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Programming a Minitor Pager on the Cheap - DIY Style Write Up

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Homebrew Minitor Programming

I have had several requests for me to actually write something up on this for people here at RR that wish to program their Minitor III, IV, and V pager without having to drop hundreds on the Motorola programming cable and programming dock. So here goes.

First of all, no matter which route you go, your going to need the PPS (Pager Programming Software) for the Minitor III & IV they software is sold by Motorola, since it is a paid software I will not post any links or share them here. But for the Minitor V, the software is freely downloadable from Motorola's website. You can find it here. I think the PPS is pretty self explanatory so I won't get into details on how to use that.

Now, as far as programming interface goes...

If you wish to build a complete solution for yourself you may refer to the wronderful write up already done for you at radioetcetera (Radio & Electronics Projects - Minitor Programmer) prepared by Andy Knitt.

I took alot of information from Andy's site, and decided to go a slightly different route. Not only do I prefer USB (mainly because I run macs, and can only use usb serial devices with my XP virtual machine), but I am not the best when it comes to building circuit boards.

What I decided to do, was utilize the Radio Shack Scanner Programming Cable (USB Scanner Programming Cable - RadioShack.com) which I already owned. Essentially the RS 20-047 is a USB to RS232 adapter via the FTDI FT232BL chip, which is then converted to a TTL device terminated with a 1/8" stereo male TRS connector. The tip is the TTL Tx, the ring is the TTL Rx, and the sleeve is the Ground. This can also be seen in the diagram below. (Thanks to RR member Evert for the info and the diagram on the RS 20-047).



I still needed a way to connect the tip, ring and sleeve of the connector on the programming cable to the appropriate pins on the bottom connector of the Minitor pager (more on the different pinouts below). I did this early on as some may have seen from the images in the Minitor thread by just using alligator clips and some copper pins, but I wanted something slightly easier.

I decided to build a very cheap and very homemade programming dock for my Minitor V. The pinouts are different on the III/IV than the V, so if you need both you would need to build two boxes or something similar to support the different pin configurations.

I went to my local hobby electronics store and purchased a small project enclosure, a 1/8" stereo TRS jack, some wire, and dug through a box of random connectors and plugs to find something with copper pins that seemed to fit well in the pins on the bottom of the Minitor. All and all I spent less than $10 after tax on the supplies to build.

At that point all the needed to be done was solder wires from the ring, tip and sleeve of the jack to the copper pins, and mount everything in the project box. I drilled small holes for the copper pins in the project box so that they would align with the correct connectors on the bottom of the Minitor and held them in place with hot glue from the inside, then drilled a 1/8" hole to mount the TRS jack. Ensured all the connections were working using the continuity tester on my multimeter and closed it all up.

Here are some images of my homemade programming dock.



Now when I want to program my Minitor, I simply plug in my RS Scanner Programming Cable into the programming dock and set my Minitor into programming mode (set select knob to "C" and turn Minitor on while holding the reset button on the side) and set it in to the dock making sure the connectors go in the right place and then I can read and write codeplugs til my heart is content.

I should note, that I did not setup my programmer to provide power to the pager during programming, as (at least for the V) this is only required for upgrading the firmware, and I had no intentions of doing so.

Diagrams for the pinouts of the Minitors III, IV and V can be found below, again, these are pretty self explanatory.

Minitor III/IV

Minitor V:


Well if you made it this far, you have stuck with my terrible write up skills and now know how to program your Minitor pager on the cheap. If you have any questions please post them in this thread and I will do my best to assist you.

Again, thank you to Andy at radioetcetera for all the valuable information I got from his site, as well as letting me use his diagrams, and thank you to Evert here at RR who gave me the pinout to the RS 20-047 programming cable so that I could manage to do this.

Hopefully at least someone can now program their Minitor, and not have to fret over spending several hundreds of dollars on the necessary equipment.
 

APXguru1

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Thanks for taking the time to come up with this, I would like to build one of these.

I am asking you to post links to sites on the web that have all the supplies needed to make this (need pictures). Including, wires, TRS jack, box, and usb adaptor. That would be an AWESOME addition to this diagram. Please include how you connected the PINs to the wires. Thanks!
 
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#3
I will try to find the parts on the internet, honestly I found the parts in bins at a electronics store.

I will see if I can come up with a list when I get a chance and post some links. I have noticed that recently homeade generic III-V programmers have popped up on ebay. Looks like the basically work on the concept of holding the pins in the bottom of the radio when you read/write the codeplug. They are wanting $100 each for them though. Yikes!
 
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#7
USB Scanner Programming Cable:
USB Scanner Programming Cable - RadioShack.com

1/8" 3-conductor TRS Jack:
1/8" Stereo Panel-Mount Audio Jack (2-Pack) - RadioShack.com

Project Box:
Project Enclosure (3x2x1") - RadioShack.com

Some Wire:
75-Ft. UL-Recognized Hookup Wire (22AWG) - RadioShack.com

For the Pins, you just need to find something that has pins that will fit in the holes on the bottom of the Minitor, you might be able to use the pins from a DB9 connector:
9-Position Male Crimp D-Sub Connector - RadioShack.com

Other than that you need a soldering iron, solder, multimeter (to check continuity), a hot glue gun, and some glue sticks.
 

APXguru1

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Thank you for breaking down the items needed. I am a visual learner but I also wanted parts numbers so I can go retrieve these items from my local shack. Thanks pyro for all your hard work. Have a nice evening. :)
 

APXguru1

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So, looking at the pictures...I need to solder the individual pins to each wire right?

Then I need to solder the wires to the audio jack?

Does it matter where the wires go from the pins to the audio jack? Thanks
 
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#10
So, looking at the pictures...I need to solder the individual pins to each wire right?
Yes

Then I need to solder the wires to the audio jack?
Yes

Does it matter where the wires go from the pins to the audio jack? Thanks
Yes. TX to TX, RX to RX, GND to GND. The pins vary depending on which model Minitor. There is a diagram above which shows which pins are which on both the different models of the Minitor pagers as well as the plug on the USB Scanner Programming Cable. From there you should be able to tell which pin goes to which pin.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

APXguru1

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#11
I got all the items needed, im using the jumper leads and the USB scanner cable as shown in the older minitor V forum. When I try to receive the data from the pager, it says "serial communication error - data transmission error". Any ideas?
 
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#12
Make sure you have the PPS software set up correctly. I didn't get into the PPS side of things in the tutorial, but you need to make sure you have the com port set correctly. Open your device manager and find the COM port of the USB Serial Port (your scanner cable) and make sure the settings in the PPS matches. You may also need to double click on the USB Serial Port in device manager and go to the Port Settings tab and set the baud rate to match that of the PPS (in my case 1200bps)

Screenshots attached below.

 

N2ZPY

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#14
When I try to program mine I get a message that there was an error but if I go back and read the codeplug again it will have the new settings. Finally got the vibrate function set on all settings so I won't miss anything if I am out on the tractor.

I made my programmer base out of 2 telephone outlets. I took the contacts out of one outlet and bent them at a 90* angle and epoxied them to the cover of another through the 3 holes that I drilled. This gave me spring loaded pins. I will try to get some pics and put them up. I used the outlet because I was using my kenwood cable and that has a 6 pin RJ-11 on it.

Kevin
 
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#15
There ya go!

Gotta make do with whatever you can. Those Motorola programming cables and base are way to expensive. I am just trying to help out the community for a cheaper solution for those of us just looking to make some changes to our pager, not really looking to program pagers for the entire department.
 
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#16
For those of you receiving this error, you can try two things. First, verify that your TX and RX are correct. Try switching them and see if that works. Second, make sure your ground wire is of sufficient size. If you're unsure, double up your ground wire and see if this works. Good luck.

-Chris

Still getting the same ERROR, changed baud rate to 1200 too.
 

N2ZPY

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I found how to get around my error in the PPS......Under the "Tools" tab there is a "USB Delay Time". I changed it from the default 3 sec to 4 and it works without a flaw.
 
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