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Hands-On Advanced Fiber Optic Course

You will learn to specify, terminate, install, test and troubleshoot fiber optics

Introduction: Understand how fiber optic works Guided light in fibers Fiber Specifications (geometry, attenuation, bandwidth) How fiber optic links work (transmitter, receiver, power budget) Networks (telecom, data, CATV, etc.)


FO components: Fiber Specification Singlemode/Multimode Fiber Optic Cable Types Fiber Optic Connector Splices Fusion/Mechanical Cleaving Hardware Overview Installation: Safety considerations and Code compliance Reading and understanding prints and specs Planning the installation Pulling cable Documentation Testing: Continuity and tracing Visual inspection of connectors and bare fiber Loss with power meter and source OTDR techniques (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer) Correllation of OTDR and power meter/source loss tests Troubleshooting Standards: Component selection Testing Networks Installation Terms and Definitions

Perform your own Connector Termination (Hands on training): Assembly instruction Outer jacket removal Body fiber bonding Fiber cutting / cleaving Curing connector / Oven Self curing adhesive Epoxy removing (Air polish) Polishing Testing with Interferometer


INTRODUCTION Since the beginning of time we have learned to use light to our advantage, Today we are taking our knowledge of light to new heights in the field of fiber optics. Allow me to welcome you! Those of us that are involved in the world of communications are impressed with the stories of what fiber optics can do. The value in this course is you will see and learn for yourself with our textbook and hands on training what fiber optics is about. In brief the topics that will be covered in this course are as follows How fiber works, how fiber optic links work, networks, fiber optic components, installations, testing, standards, and equipment review. Warning! You might become a little frustrated at first since unprotected glass fibers are very small and fragile. But like those before you, you will conquer your fears of working with such a fragile material and have a great sense of accomplishment by the end of the course. You will be given a handbook to use during the course, and to keep for future reference. Also at the end of the course you will be given a course evaluation form and a certificate of completion from Qpc fiber optic. This course meets the training requirements set by The Fiber Optic Association, Which enables you to take The F.O.A. Certified Fiber Optic Technicians Test. QPC FIBER OPTIC strongly encourages you to become a member of and certified by the F.O.A. Please see Mr. Henning Kuehne the course instructor for more information. Now lets get down to the business of fiber optics. I think its Important to first mention that a little understanding of the METRIC world will carry you a long way in fiber optics. The following chart will help us to get started. TERM Kilometer Meter Millimeter Micron Nanometer

SYMBOL Km M mm m nm

U.S. EQUIVALENT 3281 Ft. or 5/8 mile 39.37 in. 0.039 in.


1000M in a Km 1000mm in M 1000m in mm 1000nm in m

HOW FIBER WORKS HISTORY Optical communication has been around as long as fire. French engineer Claude Chappe devised the first telegraph, in the 1790s; it was an optical telegraph. The operators were in towers and relayed signals from hilltop to hilltop by moving semaphore arms. In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell invented the photophone. Bell would speak into a microphone, which would cause a mirror to vibrate. The suns light would strike the mirror, and the vibration of the mirror would transmit the light across an open distance of about 200 meters. The receivers mirror would receive the light and cause a selenium crystal to vibrate, and the noise would come out on the other end. Although it had a few drawbacks; it did not work well at night, in the rain, or someone walked between the signal and the receiver. More recently around the 1930s, Norman R. French an engineer employed by the American Telephone & Telegraph Corp., patented the idea of communicating via light sent through pipes. Shortly there after in the 1950s, Brian O Brian, Sr., in the U.S. and Harry Hopkins and Narinder Kapany in England started looking for ways to guide light. The key concept was a two -layer fiber consisting of a core and a cladding. Then in 1975 Corning produced the first commercial optical fiber, In 1978 the first multimode fiber was developed, and later on in 1982 the introduction of singlemode fiber.


The infamous ST connector was introduced by AT&T in 1985.

In 1992 the IEC & TIA standardized the SC connector. More recently in 1995 Pirelli Cable Corporation announced the development of a new amplifier that increases the number of simultaneous telephone conversations over a single fiber to 120,000.

THEORY Now for a little theory, lets begin by first describing the fiber construction. There are glass fibers and plastic fibers of many sizes, which we will discuss shortly. The plastic fibers are not used as much as glass fibers are for the communications industry. Lets focus on the glass fibers commonly used today.

A glass fiber is made up of a core, which is where the communication signal of light is transferred; the core can be of different sizes, depending on the specific mode for which its to be used. We will discuss the two modes used today, multi-mode cores commonly used are 50 (micron), 62.5 and single-mode cores commonly used are 8.3, 9 in diameter.

THEORY The core is surrounded by cladding which is also glass, the cladding outside diameter for both multimode and singlemode fibers is 125 the core and cladding are manufactured as one, by a method known as the vapor disposition process. To put these sizes into perspective, compare them to a human hair, which is approximately 70 m or 0.003 inch.


GUIDED LIGHT IN FIB ERS (Refraction) The core of a fiber has a refractive index, which is a measurement of how well the signal traveling in the core internally reflects at the core-cladding boundary. The refractive index of the core is greater than that of the cladding. The index of refraction (IOR) is a way of measuring the speed of light in a material. Light travels fastest in a vacuum. Index of Refraction is calculated by dividing the speed of light in a vacuum by the speed of light in some other medium.

The index of Refraction of a vacuum by definition has a value of 1. The typical value for the cladding of an optical fiber is 1.46. The core value is 1.48. GUIDED LIGHT IN FIBERS (Refraction)

Light must be piped into a fiber within a certain angle in order to be guided correctly down its path. Now the angle, which a fiber will accept light, really depends on the refractive indexes of both the core and cladding.

The core and cladding difference in the refractive index does not need to be very great, in practice its only about 1%. If the light is piped into the core at an angle of 8 degrees or less and reaches the core cladding boundary, the light signal should remain confined in the core thus resulting in good transmission.

Light signals do not travel randomly, they must be channeled into a mode. Modes are the possible paths for the light signal to be piped down the fibers core, this can be one mode or as many as tens of thousands of modes. The more modes in a fiber means lower bandwidth due to dispersion. Dispersion is when the light signal travels down the fiber core it will spread out in time as it travels. The two principal types of dispersion are modal dispersion and material dispersion. Different path lengths followed by the light signals as they are piped down the fiber cause modal dispersion. Some signals follow a more direct route than others do. Material dispersion is caused by different wavelengths of light signals at different speeds. The lower the wavelength of the light signals the lower the material dispersion.

GEOMETRY Fibers geometry is very important in the success of light signal transmission, which can be translated to the tighter the geometry the lower the light signal loss will be at a connection. Proper fiber alignment in a connection must be as close as possible so that the light signal from the first fiber is efficiently transferred to the second fiber. The fibers cladding outer diameter is commonly used as a guide to align the fibers core.

ATTENUATION Attenuation is the loss of power. During transmission light signals lose some of their energy. The attenuation is specified in dB/km (decibels per kilometer). For the

commercial fibers, attenuation ranges from approximately 0.5 dB/km for singlemode fiber of 8.3 m core size at the 1300nm wavelength. Multimode fiber attenuation ranges from approximately 3.75 dB/km for the multimode fiber of 62.5m core size at the 850nm wavelength. Attenuation can vary with the wavelength of the light signal. Here are the three common low loss wavelength windows 850nm, 1300nm, 1550nm. Currently the 850nm wavelength is the most commonly used due to the fact that the 850nm devices are inexpensive. The 1300nm -wavelength window offers lower loss with a slight increase in cost for LEDs (light emitting diode). The 1550nm wavelength window is of even lower loss, but still increasingly more expensive than the two previously mentioned wavelength windows. The light source required for the 1550nm wavelength is a laser source. EXTRINSIC ATTENUATION The second category of attenuation is extrinsic attenuation. Extrinsic attenuation can be caused by two external mechanisms: macrobending or microbending. Both cause a reduction of optical power.

MACROBENDING If a bend is imposed on an optical fiber, strain is placed on the fiber along the region that is bent. As a result, light traveling in the core can refract out, and loss accurse.


The rule of thump for minimum bend radius is 1 for bare, single-mode fiber; 10 times the cables autside diameter (O.D.) for non-armored cable; and 15 times the cables O.D. for armored cable. MICROBENDING The second extrinsic cause of attenuation is a microbend. This is a small-scale distortion, generally indicative of pressure on fiber cable. Microbending will cause a reduction of optical power in the glass.

BANDWIDTH Bandwidth is the information carrying capacity of a multimode fiber normally specified in units of MhzKm. this is called the bandwidth distance product or, more commonly bandwidth. The amount of information that can be transmitted over any medium changes according to distance.

System bandwidth is measured in megahertz (MHz) at one Km. When a systems bandwidth bis 200 MHz-Km, it means that 200 million pulses of light per second will travel down 1 Km of fiber.


DISPERSION This refers to the spreading, or broadening of a pulse of light that occurs over distance as the pulse travels through the fiber. Eventually, pulses broaden to the point where they cannot be distinguished from each other, causing what is known as bit errors, (BER) bit error rate is the fraction of data bits transmitted that are received in error.


There are two types of dispersion: chromatic dispersion and modal dispersion. Modal dispersion is often referred to as multimode bandwidth. Chromatic dispersion is the spreading of the pulses of light due to the different wavelengths traveling at different speeds down the fiber. (All light sources such as LEDs and lasers put out a range of wavelengths). If the pulses spread out to much, they will start to overlap and the light signal receiver cannot tell pulse from another, thats how bit errors can occur and the data rate of transmission is limited. Chromatic dispersion can be minimized by using a source with a narrow spectral width (a laser light source typically has a narrower spectral width than an LED light source). Modal dispersion can also limit the data transmission rate in multimode fibers. In a multimode fiber there are many different modes within the same pulse of light, (singlemode only allows one mode or ray of light to travel down the fiber). Light traveling in different paths takes different amounts of time to travel down the fiber, this is what causes the pulse to spread out.


TRANSMITTERS An optical transmitter generates the signal piped through the optical fiber cable. There are many types, from inexpensive LEDs that are directly driven by the signal source to the sophisticated expensive semiconductor lasers.

A fiber optic system can transmit analog signals (a signal that varies continuously), Analog signals have frequency and bandwidth measured in hertz. And digital signals (Encoded as a signal in discreet levels, typically binary 1s and 0s). In practice, transmitters are designed for one or the other type of modulation being digital or analog. Digital signals handle distortion better than analog signals. Digital systems can handle distortion better because they need to only detect the presence or absence of a pulse and not its shape. A digital transmission demands faster response than analog to follow the rapid rise of signals. In breaking the digital signal down into its component frequencies will show that the sharp edge of a digital pulse is made up of high frequencies. As mentioned before the digital system need only to pick up the difference of off and on, so the sharp edges can be somewhat distorted without causing bit errors. Analog systems on the other hand have some trouble with distortion because the output should be a linear reproduction of the input waveform. Thus the analog system must accurately reproduce the input signals. Speed is not as crucial as in the digital systems.


With these differences between digital and analog transmitters simply means they should use different designs. The speed of a transmitter is measured in two ways, bandwidth for the analog signals and data rate for digital signals. Analog bandwidth is defined as the modulation frequency where the modulated signal amplitude drops 3dB below the low frequency modulated signal (3dB is approximately equal to a 50% loss in signal transmission). The digital data rate is the maximum number of bits per second that can be transmitted with a bit error rates below a specified level. In short the basic understanding of a transmitter should be that it is an electronic component that converts electronic information into an optical signal for transmission via fiber optic cabling.

RECEIVERS The receiver is just as important to the fiber optic syste m as the light source or transmitter, and the fiber optic cable. Fiber optic receivers come in many varieties from packaged photo detectors to hi-tech systems that process a weak signal to allow accurate, high speed transmission. As with transmitters the receivers also have some important performance considerations for discussion. Lets start with the basic functional elements of a receiver. First the detector, to convert the incoming optically transmitted signal into an electrical form. Then the amplification stages, to amplify the received signal and convert it to form ready for processing. And lastly demodulation or decision circuits, to reproduce the original electronic signal. Now for some digital and analog receiver similarities, they both start with a detector. The differences are in the demodulation or decision circuits, which is where the signal is converted into final form for output. Keeping in mind that currently the world is predominantly analog. In practice when a digital signal reaches a detector it most likely has varied in signal levels, thus it must be

converted into electrical form and amplified as an analog signal so the decision circuits can convert the signal back to digital form. Which would define why you would find an analog receiver at the front of a digital receiver. In short a fiber optic receiver should be understood as an electronic component that converts an optical signal back into an electrical signal after transmission via a fiber cable.

POWER BUDGET Power budgeting is usually the fist item on the list in designing a fiber optic system that will deliver enough power from the transmitter to drive the receiver at the desired bit error rate or signal to noise ratio. In terms of power there is peak power which is about twice that of average power. A good rule of thumb is to insure that transmitter output and the receiver-input sensitivity are specified in the same type of power. Power budgets are calculated in relative units of dB decibels. Margin is the last part in the power budget formula, which is the allowance for attenuation in addition to the loss explicitly accounted for in the systems design. Now your power budget formula should look like this: TRANSMITTER OUTPUT - RECEIVER INPUT = LOSSES + MARGIN All losses in a system must be considered, here is a list of possible loss points for consideration1. The loss in transferring light from the transmitter into the fiber cable. This occurs from a larger emitting area from the transmitter to the fibers core, And emitted light outside the fiber acceptance angle. Test equipment - Fiber optic power meter. 2. The connector loss. A connector should have a typical loss of about 0.5dB, but differs due to type, Style, and manufacturer. Test equipment - OLTS (optical loss test set), Microscope. 3. The splice loss.

With the advancements in todays technology a splice loss can be as low as 0.0dB, dependent on splice type (Fusion or Mechanical), the technicians hand, and the manufacturer of the splice equipment. Test equipment - OLTS, OTDR (optical time domain reflectometer). 4. The coupler loss. Coupler loss occurs by the coupling of two connectors. Again style, type, and manufacturer are factors. Test equipment - OLTS, OTDR. POWER BUDGET 5. The fiber cable loss. This loss usually occurs as the light signal travels down the fiber, and is measured by multiplying the attenuation by the transmission distance, (in dB per km). Test equipment - OLTS, OTDR. 6. The fiber cable to the receiver coupling loss. This loss is usually very low due to the receiver usually having a larger detector and a larger signal acceptance angle than that of the fiber core. Test equipment - OLTS. In short adding up your losses and adding the system margin to get the required receiver sensitivity can do the system power budget analysis. Heres a quick example LED power into fiber -15.0 dBm Connector pairs (5 @ 0.6 dB) -3.0 dB Fiber loss (200m @ 2.5 dB/km) -.5 dB -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This sum is the power at receiver -18.5 dB -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------System margin -10.0 dB -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Required receiver sensitivity -28.5dBm There are a lot of types of equipment, and manufacturers on the market today and it have proven worthwhile to do some research and compare equipment manufacturers.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS Heres a little insight on fiber optics in the telecommunication world. The first fiber optic telephone link was installed in 1976, in the windy city of Chicago. Today if you make a long distance call its most likely going via a fiber optic cable since fiber has replaced over 90% of all long distance voice circuits.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS The cost of a fiber optic system is increasingly becoming more inexpensive, also fibers high bandwidth capability and its distance advantage over copper makes fiber more attractive every day.


As the telecommunication industry becomes more familiar with how to work with fiber it becomes quicker to install not to mention that things like splice labor, reliability, material costs, are all becoming more advantageous when using fiber. Here are some tasty tidbits for comparison: 2 multimode fibers, one for transmit and one for receives requires repeater spacing over 11miles, and for singlemode over 60 miles. Where a copper wires pair requires repeater spacing of 1 mile. And further more that pair of fibers can carry more voices than over 1000 copper wire pairs. Also fiber weighs in at a fit 176 lbs. per km, and copper at the help Ive fallen and cant get up weight of 16,000 lbs. per km. O.K. enough copper abuse. Meanwhile back at the ranch, 50% of local communications are on fiber. The current hurdles are in FTTC (fiber to the curb), and FTTH (fiber to the home) but only due to cost effectiveness, which we know in time will become affordable. A standard network telco industry is the SONET (synchronous optical network), it would allow for compatibility between manufacturer transmission equipment, however the standards have been a little slow in detailed development. Overseas an equivalent to SONET known as SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) is being used for fiber systems.

DATA COMMUNICATIONS In the world of data communications fiber has done wonders where wire links would not work due to EMI (electromagnetic interference). The same principal of fiber immunity to EMI makes fiber more attractive because its high security rate, it is impossible to extract transmissions from fiber, If James bond cant anybody can. Fiber cables which are dielectric (non-metallic therefore nonconductive) are also immune to power surges from lightning which we all know can damage expensive, and sensitive electronic equipment. Fibers are the solution to today and tomorrow are data transmission growing needs for higher speeds over longer distances. Also graphic computer inte rfaces require much more data than text based systems, leading to the demand for faster transmission rates, and yes fiber will be there. Here is a small case in point between digital data links and networks, a digital data link connects two points, and a network links multiple points. There is a crucial distinction between the two. One is optical signals cannot be divided like electrical ones which are delivered as voltage and can be tapped while drawing minimal current. Optical signals are delivered as power which must be divided among the terminals, limiting the number of terminals a single optical source can drive. Also copper can pick up signals directly from an electronic device, where as a fiber optic system needs an interface to convert an electrical signal to an optical one. In short, more terminals mean more converters, which means more expense.

CATV CATV ( community antenna television ), this system was designed to send the same signal to the subscriber, where telecom networks make temporary connections that route the voice or data transmission signal between subscribers. A video signal requires more bandwidth than a voice signal, but go only one way. The video signal is sent to the subscriber via a tree formation that branches from what is called the head end. The premium services are sent to the home in a signal form that requires special decoders.

CATV The CATV signal is analog, which matches the input requirements of the existing televisions while making the most of the transmission capacity and trying to keep the costs of conversion down. You might begin to notice that the quality of reception is improving partially due to the fact that a fiber cable has a lower noise level than that of coax cables. Knowing that coax transmitted signals to the home require many repeaters due to the short spacing requirements of copper cables, and the failure of one repeater can shut down the entire link would tell me that this is a job for fiber, from what you have learned wouldnt you agree?. With that in mind CATV developers are working on a new generation of digital cable systems that will support hundreds of channels for your channel surfing pleasure. FIBER As you have learned there are 2 types of fiber classifications that you will continue to hear over and over, again and again, multimode and singlemode. And the common outside diameter of a fiber being 125m. Also to make the right fiber type selection for the job mostly depends on how far the signal must travel before having to be regenerated. Lets begin with the multimode fiber. Multimode implies multi modes, modes being the path that the light rays can follow while traveling down the core of the fiber. A single fiber can support from 1 to over 100,000 modes. The type of light source determines this, core size, operating wavelength, and last but not least the refractive index difference between the core and cladding. And because light reflects at different angles for different modes is why the path lengths of modes are not linearly equal. A light ray that travels straight down the core of a fiber is a low order mode. This ray will arrive at the end of the fiber sooner than the high order modes which enter the core at an angle and reflect down the fibers core, the higher the angle the higher the mode.


FIBER Modes represent a physical path for light to follow, and with variations in the modes you will find that this is the cause of signal distortion. In short modes travel at different speeds, experience different losses, contain a different portion of the light signal energy, and mix or exchange energy. Now lets discuss multimode graded index fiber ( a fiber in which the refractive index changes gradually with distance from the fiber axis, rather than abruptly at the corecladding interface).

Today there is little call for multimode step index fiber. multimode step index now has limited applications. Since the graded index fiber was developed, also it is not necessary to specify graded index fiber when ordering your fiber. The big difference between the two is the rays of light in a multimode step index fiber reach the end at different times which causes distortion, and in multimode graded index fiber the rays arrive at a closer interval which decreases distortion, less distortion means lower BER bit error rate.



A singlemode fiber works much more differently than that of multimode, lets see how. Singlemode fiber as we know has a very small core size, and allows only one direct path for light to travel which gives singlemode fiber less dispersion and BER than multimode fiber. Which results in, you guessed it faster and more information carrying capacity. The bandwidth potential is from 50 to 100 Ghz per/km at the speed of light. However, please keep in mind that singlemode fiber requires a laser source, an LED is insufficient as a light source because of its shotgun approach to coupling light is in angles and lasers are streamlined for small core injection. Lasers operate in the milliwatt range and the LEDs operate in the microwatt range. Singlemode fibers can project good quality signals at distances over 100km and with amplification good quality signals are projected over distances of 500km before regeneration. A single singlemode fiber, due to its high bandwidth can transmit up to 24,192 voice channels over a distance of 35km before regeneration. Singlemode fiber is more sensitive to stress than multimode, the stress factors will be later discussed in the chapter on INSTALLATION.

CABLES A cable is one or more fibers enclosed in a protective jacketing and strength members.


FIBER Cable assemblies or patchcords are cables that have been assembled with connectors at each end, a pigtail is a cable with only one connector on one end of the cable. Cable assemblies are used to connect one active component to another or to a patchpanel, or to link one cable to another. In cable assemblies you will find simplex cables, which are single fiber cables. Duplex cables are two fiber cables, and bundled fibers, which are multiple fibers in a cable.

Bundled fiber cables are known as breakout cables, which are several protected fibers enclosed in their own individual buffer tube or jacketing, so that the individual cables can be routed separately and still be protected.


FIBER There is also a ribbon style cable, which are up to 12 fibers side by side to form a ribbon of fibers. Over 100 fibers can fit into a 1/2 in. square.

I would also like to mention the hybrid and composite cables. A hybrid cable is a multiple of fiber types enclosed in the same jacketing. A composite cable is a mix of both copper and fiber enclosed in the same jacketing.

As we have discussed earlier a basic fiber is protected first with a protective coating, then a buffer tube to house the fiber, the buffer tube is protected by kevlar which acts as a strength member, and lastly a jacket to house the cable elements. With the buffer tubes, they come in two fashions, tight buffered and loose tube. The buffer tubes are extruded over the fiber.


FIBER The loose tube is made so that the fiber will have a high pulling strength, also a gel filling may be put into the tube to protect the fiber against water damage. The loose tube is best for long distance applications and outside plant installations.

The tight buffered tube is best for flexibility and ease of termination, and is mostly used for short distances in indoor applications. Please keep in mind that you can purchase cable in many fashions, all dependent on the type of application. An industry standard has been to recognize an orange cable jacket as multimode, and a yellow cable jacket as singlemode. If the jacket is of another color make sure that the fiber type has been identified. The materials used for the outer jacket of fiber optic cables determines the cable suitability for different environments and how it affects the fibers mechanical and attenuation properties. Lastly how the cable will comply with the NEC (national electrical code) and the UL (underwriters laboratory) requirements. There are several standards bodies in the industry, which we will discuss further in the chapter on installation.


You will most likely find cable jacketing in two forms, zipcord and tightpack. The zipcord is most common in cable assemblies and is meant to split by pulling the two apart and still having a protected pair of fibers. The tightpack cable is meant to house more than one fiber in the same jacket, and is commonly used for breakout cables. Here is a good list of things to consider when deciding what cable to use. 1. present and future bandwidth requirements 2. acceptable attenuation rate 3. length 4. cost of the installation 5. mechanical requirements 6. NEC/UL requirements 7. signal source 8. connectors, terminations 9. cable dimension requirements 10. physical environment 11. existing system compatibility

The NEC has called out six cable types with reference sections, I have listed them for you: OFC OFCP OFCR OFN OFNP OFNR optical fiber conductive optical fiber conductive plenum optical fiber conductive riser optical fiber nonconductive optical fiber nonconductive plenum optical fiber nonconductive riser NEC article 770-6 (A) 770-6 (C) 770-6 (B) 770-6 (A) 770-6 (C) 770-6 (B)

A plenum is a space for handling environmental air. A riser is an opening or shaft through which a cable can pass from floor to floor in a building. There are a lot of different types of connections that can be made with fiber. We will discuss the common connections being used today. Connectors, couplers, attenuators are used to join cable assemblies and connect equipment. As with cable you can order these types of connections in a variety of styles.


CONNECTORS Connectors, come in stainless steel, polymer plastics, or a combination of the two. You can even get them in waterproof styles for those marine applications. Some companies like the connectors in an all-plastic style because their application is sensitive and requires all dielectric (non-metallic and therefore non-conductive) cabling. The common connectors used are the ST, SC, FC, FDDI,. There are others but well stick to these as you will terminate these connectors later in the course. The ST connector is the bayonet style connector that has been a standard since 1985 and was first introduced by AT&T. Its a little different story with the SC connector as its only been around since 1992, it has been a little more difficult to terminate onto fiber but still has some interesting characteristics. First it is usually an all dielectric connector, as its made from polymer plastics, light weight, it can be assembled as a simplex, or a duplex connector. The SC works in a push pull manner to connect or disconnect. Some manufacturers have come out with a SC duplex connector that when terminated onto fiber it can be connected and disconnected as one connector. The nice thing is when terminating the connector you dont have to do both at the same time, which I think would prove to be quite the handful, wouldnt you agree. The FC connector I must say is a very secure type of connector with its threaded housing. Usually found in an all stainless steel fashion. Its also proven to be a very durable connector. FDDI (fiber distributed data interface) Is a snap in snap out dielectric dual connector that is used specifically for the FDDI LAN that uses fiber optic cable as the transmission medium. Now lets talk about the physical characteristics of the connectors. As I mentioned before you will find a variety of fashions that a connector will come in. A connector consists of a ferrule, which holds a fiber in place and aids it in alignment, a ferrule can be of stainless steel, zirconia ceramic, or a combination of ceramic and alloy.


The ferrule can have a number of end face styles, flat, pre-radiused which is known as PC (physical contact) SPC (super physical contact) UPC (ultra physical contact), and APC (angled physical contact). Also the hole size can be from 125m on up. The ferrule is placed in the connector body at the manufacturer, and the connector body can be of metal or plastic. The connector body is placed into the connector housing, some are done at the manufacturer. Keep in mind that the connectors are made with all of the variable characteristics in both multimode and singlemode. The type of application and installation will determine what types of connectors will work best for the job. Couplers, although sometimes called adapters are similar to connectors as their purpose is to join connectors, and come in just as many variations as the connectors. Couplers have a very important role in joining connectors as the fiber in the ferrule must be properly aligned to match the mating connector, to maintain low dB loss. In multimode couplers the ferrule alignment sleeve is made of plastic or beryllium copper. As the mating is more critical in singlemode due to its small core size. It requires a more precision aligned ferrule, which is why the aligning sleeve is constructed from ceramics. An attenuator (an optical element that reduces the intensity of an incoming signal). More simply, especially in singlemode the signal intensity at the receiver can be to bright to the point that the receiver detector cannot distinguish the intended digital or analog signal, this is referred to as overdriving. So the attenuator acts as a pair of sunglasses to enable the receiver detector to read the incoming signal.


Attenuators have a variety of characteristics just as the connectors and couplers. They have some standard dB values, 30, 10, 5, 1, dB. Gapping the fiber within the attenuator is how the specified dB loss is accomplished. Attenuators are also used for testing transmitters and receivers for operation under a maximum specified fiber loss. The first thing to be done in terminating a connector is to prepare the cable, by stripping it to the required dimensions of the connector manufacturers cable-stripping template. Always keeping in mind to keep the bare fiber as clean as possible. Alcohol and lint free tissues work the best. All connectors and attenuators ferrule end faces must be polished either manually or automated by using a polishing machine to meet a certain end face requirement, which in turn equals a certain dB loss. The polishing is only done on the fiber to ferrule end face. After the cable has been prepared the fiber must be adhered to the connector ferrule, either by using epoxy that can be heat, UV, or air cured. Some manufacturers pre-inject the connectors with epoxy and some connectors require manual epoxy injection. There are also epoxyless connectors on the market, mainly for quick repairs. epoxyless connectors have a higher dB loss due to the fiber positioning within the connector, which will make the dB loss fluctuate with temperature. After the fiber is adhered to the ferrule, the connector is then affixed to the cable body. Now the connector is ready to be cured. Once cured the excess fiber must be cleaved (the controlled breaking so that the end surface is smooth). Once the excess fiber has been cleaved its ready for polishing, the polishing is the real deciding factor in the connectors performance. There is a number of ways to polish and a number of materials that can be used to polish. After polishing the connector end face must be inspected and the cable assembly tested for performance rating. A good termination kit will have all you need to successfully terminate a connector onto fiber. The kits today are quite varied for needs and can range from the inexpensive $100.00 to the very expensive $20,000.00 kits. Once again dependent on your applications needs.

SPLICING Splice (a permanent junction of two optical fibers, either by fusion or mechanical splicing). To splice fiber you must start by preparing the fiber by the splice equipment manufacturers stripping guidelines. Inspect the cleave for a good clean break. Next place the fibers in the fiber alignment fixture, and align or tune the fibers. Now bond the fibers either by fusion or mechanically. Lastly, inspect and test the splice for the applications required performance. Once satisfied enclose the splice for protection. A typical splice dB loss is 0.1-0.3 Fusion splicing (the joining of two fibers forming an interface between them, and then removing the common surfaces so that there will be no interface between them to disrupt the signal transmission). Mechanical splices (the joining of two fibers mechanically with the use of special adhesives or by crimping the fibers in place).

Im sure its easy to see that fusion splicing is more precise than mechanical splicing, which also means of the two, the equipment needed to do fusion splicing is more expensive than that of the lesser precision mechanical splice equipment. Now for mass splicing, which can be by fusion or mechanical. Primarily designed for ribbon fiber cable. Mass spliced fiber tends to have a higher dB loss as compared to individual splicing. One thing for sure is mass splicing is definitely faster. Mass splicing generally follows the same procedures as the individual methods accept only en masse. PATCH PANELS There is a lot of hardware for fiber optic systems. The hardware is for the protection and organization of indoor and outdoor fiber splice and termination points. Patch panels, splice closures and conduit are the most common pieces of hardware, which we will discuss.

A patch panel is for the connection between two cable assemblies, as in breakout cable to patch cords. The patch panels come in a wide variety of types, all dependent on the applications requirements. A patch panel can accommodate any number of connections for both multimode and singlemode. As well as connector styles. SPLICE CLOSURES A splice closure acts similarly to that of the patch panel. The splice closure is for the splice trays, which we know, hold the permanent splice. There are many varieties of splice closures, and can be used for, indoor, outdoor, above ground, marine (immersed in water), or buried. A basic description would be, the splice in its tray, the splice tray in the closure, and if the enclosure is to be buried or immersed in water it can be filled with a capsulate (a gel filler that sets up to protect the internal fibers).

In short a patch panel and splice closure are also known as FDU (fiber distribution unit). Here are some points for consideration when selecting FDUs. 1. Rack mount versus wall mount. 2. Front or front and rear access. 3. The modular design. 4. Cable termination point, ground and strain relief points. 5. Splice organization and storage, cable storage. 6. Accommodation of connector variety and or coupler styles. 7. Demarcation and security. 8. Ease of re-arrangement. 9. Expandability.


CONDUIT Conduit (a tube or pipe that may be buried or installed within buildings for providing passageways into which cables can be pulled). When installing cable in conduit or duct as its sometimes referred to as, is done by threading a pull line through the duct, attaching it to the cable then pulling the cable through the duct. You may find access points (manholes) so that the cable does not need to be pulled all at once. You can terminate the fiber at the necessary access points to have an easier installation and still keep the system within its respective power budget. The installations cable construction and environment is probably the biggest deciding factor as to which type of conduit to use for the job.

Here are some examples of cable and duct types. Marine cables are laid from special ships and the cable is waterproof. Buried cables are usually laid in a trench, the trench can be-refilled with a number of materials from sand, dirt, and concrete. Aerial cables are suspended from directly overhead poles. Some aerial cables are selfsupporting (lashed or affixed to a messenger wire to minimize strength requirements). In this case there is no duct, but you may find the cable well protected by what is known as armoring (a metal sheath that encases the cable and then covered by the jacketing). Plenum cables are run through interior air spaces such as the space between walls, under structural floors, and above drop ceilings. Riser cables are run through vertical shafts or space between floors in a building. There are a lot of fiber optic hardware manufacturers that make specific conduits for the cable types to be installed. I know it may be a little scary hearing about so many options available to choose from for a specific application, try to think of it like this, the more knowledgeable you are of your options the easier you will make your installation.


INSTALLATION SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS Safety first for the operator and secondly for the equipment and materials! One good way to insure a safe installation is to know how to properly do the installation, I dont think you could ever have enough reference material, and if you do I hope its up to date. The lasers used in fiber optics are of low power levels, low enough to be rest assured that the laser will not burn a hole in your skin.

Bare fiber does pose a health hazard in that it is so small and can easily find its way into your skin, and be quite a nuisance until it decides to get infected and work itself out. Try to have a small receptacle for bare fiber waste, with a piece of tape sticky side up to maintain those pesky small bare fiber scraps. Check the types of fluids you are going to be using to see which ones is a hazard for fire, such as alcohol. Keep all food and drinks away from your work area. Protective aprons, gloves, and glasses are a good start to protect yourself. Only work in a well-ventilated area. If you wear contact lenses do not touch them or your eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands. The curing ovens operate at temperatures that warrant keeping combustible materials away. Do not smoke while working with fiber optic systems. A complete safety study and report in ANSI Z136.2 (American national standards institute).


CODE COMPLIANCE Fiber optic cable requirements for installation are detailed by the NEC (national electrical code) under article 770, which we will discuss shortly. I checked with my local city inspector and found out that the electrical inspectors dont usually inspect fiber cables, they are mostly concerned with conductive cables. We know that there are some conductive fiber optic cables out there and depending on local authority what is to be inspected or not. If your cable installation is to be inspected you can be assured that the inspector will have article 770 in his hands.

The NEC designates cable types as horizontal, riser rated, and plenum rated cables. Also conductive and non-conductive. Remember that a conductive cable is one that contains any metal in it at all. Here are the main requirements of the NEC article 770: When optical cables that have noncurrent-carrying conductive members contact power conductors, the conductive member must be grounded as close as possible to the point at which the cable enters the building. If desired, the conductive member may be broken (with an insulating joint) near its entrance to the building instead. Nonconductive optical cables can share the same raceway or cable tray with other conductors operating at up to 600 volts. Composite optical cables can share the same raceway or cable tray as other conductors operating at up to 600 volts Nonconductive optical cables cannot occupy the same enclosure as power conductors, except in the following circumstances: 1. When the fibers are associated with the other conductors. 2. When the fibers are installed in a factory-assembled or field-assembled control center. 3. Nonconductive optical cables or hybrid cables can be installed with circuits exceeding 600 volts in industrial establishments where they will be supervised only by qualified persons.

CODE COMPLIANCE CONT. Both conductive and nonconductive optical cables can be installed in the same raceway, cable tray, or enclosure with any of the following: 1. Class 2 or 3 circuits. 2. Power limited fire protective signaling circuits. 3. Communication circuits. 4. Community antenna television circuits. Composite cables must be used exactly as listed on their cable jackets. All optical cables must be installed according to their listings. Refer to section 770-53 to see the cable substitution hierarchy. There are also alternate and or supplementary requirements in the LSC (life safety code). Here are the UL type designations for NEC article 770 Cable Classification Conductive optical fiber cable Designator Applications/ Test General purpose/ UL-1581 vertical tray flame same Substitution



Nonconductive optical fiber cable



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Conductive riser OFCR Riser/UL -1666 OFCP/OFNP Nonconductive riser OFNR same same ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Conductive plenum OFCP Plenum/ NFPA 262-1985 Nonconductive plenum OFNP (UL-910)

CODE COMPLIANCE CONT. The following are some notes on UL cable designation with a brief description. General-purpose cable (OFC/OFN) is used in most horizontal wiring and must pass the UL 1581 vertical tray flame test. Riser cable (OFCR/OFNR) must not allow fire to spread from floor to floor and must pass the UL 1666 simulated riser shaft test. Plenum cables (OFCP/OFNP) has both a low flames spread characteristic and low smoke emission. The plenum cables must pass the UL-910 Steiner tunnel test. An optical cable with a higher designation may be substituted in an application requiring a lower designation. The OFN and OFC types may be used in riser when encased in a metal raceway or are located in a fireproof shaft with fire stops at each floor. The OFN,OFC,OFNR, and OFNC types may be used in a plenum when installed in raceways in compliance with section 300-22 (metal conduit).

READING PRINTS AND SPECIFICATIONS A term to become familiar with is taking off, by this we mean the process of taking information off a set of plans and or specifications and transferring the information to the estimate sheets. This process requires interpreting the graphic symbols on the plans and transferring them into words and numbers for processing. Here are some rules that apply to the takeoff process. 1. Review the graphic symbol list, to insure that you know what the symbols mean. There is no standardization in high tech systems.

2. It might be advantageous to review the project specifications before beginning the takeoff because you will pickup on the little details of the plans that might be otherwise overlooked.

3. All items that have been counted should be clearly identified, a simple check mark sometimes leaves uncertainty. So take a few extra minutes to distinctly mark all counted items removing any room for question. 4. Its helpful to takeoff the most expensive items first, often stray items are mist on the first run through. Take your time to find all of the costly items, so that if you make a mistake it will be less expensive. 5. Try to get quantities from quantities. For instance, when you takeoff conduit, dont count every strap needed. Calculate how many feet of conduit you will need and then calculate one strap for every 7-10 ft. of conduit. This method of obtaining quantity will save you time if you learn to use it whenever possible. 6. Do not rush!. Good cost estimating requires a careful and efficient takeoff. If you go to fast you might miss something that will be costly to the job, and system performance. 7. Maintain a good atmosphere, and a clear head when estimating. Interruptions should be kept to a minimum.

PLANNING THE INSTALLATION Proper planning has always proven to be cost effective on any project. Each project seems to have different circumstances whether large or small. Resulting in that each project must be planned in detail to take all of the unique characteristics into consideration. It is up to the designers to design the system right the first time, and the installers responsibility to install the system right the first time, as errors can be costly in equipment, materials , and time. The only way to insure a quality job is to avoid errors through proper planning, and installation procedures. Preplanning should not be an option it should be a necessity. Here is some route survey guidelines. 1. Identify splice locations. 2. Designate construction methods suitable for soil conditions. 3. Designate points of access to the right of way.

4. Designate the depth of burial. 5. Identify all conflicts and obstructions. 6. Develop a placement plan for reel of cable. 7. Will sub-surface investigation be necessary. 8. Are seasonal considerations required. 9. Are there any environmental requirements. 10. Plan for future expansions. 11. Identify power requirements for repeater sites. 12. Identify cable structure.

PULLING CABLE PRACTICES Calculating the cable lengths is very important for two reasons, a splice reduces signal strength and quality, and also splices are costly in time and money. Here are three ways to accurately measure the path to be used by the fiber. 1. Measurements taken from the set of prints. Using this method you will probably invest a great deal of extra materials. The designers drawings are in a general sense as the designer has no way of accurately anticipating all field conditions. Field measurements taken with a measuring wheel. A visit to the job sight with the project plans and a measuring wheel will yield much better measurement accuracy. A visit to the job site will provide insight as to what the plans are trying to accomplish, and an onsight clarification as to physical characteristics, pulling locations, variations in alignment or elevation, termination locations and obstacles can all be noted. To complete the cable measurement check the plans for excess that is required for splices, terminations, and future access coils. When pulling fiber optic cable keep in mind at all times the cable tensile strength (pulling load usually 600 lbs. for outside plant cable and 300 lbs. or less for other cables).

Also the bending radius (a minimum of 10 cable diameters must be maintained over long term conditions, and a minimum of 20 cable diameters when under a tensile load while pulling). Cable should always be pulled off the top of a reel. Use proper lubricants for long pulls. Here are some cable pulling techniques and their applications. 1. Hand pulling: cable trays, office layouts, open plenums, computer rooms. 2. Kevlar tie-off: duct, conduit (less than 1 km), direct burial. 3. Kellems grip: duct, aerial (greater than 1 km).

INSTALLATION HARDWARE Here is some common duct installation tools. 1. Blow line, to feed into the duct to attach to the pull rope. 2. Pull rope, for attaching to the pulling swivel. 3. Pulling swivel, which attaches to the Chinese finger other wise known as the kellems grip. 4. The kellems grip which grips the cable to be pulled. 5. Tension monitor to constantly monitor the cable tension. 6. Cable lubricant, which is optional, but can really help in ease of pulling cable. You will find that there are a lot of different types of installation equipment ranging from inexpensive to very expensive, once again all dependents on the application.


PULLING CABLE GUIDELINES GENERAL 1. Use cable guides to maintain the recommended bend radius. 2. Monitor tension. 3. Protect exposed cables from vehicular and foot traffic. 4. Maintain racking bend radius. 5. Prior to installation check the actual fiber count. 6. Always follow the engineering and construction placement route plans. IN BUILDING 1. Work from the top down. 2. Tie off every two floors when possible. 3. Do not exceed the specified maximum vertical rise. UNDERGROUND 1. Use the center-pull method for long cables. 2. Store excess cable in splicing manholes. 3. Use radios or fiber optic talk sets for installation communication. AERIAL 1. Monitor tension 2. Do not exceed the minimum bend radius. 3. Use radios when the stationary reel method is employed. BURIED 1. Monitor tension

DOCUMENTATION Documentation is a very essential part of the design and installation process for the fiber optic network. Especially for future upgrades, equipment re-positioning, troubleshooting, and link tracing. It is important to have documentation to cover the path of every fiber, connection, and test. To include the following: 1. Cable- manufacturer, type, length, splice and termination points. 2. Fiber- type, size, splice and connection data losses. 3. Connections- splice and or connector types, fibers connected and losses. 4. Paths- where the link path goes in every cable. Most of this data can be stored in a database that stores component, connection and test data. To begin the documentation process it is helpful to start with a basic la yout of the network in its finished state. For a small building a sketch will do but for a larger network such as campus or metropolitan will probably need a CAD (computer aided design layout). Also having a facility drawing to show the locations of all cables, closets, and panels will help in transferring this information to a database. TESTING Most customers require some type of cable plant documentation to support customer acceptance. Good documentation from beginning to end to include all of the cable plant data and final test information. A copy may suffice as a report for customer acceptance. Test documentation should cover : 1. Performance testing (actual vs. specified), the quality control during installation and splicing. 2. Maintenance records to show the system reliability. 3. Restoration requirements by OTDR charts and comparison charts (dB & dBm).

CONTINUITY AND TRACING Testing is very important in fiber optics since you are working with sensitive fiber cables. Cable and cable assembly manufacturers usually provide extensive test data, which as we have previously discussed is important to maintain all received data specific to the job. Continuity testing should be done prior to installing the cable to insure that the cable has not been damaged in transit to the job site. Using a simple incandescent light source on one end to inject light into the fiber and see if it comes out at the other end can do this. The same incandescent light source can be used to trace a fiber cable but only at short distances, there are a lot of light sources on the market today that are designed for continuity testing and tracing fiber cables from short jumpers to very long kilometer runs. Some of the more expensive models will emit a light at the specific break in the fiber.

VISUAL INSPECTION OF BARE FIBER AND CONNECTORS The inspection of bare fibers and connectors is essential to system performance, because fiber optic systems are so sensitive and expensive that we cannot afford to take testing lightly. Therefore the inspection at the proper stages is important. The visual inspection of bare fiber by the naked eye is limited due to fibers small size, as in when splicing high-powered scopes are needed to insure that the fiber is properly aligned. However you can inspect the bare fiber with the naked eye for cleanliness after stripping the fiber for termination, you wouldnt want any foreign material that might hinder the performance of or damage your fiber. Visual inspection of connectors is most important prior to termination, due to the fact that I would hate to see you terminate a cable only to find out that the connector was bad. There are several ways to visually inspect a connector, the cheapest and easiest is with your eye. But limited to only being able to see an obstruction in the connector that would not allow the fiber to pass and to see the end face characteristic, steel, ceramic, both ceramic and steel, flat, angled, or radiused.

With the aid of a Interferometer we can inspect a connector, to see the offset of the ferrule hole, to get a numerical reading of the ferrule topology, fiber protrusion and undercut, also 3-D images of the ferrule can be obtained with a print out of the data. This piece of inspection equipment is known as an interferometer. Interferometers can be of great assistance in insuring the specified topology, before, during and after termination and polishing. They range from bench top to hand held models that can be used in the field. Now a microscope will help to inspect just the end face of the ferrule for scratches and dead connectors that have broken fibers inside. An inspection of the ferrule end face is important because any obstruction to the polished connector end face will result in weak or lost signal strength. There are microscopes that range from 100x and up to include photographic capabilities, a standard scope used today is the 300x hand held microscope. Your performance needs should govern what type of inspection equipment you will need.

LOSS WITH LIGHT SOURCE AND POWER METER There are several basic measurements that can be made when testing fiber optic components and systems using a light source and a power meter, commonly called OLTS (optical loss test set). Let me begin by mentioning that the loss testing of a fiber optic system is the most important. You can obtain the standards for all fiber optic testing from the EIA/TIA (electronic industry association/telecommunication industry association) and or the IEC (international electrotechnical commission) these two standard bodies head the industry in standards. I will provide a list of references and contacts at the end of the course. I will cover the basic loss testing procedure, first you will need a light source, power meter, launch cable, receive cable (otherwise known as reference cables) and two couplers. All which must be compatible to singlemode, multimode, with respect to the core diameter. Please note that the light source and power meter cannot tell the difference between core sizes as in the multimode 50/125 and 62.5/125 fibers the way to insure proper core size matching is to match the reference cable core size to the cable under test core size.

A desired wavelength will need to be selected to perform the test. Most test equipment sources are either LEDs or laser that are equal to the types used as transmitters in actual fiber optic systems, which make the equipment quite useful for testing. I will list the typical wavelengths that fibers should be tested at. 1. 665 nm for plastic fibers. 2. 850nm for short wavelength multimode fiber. 3. 1300nm and 1550nm for long wavelength multimode and singlemode fiber. Simply put the LEDs are used for multimode testing and the laser sources are used for singlemode testing, with the exception to the rule being LEDs are used for short singlemode cables.

LOSS WITH LIGHT SOURCE AND POWER METER CONT. Lets get ready to test. 1. Turn on the light source and select the desired wavelength to perform the test, clean the launch cable connector to be mated, then connect the light source to the launch cable. Allow the light source to stabilize a few minutes. 2. turn on the power meter and select the dBm (absolute power) clean the opposite launch cable connector, and connect it to the power meter. 3. Press test, you should get a reference reading which should represent the amount of power launched by the source. Please refer to the test equipment operation manual for specifications. 4. If the reference level is accepted then this completes the single end connector and fiber test of the launch cable , if not then start over and re-clean the connectors. 5. Now turn the cable around, clean and test the other end of the reference cable, if accepted, you can now begin testing by the single ended method. 6. With the single ended method you will need to clean and connect the desired cable to test to the launch cable using a coupler, then clean and connect the opposite end of the desired cable to test to the power meter. Press test and note the reading and the connector tested.

7. To test the other end just turn the cable around between the reference cables and there you have it. 8. For the double ended test method you will need to perform steps 2,3,4 & 5 on the receive cable, once the reading is acceptable you may continue. 9. Now you can perform the double-ended test. Simply leave the reference cable connected to the light source (and do not disconnect it until you have completed testing), and connect the cable to be tested to the launch cable, using a coupler. 10. Then connect the opposite end of the cable to test to the receive cable that is hooked up to the power meter, press test and youll get your double ended insertion loss test result. (which measures both connectors and fiber of the cable under test).

LOSS WITH LIGHT SOURCE AND POWER METER CONT. The single ended test is covered in detail by the EIA/TIAs FOTP 455-171(fiber optic test procedure). In short single ended loss is measured by connecting the cable you want to test to the launch reference cable, and measuring the received power at the far end with power meter. When you have done this you have measured the loss of the connector that is coupled to the launch reference cable and the loss of any fiber, splices of the cable you have tested. Now reverse the cable you want to test to measure loss of the opposite connector. As for the double-ended test which is also covered in detail by the EIA/TIA. This loss is measured by connecting the cable you wish to test between two reference cables, one being connected to the source and the other connected to the power meter. In this way the loss of both connectors and the fiber is measured. Use the single ended method to test your reference cables before you begin actual testing, the loss should be 0.5dB or less.


The time may arise when you get a little frustrated during testing, heres a few tips. Keep a cool head and follow each step of the procedure thoroughly, and always start by cleaning the connector ends and inspect them with a scope to verify that they are clean. Imagine if your eye was covered up half way with dirt, you would experience a great deal of loss, the same applies to fiber optic connectors but on a microscopic level, so keep your connectors clean.

OTDR TECHNIQUES OTDR (optical time domain reflectometer) a device that measures the distance to a reflection surface by measuring the time that it takes for a lightwave pulse to reflect from the surface. Reflection interface surfaces include the ends of cables and breaks in fiber. The OTDR usually also displays the reflected waves on a time axis for a precise reading of the leading edges of the transmitted and reflected waves. The OTDR is capable of launching a pulse into a fiber and measuring the time that is required for its reflection to return by backscattering or end reflection, thus indicating the continuity, crack, fracture, break, or other anisotropy features in the fiber. Anisotropy (an optic material, such as fiber whose index refraction varies for different directions of propagation or different polarizations). In more simple terms an OTDR uses backscattering to characterize the fibers, locate faults, and optimize splices. With a graphic display of the tested fiber status to get a visual of the test. The OTDR requires only one end of the fiber for testing access. OTDRs have really come a long way in todays fiber optic industry in that you can acquire one in a compact hand held unit. OTDRs are commonly used for testing fiber optic cables and measuring the length of a fiber, distance to a fault, breaks in fiber, the loss in a splice or a connector, and fiber attenuation. The graphic display of the fiber under test is known as the trace, some OTDRs have print capability, which is a nice feature for documentation.

When testing with OTDRs it is a good idea to take a measurement from both ends of the fiber under test and average the reading, this should prove quite accurate. When acquiring an OTDR research the minimum distance of resolution this can vary from 5m to 500m. For shorter distances to inspect for breaks a visual faultfinder will work.

OTDR CORRELATION TO LIGHT SOURCE AND POWER METER The correlation between the OTDR and the light source and power meter is that the OTDR measures the length of a fiber, finds faults, breaks, fiber attenuation, and the losses in splices and connectors. The OTDR does this from one end of the cable, and to get a more specific test measurement you should take a measurement at both ends and use the average as the result. A downside to the OTDR is that there is a bit of uncertainty sometimes as much as 0.8 dB, and with variation in backscatter coefficiency a splice can show up as a gain, which we all know if anything during testing we would discover a loss. Also that the OTDR cannot measure short cable jumpers. Light sources and power meters on the other hand when set up properly can measure the exact dB loss of any cable assembly at any length. However a light source and power meter cannot pinpoint a splice and tell you the loss, or the loss of any other anomaly for that matter. The light source and power meter are specific in measuring the total loss of a cable assembly consisting of cable with connectors at each end, and the OTDR identifies losses at their location along the cable, which must be of a specific minimum length to be able to accurately measure the cable under test. And still have the possibility of expressing uncertainty. So its safe to say that you really need to know what it is that you are going to be testing what type of testing is required and what type of test equipment is needed to do the test. Rest assured that with the proper OLTS, OTDR, and visual fault finder you are well on your way to performing a fiber optic test that will provide sufficient test information for review.

TROUBLE SHOOTING If you are experiencing a high loss in a cable, perform the single ended test on both ends of the cable to try and isolate the bad connector. If the cable is long enough you should breakout your OTDR and identify the fault and its location. Without an OTDR, a visual faultfinder will help you locate the problem, As long as it is a break, or a bad splice . Please note that the visual faultfinder will emit light at a break as long as the cable jacket is not black or gray and the cable has a single jacket. Insure that you have properly matched the fiber core size. If the test equipment is good and the core size has been properly matched, check the cable with a microscope to see if the connector is dead or if it has dirt on the end face.

If the connector is dirty, thoroughly clean it and re-inspect it, do this until the connector endface is free from dirt and debris. I would like to reiterate that cleaning a connector prior to connection is the best way to keep from transferring dirt and or debris from the connector to the active component. When testing fiber optic cable assemblies and the test results are not consistent you may need to look at your procedures to insure consistent termination procedures. Still experiencing inconsistent test results, you may need the use of an interferometer to look at all of the connectors parameters to see if you are purchasing connectors with varied end face features that can cause inconsistent test results from one connector to the next.

COMPONENTS Standard (a basis for comparison). In fiber optics I believe that standards are important for the performance level of acceptance. In fiber optic components we will look at the standards that have been developed. Currently of all the different standards bodies the most active today is the EIA/TIA, they have two committees (FO-6 and FO-2) that meets at least twice per year to discuss

todays technical issues, progressive writing of test procedures, standards, and component specifications. Currently there are over 100 FOTPs, and a lot of component specifications are being prepared. The EIA/TIA has a publication known as the Component Bulletin 9F, which provides a complete summary of all of the EIA/TIA FOTP current activity with cross-references. TESTING The FO-2 and FO-6 do more than write standards, they are the forums where technical issues are discussed, in relation to the FOTPs that are being prepared. Sometimes these discussions turn into heated debates. There is progression in the defining of relevant tests for fiber optic components and systems. A research company in the United States called Bellcore (Bell communications research). Bellcore is on the specifications that will cover, cable, connectors, test equipment and other fiber optic equipment. In order to have mutual standards world wide, the standards bodies within every country must work through the IEC (international electrotechnical commission). The IEC works is at least as large as that of the EIA/TIA.

NETWORKS Most systems have some type of compatibility to electrical standards. System manufacturers use their own protocol on the optical parts of their networks. Currently resulting in little compatibility in the fiber optic systems produced today. Bellcore has been working on SONET (synchronous optical network) standards. The CCITT (consultative committee on international telegraph and telephony) has been working on SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) to come up with a standard protocol for telephony. Work is also under way by the ANSI (American national standards institute) and the IEEE (institute of electrical and electronic engineers) on developing standard systems

for computer networks. The IEEE 802.3u is the latest protocol for the fiber versions of Ethernet networks. Today any number of groups that will then control the issues of compatibility and interoperability may develop network standards.

DE FACTO STANDARDS Most fiber optic telecommunication systems are based on singlemode fiber and 1300nm lasers. These components have offered the best solution for applications, which in turn they became dominant. Currently the IEC has nominated the SC connector as the recommended connector of choice, and has been adopted over the previous standard connectors (ST & FC) by several U.S. telecommunication companies. However today there is no compatibility among the manufacturers of terminal equipment, but SONET, & SDH are working toward system compatibility in telecommunications. As for the data communication systems (datalinks, LANs) the progression appears to be farther along than in the telcos. There are several multimode fibers in use today, but the 62.5/125 has become the dominator, also preferred for the FDDI and ESCON systems. The connector of choice is the ST. A duplex connector of choice is also being sought out and currently looks like it might be the SC connector. Lastly the data communication systems have been supported by the 820-850nm LEDs, but higher bit rate requirements in todays systems are moving up to 1300nm LEDs because the limiting effects of the chromatic dispersion in the fiber. In the near future you will probably see 1300nm lasers supporting the networks that will have GB/s speed requirements.



Absorption- the transference of some or all of the energy contained in an electromagnetic wave to the substance or medium in which it is propagator or upon which it is incident. Absorbed energy from incident or transmitted light waves is converted into energy of other forms, usually heat, within the transmission medium, with the resultant attenuation of the intensity of the light beams. Acceptance Angle- The angle over which the core of an optical fiber accepts incoming light; usually measured from the fiber axis. Related to numerical aperture (NA). Active Splicing- aligning the ends of two fibers by minimizing the splice loss. All Dielectric Cable- Cable made entirely of dielectric (insulating) materials without any metal conductors. Analog- A signal that varies continuously (e.g., sound waves). Analog signals have a frequency and bandwidth measured in hertz. ANSI- American National Standards Institute. ATM- Asynchronous Transfer Mode. The technology selected by the CCITT to deliver broadband-ISDN services for the worldwide telecommunications network. Attenuation- Reduction of signal magnitude, or loss, normally measured in decibels. Fiber attenuation is normally measured per unit length in decibels per kilometer. Attenuator- An optical element that reduces the intensity of light passing through it. Average Power- The average over time of a modulated signal. Average Wavelength- the average of the two wavelengths for which the peak optical power has dropped to half. Axis- The center of an optical fiber. Backscattering- scattering of light in the direction opposite to that in which it was originally traveling.

Bandwidth- the range of signal frequencies or bit rate within which a fiber optic component, link, or network will operate.

Bend loss- A form of increased attenuation caused by allowing high orders to radiate from the side of the fiber. BISDN- Broadband Integrated Services Digital Networks. Bit- A binary digit, the smallest element of information in binary system. A 1 or 0 of binary data. Bit- Error Rate (BER)- The ratio of incorrectly transmitted bits to correctly transmitted bits. Buffer- A coating material used to cover and protect the fiber. The buffer can be constructed using either a tight jacket or loose tube techniques. Buffer Coating- Protective material applied to fibers. Must be removed for connector and many splicing systems. Byte- A unit of 8 bits. Cable Plant- The cable plant consists of all the optical elements, for example, fiber, connectors, splices, etc. between a transmitter and a receiver. CAD- Computer Aided Design. CAM- Computer Aided Manufacturing. CATV- Community Antenna TeleVision. CCIT- Consultative Committee on International Telegraph a nd Telephony. Central Member- The center component of a cable. It serves as an anti-buckling element to resist temperature induced stresses. Sometimes serves as a strength element.

Channel- A communications path or the signal sent over the channel. Through multiplexing several channels, voice channels can be transmitted over an optical channel. Chromatic Dispersion- One of the mechanisms that limits the bandwidth of optical fibers by producing pulse spreading because of the various colors of light traveling in the fiber.

Cladding- the low refractive index material, which surrounds the core of the fiber and protects against surface contaminant scattering. Cleaving- The controlled breaking of a fiber so that its end surface is smooth. Closure- A cabinet, pedestal, or case used to enclose cable sheath openings necessary for splicing or terminating fibers. Conduit- A tube or pipe that may be buried or installed within buildings for providing passageways into which cables can be pulled. Synonym for duct. Connector- A device mounted on the end of a fiber optic cable, light source, receiver, or housing that mates to a similar device to couple light optically into and out of optical fibers. Core- The light conducting portion of the fiber. Coupler- A device that connects splits or combines light from more than one fiber. Cutback- A method for measuring the attenuation or bandwidth of a fiber by first measuring the full length and then cutting back and remeasuring the fiber at a shorter length. Cutoff Wavelength- the shortest wavelength at which a single mode can propagate in a singlemode fiber. At wavelengths below the cutoff, several modes propagate and the fiber is no longer singlemode but multimode Data Link- A fiber optic transmitter, cable, and receiver that transmits digital or analog data between two points. dB- Optical power referenced to 1 microwatt. dBm- Optical power referenced to 1 milliwatt. Decibel (dB)- A unit of measurement of optical power that indicates relative power on a logarithmic scale, sometimes called dBr. dB = 10 log (power ratio). dB Loss Budget- The amount of light available to overcome the attenuation in the optic link and still maintains specifications. Detector- A photodiode that converts optical signals to electrical signals.


Digital- Signals encoded into discrete bits. Dispersion- The temporal spreading of a pulse in an optical waveguide. May be caused by modal or chromatic effects. EMI- Electromagnetic Interference. End Finish- The quality of the end surface of a fiber prepared for splicing or connector termination. End to End Loss- the optical loss of an installed fiber path. The loss consists of the loss of the fiber, splices and connectors. Equilibrium Mode Distribution- The condition in a multimode fiber in which the relative power in the modes is independent of fiber length. ESCON- IBM standard for connecting peripherals to a computer over fiber optics. Acronym for Enterprise System Connection. Ethernet- A baseband local area network. Excess Insertion Loss- The amount of light lost in a coupler, beyond that inherent in the splitting to multiple output fibers. FDDI- Fiber Distributed Data Interface. 100 Mb/s ring architecture data network. Ferrule- A precision tube that holds a fiber for alignment for interconnection or termination. A ferrule may be part of a connector or mechanical splice. Fiber Identifier- test instruments that can differentiate between live and dead fibers in a working cable and can identify a pre-selected fiber to which a special transmitter has been attached. Fiber Optics- Light transmission through flexible fibers for communications or lighting. FOTP- Fiber Optic Test Procedure. Standards developed and published by the Electronics Industry Association (EIA) under the EIA -RS-455 series of standards. Fusion Splicer- An instrument that splices fibers together by fusing or welding them, typically by electrical arc. Graded Index- A type of multimode fiber that uses a graded profile of refractive index in the core material to correct fo r dispersion.

Index of Refraction- The ratio of the speed of light in vacuum to the speed of light in a material, usually abbreviated (n). Index Matching Fluid- A fluid with refractive index close to glass that reduces refractive index discontinuities. Index Profile- The refractive index of a fiber as a function of radius. Insertion Loss- The loss caused by the insertion of a component such as a splice or connector in an optical fiber. Inside Plant- The portion of a cable network that resides inside buildings. Inside plant cables are usually shorter than 500 meters and are typically 100 meters long. Interferometer- an instrument that employs the interference of light waves for purposes of measurement. ISDN- Integrated Services Digital Network. A network in which many different services are carried in a single digital bit stream. Jacket- A layer of material surrounding a fiber but not bonded to it, part of the cable, not part of the fiber. Jumper Cable- A short single fiber cable with connectors on both ends used for interconnecting other cables. Kevlar- A strong synthetic material used in cable strength members; a trademark of the Dupont Company. KPSI- A unit of tensile strength expressed in thousands of pounds per square inch. Laser- A device in which light is amplified by a stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers are typically used for long-distance transmission. Launch Cable- A known good fiber optic jumper cable attached to a source and calibrated for output power used for loss testing. This cable must be made of fiber and connectors of a matching type to the cables to be tested. Long Wavelength- A commonly used term for light in the 1300nm and 1550nm ranges. Margin- The additional amount of loss that can be tolerated in a link.

Mechanical Splice- A semi permanent connection between two fibers made with an alignment device and index matching fluid or adhesive. Micron- (m) a unit of measure used to measure wavelength of light. Mode- A single electromagnetic field pattern that travels in fiber. Multimode- A fiber with core diameter much larger than the wavelength of light transmitted that allows many modes of light to propagate. Commonly used with LED sources for lower-speed, short-distance links. Nanometer- (nm) A unit of measure used to measure the wavelength of light. Network- A system of cables, hardware, and equipment used for communications. Numerical Aperture- (NA) A measure of the light acceptance angle of the fiber. Optical Loss Test Set- (OLTS) A measuring instrument for optical loss that includes both a meter and a source. Optical Power- The amount of radiant energy per unit time, expressed in linear units of watts or on a logarithmic scale, in dBm (where 0 dB = 1 mW) or dB (where 0 dB = 1 W) Optical Return Loss, Back Reflection- Light reflected from the cleaved or polished end of a fiber caused by the difference of refractive indices of air and glass. Typically 4% of the incident light. Expressed in dB relative to incident power. Optical Time Domain Reflectometer- (OTDR) An instrument that uses back scattered light to find faults in optical fiber. Photodiode- A semiconductor that converts light to an electrical signal, used in fiber optic receivers. Pigtail- A short length of fiber attached to a fiber optic component such as a laser or coupler. Plenum Cable- Cable made of fire retardant material that generates little smoke, for installation in air ducts. Power Budget- The difference in (dB) between the transmitted optical power in (dBm) and the receiver sensitivity in (dBm).

Power Meter- An instrument that measures optical power emanating from the end of a fiber. Receive Cable- A known good fiber optic jumper cable attached to a power meter used for testing. This cable must be made of fiber and connectors of a matching type to the cable to be tested. Receiver- A device containing a photodiode and signal conditioning circuitry that converts light to an electrical signal in a fiber optic link. Repeater, Regenerator- A device that receives a fiber optic signal and regenerates it for re-transmission, used in very long fiber optic links. Short Wavelength- A commonly used term for light in the 665 nm, 790 nm, and 850nm ranges. Singlemode Fiber- A fiber with a small core, only a few times the wavelength of light transmitted, that allows only one mode of light to propagate. Commonly used with laser sources for high speed, long distance links. Source- A laser diode or LED used to inject an optical signal into fiber. Step Index Fiber- A multimode fiber where the core is all the same index of refraction. Talk Set- A communication device that allows conversation over unused fiber. Termination- Preparation of the end of a fiber to allow connection to another fiber or an active device, sometimes also called connectorization. Total Internal Reflection- Confinement of light into the core of a fiber by the reflection off the core-cladding boundary. Transmitter- A device that includes a LED or laser source and signal conditioning electronics used to inject a signal into fiber. Watts- A linear measure of optical power, usually expressed in milliwatts (mW), microwatts (W), or nanowatts (nW). Wavelength- A measure of the color of light, usually expressed in nanometers (nm), or microns (m).



Course Instructor- Qpc fiber opticFiber Henning Kuehne Hands-On Advanced Fiber Optic Course by Henning Kuehne Fiber Optics Technicians Manual by Jim Hayes Understanding Fiber Optics (second edition) by Jeff Hecht Fiber Optic Yellow Pages from the Information Gatekeepers (800) 323-1088 The F.O.A. Fiber Optic Association Ph. (617) 396-6155 Fax. (617) 396-6395 EIA/TIA standards (202) 457-4912 Bellcore Specifications (201) 829-4785 IEEE Standards (908) 562-3800 International Electrotechnical Commission 41-22-734-0150 Geneva Switzerland U.S. Department of Defense (513) 296-5541

You can purchase most standards from: Global Engineering Documents 15 Inverness Way E Englewood, Colorado 80112-5704 (303) 792-2181