Arduino Turned Into Something Kinda Like A Pager

Video may have killed the radio star, but cell phones and smart phones all but killed the pager. They still exist, of course, but only in very niche applications. [João Santos] wanted a pager-like experience for himself, though, so he enlisted an Arduino and got to work. Watch a video of the system working below.

The build uses an Arduino Uno to drive a simple HD44780 LCD display with 16 characters each across two lines of text. It’s hooked up to a Wemos D1, which uses its WiFi connection to get online. To this end, it’s capable of talking to a web application which allows users to enter text messages. It receives these messages, passes them to the Arduino Uno over I2C, and then the Uno shuttles the message to the display. It’s overkill, but [João] just found it quicker to get everything up and running via this route.

Those who want to message [João] via the system can head to a website that runs on the OutSystems platform. There, they can enter their name and message, and it will be sent to the pager-like device for display.

It’s a fun little thing, and it makes us wonder if pagers could make a comeback. Maybe simple devices could work in a similar way to Sidewalk or Apple AirTags, communicating via a low-power network made up of smartphones in the local area. We’ve seen something similar done with LoRa. If you happen to whip up something along those lines, don’t hesitate to let us know!

12 thoughts on “Arduino Turned Into Something Kinda Like A Pager

      1. I volunteer in a first responder capacity in Los Angeles (LASD) and we use pagers. I don’t know the details, but have been told they are significantly more reliable and have much better network coverage than mobile networks. I understand why you would want a purpose-built smartphone like those Zebra computers in the hospital, but they don’t offer any advantage over a consumer smartphone when it comes to connectivity for receiving emergency notifications out in the world.

        My team is all within a 5 mile or so radius of each other, so I think we’d be interested in reliable hardware that can use the Meshtastic protocol or similar. That way we could still communicate in the event of a network outage.

        1. Great that you volunteer for such important work. Our zebra’s are meant for use inside the hospital on our HA wifi network, but they can switch to 4G cellular and we also have a separate network for that inside the hospital via a DAS. The advantage over consumer smartphones is security and stability.

      2. The USA is such a country. I’ve seen patient info being blasted out by large hospitals which really shouldn’t be available to any radio receiver over 100 miles away. :/

        Rural fire departments also find pagers useful. Much better reception overall.

  1. Just gonna remind people about DAPNET if you have actual old hardware pagers. There’s a receiver app for the Flipper Zero as well. If you’re in Europe it seems more usable, the US is much more sparse.

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