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Jfopt Location: Jfopt > News > Fiber knowledge > How to Use Fiber Optic Test Equipment

How to Use Fiber Optic Test Equipment

Edit: JFOPT   Date: 2013-05-03

1. Conduct a visual inspection, also called connector checking, to be sure that fibers are not broken. Trace a path of a fiber from one end to another through connections, using a fiber optic tracer or fault locator -- a form of visible light that pairs with a fiber optic connector and is shaped like a pen with a light bulb.
2. Attach a cable to the visual tracer and look at the other end to view light transmitted through the core of the fiber. If you do not see light at the end, recheck connections to find the bad section of the cable.
3. Connect two cables at patch panels. Use the visual tracer to identify that the correct two fibers are connected. Also, be sure that the correct fibers are connected to the transmitter and receiver. In place of the transmitter, use the visual tracer. Also, in place of the transmitter, use your eye instead of the receiver.
4. Use a high-powered visual tracer to find areas of fault. A red laser light can show breaks in fibers or high loss connectors. Identify mechanical splices, or prepolished splice fiber optic connectors, to confirm a high yield.
5. Use a microscope with medium magnification to view connectors without power present in the cable. Tilt the connector with angle illumination to be sure that connectors are smooth, polished and scratch-free, without cracks or chips. The microscope should have an adapter that attaches connectors to the microscope.
6. Clean the connectors or equipment by wiping with a cloth dampened with pure alcohol. Determine your reference power level for loss measurements. Turn on the source and select the wavelength you want for the loss test.
7. Turn on the meter and select the decibel (dBm or dB) range. Select the desired wavelength for the loss test and measure the power at the meter. If your meter has a zero function, set it as a "0" reference.
8. Attach the meter to the cable and measure its output. Measure receiver power or a reference test cable that is attached to the transmitter. Turn on the transmitter or source and identify the power the meter measures, comparing it to the standard power required for the system. Make sure it is not too much power.

Loss Testing
9. Use sources and power meters to measure the loss of the fiber optic cable plant directly. Both the source and power meter duplicates the transmitter and receiver of the fiber optic transmission link, so the measurement correlates well with actual system loss, according to
10. Mate the test cable to a reference launch cable, then measure the power out of the far end with the meter. Single-ended loss uses only the launch cable, while double-ended loss uses a receive cable that also attaches to the meter. This will enable you to measure the loss of the connector mated to the launch cable and the loss of any fiber, splices or other connectors in the test cable.
11. Conduct a double-ended loss test in an installed cable. Connect the test cable between two reference cables; one should be attached to the source and the other to the meter. Measure losses of the two connectors -- loss of one on each end and also loss of all the cable or cables in between.

Network Testing
12. Use a long launch cable to allow the optical time-domain reflector, which verifies loss of splices on outside plant cables, to settle down after the initial pulse and provide a reference cable for testing the first connector on the cable.
13. Begin with the OTDR with the shortest pulse width for best resolution and a range of at least two times the length of the cable that you test. Make an initial trace and determine how you need to change the parameters to improve your results.
14. Send a high-power, laser light pulse down the fiber and check for return signals from backscattered light within the fiber or reflected light from a connector or splice. Then, measure time, calculate the displayed pulse position in the fiber and correlate what it sees in backscattered light with an actual location in the fiber.

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