Apollo Gold A30 programmer

A bit off topic is this programmer for the Apollo Gold A30. This is a so called ‘two way pager’, which means the message is sent via POCSAG or FLEX and a reply can be sent by the pager via GPRS. Which means the pager is equipped with a SIM card. Currently this pager is used by some fire brigades. Those are pagers using the FLEX protocol. Nevertheless also a POCSAG version of this pager is available, which explains why it’s mentioned at this website.

Apollo Gold A30

A programmer for this pager can be made very easily. You’ll need:

  • a standard charger
  • an FTDI PL2303 module (5V version)
  • 2 pogo pins
  • an 18k resistor (22k will also do the job)

The PL2303 is available in different constructions, but most handy is a cable which has the chip integrated in the USB connector.

PL2303 kabel

Below the complete diagram of the programmer is shown. The resistor between ground and RxD is needed to kick the pager into programming mode as soon as it’s inserted into the cradle.

In the diagram the contacts J1 are shown as if you’re looking from the front side into the cradle, just like at the picture below.

A regular charger only uses the most left and most right pin. Luckily enough the holes for other pins have been drilled already and the small PCB inside the charger also has the soldering spots for extra pins.

First open the charger. To do so remove the four rubber feet from the bottom. Keep them well to be able to cover the screws after the modification. After disassembling the charger the power socket can be removed from the PCB. We don’t need this anymore, but you can use the hole to insert a neoprene grommet for the USB cable.

Obtaining the correct pogo pins can be a challenge. Use a caliper to get the correct sizes and research some notorious Chinese websites.

Wire up everything as shown in the diagram. Don’t forget the 18k pulldown resistor, otherwise the pager won’t enter programming mode. When finished only the second pin / hole from the left side is blank. Assemble the cradle again and don’t forget to put back the four rubber feet.

Probably you’ll need to install a driver for the PL2303 chip. This is included in the Apollo software. Otherwise it can be downloaded from the FTDI website. Programming software for the pager has to be obtained via the reseller / manufacturer.

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