19 Feb 2013

Nanowave over the horizon tests - nearly ready

Original optical beacon
Just about ready now to restart my optical non line-of-sight tests again using my 481THz CW/QRSS beacon and a choice of 2 sensitive receivers. I'd intended to go out this evening but (a) the XYL needed the car to go to her choir and (b) the fog has descended!
Optical beacon capable of continuous subcarrier (choice of freqs) or QRSS/CW

SpectrumView in action - it's brilliant
The beacon design needs to change somewhat: currently I can TX either QRSS3, QRSS30 or CW at around 830Hz subcarrier, using the IRF640 fed directly from my K1EL keyer IC. However, I cannot actually send just a 830Hz tone continuously. This would actually be very useful when aligning TX and RX over a non-optical path e.g over a hill. So, when the grandchildren go home on Sunday I'll make a modified version of the beacon keyer so that I can choose a number of subcarrier frequencies, including some lower than 830Hz (detector sensitivity is greater at lower audio frequencies) and also add the option of a continuous subcarrier signal. This will involve adding a 4060 based oscillator and divider to be keyed by the K1EL keyer IC. So, it may be next Tuesday or Wednesday before I actually start testing again.

I also want to optimise the use of the iPod Touch 4g as a handheld audio spectrum analyser. I have used it for this sort of test before using an excellent package available free called SpectrumView (see screenshot) available from Oxford Wave Research. With a laptop PC, running Spectran, the problem is the brightness of the screen which emits an interfering optical signal. With a tiny iPod Touch it is much less bright and can be held in the hand. Unfortunately the bandwidth can't be screwed down as narrow as with Spectran on the PC, so there will be S/N limitations. One test will be to see how far away I can detect my beacon (about 0.5W into the LED) over the horizon using just the optical receiver and the iPod Touch.

The beauty of 481THz (red light) work is the kit is simple: everything that matters is at audio frequencies and can be built and tested with the simplest of test gear.

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