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Author Topic: Getting the (TR551 or TR16A) to Cohabit Amicably With An Answering Machine  (Read 43470 times)

Oldtimer

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[Most of this information was originally posted in 1999 to the Circuit Cellar site but was never echoed properly to the comp.home.automation site except in very abreviated form.
I'm reposting it here, edited, since it is still timely if you're trying to use an X10 telephone module with an answering machine.]

Getting the (TR551 or TR16A) to Cohabit Amicably With An Answering Machine
Oldtimer
[/b]
The problem is that both the TR551 and the TR16A grab the line, in answering machine mode, as if they were a telephone set.  This makes the answering machine think someone has picked up a phone and turn itself off.  The solution to this problem is to modify the telephone responder so that it can keep the line off hook if it is already off hook because of the answering machine but render it incapable of taking the line off hook by itself.

Typical telephone line voltages before modification are:

  • All units on hook 41.5 V DC.
  • Answering machine off hook 6.5 V DC.
  • Regular telephone set off hook 6.5 V DC.
  • Regular telephone set and answering machine off hook 4.5 V DC.
  • Telephone responder off hook 4.5 V DC.
  • Telephone responder and answering machine off hook 2.5 V DC (stops answering machine from recording).

Experimentation with a resistance substitution box showed that 1000 ohms in series with the telephone responder lead changed these readings as follows:

  • Telephone responder off hook 21.5 V DC (this won't take the line off hook by itself but will keep it off hook if it already is).
  • Telephone responder and answering machine both off hook 5.3 V DC (answering machine now ignores the telephone responder but when the answering machine hangs up the telephone responder still keeps the line off hook if you have punched in your numerical password).

For the final installation I put a 470 ohm and a 33 ohm 1/4 watt resistor (in series) in series with each side of the telephone line to maintain line balance.  These were installed inside the smallest Radio Shack plastic project box with the telephone line running through it.



Finally I adjusted the timing of my answering machine messsage slightly so the three beeps from the telephone responder come just after the end of the message but just before the asnswering machine's beep so the four of them sound like they're part of the answering machine's operation. Since the three beeps come before the answering machine starts recording they don't end up on the message tape and further don't trigger the answering machine VOX circuit to record them when there's a no message hang up.

To eliminate the three beeps from the telephone responder when you answer the phone yourself I only turn the responder on when we're not at home.  This is handled by two sets of macros that also accomplish a lot of other things.  One set includes an OUT macro that is activated by OFF on an RSS18 switch near the back door when we leave during the day and a matching IN macro activated by ON on the same switch when we return.  The other set is four AWAY macros that simulate a phantom family living in the house when we're not home for an extended period of time on a trip. When we're either OUT or AWAY the telephone responder is turned on.

By the way this mod does not interfere with the blinking light function of the telephone responder.


For more User-Submitted Original X10 Home Automation Ideas, be sure to bookmark:

Members Sharing Their Original X10 Home Automation Ideas [Updated: 2006/10/15]

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« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 10:22:52 PM by Oldtimer »
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TakeTheActive

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THANKS!!! ;)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2006, 10:19:28 PM by TakeTheActive »
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Brian H

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Thanks for the information. Very helpful. I may try this myself over the weekend.
One point. The resistance of the resistors may have to be adjusted if the users local phone line loop has a total resistance different than the example.
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TakeTheActive

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Thanks for the information. Very helpful.

Did you VOTE? ;)
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Brian H

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No. Kind of lopsided. Only one choice. So approve or get lost! ;D
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TakeTheActive

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Oldtimer

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The Science Blog was certainly an interesting read.

I agree.  Fascinating concept.
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Puck

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TakeTheActive is a really smart person!!!!   ;D
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TakeTheActive

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2006, 07:25:13 PM by TakeTheActive »
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zach1234

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So I see the phone responder I have has 4 wires in the cord do I just use the inter two.

Dose radio shack sell the 33 ones can the be the 1/2watt.
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Oldtimer

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So I see the phone responder I have has 4 wires in the cord do I just use the inter two.

Dose radio shack sell the 33 ones can the be the 1/2watt.

Yes, use the inner two, they should be RED and GREEN.

Check Radio Shack's web site.  1/2 watt will work best but you could get away with 1/10 watt in a pinch. 
« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 10:30:11 PM by Oldtimer »
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zach1234

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Can I just ship it to you with $10 plus part money and have you do it. I try ed it and it would not allow me to control modules.


P.S I am serious about you doing it.
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Dan Lawrence

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So I see the phone responder I have has 4 wires in the cord do I just use the inter two.

Dose radio shack sell the 33 ones can the be the 1/2watt.

Just for the record, the colors in a standard phone cable are red, green, yellow and black. Red and Green are "tip & ring" (the two sides of the talking path), yellow and black are used for lights (like in lighted dials).  Tip & Ring are holdovers from the days of manual phones. The switchboard plugs had a line to one side, a insulated ring and a contact ring that was the other side. Thus, the two sides of the talking path became known as "tip and ring forever, even in the Touch-Tone (r) days.
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Oldtimer

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Can I just ship it to you with $10 plus part money and have you do it. I try ed it and it would not allow me to control modules.


P.S I am serious about you doing it.

I'd have to think about it but before we go that far could you clarify some things for me. 

Regardless of what you did to the telephone line leading into the transponder it should still control modules manually by pushing it's buttons when it is plugged into the power line.  Is that the case? 

Before you modified the transponder could you control modules from another telephone even though it didn't work the way you wanted it to with the answering machine?

Also what city are you located in?
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zach1234

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Well it worked before by buttons on unit and phone, Once i did the mod phone in did not work. I cut off the part I did the mod and put a regular phone jack back on. I am located in Wayne, Illinois.
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