This is an old post, but it did prompt somebody to write a poem about me


Especially if you run a three phase supply in your house. You will die.


You can however have an absolute riot with low voltage/low current systems. And this means your telephone. But I’m not recommending this as a course of action. Try it out entirely at your own risk. No comebacks please.

Most extensions for domestic telephone systems rely on good old fashioned wires. This gives a lot of scope for idiocy. Because there are lots of wires to muck about with, and you won’t give yourself a jolt, and you won’t set fire to anything. I’m basing this on my experience of pratting about with telephones in the UK. Things may be different in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, but I suspect the same principles will apply.

You need a bare minimum of tools. A small screwdriver. Perhaps a craft knife. A mobile phone may be useful. One of those nifty little tools for inserting fine wires into the pinch/cut terminals in a junction box. You can buy the last at your DIY store. Endless fun for less than a fiver. What a bargain.

First things first. You need to locate the primary junction box. It’s through this that your entire domestic telephone system connects to the telephone system in the big wide world. Even if you’re on a cable network, or use satellite for all your telecoms needs, the telephones will work off wires. So locate the primary telephone junction box. This is usually the one nearest the main telephone handset in your house, and should have one cable coming in, and one (possibly two) going out to the rest of the house. You can check which is which by following the cables. Any cable that goes to other sockets is an output. You need this bit of information. It’s important.

Use the small screwdriver to remove the front cover, but be careful here. You don’t want to do anything you can’t correct, or you’re looking 100 notes in the face for the engineer to come and sort out the mess you’ve made. You’ll find that the cover actually contains the terminal blocks. These in turn connect a bewildering selection of very fine wires, known in the trade as bell wires. There are loads of them. But they’re all colour coded. White with orange spots. Orange with white spots. White with green spots. Green with white spots. White with blue spots. Blue with white… I’m sure you’re getting the picture. Make a careful note of which output wires go to which terminal from the input. Be very careful, and make notes, don’t try to commit to memory, or there will be tears before bedtime. Flag the wires if necessary with labels made from masking tape.

Then simply disconnect two of the output wires and swap them over. Some of them will be paired, so just switch one of the pair, and leave the other in situ. It’s fiddly but not hard work. Then pick up the handset you’re near, and see what happens. Generally, nothing. No dial tone, no nothing. How disappointing. So swap over another two wires as well. Now lots of interesting things can happen here. Some are positively delightful.

The phone rings when you pick up the handset. That’s pleasing if a bit of a surprise.

Some other phone in a distant part of the house rings when you pick up the handset. That’s pleasing too.

All the phones except the one you’re using ring when you pick up the handset. Big result, amigos.

Nothing happens at all till you ring your own number on the mobile. Some, all, or none of the phones in the house ring even though your mobile is telling you that the phone is ringing.

You dial your own number off the handset you’re playing with, and the phones in the rest of the house ring.

You put down the handset that has no dial tone, and it rings for you. Pick up and it’s a dead line.

The possibilities are legion. Near limitless fun for boys and girls to while away a wet afternoon. And a jolly jape to play on your mates if they leave you unattended for a few minutes while they go to the shed to get some more logs for the fire.

Don’t forget to reconnect the wires properly before you secure the front cover after your adventures, will you?