Ideal Fiber Optic Test Light Sources
Fiber Optic Light Sources are used in conjunction with Fiber Optic Power Meters to determine the optical loss on both single mode and multimode cables. Applications here at TEquipment are for the telecommunications industry. Wavelengths outputs are 850 & 1300 nm multimode and 1310 & 1550 nm single mode.
For 650 nm red source visual fault finders, our selection of models is under the Optical Fault Finders category. While it is a light source, it is more a fault finder since a standalone device.
Model specifications should state if they are designed for multimode or single mode applications and wavelengths, but you can also determine it from the type of light source. LED based light sources are designed for multimode fiber and laser light sources are for single mode.
Selection advice for Ideal Fiber Optic Light Sources:
What is multimode and single mode fiber optic cable?
The majority of LED and Laser Fiber Optic Sources available are suitable for only one application: either 850 or 1300nm multimode or 1310 or 1550nm single mode.
However, Ideal offers a Quad Wavelength fiber optic light source which features light sources for each of the two multimode and single mode wavelengths. This unit would be best for an installer/contractor with many different types of customers.
Consider a Fiber Optic Test Kit. Purchase a light source as a replacement or if you have multimode but find need for single mode or vice-versa. If the intention is to purchase a light source and optical power meter, then best value is to purchase a Fiber Optic Test Kit. Click this link to view Ideal Fiber Optic Test Kits.
NIST Calibration Certificate. For applications certifying fiber cabling, consider getting a light source with a NIST certificate.
Certainly, there is much more information and science involved but the very basic differences are:
Single mode is for outside use over long distances. It features higher bandwidth and uses lasers which are more expensive, so it is not used for indoor applications.
Multimode fiber optic cable uses wider core fiber cable and LED light. This type is used for shorter distances and features less bandwidth, though there is currently ongoing research being done to increase bandwidth and distance to rival single mode.
Ideal Optical Fault Finders
Red Laser Fiber Optic Light Source (aka Visual Fault Finders or Fiber Cable Tracer)
An optical fault finder is a red laser light source used to locate breaks and misconnections in fiber optic cables. A high intensity visible red laser beam is precision-coupled into an optical fiber. Breaks and micro-bends in the fiber deflect the red light into the fiber jacket, producing a red glow at the point of the fault. It is an inexpensive troubleshooting tool to find the broken or bent patch cords or problems behind a patch panel. Additionally, these tools can be used as end-to-end visual fiber identifiers, which are useful for locating fibers terminated in poorly labeled or unlabeled fiber patch panels.
Ideal Optical Power Meters
Key measurements of Fiber Optic Power Meters are absolute power (for optical power of the switch, hub, transceiver, etc.) and relative power (for optical loss). Optical loss is the difference between two optical power measurements (one the light source after zeroing and the other the power meter at the other end).
Key Considerations for Ideal Fiber Optic Power Meters:
Units will be dBm for optical power and dB for optical loss. Milliwatts (mW) is an older unit of optical power measurement that is sometimes still mentioned. A fiber optic light source is required at the other end of the cable to send a known continuous wave (CW) for the power meter to receive.
Discussion on Ports (ST, SC, FC, LC, FT)
Correct Wavelength(s) for applications
Memory storage and documentation capability
Built-in OTDR for cable length measurement instead of a separate instrument
Optical Loss Test Set (OLTS)
Built-in Visual Fault Locator. Red Laser Fiber Optic Light Source (aka Visual Fault Finders or Fiber Cable Tracer). A red source is a light source used to locate breaks and misconnections in fiber optic cables. A high intensity visible red laser beam is precision-coupled into an optical fiber. Breaks and micro-bends in the fiber deflect the red light into the fiber jacket, producing a red glow at the point of the fault. It is an inexpensive troubleshooting tool to find the broken or bent patch cords or problems behind a patch panel. Additionally, they can be used as an end-to-end visual fiber identifier, which is useful for locating fibers terminated in poorly labeled or unlabeled fiber patch panels
Optical power meters are available with one or more ports. Having fewer ports should not be reason to disqualify the meter. There are plenty of available patch cables to convert to the desired port style. Regardless, when measuring optical loss it is important to properly “zero” the patch cable by one of three techniques. This video gives the basics.
Ideal Optical Time Domain Reflectometers
An Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) trace is a graphical signature of a fiber's attenuation along its length. You can gain insight into the performance of the link components (cable, connectors and splices) and the quality of the installation by examining non-uniformities in the trace.
An OTDR trace helps characterize individual events that can often be invisible when conducting only loss/length (tier 1) testing. An OTDR is an important instrument used by organizations to certify the performance of new fiber optics links and detect problems with existing fiber links.
Maintaining Fiber Infrastructure Performance
OTDRs are also used for maintaining fiber plant performance. An OTDR allows you to see more detail impacted by the cabling installation. It maps the cabling and can illustrate termination quality, location of faults. It provides advanced diagnostics to isolate a point of failure that may hinder network performance. An OTDR allows discovery of issues along the length of a channel that may affect long term reliability. OTDRs characterize features such as attenuation uniformity and attenuation rate, segment length, location and insertion loss of connectors and splices, and other events such as sharp bends that may have been incurred during cable installation.
Selection advice for Optical Time Domain Reflectometers (OTDRs)
What is a copper and fiber cable certification tester?
Channel/event map view
Power meter capabilities
Documentation and Certification capability
Consider a Fiber Optic Test Kit. Then best value is to purchase a Fiber Optic Test Kit. See TEquipment website category by the same
Certification test tools answer the question, “Does this cable comply with cabling standards?
(e.g. TIA/EIA-568-C , ISO/IEC 11801, ANSI/TIA 1152 (copper only), ISO/IEC 61935-1).
Certification is the most rigorous of all cable testing. A certification tester makes many types of measurements across predefined frequency ranges and compares the detailed results to standards. The results from these measurements determine if a link is compliant with a category or class of cable. Certification tools are the only tools that provide “Pass” or “Fail” information on the cabling, in accordance with TIA or ISO standards.
Certification of new cabling per IEEE, TIA/EIA, or ISO/IEC standards is necessary to ensure that the link will run the intended application. Complete fiber cabling certification includes two parts:
Tier 1 or Basic Test Regimen. Tier one cabling certification is performed with a power meter and light source or optical loss test set to measure the absolute loss of the link and compare it to the limits in the standard. The Tier 1 tests are attenuation (insertion loss), length and polarity. When conducting Tier 1 testing, each fiber link is measured for attenuation and results are documented. This test ensures that the fiber link exhibits less loss than the maximum allowable loss budget for the immediate application. Most common certification.
Tier 2 or Extended Test Regimen. Extended or Tier 2 fiber certification and troubleshooting supplements Tier 1 testing and can be performed with an OTDR . Visual Fault Locator is part of the test to help determine where is the loss along with the OTDR.
Example OTDR Trace Graph
Ideal Fiber Optic Test Kits
Ideal Fiber Optic Test Kits include several fiber cable test instruments and accessories in a value priced kit. There are kits with light sources and optical power meters and others adding optical time domain reflectometers.