Friday, July 27, 2007

Using multiple IPBlue Phones on one PC

The IPBlue phones are very handy for the vmware/dynamips simulated voice lab. However, the problem is that when you start up a second instance, it defaults to the first MAC address available and the first and second instances start flapping trying to re-register to the call manager using the same MAC address. Here is a quick and 'not so dirty' solution:

The phone basically reads its configuration from the windows registry when started. The trick is to make sure the appropriate MAC address is in the registry (assuming you have 2 or 3 NICs or Virtual vmnet interfaces in case of VMware) before you start the application each time. The settings are stored under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IPblue\ in the registry. Follow the procedure below to create multiple phone 'profiles' first
  1. Launch the IPblue phone
  2. Choose one of the available MAC addresses.
  3. Make sure settings on CCM / CCME is set correctly and verify that the phone registers.
  4. I usually also select the Cisco skin for the phone and select 'Mini View Mode' from the File menu, so that the compact view is used, allowing 3 or 4 phones to be displayed simultaneously on my desktop.
  5. Run the regedit tool ('Start', 'Run', regedit.exe)
  6. Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software and select IPblue'
  7. From the 'Registry' menu, choose 'Export Registry File' - Make sure you have the'Selected Branch' option selected - you DON'T even want to think about exporting the whole darn thing - it's humongous.
  8. Give it an appropriate name - I usually choose the primary extension - example 1001.reg
  9. Go back to the phone configuration and choose another MAC address.
  10. Repeat steps 3 to 8 and create the next registry file (example 2001.reg, 3001,reg etc..)
A little bit of theory again.. Now you have a bunch of registry files that has the full configuration for a phone in the way you want it. If these entries are in the right place when the phone starts up, it will appropriately launch the right phone/extension. Double clicking on the registry file from explorer will give you a warning, and will import the content to registry when you accept the warning, and again shows up another annoying message about how it updated the registry. All settings under 'IPBlue' will now be updated from the registry file that you imported.

I usually keep all my phone registry files in the same directory and do the following steps to activate the phones (assuming the CCM configuration is completed for the phones).

  • Double click the first registry file to import phone configuration.
  • Run IPblue phone and wait until it registers. (Tip: Starting ipblue phone with a '/d' option lets you launch multiple phones - otherwise it will throw an error and bring the active one to the front)
  • Double click the second registry file to import second phone configuration.
  • Run IPblue phone again from the shortcut and it will launch a second instance, now with the configuration for second phone. Verify registration of the phone..
  • and so on.. limited by the number of MAC address/CCM pair.
That's brings another interesting discussion. You CAN re-use the MAC addresses, assuming they are registering to different CCM clusters. For instance, with 2 MAC addresses you can have 4 phones, two registered to CCM and two registered to CCME. Just follow the same procedure as above with the tftp server address pointing to CCME router, and reuse the MAC addresses for your CME phones.

The sound quality is not the greatest at all times, but it does work - I still have my virtual lab on my laptop.

Have fun.. :-)