Archive for category books we like

Radiometry explained by NIST

The measurement of light is complicated by a variety of units and concepts that are not used in other fields. For example, the ‘light level’ could be measured in units appropriate to the sensitivity of our eyes (lux), or by the power level (Watts) – but that’s confounded by the wavelength (nano-meters, but sometimes Angstroms) and you need to think in steradians, etendue must be conserved … you get the idea.

We’ve written about some of these issues in earlier posts, but this is one big, complete reference manual – a kind of ‘everything you wanted to know about light, but were afraid to ask’ – and it’s from NIST. They call it a ‘Self-Study Manual’ and it’s a clearly written tutorial on optical radiometry.

And it’s a free download. Enjoy. The test is Tuesday.

link to NIST Self Study Manual on Optical Radiation

The official title is The Self-Study Manual on Optical Radiation Measurements, edited by Fred Nicodemus

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Quantization noise

We notice the assertion that A/D converter quantization noise is equal to ADU/SQRT(12), where ADU is the quantization unit or LSB. We saw this in Hobbs’ excellent book Building Electro-Optical Systems, Making It All Work.

So, we decided to derive this. Took us a while to get the ‘trick’, and to remember how to perform calculus, to get that pesky root-mean-squared function.

Think of the quatization error as a sawtooth function that repeats. Then work out the RMS noise of that sawtooth wave (it happens to be the same as a triangle wave). And, yes, it does work out to that value.

Now the next part is Hobbs’ assertion that this quantization noise is not a Gaussian distribution. Get to work.

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Radiometric Measurements

It’s easy to confuse the units of LED light output. Steradians, luminous intensity, etc.

Here’s a link to an application note that explains these well, written by C. Richard Duda of UDT (now part of OSI Inc.).  Apertures, intentional and otherwise, are discussed, along with typical test configurations.

Link to pdf of application note titled Radiometripdf of Radiometric and

Please tell us if the link gets broken!

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Actinica Book List

Ok, we have a book problem.

Both of us waay like good engineering books. A good explanation, or a great

graph that sums up why that camera ‘sees’ differently than my eyes, etc.

Since we’re always stumbling on more good books, this list will grow.

Drop by later see what’s new.

Here’s some of the books we like, as a pdf file here,


and here’s some more books we like:

  • the Feynman Lectures on Physics, a 3 volume set. Here’s a guy who can explain anything well. Like how sine, cosine and the magic number e all relate to the imaginary number i (square root of -1). He also has a great description of how a ’50 Ohm’ transmission line acts like ’50 Ohms’ no matter how long it is. For a really great puzzle – read his description of how charging a capacitor really involves magnetic fields outside the cap’s plates.

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