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418/433 MHz

short-range communication
licence-exempt data transmission
and remote control systems

In the UK, two small The history of licence-exempt


use of radio transmitters
sections of the 70-cm started a few decades ago with
band, around the private use of low-power
transmitters for radio-con-
418 MHz and trolled models. Much later, CB
radio in the 27-MHz band was
433 MHz, have been legalised and type-approved
available for some radios for this band were
freely available. However,
time for licence- the use of type-approved
exempt wireless com- radio-control transmitters as
well as that of CB rigs was tied to
munication using a licence fee and some administration.
And then, the mere disappearance of In Europe, the national radio regula-
type-approved low- the dreaded paperwork and, possibly, tion authorities (in the UK : Radiocom-
power devices a test, to get your licence was hailed as munications Agency, RA) have their
a great liberalisation. The result of this own say about the use of the SRD
(LPDs), also called de-regulation on part of the govern- bands. In the UK, the 418 MHz section
ment authorities was a boom in the may be used for telemetry transmitters
short-range devices sales of CB radios. A few years later, the and receivers, telecommand and in-
(SRDs). In this article overcrowded CB band was extended building security equipment, while the
with quite a few channels, higher 433-MHz section is only available for
we look at the use of transmit power was allowed, as well as in-vehicle equipment including radio
these frequency FM (frequency modulation).
Although small sections of the
keys. This is in contrast with many
other European countries, where the
bands, and some 40 MHz and 173 MHz bands (the latter section around 433 MHz is much wider
exclusively in the UK) have long been and also available for all of the afore-
general design con- available for low-power devices like mentioned applications, and even
siderations for SRD ‘stage microphones’ and remote con- voice communications using 10-mW
trols (for example, for garage doors), FM handhelds.
modules. nothing was allowed without paying a In the UK, the specification with
licence-fee and proof that the equip- number MPT1340 is applicable to all
ment was type-approved. LPDs using the 418 MHz and
Many of the regulations, but not the 433 MHz sections of the 70-cm band.
type-approvals, have been relaxed or The Radiocommunications Agency
changed radically over the past few (RA) is an Executive Agency of the DTI
years. Initially, licence-exempt remote (Department of Trade and Industry)
control systems appeared for the CB responsible for the allocation, mainte-
27 MHz (11-m) band. The real activity nance and supervision of the UK radio
did not start however until two small spectrum. The RA can be contacted at
sections of the 70-cm band, 418 MHz the following address: Radiocommu-
and 433 MHz, were ‘released’ for low- nications Agency, New King’s Beam
power type-approved devices (LPDs), House, 22 Upper Ground, London
also called short-range devices (SRDs). SE1 9SA. Tel. (0171) 211 0211, fax 211

Elektor Electronics 5/98


34
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0507. Internet: www.open.gov.uk/


radiocom. 1 1 1 1 1
Document number I-ETS 300 220 1 2 3 4
describes the type-approval require- 3 4 5 6
ments for 418/433-MHz SRDs. Accord-
ing to the RA, new equipment can only
be type approved to this standard pro-
vided parameter limits stated in LPD/SRD Band
MPT 1340 are met.

433.720 MHz

434.120 MHz
Range: 433.72 MHz to 434.12 MHz
EX-ISM FREQUENCIES Width: 400 kHz
A long time ago, the current SRD band Channels: 16
section at 433 MHz was part of a Raster: 25 kHz
slightly larger section reserved for ISM Specification: MPT 1340
(industrial, scientific and medical) For Vehicle Radio Keys only.
equipment producing RF radiation. Licence-exempt, max. 10 mW ERP
980038 - 11a
Mainly as a result of pressure from
licensed radio amateurs who use this
part of the band on a shared and/or
secondary basis, the use of ISM equip-
ment has been phased out, and the
band section is no longer identified as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
such, at least not in the UK. Several
other ISM frequency bands are defined
in the UK, including 167 MHz, 83 MHz
and 40 MHz, all subject to strict regu- LPD/SRD Band
lations, the most essential of which
being very low ERP (effective radiated
433.720 MHz

434.120 MHz
Range: 417.9 MHz to 418.1 MHz
power) levels. Width: 200 kHz
The exact frequency allocation of Channels: 8
the 418 MHz and 433 MHz SRD bands Raster: 25 kHz
is shown in Figures 1a and 1b. It
should be noted that the channel divi- Specification: MPT 1340
sion and channel widths have been Low-power general telemetry,
adopted by SRD manufacturers, there telecommand and alarms.
being no strict RA regulation in this Licence-exempt, max. 0.25 mW ERP
980038 - 11b
respect.
It is expected from radio amateurs
using the 70-cm band to accept the Figure 1. Frequency
activity of low-power SRD users in this allocation and (man-
part of the band and not cause inter- ufacturer-proposed)
ference. Likewise, SRD users have to channel division of
live with interference caused by radio the two 70-cm SRD
amateurs, or prevent interference by bands available in
using low transmission rates, sure the UK.
codes, high redundancy and selective
receivers. All of this is, of course, in the
hands of the manufacturers of SRDs,
because the users are not allowed to
make changes to type-approved equip-
ment. Figure 2. Plans are
afoot to open the
886-MHz band for
A NEW SRD BAND
SRD use.
Meanwhile, because they are so small,
the 418 MHz and 433 MHz SRD bands
have become quite overcrowded. A
new band, around 886 MHz, is ‘identi- 2
fied’ by the relevant authorities for use 7 7 7 8
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 0
by SRDs (Figure 2), with reference to
CEPT Recommendation T/R 70-03. In
this band, it is planned to reserve sev-
eral channels exclusively for security
applications. Some channels in the pro- Future SRD band
posed frequency range are, however,
868.000 MHz

870.000 MHz

still in use for analogue cordless tele- Range: 868 MHz to 870 MHz
phone sets of the CT2 generation. Width: 2 MHz
For all SRD bands, the intention has Channels: 80
always been to arrive at unified regu- Raster: 25 kHz
lations. In the UK, however, the Radio-
communications Agency “has not CEPT Recommendation T/R 70-03 refers.
adopted CEPT recommendation
980038 - 12
TR 01-4 which allows general low-

Elektor Electronics 5/98 35


ules we have seen so far contain SMD
3 parts to keep the overall size as small
as possible.
The simplest versions of SRDs used
C1
L1 to rely on an amplitude-modulated
470p 27nH transmitter (Figure 3) and an associ-
L2 C5 ANT. ated regenerative receiver (Figure 4).
Note that such systems are probably
68nH
DATA IN T1 470p no longer allowed under RA specifica-
R1 C3 tion MPT 1340. The transmitter consists
4k7 of a one-transistor oscillator. Modula-
3p
tion is obtained by applying the data
signal to the base of the transistor. A
single surface-acoustic wave (SAW)
R2 R3 R4 resonator is used as the frequency-
X1 C4
determining element. A highly similar

200Ω
100Ω
6k8

circuit for experimental use was pub-


7p
lished in Elektor Electronics July/August
1993, page 54. Note, however, that this
433,92 MHz 980038 - 13 design is based on frequency modula-
tion (FM) using two varicap diodes,
Figure 3. Circuit dia- while the SAW has a fine-tuning
gram of an ultra-sim- power devices to approved receivers and transmitters adjustment.
ple 433-MHz SRD operate in this for short-range communications in the The receiver shown in Figure 4 also
transmitter using band”. Hopefully, 418/433 MHz bands. In this context, we contains just one transistor. It is biased
amplitude modulation the 886 MHz SRD should also mention the activities of to act as a regenerative oscillator, in
(not type-approved by band will be graced the LPRA, the Low-Power Radio Asso- which the received antenna signal
RA). by cross-European ciation, who publish an interesting and causes the transistor to switch to high
standards, and highly topical newsletter, as well as amplification, thereby automatically
receive an ETS maintain a fine Internet web site at arranging the signal detection. Next,
Figure 4. Circuit of a (European Telecom- www.lpra.org.uk the ‘raw’ demodulated signal is ampli-
simple AM receiver munication Stan- The ready-made, UK type- fied and shaped-up by opamps. The
module using a single dard). approved LPD modules from result is a fairly clean digital signal at
transistor in the RadioMetrix and RadioTech come in a the output of the receiver. The logic-
(regenerative) RF sec- LPD variety of frequencies and transmit high level is at about 2/3 of the supply
tion (not type- MODULES powers, depending on your applica- voltage, i.e., between 3 V and 4.5 V.
approved by RA). In In this country, tion and country of use. Modules are The range of the simple system
some cases, there’s RadioMetrix and also available for digital communica- shown in Figures 3 and 4 is much
an additional pream- RadioTech are the tions between, say, a PC and a printer, smaller than that of more expensive
plifier stage using a main suppliers of the radio link effectively acting as a units, mainly because of the low trans-
second transistor. ready-made, type- very long RS232 cable. All LPD mod- mit power (approx. 1 mW) and the rel-

4 R18 VCC
10Ω

R7 R14
C21 C12
12k

3M

ANT.
L1
* 47µ 10µ

C4

R5 R9
2p R12
20k

5k6

6M8
C5
D2 DATA OUT
T1 R10
33p 100k R15 IC1b
C7
R11 IC1a 47k
D1
2p 100k D3
C6

1n 2x
1N4148
1N
4148
2µH2 * 1,5 Wdg.
R8 R6
* 1,5 wdgn.
C8 C9 C10
* 1.5 turns
680Ω

18k

1n 1µ
* 1,5 spires. 4µ7

980038 - 14

36 Elektor Electronics 5/98


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ative insensitivity and wide-band


nature of the receiver. Moreover, ampli- 5 data input
tude-modulated noise is not sup- switching threshold FM RF output
pressed in any way. hysteresis modulator stage
For more demanding applications,
FM (frequency modulation) is the obvi-
ous alternative. Block diagrams of an
LPD-type 433-MHz FM transmitter
and its associated receiver are shown
in Figures 5 and 6 respectively. Integrated
The transmitter is automatically antenna
actuated by means of pulse edge detec-
tion, and uses an accurately defined 4- supply regulation
ms time slot to transmit, as soon as RF carrier enable
data pulses are detected at the input.
When the data signal is removed, the
transmitter automatically returns to pulse edge
standby mode after recognition
about 200 ms. As in the Figure 5. Block dia-
lower-spec transmitter, gram of a typical FM
the frequency stability is transmitter module for IN Ub = 5 - 12V
980038 - 15
derived from a SAW res- one of the 70-cm SRD
onator. The main advan- bands.
tage of these resonators
is their low cost. On the
down side, they are subject to rela-
tively large production tolerances, and 6
their temperature stability is a far cry RF input stage mixer selection
from that of a quartz crystal.
To keep the bandwidth of the fre-
quency modulated transmitter output
signal within limits, the frequency devi-
ation is limited (±2.5 kHz to ±20 kHz,
depending on the SAW type and man-
ufacturer). The input data rate is also
oscillator
limited (low-pass filter). The upshot is
that the highest data rate of the FM
modules is about 10 kBit/s (using a high-
est modulation frequency of 5 kHz).
The antennas used for SRDs are tra-
ditionally produced in the form of a
printed-circuit board track, while ⁄- AF amplifier IF amplifier
lambda flexible anten- pulse shaper FM demodulator
nas are also seen occa- Figure 6. FM receiver
sionally. modules may be super- 980038 - 16
The FM receiver heterodynes or even Ub = 5V OUT
module shown in the double-conversion
block diagram (Figure 6) designs.
is a superheterodyne modules with even used to manufacture these modules is
design. Here, too, an higher specifications the same as found in handhelds for the
SAW resonator is used in the oscillator are not necessarily larger, but dearer 70-cm amateur radio band.
to ensure frequency stability. All of the and more complex.
intermediate-frequency (IF) filtering Higher-spec transmitters achieve DATA TRANSMISSION
can be done with low-cost 10.7-MHz better frequency stability thanks to the For simple data transmission applica-
ceramic filters. Because of the possible use of a crystal-controlled synthesiser, tions, such as a remote control link,
frequency offset caused by the SAW while the harmonics suppression is you need a suitable encoder at the
resonator, a fairly large bandwidth also better as a result of extensive fil- transmitter side, and a matching
(approx. 280 kHz) is required anyway. tering at the output. decoder at the receiver side. Specially
Most ready-made SRD receiver mod- Likewise, high-end SRD receiver designed integrated circuits are avail-
ules are compatible with 5-V or 3-V sys- modules are usually double-conversion able like the MM57410N from
tems. types using synthesiser tuning and nar- National Semiconductor, the
Thanks to miniaturisation, SRD row-band IF filters. The technology MC145026/MC145028 from Motorola,

Elektor Electronics 5/98 37


5V bits, and 4 data bits) to the transmitter.
7 The decoder receives the 12-bit word
18 and extracts the first 8 bits as an
SW-DIP8
address, and the remaining 4 bits as
1 9 1 17
2 10 2
A0 DOUT IN OUT data. The four data bits only appear at
A1 16
3 11 3
OSC1
15
1M the output if the received address
A2 OSC2
matches the DIP switch setting in the
ADDRESS

4 12 4 14
A3 TE
5 13 5
A4 D3
13 decoder. The 4-bit dataword is first
6 14 6 HT12E 12 HT433-1/T latched and then used to control exter-
A5 D2
7 15 7 11
A6 D1 nal devices (here, LEDs are used).
8 16 8 10
A7 D0 START To make sure the transmission
arrives securely at the decoder, the
9
encoder transmits the 12-bit serial
word four times each time the /TE
DATA input is activated. The decoder with-
holds the data until three identical, suc-
5V cessive, copies have been received. The
VT output then flags the availability of
SW-DIP8
18 valid data.
1 9 1 17
This process is very well suited to
A0 VT
2 10 2 16 slow data transmission. For higher data
A1 OSC1 47k
3 11 3
A2 OSC2
15 rates, a microcontroller is an obvious
ADDRESS

4 12 4
A3 DIN
14
OUT IN alternative to special encoder/decoder
5 13 5
A4 D3
13 ICs. Note, however, that opting for a
6 14 6 HT12D 12 HT433-1/R
A5 D2 microcontroller (like a PIC) almost
7 15 7 11
8 16 8
A6 D1
10
always means that you have to write
A7 D0 MP
your own software aimed at achieving
secure and reliable transmissions.
9
If data is to be exchanged between
560Ω

560Ω

560Ω

560Ω

equipment having a serial interface,


the first solution that comes to mind is
often one as adopted in the project
DATA 980038 - 17 ‘Long-distance IrDA link’ published in
Elektor Electronics May 1997.
Figure 7. Application For more demanding telemetry
circuit for an address- or the HE8 and larly, the HT12D decoder IC is found applications, special data modems are
able digital link using HT12 from Hei- directly at the output of the receiver. employed in combination with high-
an SRD and frequency land Electronic On the DIP switches in the encoder end 418-MHz SRD modules. A trans-
modulation (FM). (D-48351 Ever- you set the same address as in the mission protocol is then used to
swinkel, Germany. receiver to be addressed (multiple improve the data security. Often, the
Tel. +49 2582-7550, receivers may be addressed by a single AX.25 protocol is employed, a spin-off
fax +49 2582-7887). transmitter). of the X.25 protocol which has been in
An example of an addressable sig- In addition to the receiver address, use for several years for amateur
nal transmission link for the 433 MHz four data bits may be applied to the packet radio.
SRD band is shown in Figure 7 (note: input. Here, these four bits come from
this application may not be allowed in push-button switches. By applying the MODULATION
the UK). The encoder IC type HT12E transmit-enable signal (/TE), the TECHNIQUE —
supplies its data directly to the modu- encoder is prompted to supply a 12-bit A BOTTLENECK
lation input of the transmitter. Simi- serial word (consisting of 8 address While most data transmission modules
approved for SRD use are usually said
to use ‘FM’, in practice the actual mod-
ulation method is FSK (frequency shift
keying). Though simple from a design
8 and technology point of view, FSK is
burdened by a large bandwidth
requirement which is the chief cause of
the relatively short distances that can be
covered. Assuming a receiver band-
width of 25 kHz (at –36 dBm) is being
used for data transmission, then the
highest achievable data rate using FSK
would be a measly 500 bits per second!
Consequently, professional applications
of SRD modules call for special modu-
lation techniques like GMSK (Gaussian
Minimum Shift Keying) which
Figure 8. A professional reduce the bandwidth require-
data modem designed ment by a factor of 15 and more,
for use with a 70-cm while considerably improving the
SRD (not type-approved transmission security.
by RA). (980038-1)

38 Elektor Electronics 5/98