Alley Cat's "Alley Chat Pocket HT" Brings Back the Pager with LoRa and Meshtastic Technology

Built around the Heltec LoRa 32 V3, the Alley Chat modernizes the classic pager concept — license-free and open source.

Pseudonymous maker "Alley Cat" has turned a Heltec LoRa 32 V3 radio into a modernized pager — complete with "Alley Chat" 3D-printed pocket-friendly casing.

"The classic pager. We all have one," Cat claims by way of introduction to the project's commercial inspiration. "Lasts a month on one AAA battery. What if I told you there was another way? The Alley Chat HT Pocket. Lasts one day if you're lucky."

If you miss the days of getting paged, the "Alley Chat HT Pocket" offers a modern way to slake your nostalgia. (📹: Random Alley Cat)

The heart of the Alley Chat is the Heltec LoRa 32 V3, a low-cost LoRa radio platform — popular for its support in the Meshtastic long-range low-power mesh networking project. It's this which powers Cat's creation: requiring no subscription fees nor access to licensed radio spectrum, unlike traditional paging systems, Meshtastic automatically routes messages through the mesh from sender to recipient over a LoRa radio connection.

The Heltec LoRa 32 V3 includes a small OLED display panel, which shines through Cat's 3D-printed casing. Inside the chassis is a 2Ah lithium battery, antenna, and a vibration motor — optional, Cat explains, but recommended to get that classic pager experience when a message comes through.

"This compact and snug-fitting case is perfect for your Meshtastic adventures," Cat claims of the case, which includes 3D-printed buttons for user interaction, "but a word of caution: it's tight! So take your time and be gentle during assembly to avoid any mishaps."

More information on the build is available in the video above and on Alley Cat's YouTube channel, while 3D print files for the case — which includes an optional sprung pocket clip — are available on Printables under the reciprocal Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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