Powerline modem ICs play an increasingly important role in AMR systems’ overall reliability. Meter manufacturers looking to implement bi-directional Powerline Communications (PLC) are turning to Ariane Controls’ PLM-1 modem chip as a reliable, low-cost solution when building their automatic meter reading (AMR) solutions.

The power lines were not built for communication: it is a rather harsh environment for data transmission. Varying impedance, considerable noise and high signal attenuation are the main factors that affect communication performance. Knowing the complexity of the powerline communication environment, Ariane Controls developed highly efficient techniques to improve communication performance. Its PLM-1 chip is one of the lowest in cost but the most reliable, according to independent tests.

PLM-1 MODEM TECHNOLOGY

Powerline communication modems can use different methods to encode information. After thoroughly analysing them, Ariane Controls has retained the most efficient solution for cost sensitive, medium data rate applications: narrowband FSK.

With this technique, digital data ("0" and "1") is represented by two different frequencies, narrowly shifted from the central carrier frequency. By adding advanced processing functions and high efficiency filtering to this simple form of modulation, Ariane Controls can offer superior performance in very noisy electrical environments, eliminating unwanted noise and signals at the receiver input and filtering out unwanted harmonics at the transmitter amplifier.

The programmable baud rate and carrier frequency provide flexibility to the user and allow sharing the same power line medium with other systems and technologies, such as broadband powerline communications.

The PLM-1 technology is protocol-independent, permitting multiple protocol transportation within one power line network. The PLM-1 ASIC includes Forward Error Correction (FEC) algorithms, allowing the receiver to detect and correct bits received erroneously. Finally, the PLM-1 technology is fully bi-directional in half-duplex mode but also accepts unidirectional receive-only nodes on the network.