Network Communications News (NCN) NCN-Sept2017 - Page 30

FIBRE OPTIC & COPPER CABLING The remarkable evolution of modern fibre optic connector inspection probes As fibre optic data rates continue their inexorable rise, connector inspection is taking on increased importance for those who install and maintain fibre networks, says Maury Wood, product line manager for cleaning and inspection products at AFL Global. E ve r y o n e i s awa re t h at t h e i nfo r m at i o n te c h n o l o g y wo r l d e n c i rc l i n g u s i s s i m u l ta n e o u s l y get t i n g b ot h fa s te r a n d d e n s e r. B i t s of d ata a re f l y i n g t h ro u g h o pt i c a l n et wo r k l i n k s at rate s of 100 billion per second and h i g h e r, a n d t h e fe at u re s i ze s i n t h e n et wo r k p ro c e s s o r c h i p s at t h e e n d s o f t h e s e n et wo r k l i n k s c o nt i n u e to s h r i n k , a s ro u g h l y a n d fa m o u s l y p re d i cte d b y G o rd o n M o o re . Multifibre connectors such as MPO, MT, and MXC are putting more and more less-than-human- hair diameter glass fibres into tighter spaces. With single MPO connectors increasingly utilising 12 fibres at 25Gbps per fibre, the asset value of these 400Gbps short reach Ethernet links is exceedingly high, making data centre infrastructure equipment failures due to connector contamination completely unacceptable to savvy management teams. Microscopic connector end-face dirt and debris cause light reflections and attenuation, the enemies of optimal optical signal transmission. Thankfully, there now exist excellent quality and easy-to-use tools for inspecting and cleaning fibre end-faces. In particular, the brief history and evolution of fibre microscopes shows a compelling level of innovation, in terms of optics, electronics and software. 30 | September 2017 To aid our survey and history of fibre inspection tools, there are several classification distinctions. These are: V iewing method – direct or indirect path; I maging method – optical or electronic; I mage storage – internal or external; F ocus – manual or automatic; I mage view screen – integrated or external; C onnectivity – wired or wireless; P ower – battery or tethered; and C ommand & control – local or network remote/cloud. For the most cost-sensitive applications, as well as specialised use cases, hand-held optical microscopes with direct viewing paths are available. Direct view fibre microscopes require infrared safety filters, are focused manually, use batteries for end face illumination, and typically offer 200x magnification levels. They have largely fallen out of favour, as they do not allow for the documentation of end-face surface conditions or objective standard- compliant pass/fail criteria, such as IEC 61300-3-35 or IPC-8497-1. Direct view microscopes impose a legal liability risk, due improperly installed infrared safety filters leading to end-user eye damage. Also, these older style optical microscopes cannot leverage the enormous economies of