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Mar 12 2012

First look at the Obihai OBi202 VoIP device: Setting up a Google Voice and/or a SIP account (Part 2)

Important!

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on a blog called The Michigan Telephone Blog, which was written by a friend before he decided to stop blogging. It is reposted with his permission. Comments dated before the year 2013 were originally posted to his blog. In order to comply with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I am disclosing that he received a free product sample of the item under review prior to writing the review, and that any links to Amazon.com in this article are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of those links I will receive a small commission on the sale.

This is Part 2 of a series of articles on the The OBi202 VoIP device (Amazon affiliate link) from Obihai Technology, Inc. — if you missed part 1, see First look at the Obihai OBi202 VoIP device: Two Phone ports plus a built-in router and USB port (Part 1).  In this article, I want to take you through the steps of setting up a Google Voice account and a SIP account using the OBiTALK portal.  There will be screenshots further down the page, but here’s a bit of preliminary information first.

The main thing to keep in mind about the OBi202 is that when setting up Service Providers, it’s pretty much done in exactly the same way as on the earlier OBi110 or OBi100 models.  The major difference is that now you can enable four Service Providers rather than two.  You can also select where incoming calls from each service provider go — they can ring the phone attached to PHONE port 1, to PHONE port 2, or both PHONE ports simultaneously (the first to pick up gets the call).  And you can make any Service Provider the primary provider for outgoing calls from PHONE port 1, from PHONE port 2, or from both PHONE ports.

There is a sheet that comes with the OBi202 called “Using Google Voice™ on the OBi” that gives you the basic instructions for Google Voice setup.  However, that sheet misses a couple of points.  For one thing, it does not advise you that it’s best to create a separate Gmail account for use with Google Voice, particularly if you are in the habit of checking your existing Gmail account via the web interface (instead of using a mail client on your computer), because any time you are logged into Gmail it can interfere with incoming calls.  So, I strongly suggest getting a separate Gmail account, and that you use that account when creating your Google Voice account. However, if you already have a Google Voice account that is tied to your existing Gmail account, but you use a mail program on your computer to get your email and rarely log into your Gmail account in your web browser, then perhaps this may not be an issue for you.

The other, much more important thing that the sheet doesn’t mention is the necessity of logging into the Gmail account and using the “Call Phone” feature to make at least one call from your PC to any phone number.  You only have to do that once, but that action in some way sets up a configuration in Google Voice/Google Chat that allows the Obihai device to operate.  In most cases, when someone says they can’t get Google Voice to work on their Obihai device, it’s because they have neglected that step. So, I suggest you visit this web page:

Google Voice™ Calling on the OBi202, OBi100 & OBi110

On this page, especially note the section “Helpful Resources“, which provides links to three additional pages (the last one is a PDF that you can download and save):

Step-by-Step Tutorial: How to Use the OBi with Google Voice

Getting Started & Troubleshooting with Google Voice on the OBi

Google Voice Set-Up & Troubleshooting Guide OBiTALK Device Management

You may also want to visit the Obihai Documents & Downloads page to see if there is any newer documentation not mentioned above.

Also, there is this video:

All of this documentation (and the instructions further down on this page) assumes that you will be using the OBiTALK portal to configure your device, which I strongly recommend.  Not only does it make configuration a lot easier, but it will configure some of the settings you might not otherwise think about when setting up a service.  It is possible to log into the device and configure it directly, and there’s one guy that hangs out on the OBiTALK forums (I call him Mr. Know-It-All because he’s apparently convinced that the way he does things is the only correct way, even though it really isn’t for the 99% of users that aren’t uber-geeks) that will try to tell you that you’re better off configuring your Obihai device directly and skipping the OBiTALK portal. If you want to join his merry little cult of followers, go right ahead, but I’m telling you that unless you are the sort of person that enjoys compiling your own software on your Linux box, you’re probably going to be much better off if you stick to using the OBiTALK portal.

Even if you need to make changes to individual settings, it’s much easier if you use the Expert Configuration mode of the OBiTALK portal. An additional benefit of using the OBiTALK portal is that if you are ever away from the place where your Obihai device is physically located, you can still log into the portal and make changes to your device’s configuration, which is a real benefit when you are setting up one of these devices for a non-techie member of your family.  Not every setting can be changed through the portal, particularly those that have to do with networking (probably because they don’t want you to be able to make a change remotely that would render your OBi device unable to communicate with the Internet!) but most can.

Should you decide you need to connect directly to the device’s web interface without using the OBiTALK portal, you should be aware that the OBi202 is a little different from previous OBi devices in that, because it contains a built-in router, by default you can’t connect to the device’s web interface through its Internet (WAN) connection — this is a necessary security measure to keep hackers from accessing the built-in router!  If you have a computer connected to the LAN jack on the device, you can connect to the device’s web interface that way, OR you can enter a code from the phone connected to the OBi202 that will allow you to connect to the web interface through the Internet (WAN) connection. I DO NOT ADVISE YOU TO DO THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE A SEPARATE HARDWARE ROUTER BETWEEN YOUR OBi202 AND THE INTERNET.  DON’T DO THIS IF YOU ARE USING THE OBI202′s BUILT-IN ROUTER AS THE ONLY ROUTER ON YOUR NETWORK.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

To allow you to connect to the device’s web interface directly (keep in mind that many users will never have any need to do this), here is the procedure:

  • Dial ***0 from the phone connected to the OBi202
  • Enter 30# (listen to the announcement to make sure you keyed in the correct option code!!!)
  • Press 1 to enter new value
  • Press 1# to enable
  • Press 1 to save

Note that if you only need to open the interface temporarily, when you are finished you can do the following to reset it to the default value (which is to make the device’s web interface inaccessible from the Internet jack):

  • Dial ***0 from the phone connected to the OBi202
  • Enter 30# (listen to the announcement to make sure you keyed in the correct option code!!!)
  • Press 2 to set default value
  • Press 1 to save

And now, here are detailed screenshots for setting up your OBi202 using the OBiTALK portal. This assumes that you have created an account at http://www.obitalk.com/ — if not, go there now and register. Once you have registered for an account, log in, and you should be at a screen that has a left-hand column containing a menu as shown in the screenshot below.

Click on “Add Device” (the highlighted item here) and this screen should appear:

Add an OBi device (Screen 1)

Click “Next” and you should see a screen similar to this:

Add an OBi Device (Screen 2)

Pick up the phone plugged into your OBi202 and dial the code shown (**5 plus four more digits). When it successfully registers with the OBiTALK portal, you’ll see this screen:

Add an OBi Device (Screen 3)

If the information shown matches your device, click “Confirm” and you are ready to configure your device. The next screen you’ll see is this one:

OBi202 added to OBiTALK Dashboard

OBi202 added to OBiTALK Dashboard

Note that you can configure up to four service providers, and also an OBiBT Bluetooth® Wireless Adapter if you have purchased one! First, let’s fill in some basic information:

OBi202 – setup of basic information

I’d suggest giving the device a display name (I used “MichiganTelephone-OBi202″, though you can’t see it all here), a unique password (not “password”, obviously), and setting your Local TimeZone. Be sure to uncheck the “Daylight Saving Time” box if it’s not observed in your area.  Then click “Save”.

Now we are ready to set up a Google Voice account.  Click the Google Voice Set-Up button (if you’re not using Google Voice, click “SIP Service Provider Set-Up” instead and select your service provider from the list, but since many users will want to set up Google Voice I’ll cover that first):

Google Voice Set-Up button

After you click that button, you should see this popup:

OBiTALK Emergency Service Calls popup

Read it carefully and then click “Accept”.  Note that you cannot place emergency calls through Google Voice at this time, but if you configure other services that are capable of handling such calls, you’ll have the opportunity to select one of them as the default routing for 911 calls.  Once you’ve done that you’ll be at the OBiTALK Google Voice Configuration screen:

OBiTALK Google Voice Configuration screen

Most of the settings on this screen are pretty self-explanatory.  Just fill in the information as you like, similar to this, and click Submit:

OBiTALK Google Voice Configuration screen — filled in

OBiTALK Google Voice Configuration screen — filled in

Note that Obihai DOES NOT save your Gmail password on their servers so if you ever make changes to these settings and things stop working, try re-entering your Gmail password. Note that you need to fill in the username and password of the Gmail account that is associated with your Google Voice account. I remind you again that it is best to set up a separate Gmail account that you don’t use for normal e-mail, and use that to set up your Google Voice account — otherwise, while you are logged into Gmail reading your mail, you might not receive incoming calls.

After you submit your changes on this page, you should see the following screen:

The screen you should see when you submit a Google Voice configuration

The screen you should see when you submit a Google Voice configuration

Be sure to READ and FOLLOW the instructions in the yellow box at the top of the page.  After you wait two minutes and reload the page, the status of SP1 should change:

If you see this, you have successfully configured Google Voice

If, for some reason, you instead see this:

If you see this, there may be a problem

… then refer to the yellow box at the top of the page and click on the link for help.  Note that you might also get this error if Google Voice’s servers are temporarily down. Assuming you have successfully configured a Google Voice account, you could go ahead and set up another Service Provider.  Let’s say we want to set up an extension off of an Asterisk server on SP3 — we’d look for this line on the above screen:

Service Provider 3 is Not Configured

You can click on the blue gear to configure SP3.  You’ll get the Emergency Service Calls popup again (as shown above) and then you’ll be presented with a screen that allows you to select a Service Provider:

OBiTALK Configure Service Provider Accounts screen

Note that you can select from a number of providers, including Google Voice (in case you have additional Google Voice accounts) and “Generic Service Provider”, which is what we’ll be using here.  Simply click on “Generic Service Provider” (at the bottom of the list) and this screen will appear:

OBiTALK Generic Service Provider configuration screen

Again, fill out the information as you need it.  The entries I have filled in above were the only ones I needed to use to get it to work with an Asterisk server on my local network.  Some people have said they’ve had to fill in the URI field using User_Name@Service_Provider_Proxy_Server (substitute the actual values from those fields, of course) but I have not found that to be the case.

Once you click “Submit”, you should get a yellow box at the top of the page showing that the configuration has been updated successfully:

OBiTALK Generic Service Provider configuration updated successfully

And if you return to the device’s main screen, it should show that the device is registered:

Two Service Providers configured (Google Voice and Asterisk extension)

Two Service Providers configured (Google Voice and Asterisk extension)

The above screenshot has been updated since this article was originally published.  In the above example, I did not check the “Use This Service for Emergency 911 Calls” box to send 911 emergency calls to the Asterisk server, but you should be sure to do that if your Asterisk server properly supports outgoing 911 calls, assuming that’s how you want to route 911 calls.  If possible, you should always pick one of your Service Providers to handle outgoing 911 calls.

If you are only setting up Google Voice and/or some other type of account that does not offer 911 service, and you haven’t used up all four of your Service Provider accounts on the OBi202, you may want to consider setting up an account with either Anveo or CallCentric, since both offer low-cost 911-only service.  EDIT:  As the screenshot above indicates, Obihai now makes it easy to use Anveo’s E911 service.  If you have not already designated a Service Provider to handle your 911 calls, an Anveo E911 Sign-Up button will appear, and as long as you have at least one unused Service Provider account on your OBi202, you can click that button to sign up.  The cost at this writing is only $12 per year (that’s $1 a month).  For more information see Easy Emergency 911 Calling Service Set-Up for Your OBi Device on the Obihai blog.

If you choose to use another provider’s 911 service, you might be able to start out by setting up a “free” account, and then adding 911 service as an add-on to that account. You can configure the account on the OBi202 from the “Configure Service Provider Accounts” screen by selecting the appropriate provider, and then on the account configuration page don’t forget to check the “Use This Service for Emergency 911 Calls” box.

One note for those of us who’ve user VoIP devices from other manufacturers in the past.  Despite what you’ve done in the past with other devices, when configuring a Generic Service Provider it is not advisable to change the Service Provider Proxy Server Port from the default 5060.  I’m not going into the technical details in this article, but with certain other devices, if you have more than one connection from the same device to the same server you might use port 5060 for the first and 5061 for the next, etc.  Don’t do that in the OBi220, it won’t work!  Leave it at 5060.  I found that in a FreePBX extension configuration I could set the port to 5060 or 5061, with the Obihai set to 5060 and it would work.  I received a technical explanation on this from Sherman at Obihai but it’s too long to include in this article.

If you ever plan on doing call transfers using your Obihai device (including hanging up during a three-way call you instigated, while the other participants continue to converse), be aware that you may be blocked from making any further calls until the transferred call ends. If your service provider allows you to use more than two channels simultaneously (or if you’re using your own PBX server as a Service Provider), there’s a way to avoid that issue, but you’ll need to enter the OBi Expert Configuration mode. Note in the above screen shot the “OBi Expert Configuration” button near the bottom of the screen. Click on that button, and then on the next screen click on “Enter OBi Expert”:

Click on “Enter OBi Expert”

On the next page, in the left-hand menu, look for the “Voice Service” section and click on the “SPn Service” that you want to modify. When the screen appears, UNcheck the boxes next to the “MaxSessions” option. Go to the bottom of the page and click “Submit”, then come back to the “MaxSessions” option and change the value from the default of 2 to the maximum number of channels that your service provider allows you to use simultaneously. If you are connecting with your own server, then 10 might be a reasonable value. When you are finished and have clicked “Submit” again, the setting should look something like this (don’t worry about the red exclamation mark; it doesn’t mean anything bad):

OBiTALK Expert Configuration mode showing SP4 MaxSessions setting set to 10

If people that you call complain about your voice being too loud when you talk, or if you find yourself being blasted in the ear with too much volume when the people on the other end of the connection are speaking, you can go into the OBi Expert Configuration mode as described above, then look for the Physical Interfaces section in the left hand column, and right under that you’ll find links to PHONE 1 and PHONE 2, which are the settings for the two phone ports on the OBi202. Go into each of those in turn, and find the Port Settings section. Under that, you’ll find the ChannelTxGain and ChannelRxGain settings. The two settings are described in the OBi Device Administration Guide as follows:

ChannelTxGain: Transmit gain in dB (-12 to 12) to apply to signal sent from OBi to the attached phone(s)
ChannelRxGain: Receive gain in dB (-12 to 12) to apply to signal received by OBi from the attached phone(s)

Changes of less than about 3 dB are generally not noticeable to the human ear, so as an initial suggestion, try setting the ChannelTxGain to -6, and the ChannelRxGain to -3, as shown below. The correct setting depends in part on the phone(s) you have connected to the device, so don’t be afraid to keep tweaking the values upward or downward until the levels sound right to you and your callers. Don’t forget to go to the bottom of the page and click “Submit” after making any change to these values, and remember that the changes you make for one PHONE port do not affect the other, so the settings for each of the two PHONE ports need to be changed individually.

OBi202 PHONE Port Settings showing ChannelTxGain and ChannelRxGain settings

OBi202 PHONE Port Settings showing ChannelTxGain and ChannelRxGain settings

If you have an Asterisk server, you may want to take a look at How to use the Obihai OBi100, OBi110, OBi200, or OBi202 VoIP device as a gateway between Asterisk/FreePBX and Google Voice and/or the OBiTALK network (UPDATED).  Also, if by chance you are using the SunshineNetworks knock (or something similar) to increase security on your Asterisk (or other PBX) server, you should be aware that each Obihai device sends a unique string in the SIP registration packet that could be used as a unique “knock” for each device. See the January 8, 2012 edit at the bottom of this article for details: Link: Interesting security technique for Asterisk and FreePBX users (may work with other SIP-based PBX’s also).

A final note — if you are ever on your OBi Dashboard page, and see a yellow “warning” triangle icon next to one of your devices, like this…

OBi Dashboard showing there is a software update available

… that means there is a software update available for your Obihai device. You can click on the yellow icon, or dial * * * 6 from a connected phone to get the update. But note that software updates seem to take quite a bit longer than they did on the earlier Obihai models, so don’t panic and don’t unplug the device from the power supply while the LED is glowing red.  Unless it’s been over five minutes, I wouldn’t worry — just be patient and go take a break or something.  When you get back, all the lit-up LED’s should be glowing green again.

The OBi202 is available for purchase at Amazon.com (Amazon affiliate link).

NEXT: First look at the Obihai OBi202 VoIP device: Screenshots of the new functions not available in previous Obihai devices (Part 3)

13 comments

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  1. Hunter Gatherer

    Thanks again for keeping us informed. I’m looking forward to this product going live and what Obi has in mind in the future for a small business pbx. In my case, since I use my Obi110 to provide a voip line dial tone to our pbx, I’m wondering if I’m better off getting another one or getting the 202 to provide a second line. Your reporting does the best job of filling in most of the details. You were right on the first one.

    Many thanks.

  2. Sam

    Thanks for the wonderful explanation, you organized the information in an effective way. I am wondering if I can use the obi202 with its full potential with only on phone. I like the idea of four lines in one physical phone. Please let us know.
    Thanks again

    1. Admin

      Sam, yes you can! By default, calls from all four Service Providers (and from the OBiTALK network) ring both phone ports, but you can change that and mix things up any way you want, so that calls from one, two, or three Service Providers ring one phone port and calls from the other(s) ring the other phone port. You can even do things like have calls that come in on one Service Provider reroute to another OBi device via the OBiTALK network, or have them forwarded out through another Service Provider. As for outgoing calls, you pick one Service Provider to be your primary line (could be a different primary for each of the PHONE ports) but you can manipulate the internal dial plans so that calls to certain destination numbers or Area Codes, etc. go out via a different Service Provider, or by default you can prefix any call with **1 through **4 to select Service Provider 1 through 4 for a particular call. This device is highly configurable but if you leave it at the defaults the you can plug phones in phone ports 1 and 2 (either is optional) and incoming calls will ring both phone ports, and outgoing calls from either phone port will go out via the Primary Line that you have selected for that port, which could be the same for both ports (so if you ever need the equivalent of an extension phone, you’ve got a place to plug it in).

      In short, whereas in most other two-port VoIP adapters, each port connects to its own individual service and there’s no way to access both services from the same phone port, in the OBi202 either or both of the phone ports can access any or all of the four available Service Providers, plus the OBiTALK network. You could configure it so that’s not the case if you really wanted to, but why would you want to? So the answer to your question is most definitely yes!

  3. Admin

    For those who may be following the comments on this post, I added a section in the main article about changing the MaxSessions setting to avoid possible call blocking issues while a transferred call is in progress. I want to thank Ad_Hominem for his post in the OBiTALK forum that called attention to the necessity of this.

  4. Anonymous

    If you don’t like the idea of trusting another site with your GOOGLE password, try using an application specific password. Here’s a quick overview on creating one that OBiTALK can use with your GOOGLE Voice account.

    http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1173270

  5. KenWNCKCA

    I’m thinking of making the leap to Google Voice since my employer just came up with a way for us to pay for “personal use” of the iPhone I have to carry for work, and I like the idea of setting up the GV app and a GV number as my “personal” number on it rather than give out my work cell number to friends.

    At the same time I’m interested in getting an Obi 110 for my home phone so at some point I can get to “one number” for personal use (home and cell). What I don’t like are some of the issues I’m reading about with the Obi messing with your g-mail chat status and also precluding the use of calls going to the real GChat / Gmail when the Obi is “on the wire”.

    My question is this… Can I create a new Gmail (and GV) account for the Obi to login to, say “mevoice@gmail.com” for example, make sure it’s the primary account, set up the Obi and the GV iPhone app to login to that account, then set up a secondary account under it for my traditional use of e-mail, chat, etc., say “me@gmail.com” and use that login day-to-day? Does that create two different chat users, the one for Obi I won’t use for “chat” and one that can use “normally”?

    Next, can I set the GV account to send calls to my “me@gmail” chat / gmail instead of the Obi and send incoming calls to my PSTN line in the traditional GV “call all my numbers” way? The combined question here is: “Can Obi still make _outgoing_ GV calls using the primary credentials, with the send-calls-to-chat option in GV set to go elsewhere, while GV is sending _inbound_ calls to the PSTN line directly instead?” Would this get around the contention issues of not using the Obi and the Gchat features at the same time? (Understanding that I have to keep my PSTN line?)

    If I login to Google with my secondary credentials (“me” rather than “mevoice”) on my PC while I be able to get into GV to check my messages or will I have to log out and back in all the time to switch back and forth? I might be able to live with this if I just stuck to using the GV app on the iPhone to do all things “phone”.

    Or do I have to create two completely separate google (primary) accounts to keep everything separated?

  6. Jeff

    Thank you for your excellent guidance with this blog. I initially found you when I setup my Obi110 and enjoyed it ever since.

    In reference to the Obi202, could you speak to the setup procedures with an install BEFORE the wireless router. Since a new feature of the Obi202 is a LAN port, this effectively allows a wireless router be placed after the Obi202. Could you give us a setup procedure for this type of install and speak to the security threats, speed limitations, turn off DHCP on wireless router, etc.

    My Obi110 is up and running on a wireless router with QoS, but I have had some network issues with it and I am looking at replacing it with a very stable router but it does not have QoS (in fact, I have heard that it will drop VOIP calls). Thus, I was going to place the Obi202 before the wireless router to give it priority.

    Thanks for your help.

  7. Fresh Geeks

    Hi to all and excellent tutorial. I do have an issue setting up my SP2 with an Asterisk extension. I was successful in the past but now I’m having trouble replicating the setup even with the same settings. It is a registering issue, where it says “register fail: no response from server” I can register a softphone with the Asterisk server but not the obi110 I even tried filling the URI field but it did not work. I doubt its a NAT issue. Is there another way to register the Obi110 with an Asterisk ext?

    1. Admin

      Have you checked that it’s not a) a firewall issue or b) a password mismatch? Try to let the extension register and note the time, then check the Asterisk log and see if you see any messages. The log may tell you exactly what the problem is (if not, enable SIP debugging and try again).

  8. Admin

    NOTICE: All comments above this one were imported from the original Michigan Telephone Blog and may or may not be relevant to the edited article above.

  9. Ace

    I currently have had obi110 and GV for 2 yrs working fine. I just got a RPI and have set up pbx.
    Following the instructions i have landed at this part.
    https://www.diigo.com/item/image/3rj05/gmkc

    I get the error https://www.diigo.com/item/image/3rj05/i5w3
    Register Failed: 403 Forbidden

    I used the same user name and password from this section.
    https://www.diigo.com/item/image/3rj05/4njq

    1. Admin

      Ace: Only thing that stands out is that you did not leave the URI field blank. It should not be necessary to put anything there. Also, though you’ve probably tried this already, try re-entering the password in the Obihai settings, making sure it’s exactly the same as the “secret” in Asterisk. It’s easy to have a typo that you can’t see because it’s obscured in the Obihai settings.

      If that doesn’t help, make sure your firewall isn’t blocking incoming traffic – it shouldn’t because you are on the local network, but if it’s misconfigured then it might. Try using a softphone such as Zoiper with the same settings – if it will connect and the Obihai won’t, then something is wrong with the settings on the Obihai. Make sure you don’t have two different clients trying to connect to the same account at the same time, though. If the softphone won’t connect either, then we’d suspect a problem either with the way FreePBX is configured or with the firewall. If nothing works, try posting in the OBiTalk forum – perhaps someone there can help you diagnose the problem.

  10. Jon-jack

    A great item i found very useful in set up. A small warning about the voip.ms which requires a $25 fee to set up voip and then proves near
    impossible to set up via standard or expert, the support guys say its because obihai has not kept pace with voip.ms server range, etc.
    anveo also sets up easy but outgoing calls can’t be made with a discount package, they need the near $10 per month deal to allow termination of
    out calls or you get the dreaded error 404 or error 500
    anveo support is non existent.

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