16 Feb 2013

New 481THz receiver working well

Optical RX in small screened box attached to a 110mm drain pipe "stopper"
This morning I built my new optical detector circuit using an SFH213 photo diode, an MPF102 FET head amplifier followed by a 2N3904 amplifier and a low noise op-amp. The output is fed to either a pair of 600ohms sensitive headphones or a PC running Spectran.  The schematic was as in G8CYW's article in PW this month, although I reduced the coupling capacitors to 100n to reduce the gain at very low frequencies to help hum rejection and increased the op amp gain a few dB.  Sensitivity is several dBs better than my previous best design .

Build method is my usual copper clad board with MeSquare pads built dead bug style. The junction of the SFH213 cathode and the gate of the FET must be kept well above the ground though to reduce losses.

To test the set up I modulate a small red LED mounted on the ceiling of my building shack with a 1kHz tone. With all lights out and in near total darkness I compare the level on the audio generator that I can just hear with that of my reference optical receiver. Both the new unit and the test unit are on the bench about 1.5m away from the (just glowing) LED. If the system is working well the S/N is good with the LED barely visible by eye. There are quantitative ways of measuring the sensitivity using Spectran on a PC but this means having the PC out of the room as the display would otherwise desense the RX!

I have yet to test this when mounted in the 110mm drain pipe with 100mm lens. This gives an antenna gain of around 24-30dB. A good test will be the GB3CAM optical beacon which I can just detect with my older head at a distance of around 32km.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just building my optical receiver today.
Perhaps we can do some tests when the Wx is a little warmer.
73 Dave G4FEV (Nr Wellingborough)