16 March 2015 Compact optical gimbal as a conformal beam director for large field-of-regard lasercom applications
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Laser communication offers advantages over traditional RF communication, including reduced size, weight, and power, higher data rates, and resistance to jamming. However, existing beam directors used for large field-of-regard lasercom terminals have limitations. Traditional gimbals require either domes or large conformal windows to achieve large fields of regard. Risley prism-based beam directors have temperature- and wavelength-dependent pointing necessitating tight temperature control and pointing correction techniques. Other methods, like liquid crystal optical phased array beam directors, have low transmittance and low technology readiness levels (TRLs). This paper presents a detailed design and preliminary performance results of a prototype Compact Optical Gimbal (COG) beam director that provides a 2 inch beam over a +/- 65o field-of-regard through a small (~12 inch) flat window. The COG differs from the traditional gimbal in that it includes three-axis steering with off-axis elevation and dither control, and a folded refractive afocal telescope incorporated into the body of the gimbal to minimize size. The COG’s optical system does not have the pointing challenges characteristic of Risley prisms, and it utilizes high TRL components, including many commercial off-theshelf parts, to simplify implementation. The compact size and performance support a variety of beam steering applications and platforms.
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Jessica E. Kesner, Jessica E. Kesner, Keith M. Hinrichs, Keith M. Hinrichs, Lawrence E. Narkewich, Lawrence E. Narkewich, Timothy Stephens, Timothy Stephens, "Compact optical gimbal as a conformal beam director for large field-of-regard lasercom applications", Proc. SPIE 9354, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII, 93540K (16 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2084555; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2084555

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