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Intellicall / Astratel troubleshooting - no dialtone

Started by bitbucket, July 21, 2019, 01:32:14 PM

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I recently acquired what I believe to be an Astratel 2 (though the plastic covering the mainboard is black, not gray). When I wire it up to a known good line, I just get a slight buzzing sound. If I disconnect the 'telco' plug from the mainboard and connect it to a desktop phone, I get dialtone, so I know things are good to that point. The ribbon cable between the face and mainboard is secure with no signs of damage.

This is my first time dealing with one of these phones and I'm at a loss. Any suggestions as to how to troubleshoot further are appreciated.


I found mention elsewhere of the battery in this thing. Apparently, the phone will not work if it's dead. I haven't tested it but it's highly likely to be well past its prime so I've ordered a new one (Cyclon 0819-0010). We'll see what that gets me.


After replacing the battery, I now get a polite "out of order" recording when the phone goes off-hook. I get DTMF from the keypad, too. Still no dialtone.

Any ideas?


When I dial the phone's extension, the modem answers after the first ring. I'm wondering if this board has just never been configured.

I know that the Astratel 2 modem is 14.4k but that's about it. Anyone have any more info on what it takes to talk to this phone (8,N,1?)? Will I be able to interact with it in a serial terminal or is special software required? Is there a way to wire a serial connection directly to the board and bypass the modem?

Payphone installer

It takes software if you don't have it,it won't work.


It looks like the original software may have been called IFW or INET. Are there copies of this known to exist?


An update for posterity...

All signs were pointing to an issue with the mainboard in my Astratel 2. I found a source for another one (Triad / TULLC) and ordered it. When I ordered the new board, I learned about a second battery that I'd not been aware of. This one is connected to the mainboard itself. I now wonder what effect swapping out that battery would have had. Regardless, I received the new board and have dialtone after installing it. Next step is to get the thing programmed. The software that's required is called "INET for Windows" and was published by Intellicall themselves.

Something else I learned from the Triad folks is that the Astratel 2 battery (I'm not sure which one) is only charged while the phone is in use. This means that it will eventually drain if not exercised regularly and the phone loses its rate file when that happens. If you're not set up to reprogram the phone, you'll be left with a non-functional phone.


More lessons learned...

I was able to come up with a copy of the IFW software. It's old and doesn't run on anything newer than Win7. I installed it on a WinXP VM only to discover that it's looking for a proprietary modem (an 'INET Board').

Upon realizing this, I thought I was done for but the payphone gods were smiling on me and I found a pair of them being sold for $5.

The catch now is that the modem is an old ISA board and I've long since thrown away anything that might have had an ISA slot. Prices on ebay for vintage systems are outlandish. Still hunting...

I know there's a way to connect directly to the Astratel mainboard, too. However, I've been unable to find any info on the cable/pinout.


You are lucky to find that software and modem hardware. As for vintage PC's with ISA I use one for my Protel Expressnet server. There's a whole bunch of junk in my garage but I have no idea what works and what is e-scrap. 486, P1, P2 and up to P4 boards could have ISA slots. My Protel server is a P2 system.