Hamshack Hotline, nicknamed the “Bat Phone for Ham Radio”, is a FREE dedicated Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telecom service for the Amateur Radio community. This has been around a couple years and is quickly growing here in Western New York. There are over 4000 extensions existing globally on the network.
The service utilizes VoIP desk phones that simply connect to your Internet router with an Ethernet cable. The VoIP service uses the SIP protocol and compatible devices are listed on the Hamshack Hotline website (www.hamshackhotline.com). Most of the supported models are regularly available on eBay for anywhere between $20-$50. It’s important to ensure that the phone is unlocked, so it is not tied to a proprietary service provider.
I started with a Linksys SPA942 which I purchased as part of a few lots totaling 40 phones, which I made available to local hams at my cost, $20 each including an AC Adapter. The phones utilize PoE or “Power over Ethernet”, so don’t forget an AC Adapter if you do not have a PoE Ethernet switch (not common on home routers). Another popular model is the Cisco SPA504G or higher end Cisco SPA525G2 which has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, color screen, and multimedia functions.
There is an online directory (https://apps.wizworks.net:9091) for all the Hamshack Hotline users, and many will publish their extension on their QRZ website (this is one phone you do not have to worry will be a telemarketer when it rings!). Locally we have a Western NY conference bridge at extension 1377. This allows for many users to all be connected at once. The status of conference bridges and who’s in them is available on a special BLF website (https://beyondblf.hamshackhotline.com/blf), which helps others know when there is activity. There are also bridges specific to ARES and other amateur radio related interests.
The free service is offset by donations from users who find this a valuable tool to have in their Hamshack. You may wish to think of it as a private intercom, as there is NO connectivity to the public switched telephone network (PTSN). It’s a fun way to stay connected with other hams, spotting contacts with others on HF, and setting up an on-air schedule with someone.
Matt Brown K2EAG x5748
ARRL WNY Section Traffic Manager