TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Ground Start Analog Phone

Ground Start Analog Phone

Administrator (
Thu, 9 Feb 2006 07:57:03 -0600

Hi Pat,

With your vast experience, I was wondering if you can help me. I just
installed a Cisco CallManager Express system. Everything is working
great with the system. The problem is we set the lines to groundstart.
Now we would like to have the main line also going to an analog phone
just in case we have a power failure or the CME goes down. Is there an
analog phone we can purchase that has groundstart capabilities? If
so, please point me in the right direction.

Kindest Regards,

Damian P.C. Jones
IT Manager
Great Northern Cabinetry, Inc.
749 Kennedy Street
P.O. Box 207
Rib Lake, WI 54470
(715) 427-5255
(715) 427-5227

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Thanks for your compliment about my 'vast
experience'. In the olden days of Ma Bell, asking your service rep for
a 'ground start' style telephone would produce one promptly from a
technician who would show up with it on request. You can purchase one
from various suppliers, but their names escape me at the moment and
it would not come as inexpensive as you could simply build one. Please
recall all you need to do to have a 'ground start' phone is to touch
the 'tip' side of the line to ground momentarily, like for one or two
seconds, then remove that connection. Sort of like you press a
doorbell for a second or two, then release the button you were pressing.
I do not know how large your installation is, but I am sure you know
where to find a connection to 'ground', such as a cold water pipe. Use
a phone with a temporary push to connect switch on it such as one of
the older 'two line twist button' phones. You know, the ones with
red/green wires as line one, or turn the little twist button the other
direction and yellow/black wires connect with line two. In this
instance, 'line two' (yellow/black wires) will not do anything unless
you want an actual line two. What you will concern yourself with are
the blue/white wires in the cable which make temporary connection when
the 'twist button' is used in its _third_ position, which is temporary
push down/release (sort of like a doorbell button). In fact, when Bell
was in business, what they did with those blue/white wires was have
them temporarily connect to buzz or signal another phone somewhere on
the line. But what you are going to do is use the blue/white wires to
make a temporary connection to ground. When you press, then release
the twist button (its third, press/release thing), you will bring
ground onto the pair for for second or two needed to establish a
ground start connection.

I did that many years ago when my uncle was the proprietor of a
Walgreen's Agency drug store in Whiting, IN. He had a pay phone in the
front of the store and a private phone (Whiting-68 was the number as
I recall) on the wall in back by the pharmacy. To use the pay phone,
people had to put a nickel in the phone which tripped the ground, and
presently the operator would answer and get the desired number. I
found a two line/twist button phone somewhere and hooked it up in his
pharmacy office instead. Turn the button one way, you got the
Whiting-68 pharmacy phone line. Turn the button the other direction
and you got the pay station in the front of the store, To _use_ the
payphone however (without having to run up to the front of the store
and put a nickle in) you would depress that little button for all of
a couple seconds until you heard a sort of 'clack' or static on the
line, then release the button and wait for the operator to respond,
same as if you had been in the front of the store, on the payphone. I
just went to the phone terminal box in the basement of the store and
jumped the white wire (of the blue/white pair) to the yellow (ground
wire) of the payphone. Either way, (person in front with a nickel
which tripped the finger in the coin box to temporarily in turn trip
the ground to make the connection) _or_ uncle in back in his pharmacy
office twisting the button to the payphone line position then tapping
the buton with his finger to temporarily touch blue to white down to
the basement where white met yellow. *In theory* it was only supposed
to be an 'answer-only' extension to the payphone which was always
ringing because kids from school hung around the fountain area at the
front of store making calls and getting calls from their buddies. The
fountain clerk/store cashier was not always able to get to the pay
phone to answer in time, and uncle would have to run out to the front
and get the payphone.

It worked fine for a couple weeks then one day I was in the store and
the telephone inspector came around to see my uncle and asked him what
had happened. Uncle played sort of dumb, he claimed to have no idea
what was wrong. The telephone inspector went to the basement, looked
in the terminal box, snapped off _my_ side of the ground wire, came
back upstairs, disabled the twist button/two line phone, went over
to the pay phone, lifted the receiver, waited for the operator to
respond and said to her 'give me the Business Office'. I thought it
sort of prudent at that point to make myself scarce so went outside
the drugstore where I could spy through the window and see what was
going on. The inspector told the Business Office he had 'corrected the
problem'. Then he came outside, saw me and asked 'have you seen anyone
fooling around with the pay station?' This inspector had a very large,
red, bulbous nose; he appeared to drink too much ice tea, IMO. I
assured him I had not seen anyone 'messing around' with the phone, and
he replied "I sure would like to catch the little bastard; if you see
who it was, tell him to stay away from the phone." I told him I would
make certain to tell the 'little bastard' not to mess with the phone
any further.

But now days, Bell is out of business as you know. Feel free to tap
the proper wire to ground anytime you want to get a groundstart phone
to produce dial tone. You cannot get in trouble for it any longer. PAT]

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