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Phreak question

(38 posts)

  1. motozak3

    On a typical Western Electric 500 rotary dialler assembly, there are two sets of contacts--one to generate the pulse train and the other to short the speaker terminals in the handset (so one doesn't get blasted in the ear with loud dial pulsing noise.) When both sets of contacts (particularly the pulse contacts) are held open, one can monitor the audio path of their telephone line, including the idle-line noise and the ringing voltage.

    I think there was a "box" term phreaks assigned to such a modiphied telefone set, but I can't remember what it's called. It's not a beige box (that's simply a phone cord with alligator clips at one end, to turn a regular fone into a buttset) or a "meeko" box (which is an interface device that sits between the fone and the line, to record the audio or put music onto the line.) Anybody have any clue?

    (No name calling.)

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 11:21 AM #
  2. Andy_brown

    Are you referring to a "blue box?"

    Back in college we used to emulate "red box" function with a tape recorder to fool the pay phone in the dorm.

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 11:44 AM #
  3. motozak3

    Nope, definitely *not* a blue box!

    I don't believe blue boxes are of much use on the fone system these days, since almost all the trunks use out-of-band signalling--the last N2-carrier trunk I knew of around here, the Camas-Orchards route, was cut over to T-carrier in 1997 or '98. By the time I started playing with it, it had been set up to phunction with out-of-band signalling, even though the GTE end of it (Camas) would still respond to in-band signalling!

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 11:58 AM #
  4. Mickproper

    Ahhh. you're probably talking about the infamous "black box" - I had schematics for it at one time, years ago; never built the thing tho, I was afraid of the "Phone Police"! If you remember, there was a time when "Ma Bell" (remember her?) would actually monitor the current, so they could tell if you had extra (and unauthorized) phone sets that you weren't being charged for!

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 01:29 PM #
  5. motozak3

    No, that was actually a resistor placed in-line with the phone loop, and a switch to "trip off" the ringing signal on mechanical exchanges* before billing started. This is simply a rotary telephone with the pulsing contacts held open (remember, pulse dialling involves breaking the DC loop a certain number of times) and the speaker-short contacts held open as well.

    On a #425B network (which both my 500s have) the pulsing happens on terminals "F" (also connected to one of the contacts in the hook switch) and "RR", whilst terminals "GN" (speaker +) and "R" (microphone/speaker ground) are shorted during dialling (to mute the speaker.) I don't know how it would be connected to the newer networks they were putting in the 2500 phones (which has a different terminal layout), but I think it's probably similar.

    I'll have pictures up soon.

    * And I've been told, anyways, that it only worked on step exchanges. So it likely wouldn't have worked on Orchards, which was formerly #5 crossbar.

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 01:57 PM #
  6. jr_tech

    From the descriptions in Wikipedia, It is not likely any of these:

    * Magenta box
    * Red box
    * Orange box
    * Green box
    * Blue box
    * Beige box
    * Black box
    * Vermilion box
    * Gold box
    * Clear box
    * Silver box

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 02:56 PM #
  7. warner

    " there was a time when "Ma Bell" (remember her?) would actually monitor the current, so they could tell if you had extra (and unauthorized) phone sets that you weren't being charged for!"

    Mick- In my early days working for Ma Bell here in PDX, one of my duties was to call people that we discovered had extra sets, and tell them they had to either disconnect them, or start paying for "extensions". Then about 5 days later we'd monitor again to see if they did it. Not a real fun job...

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 02:59 PM #
  8. Amus

    Fuchsia box maybe?

    Are you trying to do something in particular?
    Or are you just looking for the box color designation?


    In my limited exposure to the "regulated" side of the business, I was led to believe that the main reason for monitoring the loop current was for the possiblility of overloading the capacity of the feeder line, particularly during the ring cycle when electro/mechanical bells were the primary signaling device.

    Of course, that may be bull crap, and they just wanted the extra revenue.
    But I always disconnected the bells in any of the old phones I connected to my parent's line.

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 03:00 PM #
  9. motozak3

    Reverse of the dialler assembly: - the blue wires are connected to the pulsing contacts, and the white ones are connected to the speaker-short contacts.

    Pictures of the network itself:
    (see also for explanation.)

    A "fuchsia box" (a.k.a. "brown box") is a device to bridge two separate lines together to "conference" them. I really don't think that's what this is, although I suppose it probably *could* be the basis for one. But I doubt it.

    I'm just trying to figure out what the colour designation is, if there is one.

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 03:14 PM #
  10. warner

    Amus- That's what they TOLD us, but I believe they actually really just wanted the extra revenue. As I recall, extensions were $1.25 monthly each.

    Posted on September 13, 2012 - 03:51 PM #