Amateur Lightwave Communication... Practical and Affordable

This paper was presented at 1994 Microwave Update in Estes Park Colorado.

Steve J. Noll, WA6EJO
1288 Winford Avenue
Ventura CA 93004


Light is a legitimate Amateur Radio band as defined in Part 97 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The American Radio Relay League has a contest rule that specifically allows lightwave contacts. Lasers are required for transmitters and electronic detection is required in the receivers. While Helium Neon lasers have long been under $100 on the surplus market, new diode pen-pointer lasers have just hit the $50 level making for small and inexpensive transmitters. A voice modulated Diode laser transmitter circuit using a $50 pen-pointer laser is shown here. Lightwave receivers are simple devices. This paper shows a photodiode-based receiver that is both inexpensive and performance competitive with a photomultiplier tube. Also discussed are transmitter and receiver construction, and operating techniques based on actual experience.

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