Hacking this New Old House: VOIP, Asterisk, RAGI

by Kendall Clark

Related link: http://ragi.sf.net/

For me there is a technology continuum that runs from home renovation stuff (drywall, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, etc.) to home geekery hacking. My girlfriend and I have spent a lot of time and $$ during the past 15 months having a home in Washington, DC, renovated. Now that we're pretty much done, I'm wondering how much geekery I'm going to add?

The house dates from 1895, had been badly renovated and expanded somewhere after WWII, and we've now spiffed it up throughout. New HVAC, expanded livable space about 25%, new windows throughout, nifty skylight, all-new kitchen (Bosch appliances rock!), and so on. It's taken a contractor and the two of us working really hard to get it to the point where we really want to live in it. Right now.

But, as a hardcore geek, I'm wondering whether that crawl space (very dry, new concrete pad) under the kitchen (accessible through the laundry room) would make a good server room? And do I want to geek into Asterisk and build a PBX/VOIP system for the house? Asterisk is starting to get some interesting stuff in its space, including RAGI, a Rails gateway to Asterisk. RAGI alone is like the 5th thing that makes me think I should sincerely add Ruby to Python as my two default languages.

Anyone out there done serious Asterisk work for yr home living space? I wonder if having a PBX when people call would be useful or off-putting (after all, a home is not an office!). How is Asterisk to work with?

The house isn't huge, so I'm not especially interested in X10 stuff. But I wonder about a server room, given that I'm a geek, have lots of boxes, and I work from home. And I'm also wondering about a home PBX using Asterisk.

Anyone been down this road? Is it worth the effort?


2005-11-06 03:04:23
Asterisk is fun
I've installed an * server in my new apartment to learn about it and to avoid the dozens of weekly fax calls we receive at all hours of the night. Apparently our new number was a shipping company's fax number. * has done the trick nicely. Any call that comes in without CallerID or between certain hours of the night gets a voice prompt saying, "Dial 1 to speak with Geoff." Not too many faxes press 1 ;). There's not much more, however, to convince my girlfriend that the hours I spend on * are worth the trouble. We don't need to call between our various extensions often (2 bd rm apt) and small office voicemail for 1 mailbox seems like overkill. We've never used the conference bridge. And we've missed a call or two from (old) people unable to understand the need to press 1 to speak with us.

Some things that *I* belive make asterik necessary: The ability to dial an extension and hear the week's soccer results and TV schedule. (I live in Barcelona where the team is kicking butt lately. A PHP cron event reads a webpage and converts the schedule to voice. Sounds crappy but you get used to it :).

The ability to dial into my * server on the land line and then call out via VOIP, saving me long distance charges on my mobile phone.

Other silly things.