When designing and installing a fiber optic network, experts will need all the product’s specifications they’re working with to determine if their design will work for the intended use the client needs. To have these specifications an accurate testing of the fiber optic’s components, systems, and even cable plants will be needed. In the development process of the fiber optic components, such as fiver, connectors, LED or laser sources, splices and receivers, testing will give us all the component’s future performance and how they’ll work as a unit when put together.
In the field testing your network status will be your number one priority, testing every cable for polarity and continuity, checking that the splices were properly done and without any problem, even if it’s a long cable with several splices a thorough test of every slice is recommended, as well as testing insertion and loss with the objective of finding any flaws in the network and fixing it.
Another thing to do is test the transmission and reception of power of your network, as these measures are key in the correct functioning of your system. It is also known that testing your system’s insertion loss with a Light Source and Power Meter (LSPM) or an Optical Loss Test Set OLTS is probably the most important aspect of checking your network as it is required by all international standards to make sure we’re within the loss budget parameters previous to installation.
As we know, testing Fiber Optics requires special tools that adjust to the components in that network, and that’s why you may want to check what adapters you’ll need for the job before you start. So, without further ado, let us talk about what we’ll need to do this.
Gather all the right tools for the job.
- We already said that we’ll need a Light Source and Power Meter LSPM or an Optical Loss Test Set OLTS with the needed adapters.
- Spare cables that match the cables we’ll be testing to use as a reference.
- A Visual Fault Locator or Fiber Tracer.
- An Optical Inspection Microscope, the FOA recommends 100-200x video scope.
- Cleaning supplies, as in dry cleaning kits or lint-free cleaning wipes and alcohol.
- You may also want to have an Optical Time-Domain Reflectometer OTDR for troubleshooting.
Testing is not only about having all the equipment you’ll need, it’s also about knowing what it does and how to do it. So, today we have a small gift for you. Now, let us give you some extra knowledge.
What is the Light Source and Power Meter?
An Optical Power Meter is the device we use to measure the power in an optical signal, these often consist of a display, a connector adapter which can be used with several type of connectors and on the inside, you most probably have a solid-state detector.
These guys have a wide range of uses, such as optical return loss and spectral loss measurement, analog CATV system and fiber amplifier testing, they can measure the time average of the optical power (with this you can measure the peak power, if you know the duty cycle as well), you can test link transmitter power. But you’ll have to remember that all power meters have a small uncertainty of +/-5%, these errors could have a couple of sources like reflections on the connectors, unknown wavelength or nonlinearities. Most of these factors affect every power meter, so in this matter, there’s not much difference between your most expensive and sophisticated meter and the cheap Optic Power Meter you grandma has in her basement.
On the next entry in Beyondtech’s Reference for Fiber Optics Testing we’ll continue talking about our testing equipment and what it does, so keep your eyes peeled for our next entry so remember to follow us on twitter at @beyondtechinc.