I am trying to create a simple P2PKH raw bitcoin testnet transaction from the scratch. Here is the information about the transaction:

hash of the UTXO consumed - 03e3f89f38ea81a5f1ed277e6ac424cebde4426f4bcc291006f7ecf67350e986
index of the UTXO - 1
private key of the input - 4b5963fc219d1848cc67d52e0a929340f88ff9d316b1990b24d0ae1d37edeef1 
UTXO amount - 0.01 tBTC
receiving address - mtCrEgpKyRhLguqGySE4qUFXzn8sMG7hrm
receiving amount - 0.001 tBTC
change Address - mjHQ5W5B14psNsYBEmh1BykXyY4sY9r9DF
fees used - 378 sats
change amount - 0.00899622 tBTC

Here is the unsigned raw transaction I created:


Double SHA-256 digest of the above to be signed:


Next I am using self-written ECDSA library to sign the transaction. I have signed the above transaction using my library three times.

Signed Transaction 1:


Signature: 3045022100a482537e4225c1ba3470c68d2304d807a6e245491b486e1c6d0778a8436d25dd0220cf4cc90f2e41cafca39555caeb47be235b9c10c2b497528532cb419a7736a8d1012103ab127bf811fd8a6753fbc8cd68731a120d05ac64f1e03df5ec223d7a734e6199

R: a482537e4225c1ba3470c68d2304d807a6e245491b486e1c6d0778a8436d25dd
S: cf4cc90f2e41cafca39555caeb47be235b9c10c2b497528532cb419a7736a8d1

Signed Transaction 2:


Signature: 304502210076a3092727f537453e938a07c9558c605bb79824972b50386e909d8b0394f9700220745b9869b1a4e7b4671a538b7f015a19567250a66f7e965af09060450fdf4288012103ab127bf811fd8a6753fbc8cd68731a120d05ac64f1e03df5ec223d7a734e6199

R: 76a3092727f537453e938a07c9558c605bb79824972b50386e909d8b0394f970
S: 745b9869b1a4e7b4671a538b7f015a19567250a66f7e965af09060450fdf4288

Signed Transaction 3:


Signature: 30450221009b6cf3115f5738998b249cafecd69bc489b770cb104a885f93f000df662ca9860220459c6548f4a5b8032529069d704857b92ff3693684be401430a7ca6b2c28e66d012103ab127bf811fd8a6753fbc8cd68731a120d05ac64f1e03df5ec223d7a734e6199

R: 9b6cf3115f5738998b249cafecd69bc489b770cb104a885f93f000df662ca986
S: 459c6548f4a5b8032529069d704857b92ff3693684be401430a7ca6b2c28e66d

I used Blockstream Broadcasting tool to push my transaction. However, signed transaction 1 and 2 failed with the following error:

sendrawtransaction RPC error: {"code":-26,"message":"non-mandatory-script-verify-flag (Non-canonical DER signature)"}

Finally, signed transaction 3 went successfully and confirmed on the blockchain. I have verified all three signatures and there is nothing wrong in ECDSA params R and S. So, in my view the problem locates in the DER-encoding of the signature. Help me locate the problem about why do the sig-script verification failed for the first two transactions.

1 Answer 1


There are a few rules regarding the DER signature that you are not following. In the first transaction, you fail to follow the Low-S value rule. In the second transaction, you fail to follow the strict DER encoding rule.

In the first transaction, the s value is too high. Current standardness rules require that the s be between 0x1 and 0x7FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF5D576E7357A4501DDFE92F46681B20A0 inclusive. Your s is out of this range. To convert a high s to a low s, you do s' = n - s where n is the order of the secp256k1 curve, i.e. n = 0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFEBAAEDCE6AF48A03BBFD25E8CD0364141.

In the second transaction, your signature does not follow the strict DER encoding rules. These rules are defined in BIP 66. Specifically, the r is encoded using 33 bytes when only 32 bytes is sufficient. The 0x00 that you have prepended is unnecessary in this case because r as a 32 byte signed integer is positive. That prepended 0x00 is only necessary when r as a 32 byte signed integer would be a negative number, i.e. the top bit is set.

In your third transaction, you got lucky. Because you are using a random nonce, half of the time s will be low, and half of the time r as a 32 byte integer will be negative and require the prepended 0x00 to become positive. So 1 in 4 signatures should be accepted, and that's basically what we see here.

Related to the error in the second transaction, on thing you need to watch out for is when r or s is smaller than 32 bytes. This rare, but it can happen. Essentially the rule for encoding these numbers is to encode them as a big endian signed integer but do it as small as possible.

  • Thank you for the answer Andrew. I wasn't aware of DER encoding rules as defined in BIP-66. I have tried to inculcate the rules in my code. Now I am converting high S into low S which solves problem for half of the transaction. However, R encoding is still not working when R as signed integer is positive. Let me show you the example: 304402203faf4f96f781a8819531c4a78a35e9c4ea3f1f4ef56493d18eff52881cdf43a702206b0f0072964a7819a9c223f38d7fd73c7063423cb49aa480eedc3b284b41c23b01210329d4fec73ecf28f4bcbe7e235c63764e1c7c3ba7f1d90feeea9be1a8a0696498 What could possibly be wrong?
    – CryptoSar
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 7:01
  • @CryptoSar How do you put this in a transaction? The signature seems fine to me but maybe you are encoding it incorrectly in the transaction.
    – Ava Chow
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 17:15
  • Yes, you are right Andrew. Actually the problem was in the byte just before signatures representing the sig length. I have rectified it and it is working 100% now. Thanks once again.
    – CryptoSar
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 18:31

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