It’s everybody’s worst nightmare: you and your sweetheart arrive at the restaurant for a nice dinner date, only to find out that some Mary Kay convention is in town and all of the tables at Applebee’s are taken. The friendly hostess informs you that there is a 10 minute wait, and hands you a pager that will start buzzing when the your table is ready. Now you’re stuck in the waiting area with all of the other sad, hungry people for literally minutes while you stare at the pager and try to force it to start buzzing. Well, by following this guide from YouTuber Tony Tiger, you can do exactly that.
Those pagers, often referred to as “burger pagers,” are controlled by simple RF signals. The restaurant staff use a purpose-built radio transmitter to send a signal that tells the pager to start buzzing. That signal is embedded with data that specifies the restaurant, the specific pager number, and what the pager should do (vibrate, light up, or both). None of that data is encrypted or secured in anyway, because restaurants really aren’t concerned about someone hacking the system in order to get a table faster.
To be able to do that, you just need a way to send the properly-modulated RF signals. That can be done with any SDR (Software-Defined Radio) transmitter, so long as it’s capable of operating at the 467.750 MHz frequency that these pager systems use (though that may vary from one manufacturer to another). In this case, Tony Tiger used a HackRF One SDR, Universal Radio Hacker software, and Inspectrum analyzer software. He wrote a script for encoding the data and generating the WAV files to send, but there are many ways you can do that if you’re familiar with SDR and modulating radio signals. The Applebee’s hostess may be confused about why your pager went off before she pushed the button, but she’ll probably still find you a table!
But don’t actually do that, because it would make you a jerk.