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Realistic Ringing Phone

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Many community theater companies are content with using an old-fashioned sounding telephone bell for ringing phones onstage. However, in this "modern" age, phones bleep, buzz or, occasionally, chime. Avoiding a modern looking plastic phone that sounds like a 1940's steel phone is easy. You just need a transformer and a little wiring.

Phones are rung by alternating current (AC) much like the standard wall current, with a few differences. Wall current is 110/120 volts at 60 cycles. Phone voltage is about 90 volts at 30 cycles. To achieve this, you need a ring voltage transformer, a momentary contact switch, some wire and, if you feel ambitious, some phone connectors. The ring voltage transformer is available either through your local phone company or through an electronics supply house such as Radio Shack. They can also be ordered from some theatrical supply houses.

To install, simply run two wires, one with the momentary contact switch spliced in, from the transformer to the middle two wires (usually red and green) on your phone cable. Plug the transformer into the wall and test. It may take a little practice to get the ring cycle right, but it's worth it. And with that, your phone will sound like it should.

Note: As always when working with electricity, proper precautions should be taken to prevent shock. Be sure all wires are properly connected and insulated. Use a good quality, stranded wire that will stand up to movement, rather that a solid core wire that will break if moved too much.


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