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October 1, 2009

Question of the Month: Difficulty Transmitting a Digital Optical Signal

Q. I’m having difficulty transmitting a digital optical signal about 75 ft. from a remote Dish satellite receiver to an A/V Home Theater receiver. I’ve added a Toslink repeater/amp device, but to no avail. Do you have any suggestions? – George.

A. Thanks for your e-mail and interesting question.

I suspect the optical pulses are much too weak, even with the Toslink repeater/amp device. I quizzed Axiom’s chief engineer, Tom Cumberland, who stated that a normal plastic fiber-optic link is only good for about 6 to 10 feet. Over longer distances, the plastic fiber-optic link causes the pulses to “blur,” so the optical receiver in the AV receiver can’t distinguish between the “on” and “off” optical pulses that relay the digital code.

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