The personal & secret telephone menu – with Asterisk/FreePBX

Have you ever wanted to do some crazy telephony stuff such as call a long distant number using your office PaBX, or call you back and bridge an open channel (so you can call anywhere) or do just about anything with your own Direct Inward Number (or PSTN number) that only you know how to activate? Here’s in summary what i wanted to achieve

  1. Use back my existing number, e.g. my own DID
  2. Let it do the same thing as before, i.e. ring my extension, forward to my mobile
  3. BUT, enable a “secret” menu option that only i know that can execute different functions of the PaBX such as dial a long distance number

I wanted to do something like this without affecting my existing number when everyone else dials. But the trick is to not let anyone know its an IVR that’s actually “answering” the call. So, its essentially, my own private little menu system that when i dial my own number, i can activate by activating (dialing) the IVR option! I believe this is a cool feature to enable users to do a multitude of stuff within their Asterisk/FreePBX system; In an organization, this could be use to;

  1. Check your voicemail from a pstn number
  2. Check calendar appointments (using ICS/Exchange module)
  3. Initiate a call back
  4. Initiate another call (bridging)
  5. Send a voiceblast, …etc.etc.etc

The real trick isn’t a big mystery actually, its actually pretty trivial, here are the steps

  1. Create an IVR, use a ring-ring dialtone as the announcement (like as though it is really ringing but actually its playing an “ivr” message giving you time to key in your “secret” code for different functions”). Use this file here if you don’t have one. Fake ringtone
  2. Set different destinations as ivr menu responses using the beautiful web UI brought to you by FreePBX to do loads of stuff. See sample below;
    Be sure to:
    a) Set the announcement to the fake ringtone you just uploaded (using Admin/System Recordings)
    b) Set direct dial to disable
    c) Set timeout to however long you need to dial your secret codes (ensure its no longer than the fakeringtone)
    d) Set both invalid and timeout destination to your actual extension without a retry recording i.e. none
    e) Set invalid and timeout retries to zero
    f) In conclusion, follow like below verbatim, except for relevant changes for you
  3. Create an inbound route to go to that IVR you just created! 
  4. Save and apply configs!
  5. Do two tests, 1 dial and enter 2020 and it will “DialGirlFriend”
  6. Second test, dial without pressing anything…it will sound like a normal ring and eventually call your extension

And there you go, thanks to the intuitive design of FreePBX and of course the backend Asterisk super engine, you can do so much of fun stuff, with just one number 🙂 Happy Labor Day Folks!   Sanjay@astiostech