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Radio is buzzing

Recent interest from semiconductor vendors has spurred improvements. By Philip Ling.

You can't see it, but everyday, there is more information flying around our heads. Radio telemetry has been around for many years, no doubt many readers will have toyed with low cost car alarms based on the ubiquitous license free 433MHz frequency. Anyone who has will doubtless also have suffered from interference caused by other, nearby 'value' systems.

The problem came with low cost systems flooding the market, which were designed on a budget and, while meeting the consumer's requirements, may have been pushing the envelope as far as regulatory limits were concerned.

To create more reliable radios operating in the 433MHz band, for use in industrial applications for instance, the radios took on more functionality, employing modem techniques. By using standard modem instructions to add handshaking, information losses can be kept to a minimum and, even though noise can still affect the link, at least both ends know about the problem. This, of course, has a negative effect on the aggregate transfer rate, but it does increase security. The other attraction of adding modem functionality is it fits nicely along side transceivers packaged as modules, out of the box and ready to go – as long as you have two matching modules, of course.

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Graham Pitcher

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