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Fiber optic systems can be simple point-to-point data links or can involve more complex topologies. However, it is generally necessary only to refer to point-to-point data links when discussing the process of link design. Fiber optic systems that incorporate complex architectures can be simplified into a collection of point-to-point data links before beginning the design process.

Fiber optic system design is a complicated process that involves link definition and analysis. The design process begins by providing a complete description of the communication requirements. This information is used to develop the link architecture and define the communications links. System designers must decide on the operational wavelength and types of components to use in the system. These decisions affect numerous system and link design parameters, such as launched power, connection losses, bandwidth, cost, and reliability.

Once a system design has been formulated, each link is analyzed to determine its viability. Link analysis involves calculating each link's power budget and risetime budget. Calculating a power budget involves identifying all of the sources of loss in the fiber optic link. These losses and an additional safety margin are then compared to the difference between the transmitter output power and the receiver sensitivity. The difference between the transmitter output power and the receiver sensitivity is referred to as the available power. If the sources of loss plus the safety margin are less than the available power in the link, the design is viable.

Calculating the risetime budget involves calculating the risetimes of the link transmitter and the optical fiber. The composite optical transmitter/fiber risetime is referred to as the fiber exit risetime. If the fiber exit risetime is less than the maximum input risetime specified for the link receiver, then the link design is viable.

If a proposed link design is not viable, the system designer will reevaluate various decisions made earlier in the system design. These reevaluations may include using a different transmitter or receiver or may involve redesigning the physical configuration of the link. Because there are many variables involved in link design and analysis, it may take several iterations before the variables are combined in a manner that ensures link operation. For more information of fiber optic system design, refer to the Navy Fiber Optic

System Design Standard.

Q.13 Why is it generally only necessary to refer to point-to-point data links when discussing the process of fiber optic system design?
Q.14 List five system design parameters considered when system designers choose the system operational wavelength and link components.
Q.15 What two analyses are performed to determine if a link design is viable?

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