Seeking simple off/on switch for phone line
June 14, 2009 10:14 PM   Subscribe

I need a simple off/on switch for my phone line.

I have a passable cordless phone. I used to have a really nice one, but it broke. Disposable commodities!

Anyway, I turn the phone off when I go to bed. My current phone has no way to turn off the ringer short of unplugging the phone line from it.

I'd like an simple off/on switch for my phone line, preferably one with an indicator light which very clearly indicates whether it's on or off. I've Googled it buy found nothing.

I'm not handy with a soldering iron, so I'd rather not build something.

posted by 4midori to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just to clarify: are you looking for something that will simply turn off the ringer, or something that disconnects the line entirely (thus preventing outgoing calls as well)?
posted by armage at 10:22 PM on June 14, 2009

Best answer: Something like this? You could leave the "B" output unplugged. There's no light, but it should be obvious if it's on or off.
posted by null terminated at 10:23 PM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I bet you can use Do Not Disturb service on your line. Call 611 (telephone company service line) to find out if there's an extra charge or a way you can have it added to your monthly package if needed. Sadly, no indicator light, but it does provide an emergency override so people you trust with your PIN can still call you if need be.
posted by zachlipton at 10:23 PM on June 14, 2009

If it's a cordless phone, it must have some kind of power supply connected to the base station. How about plugging this in a dedicated power strip, with an on/off switch and indicator light ?

Potential downsides would be that most phones will take a few seconds to become operational after power is restored, and it also might not be good for the handset battery.

That being said, most any kind of switch fitted on the signal cable will do the trick, and it's not terribly difficult to do. If you absolytely don't want to try it yourself, If you go to a friendly electronics store and ask nicely, they might take the trouble of doing it for you --- it should take all of five minutes of their time.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:26 PM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I started to write instructions for how to build this because it is really simple...

But man, no solder? What about electrical tape?

Seconding Dr Dracator - take your phone cable in to the friendly electronics store and ask them to put a switch in the middle of it. Maybe a smaller mom-pop store?
posted by titanium_geek at 10:42 PM on June 14, 2009

You could easily wire up a light switch inline without soldering anything. Should cost less than a buck.
posted by torquemaniac at 12:16 AM on June 15, 2009

My dad rigged up a big ol' fashioned knife switch on the wall to do just this.
Try to get one with screw terminals so you don't have to solder, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:48 AM on June 15, 2009

phone wire is low voltage - so it will be tricky to hook-up a light to it.

but you could easily go to home depot, get a pre-wired lamp switch, and splice into that using a phone line splice kit
posted by Flood at 4:21 AM on June 15, 2009

I've seen these devices before at Radio Shack, but I don't know if they still sell them.

Phone lines aren't particularly low voltage- I believe the ringer signal is 90v AC. That'll give you a nice little spank.

What I'd probably do is what torque maniac suggests- get an electrical box, get a light switch, get a wall plate with two phone jacks. Wire the switch in between the two phone jacks. Plug the apparatus in between the phone line in and the phone line out.

If you wanted to get fancier, you could get a three-way-switch with a pilot light. When it's ON, it connects to the phone. When it's off, it connects to the pilot light. You'd have to research the voltages of the phone line- I think the dialtone "battery" voltage is -48vdc, and the ring is 90 vac. You'd have to figure out how to hook it up so that a ring doesn't kill your light.

If I remember right, if you leave the wires open (electrically unplugged), callers will just hear ringing. If you short them together, callers will get a busy signal. But there might be a particular way to short them together so that the phone company doesn't get mad at you. I think their switches cut off the line when it sees a full short. There is a way to make the phone go off hook and send a busy, but without causing trouble. I just don't know what it is.

If you don't get any better answers, memail me and I'll research it further.
posted by gjc at 6:24 AM on June 15, 2009

Well, it's big, ugly and sort of overkill, but an RJ11 switch box would work. Just hook up the phone to A and turn it "off" by switching to B. No LED indicator, unfortunately.
posted by O9scar at 11:13 PM on June 15, 2009

And now I see null terminated beat me to it...
posted by O9scar at 11:14 PM on June 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. A power switch doesn't work, because then the phone loses its memory.

And any other solution that requires me to remember to do something other than flip a switch means I'll forget.

But the RJ11 switch box, ugly as it is, should work fine.

posted by 4midori at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2009

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