Radio Shack Fone Flasher

How do I integrate this Fone Flasher with ST? The goal is to receive a text message and turn on the smart bulbs when it flashes.

To be honest, you probably can’t. That device is old technology designed to receive an analog phone call, there isn’t even any way to get it to recognize a text. :thinking:

But there are a lot of ways these days to get a flashing light signal for an incoming text. The methods are slightly different if your phone is android or if it’s an iPhone, but neither is difficult. You can either have the phone itself flash, set it in a case/holder with an LED band around it which flashes, or just blink pretty much any light you connect to your smartthings account.

So you should be able to get the same outcome, but you’re not likely to be using that specific device for the use case you’ve described.

If you’d like more suggestions, it would help to know what country you’re in and what type of phone you have. Also, whether you want the phone itself to flash or whether you want to use some other light connected to your smartthings account.

I think I’ve seen my parents receive a text to their landline and get a phone call out of it - I’m sure they don’t subscribe to a service so I don’t know whether their carrier is providing text-to-speech or just letting them know someone made the attempt. If @afive is referring to an actual landline this might be workable, but you would need to open up the device and find a way to connect the ringer / flasher output to a dry contact on a Z-wave sensor/multi-relay. An unlikely scenario but it could work.

Landlines are analog—they can’t get texts. Yes, they might be eligible for an accessibility service where the text actually goes to a completely different number and then someone calls their landline to let them know about it, but that’s not going to work for this use case.

Or They might have a VOIP phone that looks like a landline phone, there are some of those, particularly from Xfinity, but then that won’t work with the fone flasher. It’s just two different technologies. It’s like trying to send a zwave signal to a Zigbee device. There are lots of different ways to get the same outcome, but that’s a different question.

As far as opening up the fone flasher, you could, but why? Again, there are lots of other ways to do the same thing, most of which will be simpler.

Lots of people with hearing challenges want a flashing light signal for their phone. So there are lots of options for doing that with current technology. :sunglasses:

I believe what was happening was the carrier receiving the text and forwarding either text to speech with the message contents or just a notification as a phone call. I’ll have to test it next time I see them. But I’d forgotten that they may have switched to VOIP, which complicates things.

I think the poster may want to receive a text message and turn on a bulb when that device flashes (when the landline is ringing.) Not have an incomming text message trigger any actions.

Something like this perhaps. :thinking:

I’m not afraid to get my hand dirty. Which “relay” do I need that is compatible with this fone flasher?

This was my post. :slight_smile: back in the time, I was exploring options directly from my VOIP phone and tried the luminance sensor on an Aeotc MultiSensoe 6. It’s hit or missed. At that time, I completely forgot that I still have the old school fone flasher. This led me to post a new topic specifically for this fone flasher.

It seems you and I might have different definitions of ‘landlines.’ I respect your opinion. Landline is usually known as analog and I agree with you… In my view, a landline is a device connected to a physical cable wire, which is exactly what I have. Now, my landline phone, with a 10-digits, is actually a Video (or Voice) Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) device connected to a physical ethernet cable, and my old school fone flasher actually works with it!

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Homeseer sells a light sensor that might work. Tape the sensor to the flasher and the attached Zwave contact sensor should report it. Community members have been using these on their washers and dryers to notify when the machine is done.

There are four separate issues in the use case as described.

  1. can the fone flasher recognize a text message? The answer will be no unless the phone is a VOIP phone, in which case, maybe.

  2. can the fone flasher distinguish between a text message and an incoming voice call? The answer is no. So that depends on the details of the use case.

  3. does the fone flasher itself have a light, and if so, what kind? Many models didn’t. They were really just a smart plug activated by an incoming analog signal. The idea was that you would plug in a table lamp to the socket on the fone flasher and it would turn that table lamp on and off as the phone call came in.

But some models do have an attached strobe light, pretty large. You might be able to use the Homeseer sensor with those, but my concern would be that the homeseer device is really intended to fit over one of the very small, modern LED indicator lights like you see on a current washing machine. I am worried that the large strobe light is going to get too hot for the Homeseer device.

  1. the final issue is really the easiest. How do you tell smartthings that the flasher is going off? And there are multiple possibilities for that: trigger off of the text itself without using the fone flasher at all, Connect a typical dry contact device, or, as you suggested, use some thing that can detect the change in the physical environment from the signal light (if there is one).

I see a lot of the responses in this thread jumping straight to issue number four, which is good, in the sense that, yes, that’s where the smartthings integration will come in. But given the specificity of the first post in the thread, I think you have to have a solution for the first three issues first. How are you going to get that specific fone flasher to signal that there’s an incoming text? Not a phone call. A text. And do you need to distinguish that from an incoming voice call? Because that’s where I think this whole use case is better solved with other devices. :thinking:

BTW, as far as terminology goes, voice calls are a heavily regulated industry and “landline services“ have a very specific definition, which is pretty much the same worldwide. They are not the same as VoIP calls or cellular calls. They use fixed transmission wires to carry analog messages. They cannot receive text.

VoIP devices can look the same to the person living in the house and in some cases even reuse the old phones, but the technology is different. And while VoIP numbers can receive and send texts in many cases, the physical handset that would work with the fone flasher probably can’t handle texts. Instead you’d have to open an app or a program to get to your text messages.

So again, the point is that This use case is pretty easily solved if we leave the specific RadioShack fone flasher device out of it. There are lots of ways to get a text and blink a light. But if there’s a requirement that we use the specific fone flasher device shown in the first post, then you have to answer those first three questions before you can even think about integrating with smartthings.

Submitted with respect.

Cool. Yes, VoIP would make things easier. :sunglasses:

Does your existing fone flasher flash when your VoIP number receives a text?

Can it distinguish between a voice call and a text? If so, how does it indicate the difference?

Do you want smartthings to be triggered only if you receive a text? (And not a voice call)

I’ve posted the same question on two other forums as well as here. At this point, the fone flasher is limited to two options: the luminance and voltage.

The luminance sensor on an Aeotc MultiSensor 6 is hit or miss because the flashes seem to be too quick for the sensor to be detected. There is no way to adjust the sensor’s sensitivity or the speed of flashing light.

It seems that using a dry contact relay or smart plug with power monitoring is the next step.

The automation routine would look like this: if a sensor detects voltage on the fone flasher, then SmartThings sends a message and turns on the smart bulbs for one minute before turning them off.

Could someone please recommend a voltage detecting sensor?

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If you aren’t afraid to tinker, Page 135 and 136 in this pdf mention using the connection to the piezoelectric module in the Fone Flasher 2, across which you could tap to generate a control signal.


Some luminance sensors will only track changes over 15 minute intervals. That’s so a cloud passing over the sun doesn’t suddenly trigger a bunch of new automations. Others like Fibaro offer more choices.

The Homeseer Sensor which @ritchierich mentioned is in a different category since it’s specifically intended to catch blinking indicator lights. it says it doesn’t work with smartthings on the product page, but it was included in their official edge driver channel, so I’m not sure what’s going on with that. That would be easy, but as I said, I am concerned about the heat from the strobe.

[ST EDGE] [RELEASE] Homeseer Devices, manufacturer-provided edge drivers

If I was trying to integrate this fone flasher with ST, I would use a wall wart plugged into the fone flasher with the wall wart connected to an electromagnet that was placed next to a contact sensor that is integrated into ST

Every time the fone flasher turned on the contact sensor would show closed, otherwise it would show open. Routines could then respond to the state of the contact sensor

I think I got this electromagnet from an old cassette player, though I found several electromagnets on Amazon, EBay and Ali