Encoder receiver transmitter

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Encoder receiver transmitter (ERT) is a packet radio protocol developed by Itron for automatic meter reading.[1] The technology is used to transmit data from utility meters over a short range so a utility vehicle can collect meter data without a worker physically inspecting each meter.

The ERT protocol was first described in U.S. Patent 4,614,945.[2] More technical detail is explained in later U.S. Patent 4,799,059.[3]

Technical details[edit]

ERT is an OOK modulated radio signal which is transmitted in the unlicensed 900-920 MHz band.[1] The message is transmitted in the clear and uses Manchester encoding. The protocol uses frequency-hopping, a multiple access method to avoid interference with other nearby meters. SCM and IDM packet formats are described in U.S. Patent 7,830,874[4]

SCM packet[edit]

SCM messages are 12 bytes. Each message contains single, cumulative meter reading value along with the meter serial number, commodity type and checksum and tamper flags.

Field Length (bits) Default Value Notes
Sync bit 1 1
Preamble 20 0xF2A60
ERT ID MS bits 2 highest two bits of meter serial number
Reserved 1
Physical Tamper[5] 2
ERT Type 4 commodity type: water, gas or electric
Encoder Tamper 2
Consumption Data 24 meter reading value
ERT ID LS bits 24 lower bits of meter serial number
Checksum 16 A BCH code with generator polynomial:

IDM packet[edit]

IDM messages are 92 bytes and contain time of use consumption data.

Field Length (bytes) Value Notes
Training Sync 2 0x5555
Frame Sync 2 0x16A3
Packet Type 1 0x1C
Packet Length 2 0x5CC6 Number of remaining bytes (MSB) and Hamming code of first byte (LSB)
Version 1 0x01
ERT Type 1 0x17 LSB nibble is equivalent to SCM's ERT Type.
ERT Serial Number 4
Consumption Interval Count 1
Module Programming State 1
Tamper Count 6
Async Count 2
Power Outage Flags 6
Last Consumption Count 4
Differential Consumption Intervals 53 47 intervals of 9-bit integers
Transmit Time Offset 2
Serial no. CRC 2 CRC-16-CCITT of ERT Serial Number
Packet CRC 2 CRC-16-CCITT of packet starting at Packet Type

Later patents describe further variations of packets with variable length.


Several vendors (besides Itron) have implemented ERT receivers (usually in order to read consumption data from Itron meters.) Notably, Digi sells an ERT gateway,[6] and Grid Insight sells a PC-based product called the AMRUSB-1.

It should be possible to decode ERT signals using general purpose UHF packet radios such as the Texas Instruments CC1101 or Freescale MC33696. A software-defined radio receiver has been implemented using inexpensive hardware: RTLAMR, and the rtl_433 software will decode SCM messages. Kismet (software) has an rtlamr data source.


  1. ^ a b "Itron ERT technology". gridinsight.com. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  2. ^ US patent 4614945, Robert E. Brunius, Jon R. Nelson, "Automatic/remote RF instrument reading method and apparatus.", issued 1986-09-30, assigned to Diversified Energies, Inc. 
  3. ^ US patent 4799059, Mervin L. Grindahl, Quentin S. Denzene, "Automatic/remote rf instrument monitoring system.", issued 1989-01-17, assigned to Enscan, Inc. 
  4. ^ US patent 7830874, Mark Cornwall, Matt Johnson, John Buffington, "Versatile radio packeting for automatic meter reading systems.", issued 2010-11-09, assigned to Itron, Inc. 
  5. ^ "CENTRON® Meter Technical Reference Guide - CS1R Tamper Detection (Page 32)" (PDF). Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  6. ^ "digi.com, ERT Ethernet". Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2012-09-13.

Further reading[edit]