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Maintaining Fiber-Optic Connectors

 

Inspecting Fiber-Optic Connectors

Protective dust plugs should be left on connectors when they are not in use. The fiber used on the optical components of the modules has a light carrying core that is less than 10 millionths of a meter in diameter. Therefore, a single microscopic piece of dust on a connector end-face can significantly block the light traveling through the fiber. Accurate and repeatable measurements require clean connections.

Warning

Invisible laser radiation can be emitted from the aperture ports of various modules when no fiber cable is connected. Avoid exposure and do not stare into open apertures to avoid permanent eye damage.

Using an optical fiber scope, visually inspect all fiber optic interconnects prior to use. A minimum of 200x magnification is required for proper inspection.

Use the following procedure to inspect a fiber connector.

Use the following guidelines to achieve the best possible performance:

  • Using an optical fiber scope, visually inspect fiber ends for signs of damage.

  • Use dry connections whenever possible.

  • Keep connectors covered when not in use.

  • Use care in handling all fiber-optic connectors.

The primary hazard of exposure to laser radiation from an optical fiber communications system is damage to the eye by accidental exposure to the beam emitted by a laser source, or from viewing a connector attached to an energized fiber.

Before using an optical scope to examine the fiber, ensure that optical power is not emitted from the fiber. Use of a handheld optical fiber scope (that is, where the output is sent to a video display) prevents accidental exposure to the beam emitted by a laser source.

Keep all interconnects as clean as possible. When cleaning fiber connectors, be sure to use appropriate cleaning methods.

Cleaning Fiber-Optic Connectors

Use this procedure to clean a fiber connector.

Note

Improper cleaning can result in high attenuation due to dirt or dust, or can cause mechanical damage to the fiber end face, resulting in decreased performance.

  1. Verify that the opposite end of the fiber is disconnected from its laser source.
  2. Using an optical fiber scope, inspect the end of the fiber face.
  3. If the fiber end-face condition is ideal, no further action is required.

    If you need to clean or repolish the fiber end-face, use the instructions in the cleaning procedure that follows.

  4. Use a new, lint-free, nonabrasive cleaning pad, lens paper, or swab to clean the fiber end. Move the cleaning pad back and forth across the fiber end several times. If using a swab, gently rotate the swab as you wipe across the end-face. When done, discard the used pad or paper.
  5. Obtain a filtered, dry, compressed air dust remover. Aim the duster at a shallow angle to the fiber end-face and blow across the connector end face from a distance of 6 to 8 inches.
  6. Verify that the opposite end of the fiber is still disconnected from its laser source.
  7. Verify that the fiber-optic connector is free from dirt and dust. To inspect the connector, use an optical fiber scope that uses an indirect image converter or a filtered optical instrument of optical density (OD) sufficient to reduce the exposure levels below the appropriate maximum permissible exposure.
  8. Do one of the following:
    • If the fiber optic connector is clean, cover the connector with a protective dust cover until ready for use.

    • If the fiber-optic connector is not completely clean, continue with the next step.

  9. Clean the fiber end by moving the cleaning pad back and forth across the fiber end several times. If using a swab, gently rotate the swab as you wipe across the end face.
  10. Immediately dry the fiber end with a clean, dry, lint-free cleaning pad or lens paper.
  11. Discard the optical cleaning pads and lens paper.
  12. Use a filtered, dry, compressed air dust remover. Aim the duster at a shallow angle to the fiber end face and blow across the connector end-face from a distance of 6 to 8 inches.
  13. Verify that the fiber-optic connector is free from dirt and dust. To inspect the connector, use an optical fiber scope that uses an indirect image converter or a filtered optical instrument of optical density (OD) sufficient to reduce the exposure levels below the appropriate maximum permissible exposure.
  14. Once the fiber is clean, cover the connector with a protective dust cover until ready for use.

You have successfully completed this procedure.