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3 Methods to Make the Fiber Optical Connector

The fiber optical link provides long distance, fast speed, and low latency network connections. It can be deployed both outdoor and indoor for TCP/IP network applications such as IP surveillance, Wireless coverage, VoIP phone.  Furthermore, it is known that the maximum distance of copper cat5e/cat6 is limited to 100 meters. The PoE extenders are required to expand the network beyond 100 meters without breaking the IEEE802.3 specification. While it is easy to achieve up to 10 KM network links from point A to point B by using the fiber optic cable, which is an impossible mission for copper cable.

The fiber optical cable is made of glass or plastic. The light travels through the cable. Once the shooting light is set to a specific angle, there only has very little loss during the transmission. That is why the fiber optic cable can get to 80km distance. The fiber optical transceiver (also named SFP module) is required on both point A and point B to convert the fiber optical signal to digital signal or vice versa. 

The fiber optical cable can’t be attached to a conventional network switch directly unless the fiber optical transceiver is being installed. The network switch needs to have SFP slots to accept the fiber optical transceiver. Some of the Ethernet switches or PoE Switches have built-in SFP slots to take in the fiber optical transceiver. The SFP slot looks deeper than RJ45 ports. If there is no SFP slot built-in, no worry, you still can use the media convertor to convert one of the RJ45 ports to take in the fiber optical cable. The media converter has an SFP slot and an RJ45 port. The RJ45 port will be linked to the switch by using the short patch cord. The SFP slot can take in the SFP transceiver and attach fiber optical to it.

The SFP module is an easy part as long as you have picked the correct types. The SFP module is a plug-and-play device. However, making fiber optic cable connectors could be challenging. Unlike the copper cable, you can crimp the metal contact to the copper. The fiber optical cable work completely different way. As we mentioned above, it is the light travels within the fiber optical cable. We can’t crimp anything to fiber optical cable. Actually, we can’t even blend 90 degrees while wiring fiber optical cable, otherwise, it will break the cable and damage the entire link. Remember, it is just plastic. While we make the fiber optic cable connector, technically we will need to physically join the surface of two fiber cables. As the diameter of the fiber optical cable (single mode) is 9 µm. It is even smaller than our hair, that is the challenge that comes up.

There are three methods to make the fiber optical connector.

1. Fusion Splice the Patch Cord

The optical fusion splicer is required to perform fusion splicing. The fusion splicer is a pretty expensive tool but It is efficient. It is similar to the power tools for craftsmen. Technically, the fusion splice never makes the fiber optical connector but splice your existed cable to a short patch cord that is factory pre-made. The factory uses the machine to polish the connector and measure both insert loss and attenuation Coefficient. This polish process can’t be done in the field. With a fusion splicer, we can physically join the pre-made connector with short fiber to the existed cable. We need to prepare the fiber optical cable before making the fusion splice. Firstly, remove the plastic coating of the fibers, and clean the fiber with isopropyl alcohol. Cutting the optical fiber is a critical part. A precious cutting is required to perform a perfect 90 degrees cutting angle. You can’t use the scissors to cut the fiber for the splice. Technically, two fibers will join physically. The cutting angle determines the quality of the fiber connection. Once both the main cable and the patch cord are being processed with a perfect cut, the next thing is to place both terminators to the fusion splicer and complete the fusion. Some of the fusion splicers provide the magnified image on the screen, you can see the joining point before you press the splicer key.

2. Fiber Optic Quick Connector

If you don’t possess the fusion splicer, you still can make the connector manually. You need to find the Fiber Optic Quick Connector, usually, the Matched Tools are included. We will talk about the matched tools later. The process is pretty similar to the fusion splice. The jacket and the plastic need to be stripped properly and clean by using isopropyl alcohol. The cutting is always the critical part. Instead of splicing the existed cable to patch the cord, you need to insert the pre-process fiber into the quick connector. Another side of the quick connector is polished in the factory. The matched tool is employed to determine the length of the exposed fiber. Not only the perfect 90-degree cut but also the length of exposed fiber must be precious. If the exposed fiber is too short, it may create a gap between two fibers at the joining point. If the exposed fiber is overlong, it will force the main fiber blending. We suggest keeping the exposed fiber a little bit blending rather than over short. After you assemble the optical quick connector, there is a release between the joining point. If the exposed fiber is too short, there will be no physical contact between the two fibers. Except for the skill to make the fiber optic quick connector, the quality of the connector is important. There is the glue between the joining point, however, this is not what you can see and decide.

3. Factory Pre-made Fiber Optic Cable

As we mentioned at the beginning, the factory uses a different process to build the fiber optical connector. The fiber optical cable still needs to be prepared, but the final step will be different. The surface of the connector is being polished to achieve flatness. The advantage of pre-factory fiber optical cable is plug-and-play. There is no need to make the connector in the field. It saves time to fusion splice or makes the quick connector. As the cable is 100% in the factory, the insert loss and attenuation coefficient has a good consistency. Sometimes, even the fusion splice, may still create some difficult performance between point A and point B, which require tools to figure out the issues. 

The disadvantage of the pre-made fiber optical cable is the fixed length. You will have no just good distance. The actual length comes up after the cable is being wired. One of the solutions is to use the fiber optical coupler to increase the length of the cable. It is always better to reserve longer rather than shorter while using the pre-made fiber optic cable. You can roll up the pigtail while there is extra cable at the destination. Like all the fiber optical cables, the pre-made cable can’t be blend 90 degrees. If the cable is broken somehow during the wiring, the whole cable will be damaged. The pigtail is the most fragile part after the jacket is removed. You can choose the pre-made fiber optical cable with armor at the pigtail. So the pigtail will not be broken easily.

There is a single mode and multiple mode fiber optical cable. We recommend using the single-mode while deploying the fiber optical cable for IP surveillance, wireless access point, and VoIP phone. You can see more multiple mode fiber optic cables being deployed in the data center or backbone network. The single-mode fiber optic cable can achieve totally longer distance than multiple mode fiber optical cable. The diameters of single-mode and multi-mode are different. Usually, we don’t join a single mode to multiple modes unless it has to be done. The light travel angle will change, because the core diameter of multi-modes is large, while single modes are not the same.

The fiber optical cable achieves long distance, fast speed, and low latency. However, the fiber optic cable can’t carry the power. Unlike copper, we can employ POE technology to send both power and data up to 2000ft. One of the workarounds is wiring two copper cords in parallel to send the power to the edge devices. The power loss inline must be considered. The consequence of power loss is the voltage drop. The media converter with a voltage regulator built-in can deal with the voltage drop.

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