Data Sheet

Hartcran House, 231 Kenton Lane, Harrow, Middlesex, HA3 8RP, England
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8909 9595, Fax: +44 (0) 20 8909 2233,
Issue 1, 29 October 2012
400mW UHF multi channel RS232 radio modem
The M48-869-FPX3 presents M48 modem IC
combined with a 868MHz band FPX3 radio module
and suitable interface circuits, power supplies,
connectors to provide a complete RS232 radio
modem interface. Optionally, the board can be
housed in an EAS120 extruded aluminium housing.
In the simplest case, a pair of these units (with
suitable aerials and power supplies connected, of
course) can be connected directly to the serial ports
of a pair of industrial PCs and the resulting wireless
data link used without any further installation or
The M48A is a simple, half duplex, transparent data link
device. It provides a basic 4800 baud RS232 compatible
path without the user needing to format, code, detect or
otherwise worry about modifying his existing datastream or
Figure 1: M48A-869-FPX3-EAS
providing extra 'control' lines. The user interface datarate,
addresses and operating parameters can all be easily re-programmed via the serial port.
It ought to be emphasised that the M48A is a very simple, easy to use, device. As supplied, it operates as a
4800 baud, transparent half-duplex data link. If required, there is an extensive range of programming
options, allowing user interface speed from 1200 to 76800 baud, hardware flow control, one to one, one to
many and broadcast addressing options, and acknowledge/re-transmit error handling protocols. Simple store
and forward repeater operation is also provided.
A good demonstration can be had by connecting a pair of PCs by their serial ports and a null-modem cable,
and setting up terminal emulators (4800 baud, asynchronous, local echo on) on both computers. Confirm
that good RS232 communication is present, and then replace the cable with a pair of M48A modems. The
resulting 'radio teletype' can be entertaining to play with.
Usable range over 3km
400mW RF power output
8 serial select channels
5kbps pulse duration coded protocol
Synchronisation codes and checksum to reduce false triggering on noise
Programmable transmit address and four receive addresses
Programmable timing parameters (preamble length, etc)
Programmable auxiliary serial output (to program radio modules)
Programmable serial modem baud rate (1200 - 76800 bps, half-duplex)
Addressable point-to-point and point to multi point
Packet acknowledge/resend (ACK) mode
Store and forward repeater function
PDAs, organisers & laptops
Handheld / portable terminals
Remote operated vehicles
Data loggers
In-building environmental monitoring and control
Industrial (SCADA) telemetry and M2M systems
Fleet management, vehicle data acquisition
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 1
User Interface
Figure 2: DB9F RS232 connector pin arrangement
Pin description
+5V out
LK 1.
LK 2.
RS232 'DCD' output. Active (+ve level) when data is present in rx buffer
RS232 'RXD' data out
RS232 'TXD' data in
RS232 'DTR' input. Take -ve to interrupt rx data output
RS232 'DSR' Pull low to enable unit. (Internal 20K pullup to Vraw)
(RTS pin on standard RS232)
RS232 'CTS' output. Active (+ve level) when the tx buffer is nearly full
Regulated supply output. 500mA max. (switched by pin 6)
link to hold unit permanently on (disables pin 6 switching)
link to enable rx dataflow inhibit (DTR) input.
As supplied, all links are open
This is a 2.1mm power connector. Center pin is positive.
Supply requirements are: 6-15v normal operation
1. All Input pins will tolerate true +/- RS232 levels. No buffering is required.
2. The modem provides a half duplex link: Provided no two devices attempt to transmit at one time (a
'high' on RX_FLOW may be used as a primitive 'other user on channel' indication) no further
restrictions on data transmission need be made, as all transmit timing, valid data identification and
datastream buffering is conducted by the unit. There is no 'transmit enable' pin. Sync and framing
words in the packet prevent the receiver outputting garbage in the absence of signal or presence of
3. If the user interface rate has been set to greater than 4800 baud, then the modem cannot empty the
128 byte tx data buffer as quickly as the user can fill it. In this case it is either necessary to limit the
average data throughput, or to monitor the TX_FLOW (CTS) output, and interrupt the dataflow when
this pin signals a full buffer.
TX_FLOW activates when the buffer is 3/4 full, and deactivates when it is empty
4. A fairly complex addressing structure is included in the datastream. Units have four independent
(OR'ed) receive addresses and a separate transmit address. (all units are supplied set to tx address
=1, rx addr1 = 0, rx addr2-4 = 1)
Note: For details relating to the radio module fitted on board, see FPX3 datasheet
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 2
Condensed specifications
Frequency stability
Channel spacing
Number of channels
868 – 870MHz (EU), 865 - 867MHz (India)
± 5ppm (better than ±5kHz)
8 user programmed
6 - 15V
540mA transmit (400mW)
57mA receive / idle (plus up to 20mA into RS232 port)
Operating temperature
Spurious radiations
-20 to +70 C (Storage -30 to +70 C)
Board version: 120 x 55 x 18mm (excluding connectors)
EAS version: 123 x 64 x 30mm (excluding connectors)
(case is an EAS120, from Evatron)
Compliant with EN 300-220
9 pin D type
2.1mm connector
Transmitting (red LED)
Intended approval
ETSI EN300-220
Output power
TX on switching time
Modulation type
Adjacent channel TX power
TX spurii
400mW (+26dBm) ±1dB
5 ms (from TXE transition)
±16kHz nominal
data (CMOS/TTL compatible)
image / spurious
spurii, adjacent
LO re-rad
-60 dB
Baud rate
Radio channel data rate
Packet length
Flow control
4800 baud (transparent, half duplex)
1 start, 8 data, 1 stop, no parity
5.1 kbit/sec peak (maximum transmitted frequency: 3.2KHz)
variable period phase coded
1-16 bytes
1 of 254, user programmed. Multiple rx addresses
128 byte tx, 64 byte rx
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
for 0.1% data error
page 3
Application Information
What can you do with an M48A ?
The M48A is a 4800 baud radio modem, compatible with narrowband radios.
Just a faster i1200, or a simpler RPM1 ? ....... not quite.
What does an M48A do ?
In the simplest possible sense, the M48A is just a radio modem baseband device. It provides an
interface between a user's asynchronous (“RS232 type”) serial port and the audio channel of a low
power radio module.
The M48 will transparently handle a half duplex serial stream at 4800 baud, buffering framing and coding
the data into a baseband signal that a narrowband wireless module can handle. At the receive end it
decodes the audio signal back into serial data. The timing requirements of the radio are allowed for with
internal FIFO buffers, while the noisy imperfect radio baseband path is hidden from the user behind S/N
efficient bit coding and data packetisation, with frame synchronisation and a CRC error detection
The interface
An M48 can be used with just two serial data lines (TXD, RXD). In many applications that is sufficient. If
data is being sent in both directions (half-duplex) however, it is necessary to allow for the turnaround
time (transmit to receive or vice versa) as the M48 cannot handle transmit data input while it is decoding
receive data. (Also, in advanced modes, such as when user interface data rate is higher than 4800 baud
(see later), then transmit data hand-shaking is needed)
In these cases it is useful to have more information as to the status and timings of the link. The M48
provides additional 'handshaking' lines:
RX flow. Goes 'high' when the device has valid data to output
(“DTR” out)
TX flow. High when the transmit buffer is ¾ full, low when empty (“CTS” out)
RX hold. When pulled low, prevents device from outputting data (“RTS” in)
As alluded to earlier, data into and out of the M48 is buffered through a pair of small FIFOs. On the
transmit path a 128 byte buffer is used, while on receive a 64 byte buffer is implemented. These buffers
actually occupy the same memory space on-chip, so the part cannot receive and output serial data .
Transmit operations will always over-ride receive. A byte sent to the device will clear the receive buffer,
even if it contains valid data. (An algorithm which reads the 'RX flow' signal can prevent this occurring)
In simple, transparent mode these buffers are invisible to the user.
In normal usage the M48 uses a 19.6608MHz crystal for a basic 4800 baud transparent throughput.
However, elementary communication theory tells us that ultimate range and S/N performance
(sensitivity) relates to bandwidth, and hence data rate.
In applications where ultimate range matters more than a fast data path the M48 can be fitted with
slower clock crystals. In these cases the fundamental link data rate is reduced (and other timing
parameters scaled accordingly) but the link range will be increased.
Crystal frequency
Data rate 4800 baud
Data rate 2400 baud
Data rate 1200 baud
Data rate 600 baud
Sensitivity +0dB
Sensitivity +3dB
Sensitivity +5dB
Sensitivity +7dB
[ slower clock frequencies will also allow operation on lower power supply voltages than the basic +5v
normally specified, See Microchip PIC16F648A data sheet for more information ]
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 4
Radio interface
The raison d'être of the M48 device is to insulate the user from the peculiarities and limitations of the
radio module's audio path. While a detailed analysis of the over-the-link signals is not intended, a basic
overview may be useful:
Three signals connect the modem chip to the radio: tones_out, tones_in and n_txe.
All are digital levels (so connection must be made to the digital baseband pins of the radio, not the low
level analogue connections).
At the bit-level the radio link signal generated by the M48 is a proprietary biphase (synchronous)
bitstream with a maximum frequency component of 3.2KHz. There is a pseudo-random data whitening
function applied to the data, but the code still does not have a perfect 50:50 mark space balance, so
should be considered a DC coupled signal. At the receiver end a conventional averaging data extractor
will function but a quasi-dc coupled (peak detecting) type, such as the Radiometrix QR96, will give
optimum performance.
The data stream is further formatted into packets. Each packet contains a framing sequence, address
and status information, a CRC and 1-16 data payload bytes. Transmitter on-time delay is allowed for by
the addition of a preamble sequence, while during continuous data transmission the packets are
transmitted end-to-end.
[ Unless otherwise programmed, all units send on address 1 and receive on address 0 (broadcast) and
address 1 ]
M48 also has an auxiliary serial output (only) pin, which is used to allow the user to send serial programming
strings to the associated radio module through the device.
Programming the M48A
In the simplest case an M48 can be used 'as supplied' as a straight forward transparent data link. There are,
however, a number of further options and features which require the user to program parameters into the
Normal transparent data mode is referred to as 'data' mode. To program the device, it is necessary for it to
be in 'setup' mode.
The device is programmed through the RS232 port (without needing extra 'pgm mode' switching pins or
extra hardware). The command set uses simple readable ASCII words, and decimal or hex numbers. All
commands are in upper case.
When in setup mode the usual radio data communication functions are suspended, but limited one-packetat-a-time non-transparent operation is possible, via special commands.
The setup mode is activated by means of a 'break / respond' protocol
entering setup :
user generates a 'break' (long 'space' condition)
M48 sends two characters, an @ and a random printable ASCII character
user sends back the random character
M48 replies with a login message “M48 SETUP” and enters setup mode
There is a 5 second timeout following the break within which the response must be sent , or the device
reverts to data mode. An ASCII 1 (ctrl A) resets the timeout and generates a new @ and random character
[ 'Break' conditions can be generated in several ways. Some terminal emulators have alt or ctrl key
sequence. Dedicated hardware can be used to force a long (50-100mS) logic zero onto the TXD pin. Or an
ASCII zero can be sent at a much lower baud-rate ]
Once in setup mode, input bytes are stored in a 32 byte (maximum) command buffer and echoed back to the
serial output. Space characters are echoed back, but are not loaded into the buffer.
Commands are either short words or single command characters. (For example, a <cr> character is the
evaluate/process command). After successful execution of a command the device will reply with an 'OK'
message. Commands which program a value into the internal non-volatile E2PROM take around 50mS for
the write cycle,
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 5
The unit will only respond to certain command strings:
Upper case characters are used for all commands
Spaces are echoed, but are ignored by the parser
Single character command
processes the input buffer contents (and clears the buffer)
terminates setup mode and returns to normal 'data' operation
prints the current contents of the command buffer
(as above)
shortcut for the STATE command (see later)
shortcut for the RX command
clears the input buffer
General commands
The unit self-reprograms with ALL original factory preset values
Prints out the current operating parameters (a single minus sign, ascii 54, does the
The unit now defaults to setup (rather than data) mode on power up
Return to data mode (same effect as an escape (ascii 27) byte)
If a LOCK command is in force, an escape byte has no effect, but EXIT overrides LOCK
Turns on the transmitter, and outputs a continuous 200Hz tone
This mode is disabled by any activity on the TXD input
Turn on the receiver/decoder (as if in data mode) and output received packets as
This mode is disabled, and command mode re-entered, by any activity on the TXD input
Baud rate commands
As supplied, the main interface is set to 4800 baud, and the auxiliary port to 2400 baud .
Set main port baud rate
set aux port baud rate
b1, b2 are baud rates
Only the first two digits are needed, i.e. BAUD 12 is valid
Main port (b1) supports 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600, 76800
Aux port (b2) supports 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600 only
These setup parameters are immediately stored in E2PROM, and take effect right away. Remember that
baud rate scales with changes in crystal frequency (for example, if a 4.9152MHz crystal is fitted then BAUD
2400 will set a baud rate of 600).
When the interface baud rate is higher than the (4800 baud nominal) radio link interface speed, the system is
no longer truly transparent. As the modem is removing bytes from the buffer slower than the user interface is
supplying them, it is possible to over-fill the buffer and lose data, unless the user carefully controls the timing
of the data stream or uses the TX_flow signal.
This pin allows the status of the transmit buffer to be monitored. It begins low. It goes high when the buffer
reaches ¾ full, and is then re-set (to low) when the buffer is empty again.
It can be used to provide a simple 'CTS' signal.
[ It is possible to 'lose track' of the baud rate of a unit while manually programming it. In this case an easy
way of 'finding' the speed can be used: a byte should be sent to the device at each of the valid baud rates,
and the echoed character monitored. Only at the correct rate will a correct echo be seen ]
Timing commands
Set the initial delay between first byte arrival and transmit start (20mS default)
Set the number of (620uS long) preamble bits (80 its / 50mS default)
Set the tx ramp-down period (20mS default)
Note: Variables dd, pp and oo are all two digit hexadecimal values (00 to FF). These timing parameters are
immediately stored in E2PROM, and take effect right away.
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 6
The timing commands directly affect the way the modem device controls the radio module. Beware! If they
are set incorrectly then data errors or unreliable operation will result.
The default settings are a safe, conservative setup for a typical 50mS set-up time multi-channel transceiver.
For faster (usually single channel) radios the PREAM value can be reduced. Do not reduce this parameter
too far, as it must deal with the settling times of the receiver data recovery circuit as well as the transmitter
turn-on time.
The DELAY and TXOFF parameters are primarily concerned with optimum channel usage with intermittent
user data streams. DELAY is a duration between first byte received (into an empty buffer) and the
transmitter key-up, while TXOFF holds the transmitter on after a packet has finished sending.
If a user is controlling their serial data stream more closely, and sending data in discrete, well organised
bursts, then DELAY and TXOFF can be set to zero.
The M48 data packet includes an address byte. It will only communicate with a unit set to the same address.
There are four receive addresses (of which ADR1 is usually set to zero as a 'broadcast' mode) and a
separate transmit address.
Multiple receive addresses can be useful for multiple node systems, and for setting up simple (manual
routing) repeater networks
ADR1 aa
ADR2 aa
ADR3 aa
ADR4 aa
set receiver address 1
set receiver address 2
set receiver address 3
set receiver address 4
set transmitter address
set rx address 1 to zero and set tx address and rx addresses 2, 3 and 4 to a
1. aa is a two digit hexadecimal value (00 to FE). Address FF (255) is not permitted.
2. Address commands write to volatile memory. To transfer programmed addresses to the power-up
settings, the PROM command must be used.
3. As supplied: adr1 is zero, and adr2, adr3, adr4 and tx address are all set to 1.
Mode commands
Beyond it's usual 'transparent data' mode, the M48 can also operate in an 'extended' mode. In this case the
maximum packet size is reduced from 16 bytes to 14, and a 'burst identifier' word is included (obviously this
slightly reduces overall throughput).
On transmit, a different burst identifier is attached to each new packet. The receiving unit ignores the second
(and subsequent) packet with the same identifier. This allows a receiving M48 to ignore multiple copies of
the same data packet (as will be encountered in multiple transmission or repeater/network systems)
Extended mode (burst ID on, multiple transmissions set by TRIES)
The unit now operates in acknowledge/resend (extended) mode
Number of transmissions attempts allowed in AKN and MEXT modes
Duration of AKN resend timeout (tt x 0.41mS)
Operate as a store and forward repeater (with MEXT set, or not)
Notes: Variables rr and tt are all two digit hexadecimal values (00 to FF)
Extended mode (MEXT) is used with repeater systems. With TRIES set to two or more, this mode sends
each packet several times (increasing the chance of reception at extreme range).
Lastly, the M48 has an ' AKN/re-transmit ' mode. In this case, after each packet is sent, the receiving unit
sends back an knowledge message. If this message is not successfully decoded, at the transmitting end, it
will re-send the packet. The knowledge timeout period and the number of permitted re-tries are both user
[ Do not use AKN mode with STAF repeaters. Timing conflicts occur ]
AKN mode provides the greatest data transfer reliability, although the overall data throughput is markedly
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 7
The unit returns to standard, transparent mode
Writes the current volatile settings (addresses and operating modes) into the E2PROM
as the new power-on settings
The unit self-reprograms with ALL original factory preset values
Enter a diagnostic mode, where the address, length, checksum and decoder status byte
for every received burst are printed
Additional info on the M48 DIAG mode
Takes effect when returning to data mode (an EXIT or <escape> command)
The unit then does not output the received data burst.
Instead, it outputs a status line whenever ANY valid M48 packet is received
A:xx L:ll C:cc F:ff
destination address of the burst
length of the burst data payload (minus one)
checksum byte value
is a function byte, showing the status of the receiver decoder
(ff=07 indicates a correct address and checksum match)
DIAG mode is deactivated by either re-entering setup mode and executing a NORM command, or by poweron-reset
String commands
There are a series of special commands which allow whole strings of characters to be sent via the
transmitter, or the auxiliary serial port (usually connected to the radio module programming input)
Auxiliary port output operations
Square brackets (ASCII 91, 93) delineate the string. Serial data routed to the AUX pin
[ (1-30 byte data string) ]
Outputs the text string between the [ ] characters
[ (1-30 byte data string) <cr>
As above, but with an added CR (13) appended to the end of
the outputted string
Command mode transmit operations
$ (length byte) (1-16 byte data string)
( Note: $ is ASCII 36 )
This function output a data packet to the transmitter, then returns to setup mode.
The (length byte) is a single hex character. It sets the length of a transient data buffer,
The actual buffer length is one more than the value of the length byte, so 0-F corresponds to
a buffer between 1 and 16 bytes long
The (data string) is a string of bytes equal in number to (length+1)
After the length byte, the M48 sends back a colon character (ASCII 58)
When the final byte is received, the modem goes into transmit, and sends the packet.
By careful use of the & and $ command bytes, the M48 can be used in a non-transparent mode, without ever
leaving command mode. This is especially useful for the master node in point to multi-point operation.
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 8
The data throughput of the M48A is limited by the radio path. In continuously streaming (transparent) mode a
baud rate of 4800 baud is supported without any buffer overflows.
Byte latency is influenced by the switching performance of the radio (and the programmed DELAY and
PREAM values).
In default mode (20mS delay, 50mS preamble) the single byte in to out latency is of the order of 110mS
(20+50+40mS burst length and processing delays) although in streaming data this is reduced to around
If radio switching times are faster, then the preamble duration and the tx off delay can be reduced (crystal
controlled radios such as NiM2 work well with 15mS of preamble, 5mS tx off) and latency falls to around
In ANK mode, the switching speed of the radios, and the time absorbed in sending and decoding the
acknowledge burst dominate the data throughput. The acknowledge in itself requires only 20mS, but the
requirement to switch both radios between receive and transmit (to send the data packet, and then the akn
packet) adds a significant overhead.
Referring to the default timing setup this results in 1 packet per 150mS, and a peak data throughput of only
900 baud, although if radios with faster switching performance are used then this is significantly increased.
(With NiM2 or BiM1 radios, the preamble duration can be significantly reduced, and an acknowledged mode
data rate of well over 1200 baud is achievable)
Unless only short data bursts are used, we recommend the use of CTS flow control if AKN is selected
RS485 to RS232 Adaptor
Figure 3: RS485 to RS232 Adaptor connections
M48 Applications Board can be supplied with RS232 DB9F, 2.1mm DC Jack connectors replaced with 3-wire
RS485 to RS232 Adaptor and power terminal blocks.
Jumper Link JP13 is provided for 120Ω termination.
USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT adaptor cable can be used to evaluate M48 RS485 Application Board on a
PC/laptop running HyperTerminal Terminal Emulation Program via virtual COM serial port.
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 9
Figure 4: RS485 to RS232 Adaptor Schematic
Ordering Information
Part No.
FPX3 version in extrusion case
FPX3 version as board
Frequency band
CH0:869.450 – CH3:869.600MHz
CH0:869.450 – CH3:869.600MHz
When ordering R485 Radio Modem application boards, -RS485 suffix should be added above part numbers
Radiometrix Ltd, M48A-869-FPX3 modem manual
page 10
Radiometrix Ltd
Hartcran House
231 Kenton Lane
Harrow, Middlesex
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8909 9595
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8909 2233
[email protected]
Copyright notice
This product data sheet is the original work and copyrighted property of Radiometrix Ltd. Reproduction in
whole or in part must give clear acknowledgement to the copyright owner.
Limitation of liability
The information furnished by Radiometrix Ltd is believed to be accurate and reliable. Radiometrix Ltd
reserves the right to make changes or improvements in the design, specification or manufacture of its
subassembly products without notice. Radiometrix Ltd does not assume any liability arising from the
application or use of any product or circuit described herein, nor for any infringements of patents or other
rights of third parties which may result from the use of its products. This data sheet neither states nor
implies warranty of any kind, including fitness for any particular application. These radio devices may be
subject to radio interference and may not function as intended if interference is present. We do NOT
recommend their use for life critical applications.
The Intrastat commodity code for all our modules is: 8542 6000.
R&TTE Directive
After 7 April 2001 the manufacturer can only place finished product on the market under the provisions of
the R&TTE Directive. Equipment within the scope of the R&TTE Directive may demonstrate compliance
to the essential requirements specified in Article 3 of the Directive, as appropriate to the particular
Further details are available on The Office of Communications (Ofcom) web site:
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