Frequency-shift keying

Frequency-shift keying (FSK) is a frequency modulation scheme in which digital information is transmitted through discrete frequency changes of a carrier signal.[1] The technology is used for communication systems such as telemetry, weather balloon radiosondes, caller ID, garage door openers, and low frequency radio transmission in the VLF and ELF bands. The simplest FSK is binary FSK (BFSK). BFSK uses a pair of discrete frequencies to transmit binary (0s and 1s) information.[2] With this scheme, the "1" is called the mark frequency and the "0" is called the space frequency.

An example of binary FSK
FSK-FMCW Principle

Modulating and demodulating

Reference implementations of FSK modems exist and are documented in detail.[3] The demodulation of a binary FSK signal can be done using the Goertzel algorithm very efficiently, even on low-power microcontrollers.[4]

Other forms of FSK

Continuous-phase frequency-shift keying

In principle FSK can be implemented by using completely independent free-running oscillators, and switching between them at the beginning of each symbol period. In general, independent oscillators will not be at the same phase and therefore the same amplitude at the switch-over instant, causing sudden discontinuities in the transmitted signal.

In practice, many FSK transmitters use only a single oscillator, and the process of switching to a different frequency at the beginning of each symbol period preserves the phase. The elimination of discontinuities in the phase (and therefore elimination of sudden changes in amplitude) reduces sideband power, reducing interference with neighboring channels.

Gaussian frequency-shift keying

Rather than directly modulating the frequency with the digital data symbols, "instantaneously" changing the frequency at the beginning of each symbol period, Gaussian frequency-shift keying (GFSK) filters the data pulses with a Gaussian filter to make the transitions smoother. This filter has the advantage of reducing sideband power, reducing interference with neighboring channels, at the cost of increasing intersymbol interference. It is used by DECT, Bluetooth,[5] Cypress WirelessUSB, Nordic Semiconductor,[6] Texas Instruments LPRF, Z-Wave and Wavenis devices. For basic data rate Bluetooth the minimum deviation is 115 kHz.

A GFSK modulator differs from a simple frequency-shift keying modulator in that before the baseband waveform (levels −1 and +1) goes into the FSK modulator, it is passed through a Gaussian filter to make the transitions smoother so to limit its spectral width. Gaussian filtering is a standard way for reducing spectral width; it is called "pulse shaping" in this application.

In ordinary non-filtered FSK, at a jump from −1 to +1 or +1 to −1, the modulated waveform changes rapidly, which introduces large out-of-band spectrum. If the pulse is changed going from −1 to +1 as −1, −0.98, −0.93, …, +0.93, +0.98, +1, and this smoother pulse is used to determine the carrier frequency, the out-of-band spectrum will be reduced.[7]

Minimum-shift keying

Minimum frequency-shift keying or minimum-shift keying (MSK) is a particular spectrally efficient form of coherent FSK. In MSK, the difference between the higher and lower frequency is identical to half the bit rate. Consequently, the waveforms that represent a 0 and a 1 bit differ by exactly half a carrier period. The maximum frequency deviation is δ = 0.25 fm, where fm is the maximum modulating frequency. As a result, the modulation index m is 0.5. This is the smallest FSK modulation index that can be chosen such that the waveforms for 0 and 1 are orthogonal.

Gaussian minimum-shift keying

A variant of MSK called Gaussian minimum-shift keying (GMSK) is used in the GSM mobile phone standard.

Audio FSK

Audio frequency-shift keying (AFSK) is a modulation technique by which digital data is represented by changes in the frequency (pitch) of an audio tone, yielding an encoded signal suitable for transmission via radio or telephone. Normally, the transmitted audio alternates between two tones: one, the "mark", represents a binary one; the other, the "space", represents a binary zero.

AFSK differs from regular frequency-shift keying in performing the modulation at baseband frequencies. In radio applications, the AFSK-modulated signal normally is being used to modulate an RF carrier (using a conventional technique, such as AM or FM) for transmission.

AFSK is not always used for high-speed data communications, since it is far less efficient in both power and bandwidth than most other modulation modes. In addition to its simplicity, however, AFSK has the advantage that encoded signals will pass through AC-coupled links, including most equipment originally designed to carry music or speech.

AFSK is used in the U.S.-based Emergency Alert System to notify stations of the type of emergency, locations affected, and the time of issue without actually hearing the text of the alert.

This is a very old signal source.

Continuous 4-level FM

Phase 1 radios in the Project 25 system use continuous 4-level FM (C4FM) modulation.[8][9]


In 1910, Reginald Fessenden invented a two-tone method of transmitting Morse code. Dots and dashes were replaced with different tones of equal length.[10] The intent was to minimize transmission time.

Some early CW transmitters employed an arc converter that could not be conveniently keyed. Instead of turning the arc on and off, the key slightly changed the transmitter frequency in a technique known as the compensation-wave method.[11] The compensation-wave was not used at the receiver. Spark transmitters used for this method consumed a lot of bandwidth and caused interference, so it was discouraged by 1921.[12]

Most early telephone-line modems used audio frequency-shift keying (AFSK) to send and receive data at rates up to about 1200 bits per second. The Bell 103 and Bell 202 modems used this technique.[13] Even today, North American caller ID uses 1200 baud AFSK in the form of the Bell 202 standard. Some early microcomputers used a specific form of AFSK modulation, the Kansas City standard, to store data on audio cassettes. AFSK is still widely used in amateur radio, as it allows data transmission through unmodified voiceband equipment.

AFSK is also used in the United States' Emergency Alert System to transmit warning information. It is used at higher bitrates for Weathercopy used on Weatheradio by NOAA in the U.S.

The CHU shortwave radio station in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada broadcasts an exclusive digital time signal encoded using AFSK modulation.

Standards for use in Caller ID and remote metering

Frequency-shift keying (FSK) is commonly used over telephone lines for Caller ID (displaying callers' numbers) and remote metering applications. There are several variations of this technology.

European Telecommunications Standards Institute FSK

In some countries of Europe, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards 200 778-1 and -2 – replacing 300 778-1 & -2 – allow 3 physical transport layers (Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore), British Telecom (BT) and Cable Communications Association (CCA)), combined with 2 data formats Multiple Data Message Format (MDMF) & Single Data Message Format (SDMF), plus the Dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) system and a no-ring mode for meter-reading and the like. It's more of a recognition that the different types exist than an attempt to define a single "standard".

Telcordia Technologies FSK

The Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore) standard is used in the United States, Canada (but see below), Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. It sends the data after the first ring tone and uses the 1200 bits per second Bell 202 tone modulation. The data may be sent in SDMF – which includes the date, time and number – or in MDMF, which adds a NAME field.

British Telecom FSK

British Telecom (BT) in the United Kingdom developed their own standard, which wakes up the display with a line reversal, then sends the data as CCITT v.23 modem tones in a format similar to MDMF. It is used by BT, wireless networks like the late Ionica, and some cable companies. Details are to be found in BT Supplier Information Notes (SINs) 227 and 242; another useful document is Designing Caller Identification Delivery Using XR-2211 for BT from the EXAR website.

Cable Communications Association FSK

The Cable Communications Association (CCA) of the United Kingdom developed their own standard which sends the information after a short first ring, as either Bell 202 or V.23 tones. They developed a new standard rather than change some "street boxes" (multiplexors) which couldn't cope with the BT standard. The UK cable industry use a variety of switches: most are Nortel DMS-100; some are System X; System Y; and Nokia DX220. Note that some of these use the BT standard instead of the CCA one. The data format is similar to the BT one, but the transport layer is more like Telcordia Technologies, so North American or European equipment is more likely to detect it.

See also


  1. ^ Kennedy, G.; Davis, B. (1992). Electronic Communication Systems (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill International. ISBN 978-0-07-112672-4., p 509
  2. ^ FSK: Signals and Demodulation (B. Watson)
  3. ^ Teaching DSP through the Practical Case Study of an FSK Modem (TI)
  4. ^ FSK Modulation and Demodulation With the MSP430 Microcontroller (TI)
  5. ^ Sweeney, D. "An introduction to bluetooth a standard for short range wireless networking" Proceedings. 15th Annual IEEE International ASIC/SOC Conference, Rochester, NY, US, 25-28 Sept. 2002, pp. 474–475. 2002.
  6. ^ Nordic Semiconductor. nRF24LU1+ Preliminary Product Specification v1.2 Archived 2011-02-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Bhagwat, Pravin (10 May 2005). "Bluetooth: 1.Applications, Technology and Performance". p. 21. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  8. ^ Essam Atalla et al. "A Practical Step Forward Toward Software-Defined Radio Transmitters". p. 1.
  9. ^ Steve Ford. "ARRL's VHF Digital Handbook". 2008. p. 6-2.
  10. ^ Morse 1925, p. 44; Morse cites British patent 2,617/11.
  11. ^ Bureau of Standards 1922, pp. 415–416
  12. ^ Little 1921, p. 125
  13. ^ Kennedy & Davis 1992, pp. 549–550

External links

Automatic Transmitter Identification System (marine)

The Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS) is a marine VHF radio system used and mandated on navigable inland waterways in Europe for identifying the ship or vessel that made a radio transmission. The identity of the vessel is sent digitally immediately after the ship's radio operator has finished talking and releases their transceiver's push-to-talk button. This contrasts to the Automatic identification system(AIS) used globally on ships that transmit continuously. A short post-transmission message is sent by the radio with the vessel identity and is in the form of an encoded call sign or Maritime Mobile Service Identity, starting with number "9" and the three country-specific maritime identification digits.

ATIS use on the Trans-European Inland Waterway network and connecting waterways is mandated by the Regional Arrangement Concerning the Radiotelephone Service on Inland Waterways (RAINWAT) agreements, which also prohibit the use of Digital Selective Calling (DSC) where ATIS is required, except in some near-coastal areas, or in sea-like areas of The Netherlands.

The database of ATIS vessel identities is maintained by the Belgisch Instituut voor Postdiensten en Telecommunicatie.The ATIS signalling protocol is based on that used for Digital Selective Calling (DSC); with the ATIS transmissions having the format specifier field set to a value of 121. While DSC transmissions take place exclusively on Channel 70, the ATIS digital signal is transmitted on the same VHF channel as the voice transmission: it lasts for 285 milliseconds after the PTT button has been released, using frequency modulation frequency-shift keying (FSK) between the frequencies of 1,300 Hz and 2,100 Hz at 1,200 baud. The core part of the message is transmitted using 10-bit codes; each code being formed of a 7-bit symbol followed by a 3-bit count of the number of zeros in that symbol.

Bell 103 modem

The Bell 103 modem or Bell 103 dataset was the second commercial modem for computers, released by AT&T Corporation in 1962. It allowed digital data to be transmitted over regular unconditioned telephone lines at a speed of 300 bits per second. It followed the introduction of the 110 baud Bell 101 dataset in 1958.

The Bell 103 modem used audio frequency-shift keying to encode data. Different pairs of audio frequencies were used by each station:

The originating station used a mark tone of 1,270 Hz and a space tone of 1,070 Hz.

The answering station used a mark tone of 2,225 Hz and a space tone of 2,025 Hz.Although original Bell 103 modems are no longer in common use, this encoding scheme is referred to generically as "Bell 103 modulation", and any device employing it as "Bell 103-compatible" or "a Bell 103 modem".

For many years, higher-speed modems retained the ability to emulate the Bell 103, allowing a fallback method for data to be communicated at low speed if channel conditions deteriorated.

Bell 202 modem

The Bell 202 modem was an early (1976) modem standard developed by the Bell System. It specifies audio frequency-shift keying (AFSK) to encode and transfer data at a rate of 1200 bits per second, half-duplex (i.e. transmission only in one direction at a time). These signalling protocols, also used in third-party modems, are referred to generically as Bell 202 modulation, and any device employing it as Bell-202-compatible.

Bell 202 AFSK uses a 1200 Hz tone for mark (typically a binary 1) and 2200 Hz for space (typically a binary 0).In North America, Bell 202 AFSK modulation is used to transmit Caller ID information over POTS lines in the public telephone network. It is also employed in some commercial settings.

In addition, Bell 202 is the basis for the most commonly used physical layer for the HART Communication Protocol - a communication protocol widely used in the process industries.

Surplus Bell 202 modems were used by amateur radio operators to construct the first packet radio stations, despite its low signalling speed. A modified Bell 202 AFSK modulation, a common physical layer for AX.25, remains the standard for amateur VHF operation in most areas. Notably, Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) transmissions are encoded this way on VHF. On HF, APRS uses Bell 103 modulation.

The Bell 202 standard was adopted around 1980 as the communications standard for subsea oil and gas production control systems, pioneered by the then FSSL (Ferranti Subsea Systems Ltd.) Controls, a spin-out company from the former TRW - Ferranti joint venture in the UK. This modulation standard was retained until around 2000, when it was superseded by faster FSK and PSK modulation methods, although it is still utilised for extension of existing control systems that are already configured for this technique.

The 202 standard permitted useful techniques such as multi-dropping of slave modems to allow multiple nodes to be connected to the host via a single modem channel. Other techniques have included superposition of signal on power conductors, and distances in excess of 80 km were achieved in subsea applications using these techniques. This has been enhanced through the use of Manchester encoding over the FSK link, to provide simple Modulo-2 RZ (return to Zero) bit error detection and suppression improvement over these long distances.

Continuous phase modulation

Continuous phase modulation (CPM) is a method for modulation of data commonly used in wireless modems. In contrast to other coherent digital phase modulation techniques where the carrier phase

abruptly resets to zero at the start of every symbol (e.g. M-PSK), with CPM the carrier phase is modulated in a continuous manner. For instance, with QPSK the carrier instantaneously jumps from a sine to a cosine (i.e. a 90 degree phase shift) whenever one of the two message bits of the current symbol differs from the two message bits of the previous symbol. This discontinuity requires a relatively large percentage of the power to occur outside of the intended band (e.g., high fractional out-of-band power), leading to poor spectral efficiency. Furthermore, CPM is typically implemented as a constant-envelope waveform, i.e., the transmitted carrier power is constant.

Therefore, CPM is attractive because the phase continuity yields high spectral efficiency, and the constant envelope yields excellent power efficiency. The primary drawback is the high implementation complexity required for an optimal receiver.

Facsimile converter

In telecommunication, the term facsimile converter has the following meanings:

1. In a facsimile receiver, a device that changes the signal modulation from frequency-shift keying (FSK) to amplitude modulation (AM).

2. In a facsimile transmitter, a device that changes the signal modulation from amplitude modulation (AM) to frequency-shift keying (FSK).

High Frequency Internet Protocol

High Frequency Internet Protocol (HFIP or HF-IP) is usually associated with Automatic Link Establishment and HF radio data communications. HFIP provides protocol layers enabling internet file transfer, chat, web and email. HFIP commonly uses ionospheric propagation of radio waves to form a wide area network that can span thousands of kilometers. HF transceivers in HFIP service typically run 20 to 150 Watts for portable or mobile units, up to approximately 2000 Watts transmitter output for high power base stations with HFIP servers.

STANAG 5066 is a common HFIP standard.

An amateur radio HFIP network called HFLINK uses Automatic Link Establishment for initiating data communications, with ARQ 8FSK frequency-shift keying and PSK phase-shift keying signals.


iCube-1 is a miniaturised satellite built by the Institute of Space Technology in Pakistan, with an objective to provide a wide range of future experiments in the domain of imaging, microgravity, biology, nanotechnology, space dynamics, chemistry, space physics and various other fields. It can also provide a testbed for developing satellite constellations for specific applications.

Launched in Low Earth Orbit, onboard Dnepr launch vehicle from Dombarovsky, Russia. It houses several sensors to collect data for scientific purposes. iCUBE-1 is a fully autonomous satellite and is capable of maintaining its health via its on-board computer. It is a single-unit CubeSat, cubic in shape with sides of 10 centimetres (3.9 in). Five sides of the satellites carry two triple-junction (ATJ) solar cells, providing the spacecraft with 2 watts of power. Each cell has dimensions of 40 by 80 millimetres (1.6 in × 3.1 in), and at the beginning of operations has an efficiency of at least 27.5% at 25°C.

iCube-1 carries a camera with a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels. Communications with the ground are achieved through a 435.060 MHz uplink audio frequency-shift keying to provide a datarate of 1,200 bits per second. The 145.947 MHz downlink, which uses binary phase-shift keying, also provides a datarate of 1,200 bits per second. The satellite also carries CW and AX25 beacons. The programme cost around 3-3.5 million rupees.

Spokesperson IST Raza Butt said that it’s a positive move for technology in Pakistan.

“The world is moving towards miniaturization. The launch cost is significantly low for CubeSats as compared to the bigger satellites. The low cost factor is very attractive for researchers who can test their payloads using these cubesats and then incorporate this technology in their bigger satellites,” he commented.

Initially, iCUBE-1 will transmit a Continuous Wave Morse coded beacon with message “iCUBE-1 First CubeSat of Pakistan”. Amateur radio operators have a great opportunity to hear those signals on the VHF band. The satellite will send its health data to ground stations and can also be commanded from Satellite tracking and Control Station at IST.

IEC 61334

IEC 61334, known as Distribution automation using distribution line carrier systems, is a standard for low-speed reliable power line communications by electricity meters, water meters and SCADA.

It is also known as spread frequency-shift keying (S-FSK) and was formerly known as IEC 1334 before IEC's most recent renumbering. It is actually a series of standards describing the researched physical environment of power lines, a well-adapted physical layer, a workable low-power media access layer, and a management interface. Related standards use the physical layer (e.g. Internet Protocol over S-FSK), but not the higher layers.The physical layer synchronizes a small packet of tones to the zero-crossing of the power line's voltage. The tones are chosen by utilities, not specified in the standard. Tones are usually between 20 kHz and 100 kHz, and should be separated by at least 10 kHz to prevent cross talk. One tone is chosen for mark (i.e. a binary 1), and the other for space (i.e. 0). The standard permits each zero-crossing to convey 1, 2, 4 or 8 bits, with increased sensitivity to timing as the number of bits increases. In multiphase power lines, a separate signal might be sent on each phase to speed up the transmission.

The standard's low speed is caused by the limited number of bits per power line cycle. The high reliability comes from its reliable timing system (i.e. zero crossing), high signal to noise ratio (frequencies are chosen to avoid common power line noise), lack of intermodulation distortion, and adaptive signal detection.

The most significant bits are sent first, unlike a conventional serial port. The data from zero crossings should be collected into 8-bit bytes. Each byte is collected into 42-byte packets. The first four bytes of each packet are a preamble to measure the channel's current condition. This is followed by 38 bytes of data, and 3 byte-times of silence.

The physical layer is adaptive. The silence and the preamble allow the receiver's signal processing to measure the channel's noise ratios. Depending on the signal to noise ratios, the bits can be recovered from the difference between the power of the mark and space tones, the power of the mark tones only, or the space tones only. The system should be able to adjust the receiving method on each 42-byte packet.

The bytes from the low-layer packets are reformed into bytes for the higher layers. The higher link-layer strongly resembles HDLC, except with a novel feature that allows selected stations to retransmit messages. The management interface layer provides remote control of a station's protocol layers, including diagnostics and configuration. For example, it lets a central controller read a unit's signal to noise ratios, and set the bit that enables a station to retransmit weak stations.The protocol layers are designed to integrate with any application layer, but the presence of a management interface suggests a design targeted to DLMS/COSEM, a widely used EU standard for the application layer of meters and SCADA. DLMS/COSEM requires a management interface.

ISO/IEC 15693

ISO/IEC 15693, is an ISO standard for vicinity cards, i.e. cards which can be read from a greater distance as compared with proximity cards. Such cards can normally be read out by a reader without being powered themselves, as the reader will supply the necessary power to the card over the air (wireless).

ISO/IEC 15693 systems operate at the 13.56 MHz frequency, and offer maximum read distance of 1–1.5 meters. As the vicinity cards have to operate at a greater distance, the necessary magnetic field is less (0.15 to 5 A/m) than that for a proximity card (1.5 to 7.5 A/m).

ITU V.23

The V.23 standard was an early modem standard approved by the ITU in 1988. It specifies audio frequency-shift keying (AFSK) to encode and transfer data at a rate of 1200 bits per second, half-duplex at 1200 baud (Mode 2), (or at a "fallback rate" of 600 baud, mode 1) for the forward data-transmission channel, and an optional 75 baud backward channel.

V.23 Mode 1 AFSK uses a 1300 Hz tone (FZ) for mark (typically a binary 1) and 1700 Hz (FA) for space (typically a binary 0), and a 1500 Hz center frequency (F0.)

V.23 Mode 2 AFSK uses a 1300 Hz tone (FZ) for mark (typically a binary 1) and 2100 Hz (FA) for space (typically a binary 0), and a 1700 Hz center frequency (F0.)

V.23 backward channel AFSK uses a 390 Hz tone (FZ) for mark (typically a binary 1) and a 450 Hz (FA) for space (typically a binary 0).)In some European countries, (and perhaps elsewhere), V.23 Mode 2 AFSK modulation, (without the backward channel) is used to transmit Caller ID information over POTS lines in the public telephone network.

The 75 baud backward channel was originally envisioned for use in error correction schemes, but V.23 was also widely used in Videotex applications where the backward channel was used to send keyboard data in an asymmetrical full duplex scheme in devices such as the Minitel.

Minimum-shift keying

In digital modulation, minimum-shift keying (MSK) is a type of continuous-phase frequency-shift keying that was developed in the late 1950s and 1960s. Similar to OQPSK, MSK is encoded with bits alternating between quadrature components, with the Q component delayed by half the symbol period.

However, instead of square pulses as OQPSK uses, MSK encodes each bit as a half sinusoid. This results in a constant-modulus signal (constant envelope signal), which reduces problems caused by non-linear distortion. In addition to being viewed as related to OQPSK, MSK can also be viewed as a continuous phase frequency shift keyed (CPFSK) signal with a frequency separation of one-half the bit rate.

In MSK the difference between the higher and lower frequency is identical to half the bit rate. Consequently, the waveforms used to represent a 0 and a 1 bit differ by exactly half a carrier period. Thus, the maximum frequency deviation is = 0.25 fm where fm is the maximum modulating frequency. As a result, the modulation index m is 0.5. This is the smallest FSK modulation index that can be chosen such that the waveforms for 0 and 1 are orthogonal. A variant of MSK called Gaussian minimum-shift keying (GMSK) is used in the GSM mobile phone standard.


In electronics and telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal that typically contains information to be transmitted. Most radio systems in the 20th century used frequency modulation (FM) or amplitude modulation (AM) for radio broadcast.

A modulator is a device that performs modulation. A demodulator (sometimes detector or demod) is a device that performs demodulation, the inverse of modulation. A modem (from modulator–demodulator) can perform both operations.

The aim of analog modulation is to transfer an analog baseband (or lowpass) signal, for example an audio signal or TV signal, over an analog bandpass channel at a different frequency, for example over a limited radio frequency band or a cable TV network channel. The aim of digital modulation is to transfer a digital bit stream over an analog communication channel, for example over the public switched telephone network (where a bandpass filter limits the frequency range to 300–3400 Hz) or over a limited radio frequency band. Analog and digital modulation facilitate frequency division multiplexing (FDM), where several low pass information signals are transferred simultaneously over the same shared physical medium, using separate passband channels (several different carrier frequencies).

The aim of digital baseband modulation methods, also known as line coding, is to transfer a digital bit stream over a baseband channel, typically a non-filtered copper wire such as a serial bus or a wired local area network.

The aim of pulse modulation methods is to transfer a narrowband analog signal, for example, a phone call over a wideband baseband channel or, in some of the schemes, as a bit stream over another digital transmission system.

In music synthesizers, modulation may be used to synthesize waveforms with an extensive overtone spectrum using a small number of oscillators. In this case, the carrier frequency is typically in the same order or much lower than the modulating waveform (see frequency modulation synthesis or ring modulation synthesis).

Multiple frequency-shift keying

Multiple frequency-shift keying (MFSK) is a variation of frequency-shift keying (FSK) that uses more than two frequencies. MFSK is a form of M-ary orthogonal modulation, where each symbol consists of one element from an alphabet of orthogonal waveforms. M, the size of the alphabet, is usually a power of two so that each symbol represents log2M bits.

M is usually between 2 and 64

Error Correction is generally also used

On-off keying

On-off keying (OOK) denotes the simplest form of amplitude-shift keying (ASK) modulation that represents digital data at the presence or absence of a carrier wave. In its simplest form, the presence of a carrier for a specific duration represents a binary one, while its absence for the same duration represents a binary zero. Some more sophisticated schemes vary these durations to convey additional information. It is analogous to unipolar encoding line code.

On-off keying is most commonly used to transmit Morse code over radio frequencies (referred to as CW (continuous wave) operation), although in principle any digital encoding scheme may be used. OOK has been used in the ISM bands to transfer data between computers, for example.

OOK is more spectrally efficient than frequency-shift keying, but more sensitive to noise when using a regenerative receiver or a poorly implemented superheterodyne receiver.

For a given data rate, the bandwidth of a BPSK (Binary Phase Shift keying) signal and the bandwidth of OOK signal are equal.

In addition to RF carrier waves, OOK is also used in optical communication systems (e.g. IrDA).

In aviation, some possibly unmanned airports have equipment that let pilots key their VHF radio a number of times in order to request an Automatic Terminal Information Service broadcast, or turn on runway lights.

Orange box

An orange box is a piece of hardware or software that generates caller ID frequency-shift keying (FSK) signals to spoof caller ID information on the target's caller ID terminal.

Reed receiver

A reed receiver or tuned reed receiver (US) was a form of multi-channel signal decoder used for early radio control systems. It uses a simple electromechanical device or 'resonant reed' to demodulate the signal, in effect a receive-only modem. The encoding used is a simple form of frequency shift keying.

These decoders appeared in the 1950s and were used into the early 1970s. Early transistor systems were in use in parallel to them, but they were finally displaced by the appearance of affordable digital proportional systems, based on early integrated circuits. These had the advantage of proportional control.


Return-to-zero (RZ or RTZ) describes a line code used in telecommunications signals in which the signal drops (returns) to zero between each pulse. This takes place even if a number of consecutive 0s or 1s occur in the signal. The signal is self-clocking. This means that a separate clock does not need to be sent alongside the signal, but suffers from using twice the bandwidth to achieve the same data-rate as compared to non-return-to-zero format.

The "zero" between each bit is a neutral or rest condition, such as a zero amplitude in pulse amplitude modulation (PAM), zero phase shift in phase-shift keying (PSK), or mid-frequency in frequency-shift keying (FSK).

That "zero" condition is typically halfway between the significant condition representing a 1 bit and the other significant condition representing a 0 bit.

Although return-to-zero (RZ) contains a provision for synchronization, it still has a DC component resulting in “baseline wander” during long strings of 0 or 1 bits, just like the line code non-return-to-zero.


SITOR (SImplex Teletype Over Radio) is a system for transmitting text messages. Although it uses the same frequency-shift keying (FSK) modulation used by regular radioteletype (RTTY), SITOR uses error detection, redundancy, and/or retransmission to improve reliability.

There are two SITOR modes:

SITOR-A is used for point to point links. SITOR-A uses automatic repeat request (ARQ) to gain reliability. If the receiver detects an error, it requests a retransmission.

SITOR-B is used for broadcast links. SITOR-B transmits each character in a message twice to gain reliability. If the receiver detects an error in the first character, it uses the copy. If both characters are garbled, the receiver won't know what was sent.

SITOR-B by definition uses forward error correction (FEC), versus ARQ for SITOR-A.SITOR sends 7-bit characters as a bit stream at 100 baud (which, in this case, is 100 bits per second, 10 milliseconds per bit, or 70 milliseconds per character).

The bitstream is FSK modulated with a 170 Hz frequency shift. The high frequency is a mark, and the low frequency is a space.

Underwater acoustic communication

Underwater acoustic communication is a technique of sending and receiving messages below water. There are several ways of employing such communication but the most common is by using hydrophones. Underwater communication is difficult due to factors such as multi-path propagation, time variations of the channel, small available bandwidth and strong signal attenuation, especially over long ranges. Compared to terrestrial communication, underwater communication has low data rates because it uses acoustic waves instead of electromagnetic waves.

At the beginning of the 20th century, some ships communicated by underwater bells, the system being competitive with the primitive Maritime radionavigation service of the time. The later Fessenden oscillator allowed communication with submarines.

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