The other day I was walking down the street minding my own business when all of a sudden I see this small classroom where kids were having a test, at this moment I couldn’t help but notice one of the kids was scrambling through his backpack trying to find a pencil, and that got me thinking about what equipment we need when testing a Fiber Optics Network.
Let’s have some fun and make a good old list of things we’ll need in the field, a sort of “Don’t leave home without these” kind of list, so let us start with number one.
- Your Optical Inspection Microscope:
This bad boy will help you inspect fiber terminations, because testing is not only cleaning and replacing cables, inspecting your termination might save you a lot of time and money for you or your clients, these microscopes introduce light into the optical path making it comes out at the end of the objective and will hit the sample perpendicularly to the end of the fiber, this is critical for examination quality.
2. An Optical Loss Test Set:
We’ve talked extensively about these guys and what the do, the TL, DR version of these is that you need them to measure end-to-end loss of fiber optic networks, this will tell you if there’s something wrong in the network as well as you can use them to check where exactly you are losing light and find the best way to deal with that weak point. To read more about these please go and read our article on Insertion Loss at Beyondtech and Insertion Loss.
3. Spare cables and mating adapters:
To some this might seem obvious but even the most experienced technician has found him or herself at their network site without a spare cable to test a connection, so to begin we need to know what type of cables there are in the network you’re visiting and testing, also what adapters you’ll need for your Optical Loss Test Set and all other equipment you’ll need adapters for. Believe us, you’ll thank us when you’re out there and you know you have all the spares and adapters you need, you know how the saying goes “better to be prepared than without spares and adapters”.
4. A Visual Fault Locator:
Oh boy these guys have helped me a lot of times, a Visual Fault Locator will tell you if there’s a bend or a break in a cable, by transmitting light into the cable being tested you’ll be able to see with your naked eye if your cable is broken because a light will come out even out of the jacket of the cable and will make super easy to determine where the damage is and if it needs replacement. You can look at how they work in this video by our friends at Fluke Network.
5. Cleaning Supplies:
All of you, of course, know that here at Beyondtech we have the best-wet ant dry wipes in the field. Why you need some of these? Well I’ll tell you a short story: so my cousin was cleaning his MacBook Pro one day, and god knows why he was using alcohol and cotton instead of a wet wipe for those difficult smudges on the screen, he continued to clean the whole laptop with the cotton ball, and little did he know, a small cotton fiber went through the keyboard or one of the ports and made a short circuit that messed the whole laptop off, oh was that a costly mistake!
So save yourself and your client a lot of money and time and use a lint-free wet or dry wipes and pure alcohol when cleaning cables, ends or adapters. (All Beyondtech Patch Cables comes with one... so its free)
6. An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer:
This one could be seen as an optional one, because in the end it is used to “certify” the performance of fiber optics links, but it, of course, has other uses like detecting problems in existing links as well as Bi-Directional Testing. An OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometer) will map the channels and illustrate where network performance leading faults. This will help you discover problems that will affect the network in the long term.
Figure 6 Source: EXFO
With this we conclude our list, did you find your “Don’t Leave Home Without it” equipment or did we miss one?
Tell us in the comments what you thought and don’t forget to share this with your team. Remember to follow us on twitter at @beyondtech and stay alert for our next article on Patch Cord Management.
Read you guys on the next one.