POCSAG? That’s still a thing?!

Sure is. And, now with the latest updates available to the MMDVM firmware, you can turn your Pi-Star hotspot into a paging transmitter.

In order to start using POCSAG with your Pi-Star hotspot, you will need to perform some updates to the software, if you haven’t done so already. Toshen, KE0FHS, has some great information about Pi-Star, and there are instructions for performing the software update here: https://amateurradionotes.com/pi-star.htm#updatingpistar

There is a required firmware update for MMDVM and ZUMspot. This process is automated for Pi-Star, but does require shell (SSH) access to the Raspberry Pi. Don’t worry, there’s instructions for this as well, and they can be found here: https://amateurradionotes.com/pi-star-notes.htm#hotspotfwupdate

Once the updates for the firmware and software are finished, and the Raspberry Pi is rebooted, the configuration page for Pi-Star will show a section for POCSAG settings. The settings for Pi-Star POCSAG paging are straightforward, simply filling in the requisite information in the Configuration page of the Pi-Star dashboard.

The Pi-Star implementation of POCSAG uses the DAPNET network. DAPNET does require registration, which is done through their help desk ticketing system. The approval process can take some time, and I personally waited six days for a response. Once the administrators had checked my application, I was greeted with a warm welcome and some basic instructions on how to provide information about the pager I may be using.

Transmitters must also be registered to the DAPNET network. Again, this is as simple as opening a new ticket and entering in the necessary information on the page. If you are registering a Pi-Star hotspot, I would suggest that the registration is for a Personal coverage transmitter. Once the registration is accepted by the DAPNET admins, you will receive an API key, which then can be put into the hotspot’s POCSAG settings on the Configuration page.

One issue that I do possibly see is the current frequency commonly used by DAPNET is 439.9875 – which is part of a blocked frequency range in New England. The Millstone Hill Observatory apparently uses a block of frequencies in the 70 cm band. Since US Amateurs are secondary users of the 70 cm band, interference cannot be created towards and must be received from the primary users. If anyone wants to work towards coordinating a frequency that can be used across the US/North America, please contact me, or let me know who I can get a hold of to facilitate the process.

I’ll have more on POCSAG and the uses I plan for it once I find a compatible pager. I have a few leads, so stick around! More to come!

73 de KC1AWV

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