This post will show you how to use the computers in your home or office as a free intercom system!
After recently moving my office from the main floor down to a newly finished room in the basement, we ran into a bit of a problem. Now anyone who wanted to talk to the other had to walk from one end of the house to the other, go up or down the steps, and then walk all the way to the other end of the house again to talk. We have two phone lines in the house, so in theory we could call the other, but this just wasn’t working for us. What we needed was an intercom.
I wasn’t looking for anything fancy. I just wanted something to go from basement to first floor, wired or wireless, didn’t make any difference to me. I could run either. The cheapest ones I found online were over $50, and they had terrible ratings. The better ones were over $100. This just wasn’t going to fit in the budget. I could make my own, but the cost of the parts would have been about the same, and I would have had lots of labor involved.
Discouraged, I started making plans to use some two-way radios that we had been given. They would need to be on all the time, so batteries would be used up quickly if I didn’t wire them directly into the wall. I weeded through my pile of wall warts (the heavy things that you plug into the wall to power electronics) and found two of the proper voltage rating. I made some modifications to the two radios to allow the wall warts to power them instead of batteries, and plugged them in. The result was two radios that worked, but there was so much noise from the unfiltered power source that it made them unusable. Back to the drawing board.
I started thinking about all the technology that we had in this house. We have wireless phones, but they are incompatible for an intercom system. Suddenly it hit me….. why not try something over the existing local area network we have set up in the house? We have computers in all the rooms where we would want to communicate. There MUST be something out there!
Sure enough, a few keystrokes later, and I found my solution. It’s called (surprisingly enough) Intercom 188.8.131.52, and it is completely FREE! (this fits me perfectly)
I downloaded the software from the link above, and within a few minutes had our intercom system working. Just a note, you do need to have Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 installed on your computer, and your computer will need to have speakers and a microphone in order for it to work. In my case we only have one microphone, but I improvised and plugged a set of headphones into the microphone jack and used them as a microphone until I bought one. I was planning to buy one anyway, so that just increased the need a little. Most laptops have microphones built into them now, so if you have a laptop you are probably set.
I’m always a little leery of downloading freeware from the internet, but there are a few online freeware warehouses that I have some level of trust for. Softpedia is one of them. Just to be certain, I ran several virus scans on my computer after downloading it and they all came up clean. It never hurts to run a scan to double-check.
Once downloaded, the application does not have a self install option. It downloads as a zipped folder, so you need to unzip it. If your computer does not have a zip tool, you can download and install peazip for free.
Next you will need to find a convenient place to put this folder. I put it directly in the root of the C drive.
The folder contains a PDF file which explains the whole process very nicely. Please open that PDF file and read about how to use the application.
If you have any trouble using this application, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will help out if I can.
Also, don’t forget to check out my other posts!