DFR Telecoms VOIP Diary

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Posted on 2 January 2020 by Roger

Roger popped into Norchard to set up remote access to the Norchard-B (Raspberry Pi) PBX. It required some Port Forwarding rules on the BT Hub and the MikroTik firewall. This will allow remote testing and diagnostics and be handy when the Dell PC settings are migrated over to the new Asterisk gateway PC. Sam also popped in and they had a chat about the things that will be discussed next Wednesday.

Posted on 3 January 2020 by Roger

Roger managed to find some newer Avaya firmware for the 46xx series phones which meant that 4602SW IP handsets with old bootloader firmware could be upgraded with a new bootloader and in turn upgraded with Avaya's SIP firmware. He upgraded two phones via the Parkend Raspberry Pi VPN.

Posted on 4 January 2020 by Roger

Roger continued with some work on the Avaya SIP phones. At Parkend a problem had been seen when a phone gets unplugged during a call. Asterisk did not notice the phone had gone offline and kept the call open even though the handset was no longer online when a POE switch is rebooted or a cable gets unplugged during a call. However Asterisk should have been looking for RTP audio packets and detecting that the phone was not sending any RTP data. Turns out that there is a bug in the version of FreePBX in use on the Pi. FreePBX has a global "RTP Timeout" setting but it is not being picked up by the Asterisk PBX. Hand editing the Asterisk config file works but this hack would be lost next time FreePBX re-generates the Asterisk configs.

Posted on 5 January 2020 by Roger

Roger popped down to meet Sam and Charles. Roger and Sam fixed extn 4710 (SIP phone) in Parkend Signal Box and removed Peter's old Netgear switch which had been replaced by a Cisco POE switch. They discussed how to send the pulses used by the station clocks over the Internet. Sam tried to busy out one of the strowger to asterisk junctions and Norchard but was not able to. This was just a stop gap until the new asterisk gateway is installed.

Posted on 11 January 2020 by Sam

Sam, Roger and Peter met up at the Postage Stamp cafe for a pre-work cuppa. Once this was complete, they descended upon the office at Norchard.
Sam and Roger retrieved phones from the attic so that Peter could flash the firmware to the latest version.
Roger then set about turning a Raspberry Pi into a new asterisk server for the 44XX numbers. Once this was complete, Sam and Roger then set about changing over the incoming calls to the new server by changing the port-forwarding in the router. Roger then worked on some of the extra features required on the Pi.
Sam and Peter, whilst this was ongoing unboxed, flashed and re-packaged approximately 70-80 phones. All of the phones are now available to be pulled out of any box and simply plugged in.
Once this was all finished, we tried to pull a few remaining settings from the old asterisk, however it took this exact moment to die completely. Sam and Roger therefore retrieved it from the exchange and took the telephony card from it and put it into the new Gateway PC. This machine is very tight for space under the case, but is a nice wall-mounted box. Roger then set up as much as possible before he had to depart. Currently, everything bar the telephony card works, this requires some more configuring!
Sam and Peter finished by tidying the office, and having a discussion about the wiring in the room.

Posted on 12 January 2020 by Roger

Here are the latest Jan 2020 VoIP Schematics in PDF format.

Main changes are that Norchard now has three digital PBXs.
One serves our home SIP phones and home ATAs and serves dial-a-disk on 4416 and Thomas on 4402 and the Speaking Clock on 4400 and 4403
A second serves Ext 4500-4599
The third acts as a fairly dumb gateway between the digital PBXs and the Strowger and will output the speaking clock on LineOut for Strowger when I get time to reinstate Paul's work.

Posted on 13 January 2020 by Roger

The updated Asterisk Ringback service is now live. Currently it sits on Ext 4404. If you call it you get to hear my voice. Asterisk then calls you back (and you get to hear my voice again).
I based it on Paul's system but had to re-write it to works across multiple exchanges with trunk links (aka junctions). So you can call 4404 from Parkend and the Norchard Asterisk will call you back.

Posted on 18 January 2020 by Peter

Peter went in to the railway today and shifted the gateway from the office to the telephone exchange. Before the gateway even had power connected, upon plugging in the 2nd FXO port to strowger, the line circuit was seized. This has been left disconnected. The first FXO port seems to have a faulty connector. Both FXS ports give no dial tone but pretty sure Roger has this in hand. The fitting of the gateway still requires trunking along with all the other data bits and pieces. The ATA for the museum and 4490 have also been moved and are properly fitted. A new SIP phone is now sitting along side 4490, this is not in service as it requires PoE. There is a need to consult with Rick as he wishes to alter the existing shelving. A sort of so so day but at least the gateway is where it should be. Do not expect to progress much more with this at the moment as the junction needs to be finished. Does any one know anything about the keyboard in the exchange being faulty? It has a random note saying Out Of Order but not a name to be found. In respect of the gateway a full check of the wiring needs to be done and along with this the cover of the gateway needs to be marked with what ports are what, to bring it into line with the sockets below.

Posted on 8 February 2020 by Roger

Peter and Roger met to discuss the forthcoming VoIP work. They discussed the CAT5 data cabling at Parkend (Exchange to Signal Box and Exchange to Station Building) and the merits of a bundle of point to point cables vs one cable and a mains powered switch vrs intermediate patch panels. Plan is to run individual CAT5 cables and keep one central POE switch which could have a UPS. Then they popped down to Parkend to look at breaking into the new troughing and where Ethernet sockets will go in the Signal Box. While they were at it a fault was resolved on the RJ11 patch panel. Our RJ11 sockets are loose and over time the patch cables work loose, breaking the connection to the phones. The RJ11 patch panel was a great idea. This particular setup will have to go.
Work then turned to a refresher on the Parkend Outgoing Junction 3 regenerating relay set John had built. It is not in use and Roger was interested in it for some testing and as a possible digital junction to Norchard Strowger. It used to be wired into an ATA. Peter used John's diagrams for Outgoing Junc3 and the Tone Generator to follow the cabling from the relay set to the Solder Tags. The wiring stops there (cabling into the Krone MDF and the ATAs has been recovered). So Roger may ask for that to be restored for some testing of Strowger to Asterisk.

Posted on 14 February 2020 by Peter

Peter, Paul and Roger met at the postage stamp. Welcome back Paul. The aim of the day was to try and get Parkend outgoing junction 3 to play nicely with the Parkend asterisk. Peter jumpered the appropriate tie pair but alas (NDT) no dial tone, the dreaded RJ11 connectors had struck again, repeat of Rogerís statement they have to go. A plan is in hand but more of that later. Once dial tone was being returned voluminous amounts of test calls were passed. Paul went into Strowger heaven and set the test calls sender to do its worst, it did. It was soon discovered that the old issue of intermittent call failure is still happening. A severe brainstorming session ensued; Paul got into two stage drop back, well not literally. At the end of the day the day the issue still existed. We concluded we really need to know whether this is an Asterisk or Strowger issue. Peter proposed that he bring in his digit analyser, this was only ever used to check DTMF so may not even work with Loop Dis, time will tell.

Posted on 16 - 27 February 2020 by Peter

Peter has been away from home babysitting, what does this have to do with telecoms at the DFR I hear you ask. He decided to sit down and put down on paper what needs to be done in respect of the RJ11 issue within the Parkend data cabinet. He has now produced not only the required documentation for the Parkend Goods shed data cabinet but the railway as a whole. Approximately some 50 sheets of paperwork with every data cable run included, the documentation could be the basis for the data network as a whole. This could include costing, store keeping and job sheets to name but a few requirements. He intends to provide a printed copy for comments and suggestions from the rest of the team. The paperwork includes an overview of each data cabinet and of each shelf but will also provide Roger with the necessary information for switch builds and the rest of the team with required information for fault localising. The one thing that is not catered for is wiring if required for C.C.T.V. or any other obscure facilities the telecoms group are not aware of! Hopefully having some basic paperwork will help the group plan basic costs for presentation to the board or other interested parties.

Posted on 28 February 2020 by Roger

There were problems with the home users on the VOIP system. The Raspberry Pi looked fine but was rebooted just to be sure but that did not fix the issue. In the end the BT hub needed a reboot and it all started working again.

Posted on 13 April 2020 by Roger

Roger configured ext 4405 as a Conference Call extension. Just dial the number to join the call. The Conference Call server runs on the tiny Raspberry Pi (called Norchard-A Exchange) which is tucked away in the Shop Office. Test calls were made with two phones at Roger's house and one phone at Peter's house and it worked really well. It should be put to use for the Wednesday catchups.

Posted on 25 April 2020 by Roger

Roger and Peter did some remote work on the VOIP system today. We looked at using Google Docs to share documents (shared read-only with some users and shared with read&edit permissions with other users) as a way to share designs between the VOIP team. First trial looked good.
Roger set up remote access for Peter to the Parkend Pi using VNC. This allows Peter to log into the Pi PBX at Parkend without needing the VPN setup that Roger uses (which is called sshuttle)

Posted on 26 April 2020 by Roger

Did some upgrades of the Raspberry Pi computers today (2 in Norchard, 1 in Parkend) with the latest updates.

Posted on May 2020 (various dates) by Roger

Lots of progress on the VoIP system at Norchard this month. The railway purchased some CCTV cameras to install at Norchard which required a digital IP network to the Signal Box, the Cafe, the Station Master's Office, the Shop and the Telecoms Office. Of course the digital VoIP system also needs a digital IP to these locations. So the two projects were linked together by Peter and Sam with lots of help from others and a new digital IP network was installed connecting all these buildings together.
Most of the connections use Cat5 cable in ducts with Cisco POE switches that came from ebay to power the cameras and phones. The long connection from the Cafe Side of the tracks to the Shop side of the tracks uses "IP over Twisted Pair" data extenders donated to the railway by Paul. Peter sorted out a spare pair all the way from the Telecom's Office to the Station Master's Office and this is used to link the two halves of the site without having to pull cables under the rails. The IP over Twisted Pair devices are made by Patton. They give us a 50Mbps link in one direction, a 90Mbps link in the other direction, plenty fast enough for CCTV, Phones and future uses.
So thanks to the CCTV rollout we have a site-wide IP network for the digital phone system. Some of the phones are already installed, but are Not In Service until proper testing has been carried out.
Also this month, one of the SD cards on the Raspberry Pi PBX computers died. It was a "no-name" SD card, not a good brand name one like SanDisk so it shows how the cheap SD cards have reliability issues. Sam sorted out a new SD card to bring the Pi back into service but going forwards we may switch to using external hard drives (or external solid state drives) with the Pi rather than relying on the SD cards.
So the next steps are to test some phone calls from Norchard Signal Box, the furthest point on the new IP network, back to the Shop, the exchange and to our home SIP phones.

Posted on 18 June 2020 by Roger

We made the first digital call from the Norchard Signal Box today with a digital SIP phone.
Last month there was a rush to install CCTV around Norchard. As CCTV and digital phones both use Network Switches, Power Over Ethernet and data cabling the CCTV job went in with some spare ethernet ports for phones. So in the signal box was one of the Avaya digital phones connected to a network switch in the Cafe, then the data goes via Paul's Data Extenders (data over standard telephone cable) to the Telecoms Office via a normal telephone pair and from there into Asterisk and the BT Hub.
It all worked well so getting a little step closer.

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This page was last updated on
18th June 2020