The TeleTalk Network is a voice mail and bulletin board service reminiscent of the old computer modem bullet board service (BBS), except all you need is a touch tone phone.
There's something for everyone. Three general topic boards called, Get It Off Your Chest, Hangout, and Off the Hook. There are boards about current events, religion, hobbies, and general desires. There's boards about specific interests such as athletics, books and authors, jokes, music, and poetry. If you're into some of the more bizarre topics, there's boards on ghost stories, UFO's, and of course a topic on bizarre stuff in general. If you're someone who likes to know what's going on around you, there's boards on dance clubs, movies, and places to dine. Yes, there's even a board for dating!
Just for fun there's a featured board called Who's Your Daddy? It's basically very similar to a dear Abby column except you can ask any question verbally, and a voice response to your question is eventually answered. You can also listen to other people's questions and answers.
If you prefer live party lines, where you can talk to other people who come on line. There's even that! Up to 4 people can chat at once.
If you're the imaginative type, who likes to solve mysteries or puzzles, there's something here for you too! It's the TeleTalk Aventure Game! It's a massive game in progress. The voice prompts need a little brushing up, but it's definitely playable.
If you would like to receive personal messages from people without offering personal information, you can also apply for a voice mailbox (vmail). It's very similar to email, except it's all done through voice. You can even record your very own outgoing message. To apply for a box number (to receive vmail) send an email to email@example.com. Leave your name, phone number, city/state and what you would like your numeric passcode to be. You can also leave him a voice message if you like, but it will take longer. If you apply with a voice message, someone will have to return your call for validation. After validation, you'll have a free voice mailbox and a passcode to enter the party line.
The cost of all this is absolutely free! The TeleTalk Network is a private non profit provider of pure fun!
The number for this free service is... 510-234-8101! Telephone company rates will apply, but other than that, it's totally free. In other words, there's nothing special about the number, but if it happens to be long distance for you, then you'll have to pay the long distance charges.
First off, I think I need to explain what a voltage drop detector is. You see, back in the day, I used to attach the raw telephone lines directly to the conference (conference circuit picture shown above). When a call hung up there was a voltage drop delivered by the phone company. This was used to reset my conference and wait for the next call. As time went on, I started getting more complicated. After getting into voice mail and voice bulletins, I found the need to place everything behind a key system, so I could route callers to the party line after they checked their voice mail for example. The problem with this idea was that the key system didn't deliver the voltage drop my conference circuit needed to reset the line. I had to design voltage drop detectors (illustrated to the left)to let the conference circuit know when a caller hung up. The voltage drop detectors are attached to the raw telephone voltage and the conference circuit still remains behind the key system. Problem solved, but look how messy it was!
As time went on, I decided I needed a voltage drop detector design that was a little bit neater than what I just illustrated. I needed something more reliable, easier to maintain, and I needed the static noises reduced. To the right is the finished project. Much cleaner, neater and very easy to maintain. The relays are all inside sockets, so I can replace them if they go bad. All the lines are wired together on a circuit board, to keep things very tidy. Since there is no more movement from separate individual voltage drop detector lines, the line noises have been greatly reduced.
The image above is the timer circuit I use to disconnect people from the partyline every 8 minutes. I did some pretty sloppy work putting it together, but never the less, it's worked reliably for years. It has the dust to prove it! It's basically just making use of the 555 timer chip. I tried the 556 at first because I heard it could repeat a cycle, but I could never get them to work. For the 555, I use a relay (with an electrolytic capacitor placed over the coil to hold the contact closed a little longer) to re-trigger the timer. Another thing I do with relays is disconnect people from the line. To keep things simple, I just short out the lines and that causes the conference (partyline) to drop the call. The advantage of doing it this way is less work, fewer things tied inline, and less things I had to change. Change is never good when it comes to working electronics. I shouldn't say it all out shorts the line. I have 600 ohm resistors "shorting" the conference out. It's basically the same as picking up a standard telephone on the same line as the line that the conference is on. Picking up the phone would cause the relay in the partyline circuit to drop out. Since those resistors are connected to 4 RJ-11 lines (that tie into a phone line splitter between the timer and conference), I decided to attach my voltage drop detector circuit onto those same resistors. The voltage drop detector circuit is basically the same circuit as what a person might use to turn on a tape recorder every time the phone is picked up. With mine, the normally closed relay, will leave the conference lines endlessly shorted out with those 600 ohm resistors I just talked about (in other words, the conference remains hung up). Once the voice processing computer picks up a call, that line is no longer shorted UNLESS, the timer happens to kick in within a brief moment (it does this every 8 minutes). When a caller hangs up, the voltage drop causes the voltage drop detector circuit to short out the particular line that the caller was on. This in turn will cause the relay in that conference line to drop out, which will hang the conference up to prepare for the next call. Without the voltage drop detector, the conference would remain picked up and nobody else could call in again.