Archive for Telco Distribution

Stopping Robo-calls

Over the last few months we’ve seen an increase in recorded telemarketing calls, nightly fax machine calls and as we normally received between “few” and “bugger all” calls on a weekly basis this started driving me a little nuts.

I was being continually bothered by robots on the phone. The solution seemed simple, get my own robot to counter their robots!

Based on reading I had done on a forum I frequent I set up an IVR (Interactive voice response) on our home phone that prompts callers to press ‘2’ if they are a human, any other number pressed or 20 seconds of inactivity results in the special information tone indicating a disconnected line being played, followed by the call being disconnected.

This was surprisingly easy to set up using the options available from our VoIP provider (

A whitelist allows known numbers to automatically bypass the IVR altogether (although with shift work and all that whitelist is rather small).

It was immediately effective at screening the annoying robo-calls, and thanks (I’m guessing) to the tone played our number appears to be slowly being removed from the robo-callers databases (or at least we’ve seen a substantial decrease in these calls).

This was so effective that when I started receiving these same calls on my cellphone I set up Tasker to automatically forward my cell to our home number whenever I was home (more on that later).

I can, if I so desire, happily peruse the call logs through and see how many calls we’ve been missing, and although robo-calls cost me approximately $0.005 each I can confidently say that I would pay much more than one half of a cent to not have to deal with these calls.

Central Distribution – Completed

Today involved a lot of wires. Corrected one problem involving the telco system, relocated the entire television distribution system halfway across the basement and then relocated all the old wiring to the new location (thankfully I had left plenty of slack when I made the temporary arrangement) and then crimped, stripped and drilled like mad.

Central distribution point for both telco, CATV and SATV

The final product is pretty slick. All the stuff tucked nicely out of the way and next to main electrical service, everything in the house wired to the nines so I don’t really see much need for expansion (although we have some room for it with one extension for both the telephone and television unused).

I’m proud of the finished result, but I am glad it’s done.

I love it when a plan comes together…

Wiring completed, old extensions removed and am running the new distribution board as the only extension off the main drop. I am still seeing some problems with my DSL connection, but I’ve got a few ideas as to how I might clear that up, and I think we can safely say that if these problems still exist then they are located on their side of the demarc.

The good news is that the new extensions and wiring function perfectly, so I get to spend a little while pulling the old wires out and removing the surface mounted outlets.

Another consequence is that the wiring in the basement is becoming considerably less complicated.

Cool, huh?

Turning messy now… and still more to go…

Still waiting for little bits and bobs, but the wiring continues. I think I’ve done all I can before I actually start moving services, so things are likely to go downhill asthetically from this point forward.

The wiring is going to clutter up things a bit, no?


Telco Progress

I’m almost at the point where I can move the main telco drop to the new distribution system, as soon as my RJ11 connectors and crimper arrive I can wire all the components together and see if things work. In the meantime I’m re-running all the telephone wire in the house and replacing it with Cat5.

new and improved telco distribution

For those that are even remotely curious things will work like this. Telephone service is fed through the DSL splitter and then into the telephone hub as two seperate lines (one data and one POTS (plain old telephone system) eliminating the need for those pesky DSL filters.

It should result in a cleaner signal for the DSL and it will certainly be less visually offensive than the original stuff.

Eventually we’ll have rewired the entire house..

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned once or twice that our house is somewhere around 100 years old. While a lot of work has already been done (both by previous owners and now by us) more remains.

Most recently I’ve been unable to stay connected on the Playstation network for any period longer than 10 minutes, these disconnects caused by the DSL modem reestablishing a link. Line noise is evident when talking on the phone, and it’s top of the suspect list for internet interuptions.

This is seriously impairing my ability to entertain myself with Fraternal zombie mayhem!

So, I wander down to the basement and look at the wiring. I look again, and I feel that sinking feeling in my stomach. There are a lot more wires than receptacles in the house (or at least those I’ve found), and I can’t easily identify the main service (what I thought was the main service turned out to be a grounding wire that goes outside the house and then nowhere – don’t ask, I’ll deal with that one another time).

Nice wiring, eh?

So, the newest project is twofold. I’m identifying and removing dead cable runs, re-wiring the main distribution point and while I’m getting dusty and irritated I thought I’d trace the old alarm system wiring while I was at it (like most alarm system pulls the techs just cut the wires at the alarm system end and then at each device. Tracing these wires would make the installation of my burglary system CONSIDERABLY easier).

So far two dead runs have been dealt with (Including a phone outlet mounted in a 4′ space between a basement wall and the side of the basement stairs.. so well hidden this is the first time I’ve seen it since we bought the house).

Stay tuned….