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What is a Transceiver?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A transceiver or transmitter/receiver is a device which combines transmission and reception capability on shared circuitry. There are a number of different types of transceivers designed for an assortment of uses, and the transceiver is the cornerstone of wireless communication. One common example of a transceiver is a cellular phone, which is capable of sending and receiving data, unlike a basic radio, which can only receive signals.

Transceivers can be divided into two rough categories: full and half duplex. In a full duplex transceiver, the device can transmit and receive at the same time. Cell phones are, again, an excellent example of a full duplex transceiver, as both parties can talk at once. By contrast, a half duplex transceiver silences one party while the other transmits. Many radio systems operate on a half duplex method, which is why people signal when they are going “out,” alerting the other user to the fact that the frequency is open for transmission.

Some transceivers are designed to be portable. Avalanche transceivers attached to the gear of skiers, snowshoers, and other people who engage in winter sports are an example of a portable transceiver. Others are stationary, like the large communications systems used in ships and satellites. The bonus of portability is that the transceiver is easy to handle and move as needed, but the disadvantage is that the device may be weak, with a limited range which can become problematic at times.

A number of factors can influence the utility of a transceiver, determining which frequencies it can use, and how far it can transmit. Satellites can utilize a wide range of frequencies and transmit across a very great distance, while a simple police radio may be limited to city limits. The more high powered a transceiver is, the more expensive it is, and also the larger it tends to be.

Transceivers can handle analog or digital signals, and in some cases, both. In regions where digital coverage is spotty, a transceiver may be equipped for analog to ensure that there will be no loss of signal. The ability to receive both can drive up the cost of the transceiver, due to the need to bundle in additional circuitry. However, mixed analog/digital devices can be extremely useful for people who cannot rely on digital coverage, especially in regions with a digital cliff, an abrupt drop of digital signals which can be quite a nuisance for people using mobile devices.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By SushiChamp — On Jun 28, 2011

@m3g4n – Frances2 has a very good idea, but why not forget the cables and just use the ham radios? Ham radio transceivers can broadcast and receive transmissions for over 50 miles, and some can let you talk with people from the other side of the planet. In my opinion, ham radio is the perfect solution for you.

For a small broadcasting radius (10 miles or fewer), tune all your radios to the 440 MHz band or anywhere from 144 to 148 MHz (each radio must be on the exact same frequency). On a really big piece of land, with no other houses nearby, those frequencies will let you and your sister communicate, without broadcasting your private conversations all over the place.

But, ham radio isn’t secure or private, so don’t broadcast any personal information over the airwaves, just in case.

By Frances2 — On Jun 26, 2011

@m3g4n - Wow, you’re ambitious! I just started studying this stuff in college, so maybe I can help you out. It’s possible to achieve what you’re planning, but it’ll be expensive and complicated. Fiber optic cables transmit using light, and don’t capture radio signals. In order to do any wireless communication with them, you’ll have to use an optical transmitter, an optical receiver, and the cable.

For starters, connect the transmitter to one end of the cable, and the receiver to the other end. Do this for every location you want to communicate with.

You’ll also need to hook an antenna up to the fiber transmitter, unless your transmitter also broadcasts the data coming from the wire. Most don’t. Attach an antenna to the receiver as well, if it is the type that doesn’t broadcast.

Next, you need some communication devices. I suggest a few ham radios. Simply buy a few, then set the radios, and fiber optic receivers and transmitters to the same radio frequency, and you should be all set.

By the way, you can run a fiber optic cable for up to 6 miles, so it would be easier to just hardwire your lot instead.

By m3g4n — On Jun 24, 2011

Does anyone know if a fiber optic transceiver is any good? I know fiber optic cables - like for Internet use - are really fast, but are they any good for transceivers in communication systems?

I want to build a wireless voice network for my house. We have a huge lot and I want to be able to talk to my sister when she’s by the river without having to use a cell phone.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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