VoIP cheap and simple, sort of…

While I still enjoy playing with my X less system I also started to play with VoIP. I put together a VM with Asterisk earlier this year to replace the functionality that our VoIP provider was offering, mostly because it is way easier to manage ourselves than to keep asking for changes at the provider. And also, they charge per VoIP number and there really is no need for each and every one of our office phones to have its own number.

Having successfully completed this I decided I’d like VoIP for myself. Specifically, my wife and I are heading off to Europe for our 2nd anniversary in June and I would like to be able to stay in contact.

Asterisk is the obvious way to go. Version 1 of my VoIP server is illustrated below:

This works quite well. A cellphone with bluetooth is paired to the PC running Asterisk, employing chan_mobile, a plugin allowing the PC to act as a bluetooth headset for the phone. I roam all over the place with my cellphone using 3G from another operator and Sipdroid as my VoIP client.

Unfortunately, the bluetooth stack, or the chan_mobile module, is somewhat temperamental depending on the bluetooth and phone combination in use. I was most successful using my trusty old Samsung D500 with a Cambridge Silicon Radio bluetooth device. Since it kept losing its mind and generating static when I answer calls I eventually decided to abandon this project. It is just too unreliable for day to day use. It might be worth pursuing at a later stage to link my cellphone to my desk phone when at the office the way it is usually used. I did however manage to use it this way for a week as my work phone (although there were a couple of crisis that resulted in somewhat flared temperaments when I couldn’t hold calls reliably).

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