The purpose of this handbook is to introduce paging technology to the radio amateur We ll describe the. Radiopaging Code No 1 also known as POCSAG outline what s needed to complete a two way POCSAG. QSO list what s needed to monitor paging investigate the inner guts of a typical pager both the FM. receiver board and the decoder board suggest where to purchase pagers for amateur use outline procedures. for recrystalling pagers for 2 meter and 70 cm use describe how to set up an amateur station for paging and. describe the paging commands and paging capability added to the Kantronics KPC 9612 packet modem. While attending Wireless World last December in San Francisco I managed to take in the sessions on. paging I was just a bit curious about the future of paging although it wasn t my main mission for attending. the convention As it turned out the discussions on two way paging and new paging formats were thought. provoking they got me thinking about the possibilities for paging in amateur radio. Once home I obtained a copy of the International Radio Consultative Committee s Radiopaging Code NO 1. RPC1 recommendation R 584 1 outlined some feasibility experiments for 2 meter paging checked. appropriate sections of Part 97 and asked Mike Huslig KB0NYK to program and port a POCSAG encoder. and monitor into our 9600 baud packet modem Not long thereafter we were transmitting 512 1200 and. 2400 baud numeric and alphanumeric pages with an IFR signal generator copying them on a pager lying on. the bench and monitoring them on loop back into the KPC 9612 We had proof of concept. Once the equipment was working on the bench two application ideas came to mind paging in emergency. situations where amateurs assist and coupling paging with packet radio A host of other thoughts followed. too As a result we decided to add ten pager related keyboard commands and a packet paging server PS to. the firmware of the KPC 9612 With the PS in place amateurs can connect to the TNC leave a page for. transmission list a log of pages sent or set up a page for a group We also added sysop TNC owner. password control just in case they might want to restrict access to the PS. It is my hope that our POCSAG adventure will add some excitement to our hobby and enhance the amateur. service s ability to provide emergency communication At the same time I realize that not everyone will. welcome this adventure some stated that it was the end of amateur radio when SSB was added when. packet radio was introduced when AMTOR and Pactor appeared on 20 meters and when GGTOR appeared. later Obviously I don t believe that I think we should strive to advance the state of the art experiment with. new modes adapt modes from other services like we did with AMTOR and strive to compete with those. importing equipment, I recognize that adding yet another mode to the VHF and UHF bands could cause additional crowding in. some regions Hence it is extremely important if you embrace the idea of paging that you coordinate your. activities with the other spectrum stakeholders in your area. Is paging legal A careful reading of Part 97 sections 97 3 a 10 97 1 1 1 b 2 97 305 c and 97 307 f. 5 makes it clear that digital paging is allowed for VHF and UHF operations One way transmissions are. made every day by amateurs to establish communications with other amateurs even using one mode to. establish a link in another Paging simply creates another way of establishing communication Don t confuse. one way transmissions with broadcasting, The benefits of investigating alternative technologies and mixing them with existing systems are well proven. Our efforts as a nation in space have brought us the integrated circuits we use today My point is that parts of. the paging technology will yield benefits for the amateur An unplanned benefit of porting the POCSAG. protocol into our packet TNC is that it becomes a piece of test equipment a POCSAG encoder Hence it can. be used in conjunction with an RF signal generator to test pagers and aid in recrystalling them Another. unplanned benefit is the realization that pager receiver boards can be converted for other uses as an FM. receiver as a data packet receiver or as a portion of a deviation meter Spin offs like these occur naturally. when technologies are mixed, I ll leave you with this thought to get your creative juices going We ve discovered that some of the packet. data ready radios are plug and play for sending and monitoring paging when coupled with a TNC. containing a paging encoder decoder,INTRODUCTION TO PAGING. Commercial pagers have become super popular in the last decade competing strongly with the cellular. phone Applications are no longer limited to businesses or doctors teenagers and college students are signing. up with service providers by the thousands and tens of thousands of new pagers are coming on line every. week These folks have found out the secret about paging it works it s convenient and it s reasonably. inexpensive compared to other services, Regardless of the type of pager beep only voice numeric readout or alphanumeric display the function is. pretty much the same someone wants to contact the personal carrying the pager Once paged those carrying. the older style beep only pager respond by calling a dispatcher or automated service to obtain a call back. number Those carrying pagers with a liquid crystal display LCD receive their call back number as a part of. the page message which is the usual practice They can respond by returning a call directly Most pagers sold. with an LCD are numeric that is they are capable of receiving numbers and a limited number of special. characters Even so with these devices a call back my not be necessary if the parties have agreed that certain. numbers have specific meaning For example 123 may mean call the main office and 456 might mean call. your motherlaw Alphanumeric pagers provide even more flexibility and are gaining in popularity The. strong preference for numerics continues however and may have to do with the fact that the person sending. the message can use a touch tone phone to initiate the page Alphanumerics require a computer keyboard. terminal or dispatcher, How does the paging system work as a whole Let s investigate by looking at a typical paging system for. Any town USA as shown in Figure 1 1 A page is initiated at a touch tone phone To page your spouse for. example you d dial a phone number assigned to the pager wait for the automated voice prompt from the. paging terminal please enter a number followed by the sign enter the phone number where you d like to. be reached and hang up The paging terminal in turn makes up the paging message for your spouse. including your message and the address of the pager ID adds it to a stack of pages to be sent and transfers. these pages within a few minutes to a bank of transmitters Once transmitted at the radio frequency assigned. to your paging service your spouse s pager beeps after recognizing its unique ID and stores the message. Figure 1 1 Commercial Paging System, As you can see the system is similar to many other systems we use In collecting paging messages the. paging terminal simply prompts the caller as a telephone answering device TAD would to leave a. message Your touch tone phone and the telephone company s equipment does the rest The paging terminal. has other jobs too It must keep track of pairs of phone numbers and pager IDs keep a record of messages. sent control the transmitters spread out across the city and manage the paging system as a whole With inter. city paging so called wide area paging paging network controllers handle the job of exchanging pages. between cities and systems often using the Telecator Network Paging Protocol TNPP to accomplish their. The job of the transmitters is basic They transmit a batch of pages upon demand and may transmit each. page on all transmitters at once called simulcasting The messages are sent at the radio frequency RF. assigned to the paging service by the FCC using frequency modulation FM For numeric and alphanumeric. pagers the digital information is sent with a frequency shift keying FSK modulation format To send ones. and zeroes the frequency of the transmitter signal the carrier is shifted deviated up or down in frequency. by 4 5 kHz, The pagers complete the system They wake up about once per second to look for a paging signal addressed. specifically for them If a pager sees its ID in any of the pages being transmitted it picks out that page beeps. or vibrates the person carrying or wearing it and stores the message if a numeric or alphanumeric pager. The person carrying the pagers is then free to display the message on the LCD. First generation pager systems beep only and or voice were assigned to the VHF bands 33 50 MHz and. 139 175 MHz Today paging services are assigned VHF UHF and 900 MHz carrier frequencies as shown. in Table 1 1,Table 1 1 Paging Frequency Bands,paging band frequency range. VHF low band 33 50 MHz,VHF high band 138 175 MHz,UHF 406 422 MHz. UHF high 435 512 MHz,900 band 929 932 MHz, In 1978 to accommodate more pages sent per hour per frequency and to include numeric or alphanumeric. messages in a pager signal a standards group formulated a new paging format referred to at that time as. POCSAG This pioneering planning was carried out by the Post Office Code Standardization Advisory. Group POCSAG A bit later the International Radio Consultative Committee CCIR a committee of the. International Telecommunications Union ITU renamed the POCSAG code as Radiopaging Code No 1. RPC1 and specified its format in their Recommendation for International Paging R 584 1 We ll continue. in this handbook to refer to the RPCl as POCSAG This protocol for sending paging messages is today s. defacto standard and its details are presented in Chapter 2. You ll hear talk about Golay Sequential Code GSC Flex and the Advanced Paging Operator Code APOC. paging formats GSC systems and pagers are still in use in the US today particularly in hospitals but their. numbers are now small compared to POCSAG systems Motorola has introduced and is pushing their new 4. level FSK system Flex designed for higher speeds Flex is a trademark or registered trademark of. Motorola The APOC specification was written at Phillips Telecom and they are promoting it None of. these paging formats will be covered in this handbook. Figure 1 2 Amateur Paging System 2 meters or 70 cm. You might wonder at this point how this all fits with amateur radio Can we retrofit commercial pagers for. amateur use and can we encode transmit and monitor pages As it turns out we re in luck on all four points. First some commercial POCSAG pagers made for the VHF and UHF frequency bands can be recrystalled. for the US 2 meter and 70 cm amateur bands We ll investigate the insides of these pagers buying them and. converting them in Chapters 4 5 and 6 Second Kantronics KPC 96l2 packet modem v7 0 now includes. POCSAG encoding decoding A page message is encoded simply by typing in the pager ID and message. from a computer keyboard the TNC does the rest forming up the page and sending it to the transmitter. We ll describe this process in Chapters 3 7 and 8 Third some of the 9600 data ready transceivers made. for packet radio operation are capable of transmitting and receiving POCSAG pages We ll check this out in. Chapter 7 With these lessons in hand you ll be ready to examine convert and apply pagers and paging. technology to our hobby, Before reading these chapters however let s take a look at the POCSAG paging code as defined in. Recommendation 584 1 as described in Chapter 2 While this task will be a bit tedious it s necessary The. code is the foundation for everything else we ll do. THE DEFACTO STANDARD POCSAG,Introduction, The single purpose of this chapter is to describe the Post Office Code Standardization Advisory Group. POCSAG code used for sending and receiving numeric and alphanumeric pages You might think of the. code as an alphabet like the Baudot code for RTTY or the ASCII code for your computer serial port The. term code as used here however is meant to be synonymous with the term protocol The POCSAG code is a. description not only of the specific binary codes used but also of the format rate and signalling method used. in sending and receiving page messages, The transmission format of the code is a preamble of 576 bits alternating ones and zeroes followed by one. or more batches of codewords Each batch consists of a 32 bit synchronization codeword SC followed by. eight frames of 64 bits each each frame consisting of two codewords Codewords are defined as. synchronous idle address and data The format of the data codeword differs slightly from the rest but all. codewords contain ten check bits for error detection and correction The signalling modulation method. called for is frequency shift keying FSK with a deviation of 4 5 kHz. The transmission rate for POCSAG is either 512 1200 or 2400 baud The rate and format of the code. determine the shortest duration possible for a page transmission Table 2 1 It s easy to differentiate between. rates when monitoring simply listen for the pitch and duration of the preamble. Table 2 1 Minimum Transmission Duration, baud rate preamble seconds batch seconds total duration. 512 1 125 1 0625 2 1875,1200 0 480 0 453 0 933,2400 0 240 0 227 0 467. Numerous descriptions of the POCSAG code can be found in the literature I ve found fairly complete. descriptions with timing diagrams in several pager theory maintenance manuals The most complete. description I ve found from a protocol point of view however is CCIR Recommendation 584 found in. part 2 of The Book of the CCIR Radiopaging Code NO 1 It s purpose is to define the codes the error. detection correction scheme and the transmission sequence of the codes the protocol if you will I ve. enclosed a summary of the recommendation in the next section With the CCIR s description and some. experimentation we were able to complete and port software into a packet modem to encode and decode. pages at 512 1200 and 2400 baud for both numeric and alphanumeric paging. You may wish to obtain a complete copy of The Book of the CCIR Radiopaging Code NO 1 Five parts are. included Part 1 Introduction and System Definition Part 2 CCIR Recommendation 584 Part 3. Experience with the Code Part 4 Report of the Studies of British Post Office Standardization Code. Advisory Group POCSAG and Part 5 Report of the Studies of the POCSAG If so I suggest that you. write the Radio Design Group 3810 Almar Road Grants Pass OR 97527 4550 Ask for the CCIR l book. The last time I checked their fee for the book was 100 plus shipping If you plan to write software firmware. for encoding decoding paging signals I highly recommend that you obtain a copy I make no guarantees that. the summary enclosed here is complete enough without error or suitable for any particular purpose Clearly. you are responsible for any code you write,POCSAG CODE or Radiopaging Code No J. A page transmission consists of a preamble and batches of codewords each batch starting with a. synchronization codeword SC The format of the signal is tabulated in Table 2 1. Table 2 1 Signal Format,batch 1 batch 2,preamble batch 3. codewords codewords,SC 16 SC 16,10101010 and so on. codewords codewords, The preamble used by the pagers to gain signal synchronization is a pattern of alternating ones and zeroes. repeated for a period of at least 576 bits, Pagers may be designed to make use of the duration of the preamble to extend battery life The receiver may. be left off most of the time but turned on often enough to catch a portion of the preamble The rate at which. receiver power is cycled on off depends of course upon the baud rate selected Example At 512 baud the. duration of the preamble is over one second therefore the pager could go to sleep for nearly a second at a. time without missing a preamble,Batch Structure, Each batch consists of a SC and 16 additional codewords a total of 544 bits The sixteen codewords are. grouped in pairs called frames The frames are numbered 0 to 7 and the pager population is divided into. these 8 groups Further each pager is assigned to one of the 8 frames according to the 3 least significant bits. of its 21 bit identity and only examines address codewords in that frame Therefore each pager s address. codewords must be transmitted only in the assigned frame. This frame structure within a batch not only multiplies the address possibilities of each codeword by 3 but. also offers an additional means of saving the battery within the pager since the receiver need only be turned. on during the synch codeword and its particular frame Thus the energy requirement is reduced by another. 14 17ths prior to the message portion of the reception. Message codewords for any receiver may be transmitted in any frame but follow directly the associated. address codeword A message may consist of a number of codewords transmitted consecutively and may use. one or more batches but the synchronization codeword must not be displaced by message codewords. Message termination is indicated by the next address codeword or idle codeword There is at least one. address or idle codeword between the end of one message and the address codeword belonging to the next. message In any batch wherever there is no meaningful codeword to be transmitted an idle codeword is. transmitted CCIR The Book of the CCIR Radio Paging Code NO 1 1982 CCIR Recommendation 584. Annex 1 p 9,Types of Codewords, There are four codeword types synchronization idle address and message All contain 32 bits which are. transmitted with the most significant MSB bit first The SC is 7CD215D8 hex and the idle codeword is. 7A89C197 hex The SC and idle codewords are listed fully in Tables 2 2 and 2 3. Table 2 2 Synchronization Codeword 7CD215D8,position no BIT position no BIT. 1 MSB 0 17 0,16 0 32 LSB 0,Table 2 3 Idle Codeword 7A89C197. position no BIT position no BIT,1 MSB 0 17 1,16 1 32 LSB 1. Address Codewords, The structure of an address codeword is illustrated in Table 2 4 Bit 1 the flag bit of an address codeword. is always a zero This distinguishes it from a message codeword Bits 2219 are address bits corresponding to. the 18 most significant bits of a 21 bit identity assigned to the pager Bits 20 and 21 are the two function. bits which are used to select the required address from the four ass1ned to the pager Hence the total number. of addresses is 22 over 8 million Bits 22 to 31 are the parity check bits and the final bit is chosen to give. even parity CCIR p 11, Generally just one address is assigned to each pager and each is assigned one of the 8 frames for addressing. hence the number of distinct pagers can be 218 23 or 221 over 2 million. Table 2 4 Address Codeword,use flag address function check bits parity. bit nos 1 2 19 20 21 22 31 32, value 0 as assigned as assigned as required even parity. Message Codewords, The structure of a message codeword is shown in Table 2 5 A message codeword always starts with a 1 flag. bit followed by 20 message bits 10 check bits and one even parity bit. Table 2 5 Message Codeword,use flag data check bits parity. bit nos 1 2 21 22 31 32,value 1 data as required even parity. The whole message always follows directly after the address codeword The framing rules for the code. format do not apply to the message and message codewords continue until terminated by the transmission of. the next address codeword or idle codeword Each message displaces at least one address codeword or idle. codeword and the displaced address codewords are delayed and transmitted in the next available appropriate. frame Although message code words may continue into the next batch the normal batch structure is. maintained i e the batch will consist of 16 codewords preceded by a Sc At the conclusion of a message. any waiting address codewords are transmitted starting with the first appropriate to the first free frame or. half frame CCIR p 11,Idle Codeword, An idle codeword is transmitted in the absence of an address codeword or message codeword. The idle codeword 7A89C197 hex is equivalent to capcode values 2007664 2007671 Hence pagers. cannot be assigned this range of capcodes,Codeword Generation. Each codeword has 21 information bits which correspond to the coefficients of a polynomial having terms. from x30 down to xl0 This polynomial is divided modulo 2 by the generating polynomial xl0 x9 x8. x6 x5 x3 1 The check bits correspond to the coefficients of the terms from x9 to x0 in the remainder. polynomial found at the completion of this division The complete block consisting of the information bits. followed by the check bits corresponds to the coefficients of a polynomial which is integrally divisible in. modulo 2 fashion by the generating polynomial To the 31 bits of the block is added one additional bit to. provide an even bit parity check of the whole codeword CCIR Annex 1 p 11. If you re planning to write software for encoding or decoding POCSAG signals you ll have to understand the. content of the above paragraph If you re not but curious what the algebra is all about here s the scoop. POCSAG makes use of the Bose Chaudhuri and Hocquenghem BCH error control code 31 21 BCH. parity Each codeword is made up of21 information bits 10 check bits and one parity bit The math outlines. how you d calculate the check bits given the information bits Once you ve done that you can build the entire. codeword for transmission, The check bits are useful in reception too they enable the pager decoder board to not only detect errors but in. some cases to correct them too For example any single bit error in a codeword may be corrected using shift. registers and some combinatorial logic This process can be carried out in hardware software or firmware If. you re interested in further details on cyclic codes consult the error control coding literature Lin Shu and. Costello devote a chapter to BCH codes,Message Formats. Two message formats are generally acceptable for POCSAG paging numeric and alphanumeric The set of. codes for each is defined in the following sections and these codes are not mixed in page messages. Numeric only Message Format, Numeric only messages are limited to a set of characters that can be represented by four bits By using just. four bits airrtime is saved compared to the alphanumeric format The sixteen symbols chosen for numeric. paging are listed in Table 2 6 The space hyphen opening and closing brackets the urgency symbol U and. a spare compliment the numbers o to 9 Five characters are packed into each codeword and any unwanted. part of the codeword of the message is filled with space characters. Table 2 6 Numeric only Character Set,4 bit Combination Displayed Character. Bit No 4 3 2 1 hex,B U urgency,Alphanumeric or general data format. Alphanumeric messages are limited to the set of characters included in The CCITT Alphabet No 5 7 bits per. character The bits of each character are transmitted in numerical order starting with bit No 1 and the. characters are transmitted in the same order as they are to be read The pager address which introduces a. message or segment of a message using this format has its function bits set to 11 decimal 3 Some paging. services don t follow this format, The complete message is partitioned into contiguous 20 bit blocks for the purpose of filling consecutive. message code words Thus a character may be split between one message codeword and the next Any. unwanted part of the last codeword of the message is filled with appropriate nonnprinting characters such as. end of message end of text null etc All characters except null are complete CCIR p 12. That completes the brief but detailed description of the POCSAG code In the next chapter I describe how. one might apply it to a two way communication system rather than for one way paging While this might. seem a bit strange examining paging as a two way digital system illustrates its similarity to RTTY AMTOR. Pactor and G TOR systems,A TWO WAY POCSAG OSO, It s true we think of paging as a one way transmission mode However the paging code protocol can just. as well be used in a two way system say between two amateur stations You see I m thinking it may be best. to present paging systems for amateur use in this context If you re a radio teletype RTTY AMTOR. Pactor G TOR or packet operator you can draw on your experiences with these modes to understand paging. systems You ll see that paging equipment requirements and operations are similar in particular when. compared to systems for 9600 baud packet If you re not familiar with the digital modes listed above give the. digital systems review of comparison of these systems with paging systems and the description of a two. way POCSAG QSO a try anyway,digital systems review. The system shown in Figure 3 1 consists of an antenna a transceiver a digital controller and a computer It s. a general digital system for the transmission and reception of data over radio If the transceiver is a full. featured HF rig and the controller is an all mode terminal node controller TNC then the system pictured is. capable of sending and receiving all of the popular HF modes listed above If the transceiver is a general 2. meter or 70 cm FM rig and the controller is a packet TNC the system is capable of sending and receiving. packet radio frames In either case the job of the transceiver is to convert audio to RF or RF to audio and the. job of the controller is to convert characters to sets of tones or sets of tones to characters The computer. simply ships out characters to the controller or receives characters from it using any generic communication. terminal program, Figure 3 1 Monitor Station or Two Way POCSAG Station. Let s take radio teletype RTTY as an example For transmission ASCII characters are sent from the. computer to the controller The controller converts these 7 bit characters to 5 bit Baudot characters and. transforms the bits into a sequence of tones The tones are converted by the transceiver to a frequency shift. keyed FSK RF format for transmission For reception the FSK RF signal is converted to a set of audio. tones by the transceiver converted to ASCII by the controller and then displayed on the computer monitor. For AMTOR Pactor G TOR and packet the job of the transceiver and the computer remains the same. However the controller gets extra work it must control the sequence of events between stations and it must. form and process groups of data called frames AMTOR frames consist of three 7 bit characters Pactor and. G TOR frames contain on the order of one hundred bits or more and Packet frames contain several. thousand bits For each of these modes complete frames are sent on each transmission instead of one. character at a time as with R TTY,comparison, In all of these modes except for 9600 baud packet data presented to the transceiver or taken from the. transceiver is in the form of audio tones Each bit of data is represented for a short duration by several cycles. of a specific audio frequency For RTTY a MARK or 1 is represented by a 2125 hertz signal and a SPACE. or 0 is represented by a 2295 hertz tone For 9600 baud packet each bit of data is transmitted at radio. frequencies RF by pulling the frequency above or below the carrier frequency by about 3 kHz and keeping. it there for the duration of the bit This method is sometimes called direct FSK. In a similar fashion POCSAG paging uses the direct method of keying As noted in chapter two POCSAG. code is transmitted at 512 1200 or 2400 baud The direct method of keying requires a data ready. transceiver For both 9600 baud packet and POCSAG transmissions a bi polar digital signal must be used to. drive the frequency determining element of the FM rig usually the varactor For 9600 baud packet and. POCSAG reception discriminator audio must be used Audio processing in either case distorts the signal. enough that it cannot be copied consistently, There are differences between 9600 baud packet and POCSAG signalling in addition to baud rate 9600. signals are scrambled during transmission while POCSAG signals are not Scrambling keeps a signal. balanced that is the number of ones and zeros are kept in balance over a fixed number of bits With. POCSAG it is possible to have a long string of ones or zeroes and the result is a signal with low audio. frequency content Hence POCSAG transmitters must have a low audio response around 20 to 50 hertz. That means that data ready radios that have good low audio response as well as a wide audio response do. well with POCSAG For this reason some rigs advertised as 9600 data ready work for paging and some do. format of the paging signal, Before describing a set up for and the operation of a two way POCSAG QSO let s take one more look at the. format of the POCSAG signal Figure 3 2 The reason for this is that we ll need to decide where to place the. address codeword for each transmission The transmission format of the code is a preamble of 576 bits. alternating ones and zeroes followed by one or more batches of codewords Each batch consists of a 32 bit. synchronization codeword SC followed by eight frames each consisting of two 32 bit codewords. Codewords are defined as synchronous idle address and data The format of the data codeword differs. slightly from the rest but all codewords contain ten check bits for error detection and correction See. Chapter 2 for details,Figure 3 2 Page Signal Format. According to the POCSAG code each pager is assigned one slot in eight i e one of the 8 frames in a batch. for an address codeword Hence in addition to the 18 bits assigned for addressing within an address. codeword itself 3 more bits are in effect added to the address establishing unique addressing for over 2. million 221 pagers on a given frequency This assignment of course allows a pager to be turned off during. the time in which the non assigned frames are received without a message which extends battery life All. messages for a particular pager follow the address codeword for that pager.
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