"How to - Use a Magic Jack to Monitor a Home"
12 January 2009
Dumped my security system monitoring company and modified my security system to autodial my cell phone at any security system event. But had no way to determine nature of alarm and so thought up a scheme where I used a cheap voice over Internet Protocol (VIOP) device\service to give me another telephone line in my house, to which I would attach a USB microphone that would let me listen in on my home from any cell phone anyway. As my security system has a voice announcer at a system event, by listening in, I can determine whether a fire or burglary triggered the system alarm.
How did I implement this home listening capability?
- Bought a Magic Jack from Best Buy ($49 for device and 1 year of voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP service), which once inserted in a vacant USB port on a computer with broad band Internet, provides a new, dial in or out, telephone line.
- Bought a USB-based microphone ($30 and nothing special) and connected it to the same computer hosting Magic Jack. At insertion of the USB microphone, Windows XP recognized the device and loaded applicable drivers.
- With Magic Jack installed and running, I used its on screen control panel to switch from a telephone device to a headset, selected my installed USB microphone as the microphone Magic Jack should use and then adjusted the volume of the "headset" microphone.
- Finally, I had to edit the registry for the Magic Jack to get it to auto answer any incoming call and turn on my USB microphone.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\talk4free\USB Softphone\Options\Calling Options\AutoAcceptCalls
Change value from 0 to 1 and close regedit.
I then rebooted the system, to have the changed registry read at Magic Jack software startup.
Opps! Although Magic Jack answers my home call automatically, no matter what I tried (powered USB expander, moving Magic Jack to a different USB port), the audio I got over Magic Jack was distorted and would drop out.
Finally, as a last resort, I bought an inexpensive condenser microphone that plugs right into my PC's audio board. Well, that did it. Now when I call Magic Jack, nice, clear, crisp, home environment audio hall and no Magic Jack audio drop out.