This may not be a total fit for the electrical engineering exchange, but its a pretty specific hardware related technical question.

I am interested in multiplexing visible light optical fiber signals. It would actually be endoscopes (not for medical use) that are multiplexed back to a single camera. Each endoscope would get a chance to relay an analog image back to the camera before the next one.

Are there such switches in existence? When I search for optical switches, the results are not surprisingly all about digital optical switches.

A method that would work would be a mirror that is driven by a stepper motor to align the path of a single endoscope

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably easier (and cheaper!) to put a camera on each endoscope and multiplex the resulting video signals. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Sep 23 '12 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I second Mr Tweed's comment. Cameras of suitable capability for this are so plentiful and cheap these days that this should be the method of choice. Goodness - One wouldn't even need to multiplex video signals. Use USB cameras instead and "mux" them via a USB hub to a PC to control the camera sequencing and video snapshot storage. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Karas Sep 23 '12 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ No. Expense of equipment is not a factor. Total power consumption is. I cannot use a usb camera. We use a single IP camera which is tethered to a industrial grade modem. Fibre is used to get into explosive environments. \$\endgroup\$ – michael Sep 26 '12 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you offer more details on the optical source specs and destination specs? A multiple fiber Mux alignment with inversion would seem to be difficult although there are rotating laser reflectors, I believe they are mounted on granite for accuracy. \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Oct 24 '12 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is it not possible to use standard coaxial video cable? How does fiber reduce the risk of EOS sparks? \$\endgroup\$ – Tony Stewart EE75 Oct 24 '12 at 18:39

Unless your application requires a very specialized (i.e. expensive) CCD, @Dave's answer regarding one camera per fiber and elextrical/software multiplexing is likely the ideal solution.

Another approach would be to use a faceted panospheric mirror (one facet per endoscope) to allow a single image sensor to view all endoscopes simultaneously without the need for moving parts or shutters, though with attendant distortion and resolution issues.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The degradation in resolution is a serious problem. \$\endgroup\$ – michael Sep 26 '12 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason that one camera per fiber won't work? If cost isn't an issue, use multiple IP cameras and simply enable/disable them via TCP/IP to selectively return images from each endoscope while managing to your upstream bandwidth limitations. \$\endgroup\$ – HikeOnPast Sep 27 '12 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ True, but its difficult to manage power (easier to have one on all the time). Also, total space is an issue. \$\endgroup\$ – michael Sep 27 '12 at 19:20

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