Optical Communications Handbook Logo

Optical Communications Handbook Logo

Preface  --   Introduction --    Light Theory --    Light Detector  --     Light Emitter
  Light System Configuration  --    Light Processing  --    Receiver Circuits   --   
Transmitter Circuits


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If you are an experimenter, engineer, scientist or educator, you can benefit from the information contained in this handbook. The Handbook guides you through some of the basic concepts of optical communications. It discusses some of the physics of light and how light can be manipulated, modulated and transmitted to send information. It provides details of the components used in light transmitters and receivers. It also describes some unique signal processing techniques which can increase the practical range of a communications system. The book also gives you detailed information on building a long range optical transceiver. The systems described can send voice information over a range of several miles using simple components. The handbook also discloses how some common components, such as fluorescent lamps, can be used for some communications applications. Much of the information in the book has never been revealed before. In short, this book provides sufficient information for you to design and build your own unique system.
This handbook is not meant to be a textbook, which covers the subject in depth. Rather it is a collection of practical information that you can put to work right away. I concentrated on those areas I thought were most important and practical. I left out the complex mathematics and boiled everything down into to some basic equations, concepts and circuits. However, to take advantage of the information you should have at least high school algebra, some knowledge of electronics and some general science experience. The book's goal is to save you valuable time and give you a "jump-start" so you can begin designing and building your own communications systems without spending years of trial and error experimentation. I also wanted you to avoid some of the pitfalls that I had to endure. I wanted to share with you some insights and proven methods that took me years to assemble. There is still a lot of work to be done.

As new components become available and as new techniques are discovered there will be even more valuable systems that you could design and build. In addition, I hope the book inspires you into thinking about the future. I've given you some basic ideas of how this technology could be used but I hope you will dream-up some of your own applications. I also want to promote this new technology. I'd like to see information exchanges. I want to find out what others have done, what discoveries they have made.
This first handbook volume covers most of the basics and tends to concentrate on voice audio communications. Volume II (now being written) will present more information on specific applications. Volume II will include information on high-speed and long-range computer links, circuits on television transmission, details on some experiments with bouncing light information off clouds, more circuits on wide area communications and some discussions on other applications not covered in Volume I.

(Of those who helped me with book)

Jan Johnson, my wife, who has put up with me and my basement tinkering for over 30 years and also helped a great deal with the editing.  She is the webmaster of this site.
Donna Wallingsford, who helped edit my otherwise poor grammar.
Don Lancaster, whose books and magazine articles on self-publishing gave me inspiration to publish this book.
Forrest Mims, whose 20+ years of interest in optical communications piqued my curiosity.
Audrey Boag, a technician who helped construct many electronic prototype circuits.
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