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Rotary phone transformed into home automation device

Arduino TeamNovember 26th, 2018

While once an essential communication tool, rotary phones in the wild are quite a rarity today. Still, they do hold a certain charm, and hacker Kristiaan N. decided to turn one of these units into a clever home automation interface.

The original idea was to use the phone as a doorbell. Like many projects, this simple job turned into something much more involved, with an Arduino Nano and a bevy of complimentary electronics being installed in the housing. This allows it to respond to doorbell presses as intended, and it’s now also able to ring in different patterns via wireless input from a smartphone. 

Most impressively, the modified phone can signal up to 10 devices using the rotary input, using the MySensors Arduino library and a Domoticz setup. The system’s capabilities are demonstrated in the video below, switching lights, and showing off its multi-ring capability.

The current version features the following functions:

  • Doorbell function with simple button
  • MySensors integration with nRF24 radio
  • Wirelessly activate 5 different ringtones
  • Alarm signal
  • Working dial with 10 virtual switches

The idea is basically that it will ring just like a old phone when somebody presses the doorbell button. If you don’t want any wires for that, you can just sent a command from any button attached to your Domoticz controller. You can also set your Domoticz controller to ring different ringtones for any events like a door that has open, or a set timer that has passed.

The dial also acts like 10 virtual switches. Your Domitcz controller will see these as 10 different switches that will be turned on and immediately be turned off again. You can use this to trigger events like turning a light on, or set the heating to a different setpoint.

The wireless function is done by the incredible MySensors library. In my opinion its one of the best platforms for home build sensors and actors. Its cheap to build, very reliable, and the possibilities are endless. You will need a MySensors gateway attached to your Domiticz controller. I’m using the USB version. Building one is very easy and doesn’t require knowledge of MySensors, Arduino, or electronics. If you just want the doorbell, don’t worry about all the other functions. Just leave out the radio and the connections to the dial. The Arduino code will work fine without.