Frame Layer (80h+)

Isotropic Sensor Network Specifications, Frame Layer

OSI: Transport Layer

Keywords: framing, error detection, CRC, PHY, encapsulation, low communication overhead, sensors, internet of things, embedded systems, sensor networks

Document: ISN-Frame-1.2 released on September 15, 2018 by Isotel, (c) All Rights Reserved

Creative Commons License
Isotropic Network Specifications: The Sensor Frame Layer 1.2 by Isotel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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Note: Any adaptations to this specifications made by groups, individuals or companies are according to the license not allowed for general publication, but we strongly encourage you to send your modifications back to us for further consideration for the next releases.


The scope of this project is to define the Isotropic Sensor Network Frame layer for broadcast and peer to peer connection in distributed sensor area network, wired or wireless, low and high data rate devices, battery powered devices, short-range devices with short operational space, low-cost devices to support trivial sensors, besides the fully featured devices.


The purpose of this specifications is to provide a standard for low complexity, low cost, and low power (aware) consumption devices (sensors) to encapsulate higher level protocols.

Typical use:

  • Low-level transmissions, to define basic packet length with CRC
  • Payloads inside nested layers without CRC

Key features

  • Basic Frame Layer for Short Payloads
  • Error Detection using with CRC
  • For use in PHY Transmission as well as Encapsulation of Other Layers
  • Low-Cost and Compact Implementation

Definitions, Acronyms and Abbreviations

Cyclic Redundancy Check
An entity containing this protocol implementation. Also referred as sensor device or just sensor or device.
The format of aggregated bits that are transmitted together in time.
The format of aggregated bits that are transmitted together in time across the physical medium.
least significant byte/bit
most significant byte/bit

Packet Formats

Frame layer defines two packet formats:

  1. Short Frame Format, with a single preamble (protocol identification byte) and up to 64 B of user payload data for transmission in error-free channels,
  2. Compact Frame Format, which adds a 8-bit CRC for transmission in error-nous channels

Short Frame Format

Fields Protocol ID Length Payload
Bits 2 6 length x 8
Value 0b11 0..63 data
Protocol ID:
defines the unique protocol identification number
the last 6 L-bits of first byte represent payload length. Value from 0..63 defines 1..64 payload bytes.
embedded data

Compact Frame Format

Fields Protocol ID Length Payload CRC
Bits 2 6 length x 8 8
Value 0b10 0..63 data 8-bit CRC
Protocol ID:
defines the unique protocol identification number
the last 6 L-bits of first byte represent payload length. Value from 0..63 defines 1..64 payload bytes.
embedded data

protected by the 8-bit CRC polynomial 0x4D as per Philip Koopman found the best for packets up to 64 bytes. Code Example:

 * Calculates 8-bit CRC using module-2 Division on a bit (slow) basis
 * Usage:
 *   uint8_t crc = isn_frame_crc8( first_byte );
 *   crc = isn_frame_crc8( second_byte ^ crc );
 *   crc = isn_frame_crc8( third_byte ^ crc );
 *   ...
 *   crc = isn_frame_crc8( final_byte ^ crc ); // result is the final CRC
 * \arg remainder to be chained and final value represents the crc.
static uint8_t isn_frame_crc8(uint8_t remainder)
    uint8_t bit;
    for (bit = 8; bit > 0; --bit) {
        if (remainder & 0x80) {
            remainder = (remainder << 1) ^ 0x4D;
        } else {
            remainder = (remainder << 1);
    return remainder;

Document Changes

Date Release Changes
January 29, 2012 0.1 Draft Specifications, Evaluation
February 14, 2016 1.0 Public version of Renewed Sensor Frame Layer
February 25, 2017 1.1 Removed 0x00 as termination, added CRC8 code example
September 15, 2018 1.2 Added Short Frame, Long Frame is to be revised


  • Philip Koopman, Tridib Chakravarty, “Cyclic Redundancy Code (CRC) Polynomial Selection For Embedded Networks”, Preprint: The International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, DSN-2004.


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