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EDUCAUSE Network Managers,

While seemingly rare, we have recently had some issues with our fiber optics network and I am wondering what options many of you use for testing fiber optics when necessary.  We have mostly multimode though there is some single mode.

1. Do you simply call in a contractor or electrician with appropriate fiber testing equipment to do your testing when needed?

2. Do you own your own equipment? and if so, what equipment do you have?  Roughly how much does it cost?

3.  Or do you just do crude testing with a flashlight or something before calling in an expert if necessary?

4.  Given the tightness of our budget, do any of you use anything under $1k that you would suggest gives value in testing, or are the practical fiber optic testing equipment well over $1k?

 

Thanks in advance for any responses.

 

 

Tim Tyler

Network Engineer

Beloit College

 

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Comments

On 12/6/2012 3:02 PM, Tim Tyler wrote:

EDUCAUSE Network Managers,

While seemingly rare, we have recently had some issues with our fiber optics network and I am wondering what options many of you use for testing fiber optics when necessary.  We have mostly multimode though there is some single mode.

1. Do you simply call in a contractor or electrician with appropriate fiber testing equipment to do your testing when needed?

2. Do you own your own equipment? and if so, what equipment do you have?  Roughly how much does it cost?

3.  Or do you just do crude testing with a flashlight or something before calling in an expert if necessary?

4.  Given the tightness of our budget, do any of you use anything under $1k that you would suggest gives value in testing, or are the practical fiber optic testing equipment well over $1k?


Obviously, a nice expensive OTDR makes troubleshooting a breeze in terms of time and effort.  If you have a sizeable fiber plant, or continuing to grow your existing plant, there is a breakeven point in there somewhere.  But I take it that's what you're trying to avoid :)

Beyond that, most issues come up trying to light a new circuit.  If you're doing multimode and SR/SH optics at 850nm, a cellphone camera is a handy tool.  Almost all cellphone cameras will pick up 850nm light, so you can readily check that you have the right fiber pair, and you can see which side is transmitting :)  Unfortunately (at least for my Droid phone) it does not see 1310nm and certainly not 1550nm if you have any of that.

A Fluke VisiFault is a relatively inexpensive addition that will inject visible light.

The next most practical thing is a power level meter to monitor dB loss across a fiber.  There are paired versions with an injector that you calibrate to the receiver, then move the receiver to the other end and measure the dB loss end-to-end (or a segment at a time).  There are also standalone power level meters that can be used at the receive end of an active circuit.  Personally I prefer the latter as you typically are looking for a receive level within the specs of your optics, and it shows you where you stand at the end of the live connection, as opposed to simply measuring a theoretical delta using a paired set (if your active transmit optics are out of spec, you can't measure that with a paired standalone set).

And finally the network gear is getting better, and DOM optics are becoming more commonplace.  If you're doing new deployments, try to take advantage of this while you have the chance.  It's much easier to go to a switch command line and look at optics levels than to have to drag out the test gear and make a field trip :)

Jeff
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

We have always called in a fiber contractor to handle fiber testing and repair. However, diagnostic equipment is dropping in price so we are starting to do more fiber testing in-house. While we do not do fiber repair, fiber termination kits are becoming a snap so we might do simple repairs in the future. Here is our toolkit for cable testing: - Fluke Linkrunner AT 2000 UTP cable tester - Fluke IntelliTone Pro 200 Probe UTP cable tester - Fluke OneShot Pro 1310nm single-mode fiber tester (FIBR1KITPROVF) with 100 meter launch cable - Fluke VisiFault Visual Fault Locator - Fluke FiberInspector Mini Video Microscope - Brother P-touch 7600 labeler We used to do flashlight testing. I would strongly recommend going with the VisiFault locator and the FiberInspector Mini Video Microscope. Barron Barron Hulver Director of Networking, Operations, and Systems Center for Information Technology Oberlin College 148 West College Street Oberlin, OH 44074 440-775-8798 Barron.J.Hulver@oberlin.edu http://www2.oberlin.edu/staff/bhulver/
Is anyone use the JDSU OLP product? We picked up a -82 with a P5000i, but documentation is lacking. I'd like to pick someone's brain on using this unit to its full potential. Thanks, Brian Helman ________________________________________