Active Member
Ok... So...

I know this has been discussed before, but I can't find it in any of the forums...


the summer is over and now I am done with the community theatre and now I am on to the high school program.
I need to make a phone ring... in the past at the high school we used a cheap and poorly timed electronic ring sound effect.
That really won't fit the play and I want something with a bit more class.
At the community theatre we have an existing system, the power converter is in the booth, it has 20 some outputs of varous voltages and frequencys... it is run with a few door bell buttons..... simple, but very reliable...
At the CT, I think we used 10v to make a phone ring.... and if I remember correctly, it take between 90-100v to talk on a phone, but we only need it to ring.
I am not entirly sure how to do this with a very modest budget....
I know you can buy a wounderful system for makeing phones ring, but it costs around $140 as I remember, and that is more than my entire budget, so... I am looking for a much cheaper solution....
Any help would be great!
when i needed a phone ring last year i downladed the effect and put it on cd. i played it though the cd player in my booth, but you could also play it on your laptop if you work offa that. there are so many effects online that finding the right ring should not be hard
I have used recorded phone rings before,

But I really hate the sound of them when compared to a real phone ringing on stage, espically since we have a virtualy useless sound system that sounds like crap.

A recorded phone is my last resort...
If you do go the recorded way, listen to the sound of a bell or something ringing in your theatre and try to reproduce the reverb when you clean up the effect on your computer.
Until I bought a Tele-Q phone ringer (which works great by the way - but is $140) I used a couple different methods because I also hate the sound of a phone coming through the main audio system as a sound cue. If the phone you are using is an old ring style, here's a little trick. Go to a local hardware store and pick up a transformer style doorbell ringer - they come in different sizes and tones - I usually got a larger one as they are closer to a phone ring in tone. Most phones on stage are sitting on a table or something, so screw the ringer under the table and either wire it up to a dimmer or just to a switch backstage that someone can click on when needed. For a dimmer just hit the bump button on the board to power it up - for backstage operation you will have to make sure whoever is running it can see the action as it looks really tacky for the phone to keep ringing after someone picks it up :oops:

For a modern style phone ring I have used a small powered speaker (like a computer speaker) also rigged up under a phone table or stand. I then borrowed a small Casio electric keyboard from a friend which had electronic phone sounds on it, hooked it into the sound board and ran an Aux send to the speaker on stage. That worked better than having something on a CD as you can release the key quicker when the phone is actually picked up.

Either way, the actual sound of the phone ring is coming from the phone location and not through the mains, and the effect is very convincing.
How much of an electronics geek are you, and how soon do you need it? Given a little time for me to design it and a little time for you to build it, it should take about $20 worth of parts.

A long, long time ago, at Great Lakes Naval Training center, I taught the care and feeding of dial telephone systems. The vast majority of U.S. phone systems use 48 volts DC when you're talking, 90 volts AC at 20 Hz to ring. A circuit to generate 90 volts at 20 Hz shouldn't be difficult... I may even have most of the parts in my junk drawer.

If you do get the right frrequency it works on ALL phones, new and old, by the way. ;)
we have a tele q thing. our booth was to far to run a line form it to the stage. we had a loud ringer( basicly a ringer that you plug in to the line before the phone that rings really loud) so we mounted that behind the phone. we have a few phone extenion around our theatre so we just picked one close and ran a cord to the ringer and called it form the booth. worked pretty good. otherwise if you could runa speaker by the phone and find a good sound fx and just play it throught that speaker.
There's a place in the Chicago area called American Science and Surplus. They have all kinds of crap that no one would ever want or need. Except people like us. Take a look at their website and I'll bet you could find parts for a really convincing ring that would appear to eminate from onstage for a lot cheaper than $150. Only downside of that site is they require a $15 or $20 minimum on web orders. Or DMXtools could build you one.
len said:
...Or DMXtools could build you one.

DMX-tools is designing one. I may build one just to prove it works, but it's not something I intend to sell. What I'll do is post the schematic, parts list and theory of operations. It's up to you to collect the parts and build it yourself (or find an electronics-geek friend to build it for you).

Sorry, I mis-read your post. I got the impression you were offering to build the one, kind of as a prototype.
I almost think DMXtools designing one is better! That way, I might get to learn from how he did it too! I really like it when people take the time to show you something that works and a little bit of why it works instead of just handing something to you and saying it works. (I was the kid who all through elementary school riped appart every elctronic toy i was given to see how it worked because the instructions never told how it workd!)

I guess I am just trying to say thank you to DMXtools and everyone else here who helps everyone else!

(Can you tell I am in a good mood??? :) )
Well, for Peter (and anyone else who's interested), here it is. The .pdf file includes the schematic and two pages of "theory of operations." No guarantees - it should work, but I haven't built it yet to be sure... there's one part (the relay) I didn't find in my junk box. Also, I'm still working on the bill of materials - Digi-Key is a mail-order parts distributor that doesn't mind selling small quantities of parts to hobbyists, so I'm trying to find Digi-Key catalog numbers for the parts. Once I've done that, I'll edit the .pdf to include the BOM.

Very Very cool! I think I understood most of that! Thank you. Completely not knowing about this conversation, my AP Chem teacher told the class that we would be making a simple phone system powered competely by chemicals. He said that early phones had a "tin can" in them that had one chemical, and you had to add another chemical to generate the electricity for the phone to run. He said that every once in a while these chemicals had to be replaced. I think he is basicly talking about an early form of the battery, but with the setup you have desribed and his battery, and my digital electronics class, I should be ready to setup my own huge telecommunications company! (well... ok maybe not quite :) ) Thanks again!
Well, I've added the bill of materials as a fourth page to the .pdf file. If you've already looked at it, you may have to hit the reload button on your browser to be able to see the BOM the next time you look. I found Digi-Key catalog numbers and prices for everything. I did not include a piece of perfboard to mount it on, a box to put it in or a modular phone jack, all of which you can still find at Radio Shack. Have fun!


Users who are viewing this thread