The Signetics file format is not often used. The major disadvantage in modern applications is that the addressing range is limited to only 64kb.
All data lines are called records and each record contains the following 5 fields:
Every record starts with this identifier.
The address field. A 4 digit (2 byte) number representing the first address to be used by this record.
The byte-count. A 2 digit value (1 byte), counting the actual data bytes in the record.
Address checksum. Covers 2 address bytes and the byte count.
The actual data of this record. There can be 1 to 255 data bytes per record (see cc)
Data Checksum. Covers only all the data bytes of this record.
Every record begins with a colon : .
Records contain only ASCII characters!
No spaces or tabs are allowed in a record.
In fact, apart from the 1st colon and the End Of Line characters, no other characters than 0..9 and A..F are allowed in a record.
Interpretation of a record should be case insensitive, it does not matter if you use a..f or A..F.
Unfortunately the colon was chosen for the Signetics file format. This makes it more difficult, though not impossible, to automatically detect the format because the Intel Hex format also uses the colon as its identifier.
This is the address where the first data byte of the record should be stored.
After storing that data byte, the address is incremented by 1 to point to the address for the next data byte of the record.
And so on, until all data bytes are stored.
The address is represented by a 4 digit hex number (2 bytes), with the MSD first.
The order of addresses in the records of a file is not important. The file may also contain address gaps, to skip a portion of unused memory.
The byte count cc counts the actual data bytes in the current record.
Usually records have 32 data bytes, but any number between 1 and 255 is possible.
A value of $00 for cc indicates the end of the file. In this case not even the address checksum will follow! The record (and file) are terminated immediately.
It is not recommended to send too many data bytes in a record for that may increase the transmission time in case of errors. Also avoid sending only a few data bytes per record because the address overhead will be too heavy in comparison to the payload.
This is not really a checksum anymore, it looks more like a CRC.
The checksum can not only detect errors in the values of the bytes, but it can also detect bytes which are out of order.
The checksum is calculated by this algorithm:
checksum=0 for i=1 to 3 checksum=checkum XOR(byte) ROL checksum next i
For the Address Checksum we only need 2 Address bytes and 1 Byte Count byte to be added.
That's why we count to 3 in the loop.
Every byte is XORed with the previous result.
Then the intermediate result is rolled left (carry rolls back into b0).
This results in a very reliable checksum which is a bit of over kill for only 3 bytes if you ask me!
The last record of the file does not contain any checksums! So the file ends right after the Byte Count of $00.
The payload of the record is formed by the Data field. The number of data bytes expected is given by the Byte Count field. The last record of the file may not contain a Data field.
This checksum uses the same algorithm as used for the Address Checksum. This time we calculate the checksum with only the data bytes of this record.
checksum=0 for i=1 to cc checksum=checksum XOR(byte) ROL checksum next i
Note that we count to the Byte Count cc this time in the for loop.
:B00010A5576F77212044696420796F75207265617B :B01010E56C6C7920676F207468726F756768206136 :B02010256C6C20746861742074726F75626C652068 :B0300D5F746F207265616420746869733FD1 :B03D00
In the example above you can see a piece of code in Signetics format. The first 3 lines have 16 bytes of data each, which can be seen by the byte count. The 4th line has only 13 bytes because the program is at its end there.
Notice that the last record of the file contains no data bytes and it even doesn't contain an Address Checksum.