Fire Alarm Dialer

What shall I do with this?

Fire alarm dialer box, front

You know your reputation as a salvager is increasing when the campus fire chief walks into your office and says, “I hear you might be interested in this.”

Yes. Yes I am.

Fire alarm dialer box, open

It’s a Microtel automatic dialer, built to watch a variety of analog and digital inputs, dial telephone numbers in response to alarm conditions, and play recorded and/or synthesized messages. It was installed under the floor of our data center, and apparently at some point its power was disconnected. After the backup gel battery drained, the voice card lost its mind. It’s old enough that they decided to replace the whole unit rather than the voice card.

Fire alarm dialer box, interior

The upper row is the system bus, containing the power supply, the CPU card, a voice memory card, and a telephone interface card. I’m not sure yet what the other card is. The lower row is the I/O bus, with two digital input cards.

What to Do?

I think it’s pretty cool. It’s a really nice enclosure. I love the LCD on the front panel, which looks like it has a parallel interface that should be easy to hack. The cards are intriguing, particularly if one of the chips is a voice synthesizer. The power supply offers 5V and 12V, and already knows how to charge a gel cell and cut over to it when power fails.

But I’m surprised at the enthusiastic response I’m getting from non-electronics-geeks. The normally reserved Garrett positively gushed over it, and today my friend Jonathan (ER nurse and fix-it guy) expressed how awesome it was, and how many cool things you could do with it.

All right, then, you tell me. What should I do with it? Enclosure, components, or the works?

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