The Importance of Cleaning Your Fiber-Optic Cable Assemblies

The ability to transmit enormous amounts of data over long distances in an instant is a distinct advantage of fiber optic cables. Fiber installers, however, must ensure that contamination on the fiber connectors is minimized in order to stay within the acceptable range of data loss. Oil and dust particles small enough to be invisible to the naked eye are large enough to block the entire 9µ core diameter of a single mode fiber. Smaller soils increase signal attenuation and return loss and have the potential to cause permanent damage to the connectors.

Most contaminants are impossible to see without the aid of a microscope as the fiber core is several times smaller than a human hair. Furthermore, the act of mating and de-mating connectors causes dust particles outside of critical areas to accumulate and redistribute onto the connector end face. Additionally, mating a dirty plug cross contaminates the other plug.
Now that we know the importance of keeping your SMPTE cable assemblies clean, we can move to the next step; testing your SMPTE assemblies.

The Clark CWT-SMPTE is the only SMPTE cable tester of its kind. A two-piece test set designed specifically for testing both the fiber and copper elements of a terminated SMPTE 304/311 camera cable assembly. The fiber elements are tested for power loss and displayed in dB loss, while the copper elements are tested for multiple combinations of opens and shorts. What’s more, measurements are displayed on color touch screen display for easy viewing and operation.

  • Clean all the fiber contacts on both the tester and cable to be
    tested prior to connection.

  • Dirt, dust, and debris can not only create additional loss, they can also permanently damage the ceramic contacts. Failure to properly clean the fiber optic contacts prior to testing can result in damage to the tester and void the warranty.

    Clark recommends contacts can be cleaned with the Clark FOC-CK-OCS, one-click cleaning pen for 2.0mm SMPTE fiber optic contacts.

  • Periodically check the fiber contacts for contamination and damage. Clean the contacts as described above. With the power off on both units (for eye and sensor safety), inspect the contacts with a microscope such as the Clark FOT-SCP3-F2.

  • NOTE: If deep scratches or cracks are found on the contacts, contact Clark to have the unit repaired.

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