Not only is a telephone a simple device, but the connection between you and the phone company is even simpler. In fact, you can easily create your own intercom system using two telephones, a 9-volt battery (or some other simple power supply) and a 300-ohm resistor that you can get for a dollar at Radio Shack. You can wire it up like this:
Your connection to the phone company consists of two copper wires. Usually they are red and green. The green wire is common, and the red wire supplies your phone with 6 to 12 volts DC at about 30 milliamps. If you think about a simple carbon granule microphone, all it is doing is modulating that current (letting more or less current through depending on how the sound waves compress and relax the granules), and the speaker at the other end "plays" that modulated signal. That's all there is to it!
The easiest way to wire up a private intercom like this is to go to a hardware or discount store and buy a 100-foot phone cord. Cut it, strip the wires and hook in the battery and resistor as shown. (Most cheap phone cords contain only two wires, but if the one you buy happens to have four, then use the center two.) When two people pick up the phones together, they can talk to each other just fine. This sort of arrangement will work at distances of up to several miles apart.
The only thing your little intercom cannot do is ring the phone to tell the person at the other end to pick up. The "ring" signal is a 90-volt AC wave at 20 hertz (Hz).
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