One of the hottest fields in electronics technologies today, optoelectronics is rich in possibilities and potential. "Optoelectronics, Fiber Optics, and Laser Cookbook" is a practical guide to optical circuits - including fiber optics and lasers - presents a collection of state-of-the-art experiments and projects for the student, technician, and hobbyist.

Optoelectronics, Fiber Optics, and Laser Cookbook - ISBN 0-0704-9840-7 / ISBN 0070498407

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My review copy of "Optoelectronics, Fiber Optics, and Laser Cookbook" © 1997, was written by Thomas Petruzzellis. It is published by Mc Graw-Hill who kindly provided me with my review paper back copy and it contains more than 150 projects and experiments and covers 320+ pages.

Initially perusing the various projects, one criticism which immediately sprang to mind as an experimenter, is that the manufacturers of some of the more exotic parts don't seem to get as much mention of parts manufacturers as I would have hoped. The book does however contain a comprehensive appendix of sources and vendors though.

On my first run through I was immediately attracted to Chapter 4 "Light Meters." That got me real excited I can tell you.

Optoelectronics, Fiber Optics, and Laser Cookbook - ISBN 0-0704-9840-7 / ISBN 0070498407

book cover of 'OPTOELECTRONICS, FIBER OPTICS, And Laser Cookbook'

Now on the topic of Light Meters alone we are presented with no less than ten different schematics accompanied by parts lists, plus some other comprehensive diagrams. Now the first project (fig 4-4) is described as "a linear light meter", the only unusual device is described as an OSD1-0 photodiode. Hullo, who made it? where can I buy it?

The next project (fig 4-5) is described as "a logarithmic light meter", it uses the same device as in the previous project but also has a 5K6 potentiometer in the circuit. No mention is made of its function (presumably calibration) nor, whether it is a linear or logarithmic type. I'm not being smart here but I would epect it to be a 5K linear trimpot (set and forget type) but we are left with no explanation.

In the next few projects, the manufacturer Honeywell receive a welcome mention for some parts, e.g. "Honeywell SD3421 silicon light detector". Now I've been around long enough in the trade to know that Mr. Honeywell would be most receptive to my enquiry for 1,000,000 pieces of SD3421. On the other hand Bill Technician or Joe Hobbyist might probably receive the brush off. Who is a supplier of small quantities at a reasonable price? No specific mention.

Perhaps I am being grossly unfair to the author but, I consider this is one critical aspect often overlooked. Later chapters do include some references and indeed names and telephone numbers. Difficult if we live outside the U.S.A.!

I also realise that if we are going to involve ourselves in exotic projects and, these most certainly are, then by definition they must contain "exotic parts". Helpful pointers within the text would encourage enthusiasm. Actually as you can see I progressively became somewhat discouraged. This is indeed a great pity because otherwise I found this title to be a rather absorbing publication. The results of my endeavours...

Now I just searched at Google using the term "Honeywell SD3421 silicon light detector". There was only one response. The only page Google listed was Scientific American: Amateur Scientist: Detecting "Hot" Clouds: April 1999.

Ironically that page contains a another project and mention sources and in some instances, pricing. The SD3421 is said to be available from Honeywell microswitch but that link proved dead.

The first link on a search of "SD3421" by itself brings up a link to the pdf data sheet which is particularly good because you can never have too many data sheets. It prompts you to open or save the file.

O.K. I'll try some of my traditional channels. I then tried Mouser followed by Digi-Key. Zilch, nothing... I expect if I put more effort into it I would eventually locate a source, however that wasn't my exercise so much as to establish the degree of difficulty of sourcing parts.

I really don't want to detract from what is otherwise a quality and particularly interesting publication but if I didn't point out the pitfalls above then I would be misleading you and most certainly not doing my job. I'm not about putting you off the book just making you aware of potential difficulties you face, particularly if you are new to this kind of thing. Me, I've got over 40 years experience behind me and know better.


I really like this book because it covers for me anyway, so much new ground.

"One of the hottest fields in electronics technologies today, optoelectronics is rich in possibilities and potential. This practical guide to optical circuits - including fiber optics and lasers - presents a collection of state-of-the-art experiments and projects for the student, technician, and hobbyist" - from the back cover.

I fully agree with that statement, the book comprises 12 Chapters:

My long experience, particularly from email feed back from my site visitors, tells me that a great number of people are enthusiastically interested in these areas. This is the reason I requested this title for review.

The basics of "sources of light" as well as "light sources and detectors" did add somewhat to my knowledge. It was when I arrived at Chapter 2 that I went into a steep learning curve. Possibly people keen on photography and the like wouldn't be quite so surprised. The Chapter on Optocouplers didn't hold any surprises for me but I think the "do-it-yourself" optocouplers are absolutely brilliant. Obvious and plain commonsense, why didn't I think of it?

"Optocouplers and optointerfacing" presents a great many circuits for any number of purposes and the standouts (from email feedback) would have to be the TTL - to - RS-232 interface, RS-232 infrared data transmission system and, a high speed RS-232 infrared computer interface. In the latter project we are told the CS8130 IR transceiver chip is manufactured by Crystal Semiconductor, thankfully, but no mention about the TSHA5502 IR led diodes.

In later Chapters we get to "wireless security systems" another source of email feedback. The schematics are quite clear, contain comprehensive parts lists and include manufacturers of unusual parts. I didn't check the degree of ease or difficulty of sourcing these parts but I note that light dependent resistors and the phototransistor are manufactured by Vactec. They are not mentioned in the appendix of "of sources and vendors".

Later chapters in my opinion only get better and better provided you have an interest in these areas.


My Rating?:  my star rating

It is a well written book with a lot of topical projects and schematics galore. I realise I've harped on the subject of sourcing parts, possibly quite unfairly so but, if you can't get the bits 'n pieces what's the use? Then again a fairer person may well say, "hey this is leading edge technology, you obviously aren't going to get your parts at the corner store, they need to be sourced from specialist suppliers". That is indeed true, however I would have been much happier if the author had said "Part No. ABC789 is available from XYZ Company in small quantities".

Would I buy the book knowing the limitations above? Yes, because in this area it is always a problem of parts and above all, the projects are extremely interesting if not downright exciting. You would need some previous experience, this is not for the novice.


general book picture

I can only tell you what I think of this book in a hopefully unbiased fashion. To buy or not to buy is of course your personal decision.

I think it represents excellent value for money to experienced hobbyists, professionals and technicians who are prepared to put in some hard yards. Comes highly recommended from me, and with very good reason.

In the book stores look for OPTOELECTRONICS, FIBER OPTICS, and Laser Cookbook by Thomas Petruzzellis - mine was the paperback edition. ISBN 0070498407

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Created 7th January, 2002

Updated 5th February, 2002