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Experiment O4

Data Communications using a Fiber Optic-based System
By: Roberts, Jasmine Date Performed: October 23, 2013 !!Date Submitted: November 6, 2013

Colum bia Univers ity 535 W. 116 St. New York, NY 10027 email:



Attenuation (mV)!

ABSTRACT The purpose of this lab is to test data communications with a fiber optic-based system. The experimental setup will be used to compare the dynamic ranges of the direct and pulse-width modulated transmission schemes. The experiment begins by characterizing the pulse-width modulations. Measurements of the amplitude at the AMPLI output as well as measurements of the pulsewidth at the PREAMP output are made. The voltage is varied from -5V to +5V at this step. The DC power supply is then replaced with a function generator and the light source is a short distance from the photo detector. The signal from the source is detected at a maximum distance of 2 centimeters, with an attenuation of 250mV. After the measurement is taken, switch to the DIR transmission scheme. The maximum distance will be about the same, but DIR exhibits a higher signal to noise ratio. The two transmission schemes are put into practical use with a microphone and earphone. In the DIR setting the voice is heard, but there is a tremendous amount of noise present as the distance increases. In the MOD setting, there is a low noise level, almost undetectable by the human ear. The voice signal that is transmitted is low and clear. Therefore no audio is heard at greater distances. CHARACTERIZATION OF THE PULSE-WIDTH MODULATION SCHEME The purpose of the first part of the lab was to characterize the pulse-width modulation scheme. An experimental setup was assembled to send a modulated DC bias through a fiber. The DC input voltage was varied, and the pulse width and amplitude of the recovered signal were measured. Furthermore, the frequency of the PREAMP output was also measured. The following table shows the obtained results: DC Bias ! Pulse-Width ("s) Amplitude (V) PREAMP (V) f (kHz) -5.39 21.2 35.6 -4.32 -3.27 -2.23 -1.19 0.182 1.38 2.61 3.26 4.21 5.28 20 18.8 17.2 16.6 15.2 13.8 12.2 11.6 10 9 0.625 0.9375 1.625 0.75 0.7 0.8125 0.875 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6 35.6


this frequency is simply the frequency of the sawtooth generator used by the modulator. DYNAMIC RANGES OF THE DIRECT AND PULSEWIDTH MODULATED TRANSMISSION SCHEME The purpose of the second part of the lab was to simulate the effect that modulated signals are less lossy when traveling long distances. A wave generator replaced the DC bias, and the fiber output was sent to the detector through an air-gap to simulate the noise and attenuation of a long fiber. The attenuation versus distance was then recorded, demonstrating that a direct signal is attenuated much more quickly than its modulated alternative. The graphs to support this are shown below.

Attenuation vs Distance (Modulated)!

300# 250# 200# 150# 100# 50# 0# 0# 5# 10# 15# 20# 25#
Distance (mm)!

Attenuation (mV)!

Attenuation vs Distance (Direct)!

1500# 1000# 500# 0# 0# 5# 10# 15# 20# 25#
Distance (mm)!

For voltages below !!!! , no value from the AMPLI output could be obtained. The frequency was measured to be a constant value; since the input is a DC value,

In addition, a qualitative observation suggested that the noise level for direct transmission was much higher than for modulated transmission. The maximum distance for transmission was about 2 cm for direct transmission and about 2.5 cm for modulated transmission. The distance between the source and detector was reduced to about 5 mm, and the maximum operating frequency was observed to be about 750 kHz for the direct signal and about 10 MHz for the modulated signal. The oscilloscope and wave generator were then replaced by an earphone and microphone, and the modes of

transmission were again compared. The direct signal was again much noisier, and the maximum distance was under 5 mm. The maximum distance for the modulated signal was about 13 mm. IV. 1. QUESTIONS In communication, modulation is utilized to transmit information via a high frequency carrier wave. There are two signals: the carrier signal and the data signal. The data signal contains the information to be sent, often audio or video, but it cannot be transmitted through the air effectively. So, the carrier signal is modulated in some way (i.e. its amplitude, frequency, or pulse width) according to the data signal and transmitted. Then, a receiver can pick up the carrier signal and demodulate it to recover the data signal at a distant location.



The attenuation for the modulated signal is much less because again, the electrical signal is less lossy. The modulated signal is less reliable for short distances because there is a chance that the additional hardware for modulating the signal could malfunction.

The attenuation for the direct signal is higher because lower frequency signals are more lossy. Direct Transmission is more reliable because there is no additional hardware that could prevent the signal from being transmitted properly.


A modulated mode of transmission is appropriate for radio because of the long distance the signals must travel. It would be impossible to send a signal directly over radio, because besides the fact that one would need an unrealistically large antenna, the signal would interfere with other signals and there would be no appropriate way to receive the signal. BPSK modulation is also useful in GPS systems. The use of BPSK-modulated direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) signals provides protection against jamming. This technique has been used to fight threats or interference against GPS signals.

DC Bias vs Pulse-Width!

25# 20# 15# 10# 5# 0# -5# 0#
DC Bias (V)!

Pulse-Width " (#s)!



Direct transmission would be more useful for a direct microphone to amp system. In this case, the distance is not long enough that there would be any significant attenuation from the direct signal. Adding hardware for modulation would be an unnecessary expense and could

2. Modulated Transmission For a modulated signal, the SNR is very low because the carrier signal is at a higher frequency and therefore less lossy. The modulated signal travels at the same speed as the direct signal. However, the hardware used for modulation could result in some delay. The modulated signal is more expensive because components to modulate and demodulate the signal would have to be added. Direct Transmission The direct signal has a higher SNR because it must be contantly amplified as it travels due to higher loss; this amplification will also amplify the noise. The speed of signal travel is the same for direct transmission. V. The direct signal is cheaper because the signal is simply transmitted without any additional components. 4.

result in delay. For 1m and 10m system a direct transmission would be appropriate, since at this distance there would not be very much attenuation and modulating the signal would not be worth the extra cost or effort. However, at 1 km and 100 km, modulated transmission should be used, since the direct signal would be much attenuated at this point. In a long-distance system, the bandwidth of the carrier signal must be increased because bandwidth is directly proportional to the distance the original signal can be carried. CONCLUSION A directly transmitted signal exhibits a lower signal to noise ratio compared a signal that is modulated. In communication systems, direct transmission is cheaper but it sacrifices other important parameters such as power, signal to noise ratio. Modulated transmission results in a higher signal to noise ratio, faster speeds, and lower attenuation, but is costly and unnecessarily complex for systems with shorter distances. Therefore, direct transmission is better for transmission of a signal at shorter distances, while modulated transmission is

Signal-toNoise Ratio



better for transmitting a signal at longer distances – but modulated signals require an increase in bandwidth to transmit over long distances