Broadcasting isn’t immune to the pressures of resource, cost and efficiency factors that assail most American business. We’re asked to do more with less all the time.
Finding more efficient ways to use of existing resources is a continuing endeavor. One of the most powerful and underutilized resources is the telephone. Recently, I have come upon two helpful and cost-effective phone accessories.
The first is a refined, flexible alarm dialer manufactured by United Security Products, model AD-2000. Purchased on the Web at a low price of $137, this four-channel unit can be user-programmed via the front-panel keypad to respond to NO (normally open), NC (normally closed) or voltage goes high/low alarms either continuous or momentary.
Recognition of the alarm goes out on any of eight telephone numbers, delivering either a user-recorded audio message or alphanumeric data for pagers.
The total digital audio recording length is 51 seconds, which can be subdivided into five segments (ID and a message for each alarm). Each alarm can be sent to any selected number in the “phone book”; the message repeat and number retries are programmable. Once received, an alarm can be disabled remotely.
Power for the unit is a convenient, nominal 12 volts DC (rated 9-18 volts DC). A jack for an external UPS battery pack is supplied. The programmed instructions and messages are kept in long-term EEPROM memory.
This particular AD-2000 went to a remote site to inform multiple parties of tower lighting and security failures. The applications are endless – wherever one has an alarm and a telephone line. Our next unit is slated to go to an STL hop site to tell us when we have gone to battery, if we have toggled to the alternate hot standby or if the squelch has closed (loss of incoming signal).
This unit is rich in features, with listen-in and two-way talk capability from a front-panel mic and speaker as well as telephone-line seize and external alarm output, to name a few. You can determine if this unit will be helpful by downloading an instruction book in Word at www.unitedsecurity.com/autodialers.htm.
USP makes a similar two-channel unit, the AD-2001, for about $20 less.
In the nest
Another helpful phone device is a Motorola accessory for my StarTac cell phone, a “Desktop Hands-Free Station,” model SYN7979/98240.
This cell phone “nest” allows me to insert my cell phone, turned on and opened. The cell phone then behaves like a regular phone, ringing when a call comes in. You can answer by picking up the handset or pushing the speakerphone button. Hang up the phone and the cell hangs up.
On the downside, you still have to use the cell phone buttons and the send button to call out. But the call ID feature is clearly visible and the buttons readily reachable.
The handset is comfortable and clear-sounding. A modular spring cord is provided; you can sub a longer one if you like. The speakerphone outgoing audio works adequately; the incoming audio is clear, crisp and loud using its 3-watt amplifier.
Best of all, the “nest” powers the phone and charges the battery while it sits there and the portable feature continues to be active. If you need to go out of the room while talking, pull out the phone and go. The cell phone reverts to normal operation seamlessly.
My cell carrier provides a huge prime-time minute allotment, and within the network all calls are considered local. This phone nest allows me to use those valuable minutes conveniently and flexibly without the annoyance of the bulk, heat and RF of the phone against my face.
My units (I bought two) were on super sale at two for $70. A really helpful productivity accessory at a great price.
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