ARRAY BASED FREE SPACE OPTIC SYSTEM FOR TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS
Felder, Adrian W.
Gibson, John H.
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Free-space optical (FSO) communications offer a resilient and flexible alternative communications medium to current radio technologies, which are increasingly threatened by our peer adversaries. FSO provides many advantages to radio technologies, including higher bandwidth capability and increased security through its low probability of detection (LPD) and low probability of interception (LPI) characteristics. However, current FSO systems are limited in range due to line-of-sight requirements and suffer loss from atmospheric attenuation. This thesis proposes the use of arrayed optical emitters for FSO communication by developing a link-layer protocol that leverages the inherent error correction of quick response (QR) encoding to increase bandwidth and overcome atmospheric loss. Through the testing of a system built with commercial-off-the-shelf equipment and a survey of current optical transmitter and receiver technology, this link-layer protocol was validated and estimated to provide similar data rates to current single emitter FSO systems. Various limitations were discovered in the current structure of the protocol. Future work should be conducted to correct inefficiencies in the QR encoding format when applied to a transmission medium. Additionally, technological advancements in hardware systems, including the large-scale production of VCSELs and faster high-speed cameras, must be achieved before such an FSO would be viable for large-scale use.
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