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Born from building and tearing down a bunch of fibre for CCC event networks: a pocket tool to help quickly troubleshoot our 10GE connections, and get us out of random "square peg, round hole" problems. Passive single-port adapters that can read diagnostic information from optical transceivers are common and easy, but how about something with 4 ports and active circuitry?
Well, electrons don't really like being pushed around at GHz frequencies, start clinging to edges and corners, and turn around and go back the way they came when that's the easier path… HF circuit design has a well-earned aura of respect. One of the well-known reference books is in fact titled "High Speed Digital Design: A Handbook of Black Magic" and assumes you have a fancy (= expensive) electronics lab with nice gear.
Let's, uh, just ignore all that and see the result of building high-speed (10GE - 10.3125Gbaud, 5.16GHz) electronics with just basic microcontroller experience!
NB: this talk will be incredibly boring (or even annoying?) to anyone with actual HF design experience. And I cannot teach you how to do it *correctly* either 😅