need advice on FXS FXO problem

Discussion in 'General' started by ronaldlw, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. ronaldlw

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    Hey guys,

    I could really use some input from those of you out there that use FXO and FXS ports. I've been working on a pbx for our small office and currently have an ASUS 1U server that is running great, except for the FXO FXS card.

    I chose a RHINO R8FXX-e-EC card after doing some research on the web.

    http://www.rhinoequipment.com/R8FXXExpresscard.html

    I chose this one because it is a PCI-Express card, which is the only type of slot in this server, and because it can be configured with up to 8 FXO or FXS ports in any combination of two ports. (there are four modules that can configure 2 of the ports to be either FXO or FXS) I thought this would be good in case we needed more lines or phones later. It also is supposed to place less traffic on the PCI bus since it doesn't do PCI bus "bit banging" and it has hardware Echo Cancellation which should lessen the cpu load.

    I have it configured with one FXO and one FXS module, giving me two ports of each. Initially I chose this combination so that we can transition our analog lines over to voip, we live in a small town in Texas and I have not found any VOIP providers that can port our existing numbers. And also to have those two lines for backup in case the voip lines go down for any reason. And the FXS so that we could hook up a fax machine and an "emergency" analog phone in case all else fails.

    Now having learned a lot more about Elastix I have found that the virtual Faxes will probably meet our needs, although being able to send a fax with a traditional fax machine may be hard to transition totally out. And now I can't think of a situation where the "emergency" phone would work when a VOIP phone wouldn't.

    So I am not sure now how important the FXS capabilities are, can anyone offer more needs that having FXS ports fills that maybe I haven't thought about yet?

    In any case, the reason I am writing this is because I have had nothing but trouble with the Rhino card from day one. First the vendor I purchased from sent a standard PCI card, after I specifically and repeatedly verified that it would be pci-express. To the vendor's credit they were able to get Rhino to ship me out a PCI-express card right away.

    When the correct card came in i was not able to get it configured due to a bug that was in the /usr/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.8.8/Dahdi/Chans.pm script. Rhino tech support was great at diagnosing and fixing that issue.

    Next when I actually tried to use the FXS ports I could not get a dial tone. Again Rhino tech support was great, and we managed to get it working, although I had to move the FXS module from ports 7-8 to 1-2 or 3-4, for some reason it would not work in the last slot. They shipped out a replacement for that card and it worked.

    Finally we were having problems (kernel panics) with the original server that we used and we decided to try it in an ASUS 1U that we had gotten to use a firewall. The night before the move I just shut down the old server since it was so unstable and the next morning I planned to move the rhino card over and install elastix on the 1u.

    That morning I remembered that I should back up the config from the old server, so I powered it on and started smelling the elusive magic blue smoke that is supposed to say inside of all electronic devices. I immediately shut of the server and found that the FXS module in the rhino card had burnt a transistor-like component (i'm not sure exactly what it is, i didn't bother looking it up, but it shows a physical burn on the part.) So the FXS module was dead, and also my FXO ports would take the phone lines off hook and I wasn't able to use the lines anymore.

    So after another trouble shooting session with Rhino support and we found that by moving the FXO module to another slot I could use the FXO ports again. And another replacement card was on the way.. after some convincing on my part, they originally wanted me to just send in the card, but then we'd be without a phone system.

    Now, today I put the new card in the bpx and the FXO module won't work. When I try to dial out on it I just get static. It's recognized and the dahdi_tool shows it's signaling properly, just no connection to the phone line. Tried in all the slots, no luck. put the "bad" card back in works ok as long as it's not in the bad slot.

    Needless to say Rhino thinks I'm some kind of sadist pci card killer or something. This last card they sent was one that they had been using in their lab for a known good "reference" card. They sent it out because the pci-express cards are on back order. The tech swears that they never have problems with this model of the card and that most problems they do have are due to "bad-wiring". This office space is pretty old, but the phones have always worked before. Of course I know that the pci card is probably more sensitive than a standard multi-line phone, but still I wouldn't expect these kinds of problems.

    So, does any one have any suggestions? Anyone have lots of experience with Rhino and can say if they are good or not? Should I try to send the card back to the vendor for a refund and then get a different brand? Should I get some other type of interface other than pci-express? (USB, ethernet,whatever?) If i don't have to have the FXS ports I know there are a lot more options, but is it worth giving up the FXS capability?

    I hope that this is just a fluke and I can get this resolved with Rhino soon, but I worry about the long term with this card, is it going to fail again right when we need it? Did I just make the wrong choice for our needs? Any advice would be very appreciated!

    Thanks guys, sorry this is so long!

    Ron

    P.S. I do want to stress that Rhino support has been excellent. It is very rare these days that I can actually call for support and within just a few minutes actually be talking with a live person! And they've been helpful in every way.
     
  2. Patrick_elx

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    I'm sorry for the trouble you had with this card. But I'm really amazed by the fantastic support from the manufacturer. I wish all the vendors were the same...

    I've played with PCI card, the infamous X100P that is really hardware sensitive and an openvox 400 that so far did not create any trouble.
    I've played with external fxs/fxo interfaces and I also had some mixed reports: The cheap grandstream gxw41xx is working but not really stable, and a mess to setup.
    I also have a vegastream 6x4 that seems ok so far, but I haven't used it long enough to have a long term judgment. You can also go with the cheap linksys fxo/fxs. For the price they are sold for on eBay, it worth a try.
     
  3. ronaldlw

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    Patrick,
    Thanks for your sympathies, it has been trying! But yes, I totally agree that the support has be excellent.

    I'll check out the options that you mention. If I understand you correctly you would only suggest the vegastream 6x4 and possibly the linksys, right?

    Thanks for your input!
    Ron
     
  4. Patrick_elx

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    I'm sure there are plenty of other options. I can just talk about what I've tried.

    Also, I don't know if Digium has PCI-e card, but you can find a lot of good used card on eBay. That's a good way to try some solutions for cheap.
     

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