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Odd Norstar Phone

Started by DavePEI, September 04, 2015, 07:38:27 AM

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I want to share with you a discussion we have going on on the Prince Edward Island Telephone Museum Facebook page concerning a special Norstar phone, which apparently was made by Northern Electric and used by Bell Canada in DMS-100 exchanges as an intercom between the frames and the test board... I hope this will not only increase the number of people we have looking for information on these, but also let you see what is happening on the Museum FB page.

You will find the Museum Group at:

Photos below:

   "Steve Hart is an avid Northern Telecom collector, and had the good fortune to get these pictures of a Nortel device used within central offices in a sort of auto-speakerphone key system. He's wondering if anyone can find out the model number of these or, better yet, get him one. I can't ID it - I have never seen one like it, and would love to have one in my Nortel collection as well. Anyone recognize these who can enlighten us?

  • Clint Christensen that is a very cool piece of Nortel Gear! I've never seen anything like it August 28 at 9:34pm ·
  • Jay Davis We used to have something similar mounted on our MDF every ten or so verticals that was part of the 1a1 key system. It was for the frame speakers and for the test desk to talk to the frame attendant when they used to short and open pairs for the test desk when they had an outside tech troubleshooting a line. It all worked through the overhead speakers and was hands free. When I was outside you could hear them rolling the ladder down the aisle while talking to the test desk. I see one key labled rsb. My guess on that one is repair service bureau or in the old days the Ltd or local test desk. August 28 at 11:18pm
  • Jay Davis Used to have a jack panel below it so they could plug a cord in so the tester could test the pair from his position in the repair bureau.August 28 at 11:20pm
  • Dave Hunter Keith Cheshire identified this under one of the photos as a 108QA Test Connector. There is a cable that jacks into one of the two fields at the bottom and the other end plugs into the test fixture on the face of a 50 pair MDF protector!August 29 at 12:18am
  • Keith Cheshire Also from the keys and display on the console, this unit appears to be supported by a Norstar Key System although I cannot be sure.  The style and display are consistent with Norstar !August 29 at 12:35am
  • Jay Davis I don't think the 108QA test connector head is part of the Nortel piece. We had connectors on the frame that tied into a system that was used for cable pair identification mainly for pulp cable tagging out in the field and they were mounted along the  frame since the adapter cable that plugged into the head was only about 10 feet long. You would establish a control pair and the 50 pair connector from the box would be cabled over to the cable head. You would use a receiver outside that you would attach to  the control pair and then take pairs from the bundle and  it would tell you the pair number from 1-50 so you could tag the groups before splicing. Worked 50 pairs at a time with the old tag boards.  I think the Nortel piece is a modernized speaker phone and replaced the old 1a1 stuff we used to have. Would be nice to mount on my mini frame i want to build for my stepper switch. i actually saw a knock off Nortel Local Test Desk that was modeled after the western electric local test desk #2.. Only have seen one in existence in a west virginia central office...The meter had Northern on it and the cabinet was built by Northern Telecom.. Looked like it was made in the 80s but I could never date the cabinet... Wish I could have made off with it before I retired...August 29 at 2:03am
  • Jay Davis I tried a google image search on it but all I got were nortel 7324s... Must be a special telco model... maybe post it on a Nortel forum and see what surfaces...August 29 at 2:12am
  • Joel Eves Is there a Nortel forum?August 29 at 10:27am
  • Dave Hunter Been there, done that - 29 at 11:23am
  • Jay Davis You are quick...August 29 at 11:28am
  • Ed Burns ...this was pretty standard fare for all the Bell Canada frames in eastern Ont.....August 29 at 12:02pm
  • Dave Hunter I believe you, Ed. But what was its Northern Telecom/Nortel model number?August 29 at 12:50pm ·
  • Ed Burns I'll make a call and see if I can get it for you...August 29 at 12:51pm
  • Dave Hunter That would be really great if you could do that! Thanks!August 29 at 12:52pm
  • Ed Burns ..stand by Dave, I'll have it Mon..August 30 at 10:08am
  • Dave Hunter Wonderful, Ed!August 30 at 10:09am
  • Jay Davis Can't wait to find out...August 30 at 1:32pm
  • Ed Burns it is: NT3N00AA. We're not sure if the " 00's " might be " OO's " though, ----so keep that in mind.....cheers..!!!September 1 at 9:18am
  • Dave Hunter According to NT's normal numbering scheme, they would be zeros. However, it doesn't leave us a whole lot further ahead, as no NT catalog I have or have seen list them. They must have been specially purpose built, or perhaps came as part of the frame. Anyone have a catalog listing or spec sheet listing these? Now, I am twice as curious!September 1 at 9:12pm
  • Jay Davis The plot thickens...September 1 at 10:11am
  • Dave Hunter I have posted what we know so far on the Nortel Forum mentioned above, and on the TCI and ATCA mailing lists. If I am able to find out anything on them, of course, I will pass it along.September 1 at 11:11am
  • Dave Hunter I was told today by Jeremy Walters that he bought one of these years ago, and has been looking for more information about it ever since. He tells me his Norstar system recognizes it as a M7208, so at least we know that it would work with a pretty basic Norstar system such as I have and that it uses the same protocol as the M7208. Any information we find will also be shared with Jeremy and of course, Steve Hart.September 1 at 1:40pm
  • Steve Hart Thank you everyone.  Yes, it does utilize and is reconized by Norstar KSU and a Nortel Norstar M7208.  I appriciate this blog Dave Hunter !September 1 at 5:11pm
  • Steve Hart BTW, thanks Joel Eves for everything too !September 1 at 5:13pm
  • Dave Hunter Yes, it was Joel who told me you were looking for info on the phone. Hopefully, we will be able to add to our knowledge about them. One of "Notel"'s remaining Secrets!September 1 at 5:17pm
  • Dave Hunter Ed Burns just made an interesting comment which I think adds to this discussion: "BTW... you might be on to something when you say that unit came as part of the "Frame Package". As you likely know, all the older frames were grey and of course the communications links were jacks were we would plug in our headsets; communication with the test board was by overhead speakers and a pull cord to operate a line relay....September 1 at 5:34pm
  • Keith Cheshire Maple Leaf brown , but we at NT described it differently!September 2 at 12:05am
  • Dave Hunter Would the name you called it have something to do with baby diapers or skid marks? September 2 at 6:05am
  • Keith Cheshire Roger that!September 2 at 10:25am ·
  • Jay Davis I had asked a Nortel installer one time about the color scheme of the dms100. He told me they actually did a study to determine the most appealing colors for the equipment and the brown and green were the winners. Looks like a tree I guess but he seemed to be serious about the study...September 2 at 11:02am
  • Keith Cheshire Not only was the color combo rated high, but the paint was designed with a component that made it slightly (meg ohm range) conductive so it eliminated or discharged static buildup on the face of the equipment! September 2 at 11:46am
  • Dave Hunter I have always loved Norstar phones, and to be honest discovering there was one we knew nothing about was quite interesting. Please, if you know anything about these, or have documentation, please share it with us. It is definitely one of "Notel"'s greatest secrets! (Right next to how to effectively demonstrate a Millennium Payphone without a Millennium Manager connection!) September 2 at 11:38pm
  • Keith Cheshire Yes! I remember when we first announced the product at Telecom 87 in Geneva Switzerland.  They were a last minute addition and I had to squeeze them in near the staton set displays.  My first thought was "why another Key System"?  Boy was I wrong !!!21 hrs
  • Dave Hunter Some of my prized and rare red Norstars - By the way, thanks to Terry Biddlecombe for these! (plus a red Harmony)!Dave Hunter's photo.18 hrs
  • Steve Hart Oh my.... 17 hrs
  • Joel Eves Thought of you when I saw Dave's picture, Steve Hart. I know you're looking for red Norstar sets too.17 hrs
  • Dave Hunter Gotta Love them! Sorry, Steve - can't let them go!16 hrs"
Now, I will ask all here - have you seen one of these phones, and do you have any technical information on them! I am hoping one of you might have more information on these phones. We have learned a lot about them, but we would still like to expand our knowledge on them further, and hopefully I hope to be able to add one to the Museum collection as well as find one for Steve eventually!

The Telephone Museum of Prince Edward Island:
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That seems logical to me that these phones would appear as 7208's. The 10 buttons on each side of the line and feature buttons make it appear more like a 7310 but the bottom two keys are standard keys on all Norstar phones that have just been located in that position to keep the phones ultra compact.



Quote from: AE_Collector on September 05, 2015, 11:31:11 AM
That seems logical to me that these phones would appear as 7208's. The 10 buttons on each side of the line and feature buttons make it appear more like a 7310 but the bottom two keys are standard keys on all Norstar phones that have just been located in that position to keep the phones ultra compact.


They were Automatic Call Distribution units.  Here is the IP (Unistim) equivalent.  You'll see the similarity almost immediately.  I found the part code with one of my UK suppliers.  He searched worldwide but could not locate a spare unit.  There was a horizontal and vertical version of that Norstar unit actually.  It would get recognized as a 7208 without the proper software version and Call Pilot.  Just like a CS1K running at a lower software release will see an 1165E as an 1140.


Quote from: AE_Collector on September 05, 2015, 11:31:11 AM
That seems logical to me that these phones would appear as 7208's. The 10 buttons on each side of the line and feature buttons make it appear more like a 7310 but the bottom two keys are standard keys on all Norstar phones that have just been located in that position to keep the phones ultra compact.


Here are the part codes for that unit Terry ...


It was simply re-purposed, but it was intended as a call center phone (remembering that Norstar is a PBX, not a 1A2ish KSU).  I'm not quite sure why people call Norstar a Key System.  Sales marketed it that way, but technical people never called it a key system.

They probably had custom keycaps made for ANAC (automatic number announcement circuit).  Norstar and Meridian-1 can't directly communicate with DMS-100 line cards (universal or otherwise).  But, if a Norstar PBX is behind that set's ANAC key and out of view, and that key is mapped to an analog loop start line connected to DMS, then yes, ANAC would be delivered, but that doesn't really make sense does it?  You could do that with a butt set.  I guess they were trying to be cute?

Only Nortel ISDN BRI U and Meridian Digital Centrex M5xxx (u-law) and M6320 phone can connect to DMS-100 line cards

Meridian-1 can connect to the large SL-100 PBX (a DMS-100/Option x1 series variant for sites that exceed Option 81's 16,000 TDM extension limit.  This is done indirectly via IPEs (Intelligent Peripheral Equipment interfaces).

I guess this is more than you wanted to know, but I had to rule out all the other possibilities.

Nortel caused massive confusion with Meridian branding on sets that looked identical.  A running gag is the i2004 IP phones were purple and the M3904 Meridian phones were every other color to avoid confusion.

Below are examples of the the ISDN BRI 5209T, the Meridian 3820, and the Centrex 6320.  The 3820 was A-law companding (the Euro standard, an Option 11 phone), but the 6320 was Digital Centrex for DMS in North American markets.

I hope this solves the mystery.