Digging around through a pile of old CD-Rom’s the other day I found a disc full of ancient data decoding programs that I complied many years ago. Always a sucker for vintage software I started to go through them, loading the most promising onto a Windows XP computer used for all my signal decoding.
Unluckily more than a few were only designed for older windows operating systems like 95, 98 and even a few meant for windows 3.1 (brings it home how long Ive been messing around with radios). Even running in compatibility mode on the XP OS they still had some issues and my firewall had a huge brain fit when I tried to install them.
I do have a few ancient dell base units running older versions of windows but was unsure how much work it was going to take to get them powered up. If your anything like me older computers tend to get cannibalized over time just to keep newer ones going.
Giving up on the oldest I starting to look at the ones that I could at least run on XP then persuade the firewall that they weren’t here to do any harm and came across a free pager decoder program called PDW.
The version I had was very old and as these programs are usually developed over many years decided to see if there was a more up to date version available online. Striking gold I found a much more recent version at http://www.discriminator.nl
What is PDW?
PDW is a free plain interface decoder for common pager formats POCSAG, FLEX, ACARS, MOBITEX and ERMES. Downloaded as a zipped file the program runs straight away as a windows standalone program without having to install anything.
Please note there are additional drivers to install if using the other connections options the software offers, these are included with the download but for normal use the program is easy enough to get working.
Setting Up The Pager Decoder
The one problem with any decode software that relies on the computer sound card to pass the data to software is how twitchy it can be to set up. If you’ve had experience using this type of software you’ll know that getting the volume just right makes all the difference to the quality of the decode and the PDW software is unfortunately no exception.
From my personal experience using pager software I find it better to set the computers line-in volume to about halfway then make adjustments using the radios volume control. Having the line-in set to high causes distortion of the audio signal which introduces countless messy errors into the final decode.
Your first step after starting the program should be to visit the help section as it has some good tips on getting up and running quickly. This will prevent you spending more time than necessary wrestling with the new piece of software.
Nearly all the pager allocations in the VHF/UHF bands are on frequencies found on a good deal of the entry level radio scanners on the market and as the power levels on the business end of these transmissions is very high the antenna requirements are low with signals coming in strong even with the stock helical supplied with radio scanners.
To see the most common pager frequencies there is a good list at globaltuners.com
Who Uses Paging Systems?
From standby emergency personal, transportation staff, doctors, nurses and a whole bunch of other users, pagers do offer a simplicity that suits some organizations better than the mobile phone.
Lets us know how you get on with this software and if you have any problems using it drop us an email or leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help.