Optical Communications Systems may sound very complicated, and they certainly can be very complicated, but they don’t have to be.
Think back to when you were a kid and you developed a system with your buddy who lived across the street. You would blink your flashlight in the window two times to indicate that you were still awake, and your buddy might blink his flashlight two times to indicate that he was too. This was an Optical Communication System in its most basic form.
As a Boy Scout, you may have learned to communicate with other scouts using two semaphore flags. You could certainly relay more information than you did using flashlights in the window, but it was still a very basic Optical Communication System with many limitations.
Optical Communications simply refers to relaying information a distance using light to carry the information. It can be performed visually, as in the two previous examples, or by using electronic devices. Clearly, using electronic devices is more complex, and a more powerful way to communicate.
Typically, an optical communication system will include three components. The Transmitter encodes the message into an optical signal. The Channel carries the signal to its destination. And, finally, the receiver which reproduces the original message.
The are two types of channels that can be used in a modern complex optical communication system. Fiber optic cables can relay messages from the transmitter to the receiver, or, the message can be relayed on a laser beam. Clearly, using a laser beam to channel the message is more conducive to long distance transmission, or transmission that needs to occur in free space.
Optical Comms Systems have advantages over RF and Microwave Comms Systems due to their directionality, and high frequency carrier. These properties can lead to greater covertness, freedom from jamming, and potentially much higher data rates.
If you want to learn more, ATI offers Optical Communications Systems. The course provides a strong foundation for selecting, designing and building either a Free Space Optical Comms, or Fiber-Optic Comms System for various applications. Course includes both DoD and Commercial systems, in Space, Atmospheric, Underground, and Underwater Applications. You can learn more about this course, and register for it here.
And, as always, you can learn about the full set of courses offered by ATI at www.aticourses.com