Course Title: Transmission Lines and Optical Fibres

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Transmission Lines and Optical Fibres

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


125H Electrical & Computer Engineering


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010

Course Coordinator: Assoc. Prof. James Scott

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3248

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 12.8.04

Course Coordinator Availability: See notice on office door.

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Students are required to have successfully completed Year 1 Engineering Methods, Year 1 Circuit Theory or equivalent prior study.

Students are expected to be familiar with DC circuit analysis, transient circuit analysis and AC steady-state circuit analysis.

Required mathematical skills include complex numbers and differential calculus.

Course Description

Transmission Lines and Optical Fibres introduces students to wave propagation behaviour in Communication System channels and circuits. The channel is the physical medium over which the information is transferred from the transmitter to the receiver, and its characteristics have a major impact on the overall performance of the Communication System. Typical examples of channels are optical fibres, coaxial cables and other transmission lines, the air and conductor tracks on printed circuit boards.

This course will deal with the study of wave propagation in transmission lines and will provide an introduction to wave propagation behaviour in optical fibres. The study of the propagation of electromagnetic waves in air and the advanced analysis of optical fibres is covered in the course RF & Photonic Engineering 2 which is normally taken in 3rd year.

A major feature of this course is the study of circuit conditions where the time taken for a signal to traverse the circuit is significant compared with the characteristics of the signal. Under these conditions, the circuit theory for voltage and current developed in earlier studies is found to lead to erroneous results, so a new theory based on wave propagation is developed. This provides a natural foundation for the study of electromagnetic waves in later parts of the program. It also builds on the concepts of waves and light propagation studied in 1st year Physics for Engineers.

Students are introduced to concepts such as the finite velocity of propagation of electrical and optical signals, reflections from discontinuities, and steady state phenomena such as wavelength, impedance transformation and the transfer of power. Optical fibre characteristics such as attenuation, and dispersion are also studied and their effect on system bandwidth, rise time and maximum bit rate are determined.

The laboratory program is closely integrated with lectures and students will use practical measurements to validate the accuracy of the mathematical models developed in lectures. The laboratories also provide the opportunity for students to further develop their teamwork and group interaction skills. Written communication skills are developed through written laboratory reports. Tutorials are used to provide students with experience in problem solving.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The course will develop the following capabilities.

1. Technical Competence
     a. Perform a range of engineering analysis techniques
     b. Analyse and interpret experimental and laboratory data
     c. Conduct experiments
     d. Apply engineering analysis approaches to tasks
     e. Use mathematical models and computer simulations to simulate technical problems
     f. Apply industry based computer software packages to problems in Communication Engineering

2. Problem Solving and Decision Making
     a. Solve Communication Engineering problems
     b. Use a range of engineering modeling and analysis tools
     c. Use data and information to support decision making 
     d. Relate results from computer programs and simulations to the solution of technical problems

3. Design skills
     a. Design impedance matching circuits using transmission lines

4. Team work and leadership
     a. Work in a team
     b. Define goals and normal behaviours in a team
     c. Provide constructive feedback to team members
     d. Resolve conflict in a team

5. Communication
     a. Communicate effectively across all modes: listen, speak, write and draw
     b. Communicate results qualitatively, quantitatively, graphically, electronically, textually
     c. Communicate processes of thinking and reflection
     d. Share knowledge with colleagues and fellow workers in an effective way

6. Lifelong learning
     a. Develop a willingness and capacity to engage in lifelong learning 
     b. Engage in self directed learning
     c. Apply principles of life long learning to any new task
     d. Reflect on experience
     e. Access a wide range of resources

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

1. Decide if wave analysis is necessary based on sound engineering principles in a range of practical signal transmission situations.
2. Compute the velocity of propagation of electrical energy travelling on a transmission line.
3. Analyse and measure transient effects on lossless transmission lines having resistive and/or reactive terminations.
4. Analyse and measure AC steady state phenomena on transmission lines such as standing wave patterns, impedance transformation, reflection coefficient and propagation constant.
5. Analyse and design impedance matching networks.
6. Analyse power flow on transmission lines under AC steady state excitation.
7. Analyse and measure AC steady state propagation modes on coupled transmission lines.
8. Analyse signal propagation on optical fibres using ray optic techniques.
9. Understand, model and analyse optical fibre characteristics including attenuation and dispersion and determine bandwidth, rise time and maximum bit rate.

Overview of Learning Activities

The majority of the learning is expected to take place during the group laboratory investigative project work.

The lecture and tutorial programs are designed to support this project activity.

Overview of Learning Resources

Prescribed text(s).
Lecture notes.
Problem sheets.
Laboratory guide.
Computer-aided design software.
Test equipment.

Overview of Assessment

The assessment tasks are:

1. Mid-semester written test
2. Written examination
3. Laboratory project reports

The mid-semester test and written examination provide individual assessment of a student’s technical competence in the topics studied, skills in problem solving and decision making and design skills.

The laboratory reports provide practice and feedback on these skills, and also assess the student’s team work and leadership skills, communication skills and lifelong learning skills.