Free Outgoing Calls

So awhile back, I hit onto this page while searching for VoIP info: Zero Cost Voip Calls. The blog really only has 2 entries:

This gave me an idea on how to make free outgoing calls with my current setup: VoiceStick Replacement – IPKall with GrandCentral

I basically have unlimited incoming calls now due to IPKall + FWD + PAP2. But to make outgoing phone calls, I still had to use my cell phone, and what sucks about making phone calls to customer service and technical support is that you’re on hold typically for over 30 minutes and that drains your minutes quite fast.

Anyway, it turns out GrandCentral connects you with anyone in your address book on their dime. It’s similar to the function on Google Maps when you find the business you want to contact, and they have the “call” button which prompts you for your phone number and connects you directly to them.

So you just need to create an entry in your GrandCentral address book and then click call. What happens then is they’ll call you directly on your line and since you don’t pay for incoming calls, it’s a free call to you. Once they confirmed that there’s someone on your side, they’ll connect you to the other party. Simple as that.

What’s neat about this is that you can basically make any phone calls within the United States for FREE! I’m not sure about Canada, but it’d be sweet if you can make calls to Canada for free too.

These past few days I’ve been playing with GrandCentral a bit since I’ve set it up for my parents and there are some very neat things. One really neat thing is the ability to record a conversation. Even if you selected to not record initially, you can hit “4” in the middle of the conversation and it’ll begin to record immediately. However, they appear to have only enabled that for calls you receive and not calls you’ve initiated from their web UI.

Another interesting thing is RingShare, where you can customize the ring people hear when calling you. By default, it’s set to the American ring, but you also have the British ring and the Japanese ring. You can also go through the gallery and choose from a small selection of chimes and even people talking.

One thing I really want is the option to turn off the screening process completely. Even with Call Screening off, it still prompts me to push 1 to start chatting. I can definitely see it as a useful feature, but to my parents, it just complicates the process.

Unlocking PAP2 Adventure

So I had quite some fun unlocking the PAP2. And by fun, I really meant headaches. First sign of trouble was when I noticed this PAP2 came with the 3.1.9 firmware which makes it impeccably harder to unlock than anything before.

However the guides posted on B$: Linksys PAP2 Unlock Info also included instructions on unlocking for firmwares 3.1.9 and higher, however they’re much more difficult. When unlocking my previous PAP2, all I had to do was setup a TFTP server and force it to upgrade the firmware. However the latest firmware prevents updating the firmware without administrator access and the admin password isn’t provided.

These new instructions required me to setup the following:

  • TFTP Server
  • DNS Server
  • HTTP Server

The instructions also called for setting up a DHCP server, but I decided to use my router to do that.

I ended up using SolarWinds TFTP Server, SHTTPD, and Simple DNS Plus. At first I wanted to use IIS that comes with XP, but I was hitting into issues with permissions and I just didn’t want to deal with that.

I pointed * to my main box that was hosting the the TFTP server and HTTP server. Following the directions, I created a similar environment that the PAP2 would try to connect and update the firmware with, which required getting the actual encrypted updated xml, but replacing at the location of where the new firmware is supposed to be, with something that I had.

After doing the 1st step, I hit into a snag. No longer was I able to access the PAP2 via the browser nor would **** access the IVR (interactive voice response) system. However, looking at my DNS and TFTP logs, I noticed that it would still try to connect to different address at * I thought I’d just “bricked” my PAP2 and began looking replacements for it on Amazon. Meanwhile, I left a message for Diggler on the forums telling him about my situation and asking if it’s recoverable at all.

Diggler comes back and tells me the good news. Turns out I didn’t kill my PAP2 and this was expected if it was able to get the encrypted xml, but not the updated firmware. The updated xml file told it to disable web access and if I continue to hit *s, the IVR system will eventually come up. With the ability to reset the PAP2 now that I can access the IVR system, I would be able to repeat this for as many times as I want.

So I decided to check the logs on my SHTTP server and even though it was sending the file, the logs show 404. Someone else said they were having problems with SHTTP and said wxWebServer had worked for them. I also tried this, but it didn’t work and no logs were generated. I finally gave up and decided to go back to IIS and BAM! It worked!

The rest of the unlocking steps were pretty straight forward.

Other useful guides:

I then setup GrandCentral to IPKall to FWD and now line 1 at my parents house is a new number they can use to receive calls. I was surprised that sticking the PAP2 into a line 1 jack actually made all the line 1 jacks in the house work. Derek had told me that it’s worked for him, but I had little luck back at my place. Then again, I really just plugged it into a jack and then plugged in a phone in a different jack, and that didn’t work.

With the web UI, they can also make calls, but that’s a blog entry I’ve been meaning to post for some time. Maybe sometime soon.


With AOL releasing their AIM Phoneline, there’s been a lot of discussion of different VoIP services. I had given it a shot, but it didn’t have any numbers 626 numbers (Monterey Park, CA) or 425 numbers (Redmond, WA) available for me. I got a PM from another user that said he had gotten a 626 number in Alhambra, so I tried Mark Keppel’s address, but it still said no numbers were available. Probably all the 626 numbers are gone.

I was also introduced to today and I’m surprised I didn’t know about it before. This is so cool, even cooler than IPKall which I had introduced several times on this website.

VoiceStick has this Next2Nothing plan which is well, FREE. You get you own local number which others can reach you at and it’s unlimited incoming calls. However, outgoing calls cost 2.4¢/min to anywhere in the USA/Canada, but there’s always SkypeOut for that till the end of this year. Also, the quality of VoiceStick is better than IPKall as I’ve even gotten fax to come in w/o any problems. So now I have a local number for friends and family back in socal that want to reach me, but for now, it’ll only get the fax machine on my computer until I purchase a 2nd phone.

You no longer have to install the bloatware that AOL requires you to install before using the AIM Phoneline.

Another cool thing is that VoiceStick works with any compatible SIP software/hardware, so I was able to configure my Linksys PAP2 to work with it with help from this thread: Configuring Sipura SPA-2000 to use Voicestick

The attributes you have to change are:

SIP Port: 5060 (or 5061)
Use Outbound Proxy: Yes
Outbound Proxy:
User ID: <your login>
Password: <your password>

I haven’t tried to see if there were any 425 #s but since this is nationwide, I would expect them to.

I currently have $0 balance in my VoiceStick account and don’t really plan to make outgoing calls anyway. There’s always my cellphone for that.