into the FreePBX Applications/Extensions menu revealed that X 4302 should be a SIP phone, borrowed X 4301 and plugged it into each of the Data sockets, the phone did not even attempt to boot, ah cabling. Yes Patch Panel Port 1 was patched to the microtek switch, no POE (Power over Ethernet). The cabling was patched correctly, and X 4302 was back in service. I can safely say I prefer Data patching, even quicker than jumpers on a krone frame. Peter went to the exchange to find Roger delving into the Dialplan and various other settings including looking at the Mediatrix box. The Mediatrix box had needed a reset to clear the fault on X 4322. Roger could only work for half a day finishing at 12:20. Peter went to meet Sam and have lunch. After lunch Peter and Sam marked the places for new duct and boxes to be provided whilst the long siding is being relayed. The new duct should hopefully arrive next week. A very good days work.

Posted on 21 July 2019 by Peter

Peter met Sam for lunch, after lunch they collected stores to finish installing X 4320 in the Ground Frame. Sam went to the ground frame whilst Peter re jumpered X 4320. With dialtone going out on DP 1 Peter wedged the frame and sent a tone, on arrival at DP 1B the tone was not to be found, Sam went to find the tone while Peter provided a new Line Jack Unit 4/1A for X 320 and X4320. DP 1A appeared to be the culprit as the Pair was still connected to DP1C, crimped through and worked a treat. Retired to the cycle café for coffee.

Posted on 24 July 2019 by Roger

On Wednesday I popped into Parkend to pick up my laptop charger. I was told by the station staff that the Asterisk system is not working. The problem is that they were dialling numbers with a Hash on the end and "525#" is not a valid extension. The LinkSys ATAs could be set to recognise a Hash key to signal the end of the number to dial (so you can make a call straight away without waiting for an inter digit timeout), but the ATAs in use at Parkend do not support this (or I've not found a menu option to add the feature yet).

Posted on 3 August 2019 by Roger

Sam, Peter and Roger worked at Parkend in the morning looking at some Asterisk issues. The first asterisk trials used Grandstream ATAs to link telephones to the SIP system. Sam had got some MediaTrix ATAs from ebay. These work well but there were a number of settings that needed to be configured which were sorted out today. We also reinstated the dial plan on ATAs and Avaya phones to improve calling.

Posted on 4 August 2019 by Roger

All Level 4 numbers are now 4 digits.
Home users that were on 485 or 495 are now on 4485 and 4495 respectively. Thomas has moved from 402 to 4402. DialADisk has moved from 416 to 4416.
There is no need to change any of your ATAs or SIP phones. I've made it work with the existing settings. (so your ATA may think it is ext 483, but Asterisk treats it as 4483)
For extra telecoms fun, ff you put in an old 3-digit Level 4 number, eg 400 Speaking Clock, it plays a "the number you have called has been changed to ..." message. Right now it goes on to complete the call, but eventually I'll turn that off.
I've tested this all on SIP to SIP calls. I've still to test the Strowger side of things so may have got a rule wrong there.

Posted on 5 August 2019 by Roger

I wanted to test Strowger to Asterisk calls from my sofa to save a trip to Norchard. So I implemented a new Asterisk configuration to do this.
From a SIP phone, call 14402.
The 1 tells Asterisk to make a Strowger call to 4402.
Strowger receives a call to 4402. As Strowger Level 4 is an Asterisk level, the Strowger calls back into Asterisk, in this case getting the Thomas music.
So this tests a junction in each direction and tests John's new strowger to asterisk hardware from my sofa. Doing it a second time will use different junctions and so all four junctions can be checked with two calls.

Note : If you have a dial plan in your ATA which is 0x|4xxx|xxx then this won't work for you as it will pick up the first 3 digits (in this example 144) and start calling.
I think you need a rule like this : 0x|[2356789]xx|4xxx|144xx

Posted on 6 August 2019 by Roger

The directory of all the current digital extensions is now available under the VOIP INFO button on the front and main menu pages.

Posted on 9 August 2019 by Sam

Peter and Sam met up at Parkend to look at the public wifi that the railway had requested. Sam spent a few hours configuring the switch while Peter installed the ceiling mounting for the wifi access point in the Staff Room, with help from Paul Wilson, before looking at records for the Strowger. A power cut curtailed ongoing work, so Paul and Sam went to find a pub still open instead.

Posted on 10 August 2019 by Sam

Sam arrived early (8am!) to finish configuring the switch before the staff arrived for the day. Once this was complete, Sam then set up the wifi hub with it connected directly to the cabinet, and reconfigured the Asterisk and ATAs/SIP phones for the change of IP address from reconfiguring the switch. He then went to Norchard to sort out some other bits and bobs for the railway.
Peter and Sam met for lunch at 12.30, then went to Parkend to finish the wifi. They drilled the hole for and ran the cable to the new wifi hub, and installed it at both ends. Peter went home, and Sam fixed a few issues that had come to light with the new setup, and then set up a firewall rule to stop people from accessing the BT homehub via the mikrotik switch, so no guests could access it.

Posted on 13 August 2019 by Roger

The new VoIP phones have a Caller ID display. Roger has added a special Caller ID to the Strowger to Asterisk Junctions so that calls from Strowger will say they are from "Strowger Line 1" or "Strowger Line 2" on the Caller ID display. This will help with diagnostics in the future. Right now Line 1 is jumpered out so all calls are via Line 2.

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This page was last updated on
13th August 2019