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Digital Communications


In the design of large and complex digital systems, it is often necessary to have one device communicate digital information to and from other devices. One advantage of digital information is that it tends to be far more resistant to transmitted and interpreted errors than information symbolized in an analog medium. This accounts for the clarity of digitally-encoded telephone connections, compact audio disks, and for much of the enthusiasm in the engineering community for digital communications technology. However, digital communication has its own unique pitfalls, and there are multitudes of different and incompatible ways in which it can be sent. Hopefully, this chapter will enlighten you as to the basics of digital communication, its advantages, disadvantages, and practical considerations.

Suppose we are given the task of remotely monitoring the level of a water storage tank. Our job is to design a system to measure the level of water in the tank and send this information to a distant location so that other people may monitor it. Measuring the tank's level is quite easy, and can be accomplished with a number of different types of instruments, such as float switches, pressure transmitters, ultrasonic level detectors, capacitance probes, strain gauges, or radar level detectors.



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