Ham Radio Pager (Dapnet)

A few years ago I found myself reading an article about pagers and how there are a few that can be programmed to be on the 70CM band after some research I found that there was a project to add the DAPNET to the Brandmeister system. I went ahead and ordered a pager and started to fiddle with my Hotspot running Pistar and got it to work. Below are the notes that I had with some screenshots, note that some of the information was taken from the DAPNET site with images and videos created by me today to illustrate how easy it is to set up.

Items that you will need:

  • MMDVM
  • MMDVM_HS_Hat
  • MMDVM_DUAL_HAT

with Firmware >= 1.4.1

Software

PiStar >= 3.4.16 or MMDVM-Host Version ???

Which Pagers can be used

  • Skyper
  • AlphaPoc 602R X4 (z.Z. ausverkauft) – TPL Birdy
  • I used this pager ( you can have the seller program your pager or get the programmer, I chose to have both done as it was free programming and the programmer would be good for later use.

If you already have a running pi please update and Upgrade Pi*’s base system services and packages

  • Login to your Pi* Installation via SSH using Terminal,cmd-Prompt or putty (Standard is „ssh pi-star@pi-star“ (you can miss the:22 at the end because it is the standard port)
ssh pi-star@pi-star [Enter]

Now you will be asked for the Password – Standard-Password is „raspberry“ without „“ or take the password you have changed in Pi-Star Dashboard.

You will see the Welcome Message in ASCII-Signs

Now you have to Enter the following commands:

1. PI* uses write protection so the command to unlock the filesystem for editing is:

rpi-rw [Enter]

2. Now get the latest Version of Pi* and all needed software components:

sudo pistar-update [Enter]

3. Upgrade the Pi* Installation to the next following Version:

sudo pistar-upgrade [Enter]

Repeat the last command (sudo pistar-upgrade) till you get a message „you have installed the latest version of Pi* – No update needed“ or a similar message.

It is not possible to directly upgrade to the newest version! So you have to repeat the pistar-upgrade several times.

For example, You have installed Pi* Version 3.4.13 and want to get onto Version 3.4.16

You have to use the command „sudo pistar-upgrade“ 3 times to get from 3.4.13 to 3.4.14, then from 3.4.14 to 3.4.15 and 3rd time to get from 3.4.15 to 3.4.16.

The last output in the terminal should be:

    You are already running the latest version…
    Sleeping a few seconds before making the disk Read-Only…
    Finished

Upgrade the firmware of your MMDVM-Hardware

for Upgrading MMDVM_HS_Hat board connected to GPIO you have to enter the command:

sudo pistar-mmdvmhshatflash hs_hat

for upgrading the original MMDVM-HS_DUAL_HAT board (made by Andy, Florian (DF2ET) and DB9HAT) connected to GPIO you have to enter the command:

sudo pistar-mmdvmhshatflash hs_dual_hat

If you get a message that the flashing process was successful, the hardest part is done. If not, repeat flashing or ask for help in the „MMDVM-BM“ or „DAPNET User“ Telegram-Messenger Groups.

Newer board variants are equipped with a 12.288MHz TCXO and require a firmware with different settings. The commands above flash a 14.7456MHz firmware. To upgrade boards with a 12.288MHz use the following commands:

sudo pistar-mmdvmhshatflash hs_hat-12mhz

respectively

sudo pistar-mmdvmhshatflash hs_dual_hat-12mhz

Be sure to identify your TCXO before flashing the firmware!

Do a restart now with

sudo reboot now [Enter]

Configure Pi-Star and enable DAPNET

Please register to DAPNET here https://www.hampager.de once you have an account you can Register a New Transmitter <— Here.

You will get a „DAPNET AuthKey“ by email if your ticket is arranged by a Team-Member.

Now it`s time to Login into the Pi*-Dashboard!

On a Windows, Mac, or Linux-based computer (not the hotspot itself) that has WiFi enabled, open a browser window and navigate to (trailing slash needed):

  Windows: http://pi-star/
  macOS, iOS, etc.: http://pi-star.local/
  On some mobile devices, the url won't work. In that case, try the Auto AP IP address: 192.168.50.1
  

Go to Admin Area and hit „Apply Changes“ somewhere, like if you would save any changes – even if you did not change anything. This will reload the page and force Pi* to reload the Configuration. During this process, all missing or by update added sections will be loaded and shown correctly.

Now you should still see the Configuration view and in the „MMDVMHost Configuration“ section, switch on „PROCSAC“ and then click „apply changes“.

The Page will reload – now search for the „POCSAG Configuration“ section and fill out the needed values:

  • Node Callsign POCSAG – Enter the POCSAG node callsign.
  • Radio Frequency POCSAG – Enter the POCSAG radiofrequency. Per Andy Taylor in the Pi-Star User Forum : „If we get good buy-in from repeater keepers, we could have a really good paging network with great coverage, especially if we all use the same standard frequency.“ In Germany, where are already a lot of repeaters we use 439.987.500MHz, which will be the default entry in Pi*!
  • DAPNET AuthKey – Enter your authorization key for the Decentralized Amateur Paging Network. Which you got by Mail after you registered a New Transmitter as I told you on the Beginning of Configure Pi-Star and enable DAPNET
  • POCSAG Whitelist – This is a white list filter. You can enter RICs separated by a comma. Only calls to those RICs will be transmitted on the air. You can, for example, enter your own RIC here to only transmit calls to yourself. Beware that group calls, time sync messages and the like will be suppressed if you do not enter the corresponding RICs here as well.

Once you have done so you can send and receive messages/pages from the network. Please see the video below.

For those advanced users you can use the API here https://forum.pistar.uk/viewtopic.php?t=719

*Please keep in mind that this blog was created a few years back so this may well be easier now to set up. Enjoy! 73’s

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