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In this paper, we validate a novel augmentation to the physical layer (PHY) of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless sensor networks. This augmentation implements interleaving and forward error correction (FEC) encoding within sensor node transmitters, facilitating a significant reduction in their transmission energy. We detail the design, parameterization, and implementation of this FEC encoder and show that it has insignificant energy consumption compared with the transmission energy reduction that it affords. Our analysis shows that net energy savings of 24.8%-31.4% can be achieved by the augmented PHY.