#dsp #afsk #modem #eas

app samedec

A SAME/EAS digital receiver and alerting program

8 releases

0.3.0 Apr 23, 2023
0.2.5 Feb 26, 2023
0.2.3 Sep 23, 2022
0.2.1 Jun 18, 2022
0.1.0 Jul 31, 2021

#76 in Hardware support

35 downloads per month


4.5K SLoC

samedec: Yet Another Decoder for SAME/EAS

Over-the-air weather alerts for your desktop or RPi.

This binary crate provides a digital demodulator and decoder program for Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME). It can be used as a drop-in replacement for multimon-ng's EAS mode in most cases.

The demodulation and decoding functions are published separately as the sameold library crate.


SAME is commonly used to distribute weather alerts in the United States and Canada. It was originally developed for use with broadcast stations that carry analog audio signals, such as:

  • NOAA Weather Radio
  • Commercial FM radio broadcast stations
  • Commercial television broadcast and cable networks

These stations participate in an emergency alerting network known as the Emergency Alert System, which disseminates alerts to the general public.

SAME messages are transmitted in place of the station's normal programming as an audio-only message. SAME messages include a digital header which separates them from the station's normal programming. The digital header is also sent in-band—encoded with an analog modulation to preserve it. SAME headers are modulated using two-level frequency-shift keying (FSK) and sent at a baud rate of 520.83 Hz.


This crate is dual-licensed MIT and Apache 2.0. Read these licenses carefully as they may affect your rights.

This crate has not been certified as a weather radio receiver or for any other purpose. The author strongly discourages its use in any safety-critical applications. Always have at least two methods available for receiving weather alerts.

Getting Started

cargo install samedec

You will first need to recover baseband audio from a radio or television station which broadcasts SAME signals. Not all stations transmit SAME signals, and not all stations transmit them all the time.

  • In the United States, NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) stations reliably transmit SAME signals for weather emergencies like tornadoes and hurricanes. These stations operate in the public safety VHF band on dial frequencies ranging from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz.

  • In Canada, Weatherradio Canada provides a similar service on the same frequency band.

  • Some US broadcasters originate and/or re-transmit SAME messages for the Emergency Alert System. To find these stations, it is necessary to locate and read your state's "Emergency Alert System (EAS) Plan" document. The EAS plan will list Local Primary and other participating stations. Broadcast stations are not obligated to relay every message and may decline to relay low-severity messages.

NWR transmitters are not guaranteed to relay messages from civil authorities, such as warnings about wildfires, volcanic activity, or law enforcement emergencies. Your state's EAS Plan document may specify if NWR transmitters will carry such messages.

To feed samedec, obtain the audio signal that you would normally listen to. You can do this in any number of ways:

Via Analog Audio

You can use an analog audio "line out" from a hardware receiver, such as a weather radio, FM radio, or a scanner. Connect the "line out" port to your soundcard's "line in" jack.

You will need a way to pipe audio from your soundcard into samedec. You can install sox on most platforms:

rec -q -t raw -r 22.05k -e signed -b 16 -c 1 - | samedec --rate 22050

samedec takes input as 1-channel (mono), signed 16-bit integers, in platform-native endianness. This is equivalent to Rust's i16 format and is sometimes referred to in your audio drivers as s16ne.

The sampling --rate you set in samedec must match the sampling rate of the signal you are piping in. samedec's demodulator will be designed for whatever --rate you request, and it can work with a variety of sampling rates. We recommend using at least 8000 Hz. Higher sampling rates will cause samedec to use more CPU and I/O throughput, but the difference may not be particularly important on most systems.

On linux, you can obtain piped audio with either parec (PulseAudio) or arecord (ALSA). Both are preinstalled on most desktop distributions.

parec --channels 1 --format s16ne --rate 22050 --latency-msec 500 \
    | samedec -r 22050

Via a Software-Defined Radio

Use any compatible SDR software to demodulate and recover passband audio from a station of interest. You will need a way to pipe passband audio into samedec.

  • Some programs, like rtl_fm, support piping output directly.

  • Some programs, like gqrx, can output audio via UDP. You can obtain UDP input with either netcat or socat.

    nc -l -u 7355 | samedec -r 48000
  • For some programs, you may need to create a virtual audio device and direct the audio output to that. PulseAudio can do this "out of the box" with module-null-sink.

samedec is not an FM demodulator and cannot accept IQ samples. You need to demodulate the passband audio signal and feed that into samedec.

For FM stations specifically, you will want to use mono-only decoding (if available) and the correct deemphasis filter.

General Advice

Regardless of input method, you will need a clean audio input with minimal noise. Ideally, you should have a signal that is nearly "full quieting," with no noise or static. SAME lacks modern error correction techniques and was designed to operate on links with plenty of signal-to-noise ratio. If the station you are receiving doesn't sound "good," see if you can find a closer one.

Be sure not to overdrive your soundcard or other input device. Check the incoming signal levels in your sound control panel or other program to ensure that they are not anywhere close to saturating. SAME digital headers are sent at no less than 80% modulation, and they may be louder than regular programming.

If the signal is too quiet, it is usually better to increase the volume of the sending device (i.e., radio) than it is to command large gain or volume levels with your soundcard. High volume levels may activate amplifiers that add unwanted noise. You may have to experiment a bit to find the correct volume levels. If available, use a "line input" port and not a microphone or headset port.

Always test your decoding setup! Stations which transmit EAS messages are required to transmit at least one message per week. If after a full week of listening you do not receive at least one message, something with your setup is broken.

Console Output

Decoding a sample message from Wikimedia Commons. Running:

sox 'Same.wav' -t raw -r 22.05k -e signed -b 16 -c 1 - | \
    samedec -r 22050

should produce the following output:


When samedec receives a SAME message, the message is printed to stdout. The printout uses the SAME ASCII encoding that is transmitted over the air.

Exactly one message is printed per line. Only messages are printed.

  • SAME headers, which indicate the beginning of a message, are prefixed with ZCZC. Some validation is performed to ensure that headers have the correct format, but they may still contain invalid dates or unknown event codes.

  • SAME trailers, which indicate the end of message, are output as NNNN.

dsame is a python decoder which can produce human-readable text from this output. The sameold crate also understands how to parse message fields.

Modem Behavior

# of Bursts Decoding Strategy
1 Fast EOM / NNNN only
2 Error detection (equality checks)
3 Error correction (bit voting)

SAME messages are always transmitted three times, in separate "bursts," for redundancy. When decoding the start of message headers (ZCZC), samedec will use all three bursts together to improve decoding—if possible.

If one retransmission is missed, samedec will automatically fall back to decoding with only two bursts. The decoder imposes a delay of approximately 1.311 seconds on all received headers. This delay is not usually problematic as most SAME messages are prefixed with a Warning Alarm Tone that is not information-bearing.

The message trailers are not subject to the same error-correction process and delay as the headers. The end-of-message indicator (NNNN) will be printed just soon as it is received and decoded.

The modem contains duplicate-suppression logic. Identical messages which arrive within a window of approximately 10.86 seconds of each other will be suppressed and not emitted.

Child Processes

 | samedec -r 22050 -- play -q -t raw -r 22.05k -e signed -b 16 -c 1 -

samedec can spawn child processes to handle message audio.

Arguments to samedec which follow the ending -- will be interpreted as a child process to spawn for each SAME message received. The first argument ("play" above) is interpreted as an executable name. The usual rules for your platform apply with regards to $PATH discovery and the requirement that the executable bit be set. The remaining arguments will be passed to the executable, verbatim, without further interpretation by samedec.

One child process is spawned per SAME message received. The child is spawned just as soon as samedec finishes decoding the SAME header.

Child processes receive "passthrough" voice message audio via their standard input. Input samples which are provided to samedec are streamed to the child process, verbatim, at the input --rate. At the conclusion of the voice message, the child process standard input is closed. Further progress is blocked until the child terminates.

The example above will play any SAME message received on your system speakers, via sox's play command.

What Good Is This?

You can use child processes to selectively play back or store SAME message audio. You can even compress the audio and email it, but beware: SAME messages can be up to two minutes long. For some emergencies which require quick response, two minutes is too long to wait.

Child Environment

The child process receives the following additional environment variables:

  • SAMEDEC_RATE: The sampling rate that the decoder is running at, expressed as a whole number in Hz: 22050. Very useful for passing on to audio output or encoding programs.

  • SAMEDEC_MSG: The complete SAME header: "ZCZC-EAS-RWT-012057-012081+0030-2780415-WTSP/TV-"

  • SAMEDEC_ORG: the three-character SAME originator code, like "EAS."

  • SAMEDEC_ORIGINATOR: a human-readable originator string, like "EAS Participant"

  • SAMEDEC_EVT: the three-character SAME event code, like "RWT"

  • SAMEDEC_EVENT: human-readable event name: "Required Weekly Test." If the event code is not known, and it its significance level is also unknown, then this string will be "Unrecognized."

  • SAMEDEC_SIGNIFICANCE: one-character significance level. This variable will be empty if the significance level could not be determined (i.e., because the event code is unknown).

    • T: Test
    • M: Message
    • S: Statement
    • E: Emergency
    • A: Watch
    • W: Warning
  • SAMEDEC_LOCATIONS: space-delimited list of FIPS location codes, which are six characters long. Example: "012057 012081"

  • SAMEDEC_ISSUETIME: The message issue time, as a UTC UNIX timestamp, IF one can be calculated. Example: "1424301369," which can be interpreted as "Wed, 18 Feb 2015 23:16:09 GMT."

    • If the issue time could not be calculated, this variable will be empty!
    • Since the full issuance time is not present in the message, the samedec program assumes that the message was received approximately "now," where "now" is determined by your system's real-time clock.
    • Replays of historical messages are NOT guaranteed to yield the same value.
  • SAMEDEC_PURGETIME: The message purge time, as a UTC UNIX timestamp, IF one can be calculated. The same rules apply as SAMEDEC_ISSUETIME above. Remember: the purge time is the expiration time of the message and not the expected duration of the hazard.

Design Requirements for Child Processes

samedec provides child processes with input samples synchronously, via blocking calls. Child processes spawned by samedec MUST have the following behavior:

  1. Children must read OR close their standard inputs. Failure to do this will temporarily block samedec from making progress until the child exits.

  2. Children which read from standard input must EXIT promptly when they reach end of file. Failure to do this will temporarily block samedec from making progress until the child exits.

Child processes should avoid starting long-running foreground jobs which might block for extended periods of time. The following sections provide examples which use bash scripting. You can use any language you want for the child process.

The audio streamed to child processes MAY contain one or more SAME trailers (NNNN) which follow the voice message. To minimize latency, samedec does not attempt to remove these.

Example: Ignoring the Input


# close standard input to ignore it
exec 0>/dev/null

echo "I got a ${SAMEDEC_EVENT}!"

Here, we close the standard input to avoid blocking samedec. Your script file must have the execute bit set (chmod +x …).

Example: Conditional Playback


[ "${SAMEDEC_SIGNIFICANCE}" = "W" ] || exit 0

exec pacat --channels 1 --format s16ne \
        --rate "${SAMEDEC_RATE}" --latency-msec 500 "$@"

The above script will use pulseaudio (on linux) to play back any message which has a significance level of Warning (W). We use exec to replace the running shell with pacat. --rate "${SAMEDEC_RATE}" tells pacat what the sampling rate is. The "$@" is a bashism which passes the remaining input arguments to the script to pacat as arguments.

If you name this script ./play_on_warn.sh, then an example invocation of samedec is:

sox 'Same.wav' -t raw -r 22.05k -e signed -b 16 -c 1 - | \
  samedec -r 22050 -- ./play_on_warn.sh

Example: Compress and Save



exec sox -q -t raw -r "${SAMEDEC_RATE}" -e signed -b 16 -c 1 - \
  -t ogg -C-1 "$outfile"

Example invocation, assuming the script is named ./save.sh.

sox 'Same.wav' -t raw -r 22.05k -e signed -b 16 -c 1 - | \
  samedec -r 22050 -- ./save.sh

Demo Mode

Invoke samedec with the --demo option to act as if a SAME header with event code "DMO" was received. The message will be printed to the console, and the child process (if any) will be spawned. The child will run for eight seconds before being terminated with a SAME "end of message." At the conclusion of the demo, samedec will exit. This mode is useful for testing your child process and other event handlers.

During the demo, audio fed into samedec will be fed through to the child process. A source of audio is still required to run the demo mode, but you can pipe in from /dev/zero if you want.

The sameold library considers the "DMO" event code to have a severity level of Warning (SAMEDEC_SIGNIFICANCE=W).

Debugging and Troubleshooting

This crate includes pretty_env_logger. You can request more verbose output with -v. Use up to three times -vvv to increase the verbosity level. Log messages are printed to stderr.

If you have a recording of a signal that you think should demodulate, but doesn't, please open an new issue on github. Either attach or link to your recording.

Please read our contributing guidelines before opening any issues or PRs.


~711K SLoC