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2015 4th International Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications (IWOW


Low-Cost NIR Measurement Device
Luka Mustafa Eva Černčič
Institute IRNAS Rače Institute IRNAS Rače
Email: Email:

Abstract—Due to lack of low-cost near infra-red measurement re-purposing a standard mass-produced fibre optic 155M In-
devices for spatial beam profiling in free-space optical systems, GaAs PIN-TIA photodetector and used together with a limiting
a custom solution is developed, utilizing commercially available amplifier primarily designed for use in SFP modules with
PIN+TIA detector and limiting amplifier, that are primarily used
in SFP optical modules. a peripheral functionality of measuring the incident optical
We have developed a NIR pixel module, comprising of a power.
standalone detector coupled with an RGB LED that provides The second section of the paper gives an overview of the
visible feedback for detecting wavelengths in the 1100-1650 nm existing measurement systems for IR wavelengths. The design
range. A set of 9 such pixels integrated into a portable battery and performance of developed NIR pixel module is described
powered measurement device capable of detecting the spatial
distribution of a collimated optical beam of up to 4 cm in in the third section, where also the first prototype is presented.
diameter and streaming per pixel measurements via WiFi to a Sections four and five present two useful applications, where
personal computer has been developed. developed module is integrated; an alignment tool, portable
We also show how a single NIR pixel coupled with a low-cost device used in the calibration process to detect the optical
open-source 3D printer can be used to determine optical beam beam and a beam scanner system, utilising 3D printer for
spatial power distribution profile and is capable of creating 2D
and 3D distribution scans with better than 0.2 mm resolution. producing beam power profile at very low cost.

Free-space communication system development at 1.5 µm Currently the range of available NIR optical measurement
for low cost data links is recently gaining popularity, but devices, capable of detecting collimated free-space optical
development is challenging due to a lack of affordable metrol- beams in wavelength range 1100-1650 nm, is extremely
ogy equipment operating in this wavelength range. We have limited with high associated cost, due to insufficient photon
faced this exact problem when developing a low-cost outdoor energy of such beams to be observed by conventional CCD
wireless optical system KORUZA [1] and thus developed the detector arrays and other Si based detectors.
spatial beam profiling tools introduced in this paper. One option at a relatively high price is a Short Wavelength
Establishing long range outdoor optical links requires well IR (SWIR) camera, also named Near IR camera (NIR), using
collimated optical outputs to maximize link budget. Installa- InGaAs sensor array, which enables measurement of intensity
tion of such links requires careful alignment of the transceiver distribution due to its high resolution.
units using optical sights or a visible optical output that can IR indicator cards are a significantly cheaper option. These
be observed by eye. During initial calibration of the units it is emit visible light when IR optical power is incident, due to
essential align the optical axis of the visible sighting system a phosphorous coating, optically charged from daylight and
to the infrared data carrying optical signal. This step requires as such they are the simplest form of NIR optical beam
a device that is capable of detecting the collimated infrared indication. However the sensitivity of these devices limits
beam. Furthermore in research applications the optical power their use in Free Space Optical systems. In the wireless
distribution of the beam itself is of interest. optical system KORUZA and others with sources in 1 mW
The most significant difficulties arise when wavelengths range when forming a collimated beam of 30 mm diameter
longer then 1000 nm are used as they have insufficient energy results in an optical power density of 140 µW/cm2 , which
to be observed by conventional CCD detector arrays and other is observable on the indicator card in dark environment, how-
Si based detectors, thus the available range of measurements ever this becomes unobservable in daylight. For the majority
devices is extremely limited with high associated cost [2]. of short range optical experiments this may be sufficient
To address this challenge we develop a custom low cost, in controlled environments, however wireless optical system
open-source detection device, operating in the 1100-1650 nm KORUZA calibration must be at distances of about 25-100 m.
range capable of detecting and measuring the power distribu- The IR indicator card method is thus only feasible outdoors at
tion of a 30 mm diameter optical beam. night without moonlight and the presence of light pollution.
Additionally, as the device needs to be used in the calibra- Lower cost devices, used for optical imaging and power
tion procedure, it must perform well under daylight conditions measurement in 1100-1650 nm range in wired optical net-
with optical beam power densities less then 100 µW/cm2 . A working, were considered as well. Various kinds of optical
solution implementing InGaAs photodetectors was adopted, power meters are widely used in installing and maintaining

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when an additional lens performed outside during the day. inputs read the RSSI value for each pixel and report it via the 128 . D EVELOPMENT OF NIR M EASUREMENT D EVICE The lens accounts for the 28. Area of each detector was extended Experimental evaluation on the KORUZA system has proven using 7 mm diameter (6 mm lens area) plastic convex lenses that when the fibre attachment is removed and the detector area (PMMA. integrating the YPC3418-X. Thus. RSSI and VCC limiting amplifier as used in the standard SFP optical modules.3 USD at reasonable volume. with a -3 dBm saturation power and through hole TO46 package on surface mount pads on one side -36 dBm sensitivity for BER = 105 @ 155 Mbps way used.3 µW/mm2 at 1550nm.2 mm in diameter. the beam and are only marginally useful in the alignment and Sensitivity Evaluation: The effective active area of each calibration of FSO systems. goal of amplifying differential output signal from TIA with voltage swing as little as 3 mV to the full swing at 1200 mV pk-pk. which implement the functionality of our interest. however only when sufficient running code written in the Energia environment. as shown in Fig. thus some properties for LOS threshold is defined with a resistor R2. III. An additional later calculations need to be assumed. An Detailed information on responsiveness and optical transfer LED is added to indicate the LOS signal status. photodetector. Due to use in the alignment procedure. of the board and the limiting amplifier on the other side. corresponding to 0. of 0. with only the PIN-TIA and amplifier per pixel on a 3x3 board. was used. a detector in SFP optical modules. re-purposed from low-cost laser pointer is directly exposed a FSO beam can be detected. Detection area on the ball lens is 0. magnified trough the 1 mm ball lens.13 mm2 distribution. A relatively low-cost limiting amplifier at ap- proximately 1. A detector module was designed with PIN+TIA detector and Every pixel is a standalone unit with GND. but The main objective was to design a system. 44 detector with ONET4201PA limiting amplifier. mounted in a 3D printable InGaAs or Ge detector for the use in the 800-1700 nm range. modules. Design Approach of the 6mm external lens the NIR pixel offers two orders of magnitude better. However with the addition A.1. Also. either building on the use in daylight conditions.f = 6. Circuit board area of 8x8 cm is used at minimal due to their mass production and low cost. B. Texas Instrument ONET4201PA was chosen. which has a sensitivity solution ought to be open-source and low-cost. complying with µW/mm2 sensitivity. is more sensitive then the NIR pixel without the additional lens. utilising beam. that would significantly limits the angle of incidence under which the enable detection of a relatively large beam (diameter 30 mm) collimated of with additional lens focused light will still fall in the 1100-1650 nm range and also measure its spatial power on the detector. 2015 4th International Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications (IWOW) procedures for any type of fiber networks. the IC contains Loss of Signal and RSSI Detection mechanisms.0045 beam density less then 100 µW/cm2 . performance of such system of 6mm diameter area and 80% transmission is introduced. In addition is performance is not degraded Two approaches were considered. current limiting resistor (R1) is used for the LED as shown in SFP modules also contain a limiting amplifier with primary Fig. typically used as enclosure. with stable mounting for to Texas Instruments Tiva C Launchpad development board high resolution measurements.47 mm). connections. should not be affected by daylight conditions and optical detection area increases to 28. enclosure.2.5 dB increase in sensitivity. where the function information is not available. the optical aperture of the PIN-TIA detector is a 1mm ball-lens and can The assembled PCB of 9 pixels. In comparison an IR indicator card. Due to plastic PMMA material 70-80% transmission such devices are not able to measure the spatial profile of over 1100-1650 nm wavelength range can be expected.23 µW/mm2 sensitivity. usually with 1. Housed either As the primary goal is to observe 30 mm diameter optical inside the hand-held unit or connected externally. A 155 Mbps size to mount 7 mm lenses side by side in 3D printable InGaAs PIN-TIA module YPC3418-X-44. We C. Fig. is wired be used without additional optics. 1: NIR pixel first prototype schematic. NIR Pixel Module A standalone optical detection NIR pixel module with visible user feedback and measurement output for use in automated systems was designed. an 3x3 array of detectors. Additionally. has been experimentally determined to be about 0.3 mm2 . First Prototype Design have opted for the latter as it has improved sensitivity and the The first version of the NIR pixel is a barebone module cost should be lower than for phosphorous coating solution. costing approximately 1 Space optimization on the PCB is achieved by mounting the USD at low volumes. the general aspiration of wireless optical KORUZA project. of phosphorous coatings and standard optical sensor arrays or implementing a solution using InGaAs photodetectors. Analogue optical power is incident. However.

Figure for integration in test networks. By placing the lens closer to the detector a fixed loss is introduced but the angle of incidence is increased. detection of optical beam produce by KORUZA system. limiting the potential for battery powered operation.3 V. Cost optical system KORUZA units. 129 . 2015 4th International Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications (IWOW) serial port. Half optical power angle of incidence under which optical chosen based on the desired accuracy needed for the specific power was received was 4 degrees and 10 degrees respectively. Fig. either connected through on-board USB or an HC- 05 bluetooth module. enabling their multiplexing and power saving mode implementation. defined as back focal distance system is battery powered and equipped with WiFi connection from the PMMA lens with 6. with few issues to be resolved in future versions. to enable mea- precision single rotation stage perpendicular to the optical axis surement of circularly symmetric Gaussian beam properties. with 65 mA per pixel at 3. application. The use of the additional 6 mm lens is this design meant A. Further developments should consider using TO46 packages just with a clear window instead of ball lens. with Note that various configurations of NIR pixel modules receiver placed in the focus of the lens and 2 mm shifted out of are possible. 2: NIR pixel first prototype board. To allow portable use distances from the receiver. The is given. 3: Optical response of NIR pixel as a function of angle of incidence when exposed to collimated 1550nm Gaussian Prototype Evaluation: The prototype has proven useful for beam. Power switches were implemented per groups of pixels. A simple Processing script colour-codes the power and displays it on the screen. as seen in the Fig. 4: KORUZA alignment tool with incident IR optical Due to satisfactory performance of the first NIR pixel power from above. per pixel of such design is estimated at approximately 4 USD at reasonable volumes. LOS status LEDs mounted on each pixel proved to be very useful to be used primarily in the calibration process of wireless and should be color-coded for optimal user experience. of the NIR pixel exposed to a collimated Gaussian beam of Incident power feedback and RSSI measurement for each pixel 30 mm diameter from KORUZA wireless optical units. improving the hand held usability. 3 shows experimental results for two configurations.4. user friendly version of the system was developed. A detailed open-source release of this version is available [4].47 mm back focal length. As such the usability of the NIR pixel array is limited as a hand held device due to the limited angle of incidence for detecting the optical signal. appropriate size and number of arrays can be it. KORUZA A LIGNMENT T OOL Fig. while on opposite side to the photodetectors LOS experiment has been performed for the lens placed at two status LEDs are located for visual aid. Also the power consumption of the prototype is significant. with additional attenuation for the lens placed closer to the detector. features 9 pixels placed the incoming light. In particular. prototype. Design Description that the NIR pixels were very sensitive to the incident angle of The new design. Fig. An experiment has been performed with in two concentric rings and one in the centre. IV.

however it is much more can be clearly observed with the color coding representation intuitive and easier to observe if amplitude is colour coded. A. Network integra- tion was implemented in the design with LuA base NodeMCU firmware support and custom code published on-line [5]. RSSI Measurement: Due to 9 individual pixels being used. at every pixel. Such characterisation can be made with board has been designed. device. Future work RGB LEDs. placed as close to the detector as possible on the Beam Diameter and Gaussian Fit: Measurements of each same side as the IR optical power is incident. The circuit optical components. 2015 4th International Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications (IWOW) Visual Incident Power Indication: Mimicking a low. status to guide the user to adjust calibration. WS2812B modules have been used Thus. in Matlab environment where 9 points were showed to be The opposite side of the circuit board features LOS status sufficient to create a 3D Gaussian fit in the case of Gaussian indicating LEDs for basic alignment. 6: Gaussian fit. capable of movement in X and Y axis with better than 0.1 mm accuracy. System Overview A NIR pixel sensor is mounted on the print head of an open- source 3D printer Troublemaker [6]. using the extra LED diode to report beam diameter Communication: Due to limitations of bluetooth connec. tation of RGB lights. Alternatively. To be able to quantitatively characterize optical output a wireless optical system and perform measurements for our own purposes. The optical power distribution within the beam by varying brightness of an LED. charged via on-board USB port. NIR pixel is 130 . exploiting properties of the 2D Gaussian distribution. RGB LED. Additionally. for example a SFP module. the device uses a LiPo charger and a standard mobile optical sources. bed pointing towards the NIR pixel. The beam profile is used to characterize the quality of modules. The system is able to make a 2D scan of emitted optical power at a fixed distance from the source in order to measure the spatial power distribution. For efficient implemen. Texas Instru- Fig. was used. beam. The laser Fig. requiring only a single pin on the control circuit should implement this functionality directly on the calibration for controlling a series of LEDs. based on 9 measurement points of ment MSP430G2955 low-power low-cost 16 bit MCU with Gaussian beam. collimated beam diameter and power distribution on featuring a SPI like communication protocol and integrated incident area can be determined in real time. Testing and KORUZA Calibration resolution behaviour of IR indicator card with the active circuit KORUZA alignment tool has been tested and used with KO- is possible by indicating optical power incident on each pixel RUZA system. B EAM S CANNER via UART to the ESP8266 module for processing and LED Knowing characteristics of a laser beam. manufactured and assembled as NIR cameras or larger specifically designed detectors. An ESP8266 self-contained WiFi module with a 32 bit processor on board at a sub-5USD cost and range exceeding 100 m at lowest bit-rate. energy distribution. 5: KORUZA alignment tool circuit board and schematic source. with a schematic representation of modules in Fig.however. In addition to this multiple 2D scans can be taken at varies distances from the optical source and thus create a volumetric model of power distribution of an optical beam. is essential for most wireless optical appli- Periphery and Implementation: Additionally to the main cations. we opted for implementation of WiFi connectivity. may be place on the print representation. As using WiFi module in conjunction with an external analog to digital converter module showed to be price inefficient. Firmware has been developed for the device to read the analog channels and send measurements V.e. i. these system are expensive. 9 analogue measurement channels or a multiplexing system is required to conduct RSSI measurements. tions in terms of insufficient range and inconvenience for integration in networks.5. observe effects introduced by lenses and other phone battery. B. its spatial control. a channel is required for battery voltage measurement. sufficient number of analogue inputs has been chosen at a cost of approximately 1 USD. an alternative beam scanner system was designed by using a NIR pixel measurement unit coupled to a low-cost and open-source 3D printer. shown. allows user to pixel available through WiFi interface can directly be imported observe where IR light has hit the aperture.

A conserva- tively set delay ensures movement is completed prior to optical power measurements. typically used in optical SFP modules. L. available options in observing NIR optical wavelengths in free “SFF-8472 Specification for Diagnostic Monitoring Interface for Optical space. Available: http://koruza. Fig. JDS Uniphase.8. Clark. C ONCLUSION [3] R. (a) 3D view. VII. Testing Fig. the first being the alignment tool. Allan. The sensitivity of [6] L. “NIR pixel Prototype version 1”. 7: Gaussian beam scan. [Online].2 measurements of collimated beam diameter of KORUZA units mm. [Online]. L. and the mechanical 0. When changing the direction we may need to plementation of RGB led lights allows for intuitive use. Due to limited availability and high price point of currently Pine Photonics. Mustafa. Kane. B. “KORUZA”. Conventional line scanning of the area has been substituted by a rectangular spiral scan. Scanning speed is limited by the open loop control as 3D printer firmware does not return on movement finished. 2015. and Madison Cable. //www. 2010. W. https://github. “Simplified Arduino ADC . to allow for the size of the receiver area on the photo-diode. “Optimizing free-space optical sys- tem KORUZA. profile with an accuracy of 0. 2015. Available: http: detector and effect of an additional lens have been experimen. Available: https: //github. Mustafa. integrating an 131 . Available: cost was developed.7 and Carroll. Scanning resolution is limited with array of 9 pixels arranged in a circular pattern. Day. Court. [Online]. 2015 4th International Workshop on Optical Wireless Communications (IWOW) mounted pointing upwards to measure an optical beam pointed from a greater distance. B. optical source and some different optical power distribution In the Beam Scanner system the NIR pixel module is at higher resolution respectively. [4] L. Stratos Lightwave. [2] L. Mustafa. 8: Scan of uncollimated beam. Micrel Semiconductor. A Matlab application controls the movement of the 3D printer by sending GCODE commands directly and collecting measurements from the NIR pixel serial interface. T. displaying an assuming Gaussian integration into an automated calibration system. both mass produced items that are communication + WS2812B LEDs”. Thomsen. B.05 mm movement resolution of as well as aligning the green and IR signal optical beams.1-39. I. University College London. Rahman.thingiverse. Torres. I. Future work should implement a coarse bean locating algorithm and size detection to optimize scanning time as well as modify 3D printer firmware for closed loop control.2mm at a very low price in comparison with other systems that are available. “Troublemaker 3D printer”. R EFERENCES [1] L. Aronson. D. starting of the center of the area and continuing outwards until no more optical power is detected. (b) Top view. Example of the scan WiFi connectivity supports more advanced measurements and is shown in Fig. We have experienced decent mounted on the 3D printer head to measure the spatial beam results with 20x20 grid for most applications. Im- the 3D printer. The calibration procedure for output in standard units has been outlined as well. L. The NIR pixel design has been used in two measurement devices. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank Dr. tally measured and show to provide two orders of magnitude better sensitivity than the IR phosphorous viewer card. Judkins. a custom and versatile measurement system at very low Transceivers” pp. Benn Thomsen of University College London for invaluable advice and Shuttleworth Foun- dation for funding the project with the Fellowship of Luka Mustafa. D. J. typically 0.ESP8266 (nodemcu lua) and a limiting amplifier. MEng Project Final Report”. [Online]. 2015. while account for the backlash in movement. 2015. Mustafa. The profile at various distances from the source can also be determined and divergence of various modes observed. The NIR pixel module integrates a PIN+TIA photodetector [5] L. VI. used in the KORUZA system. The system was extensively tested on the SPF units. Lindsay.