Needs-Help Button using Arduino and Freeswitch

This is a project for my grandmother, who turned 100 this year. Yes, really! Unfortunately, Grandma has been having some health problems of late. You know, as you do when you’re a 100!   Thankfully she’s home from the hospital and doing well.  While my folks live with her and generally have someone with her all the time. Sometimes they need to do some work outside, like mow the lawn or go grocery shopping while they are the ones on duty, so to speak.   I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a super easy way for her to let someone know that she needs help if she is by herself momentarily.   Something like this might afford my parents a bit more freedom and piece of mind. Enter, the Needs-Help Button!  Name subject to change until a better one emerges.  Suggestions welcome!  It’s using a key fob single button remote transmitter and momentary receiver from Adafruit.   These are connected to an Arduino Micro that sends a character string to it’s USB serial port.  A Python daemon listens to the serial port on the Alix board computer running Voyage Linux and everyone’s favorite Open Source PBX/soft-switch, Freeswitch.   Here it is in action:

Ideally, I think it should cycle through a list of numbers, first starting with some internal extensions at the house.    The call recipients can cancel the cycle by acknowledging the call for help by pressing star-9.


I had considered doing this on a Raspberry Pi but I had read about a maximum uptime issue with it.   Maybe it’s not a problem anymore but as you can imagine I wanted a pretty solid platform for this.  In the future I could also see this system being used for VOIP calls to the “old country” so it will be nice to pick up a $10 license for the G.729 codec.  Unfortunately they only offer x86 and x86_64 architectures….not ARM yet.


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