Optical communications experiments at 6328 Å, comparing the fading characteristics of coherent and noncoherent optical detection, have been performed over a 1-km real atmospheric path in different weather conditions. The results show that fading is less severe for noncoherent detection and that the fading characteristic for both types vary significantly with weather conditions. In addition, the similarity of optical FM to rf FM is demonstrated. The measurements were performed using a remote laser transmitter and an optical superheterodyne receiver operating simultaneously in both a coherent and noncoherent detection mode. The receiver, tunable over a frequency range of 1 GHz at the IF difference frequency of 30 MHz, has automatic frequency control and also uses a precision angle tracking servo to maintain receiver spatial alignment with a remote transmitter. The angle and frequency tracking capability permit operation between moving transmitter and receiver terminals.
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