BY JEFF GRIFFIN
Fiber Tool Kits
FOLLOW THE LIGHT
The days of predominately copper
structured wiring are long past. Technicians are
installing a growing amount of fiber optic cable
in surveillance, alarm and control systems. For
example, surveillance systems are linked with
single-mode fiber to ensure purer images and
less data loss and interference than copper systems. Fiber cable also is being used in security
surveillance systems that cover wide areas. A
break in the fiber link on a fence perimeter can
indicate a security breach.
“A virtual tsunami of fiber optic cabling in structured wiring continues
to transform the work of integrated systems contractors,”
said Frank Bisbee, editor of
online magazine, Heard on the
Street ( www.wireville.com). “Side
by side with low-voltage copper cabling, some industry observers expect
fiber demand to increase more than 80
percent in the next five to seven years.
Why fiber? Distance, speed and bandwidth
are critical factors for project designers, and
fiber provides all three.”
Training and the right tools are necessary for
installers experienced with copper to develop
expanded skill sets for fiber optic cabling.
Basic fiber tools, equipment and supplies include jacket stripper and fiber stripper (tools that
perform both functions are available); Kevlar cutter; black workstation mat; tweezers; fiber scrap
receptacle; cleaning wipes or swabs; curing oven
or crimp tool, depending on connector type; scribe;
lapping film; polishing disc; neoprene pad base for
polishing; 200x power microscope; and visual fault
finder or continuity tester. Tools are sold individually and packaged by function in kits appropriate
to the several specialized fiber installation steps.
Fiber tool suppliers include Greenlee (www.
greenleecommunications.com), Ideal Industries
( www.idealind.com), Leviton ( www.leviton.com),
Panduit ( www.panduit.com) and Ripley (www.
For example, Panduit offers three standard
kits: FCAMKIT for OptiCam prepolished cam con-
nectors; FIELDKIT and FIELDKIT-G tool kits for
field epoxy/polish connectors; and PCF-LCFTK
for polymer-clad fiber crimp-on connectors.
Greenlee fiber kits are laser/OPM (mini fiber
tools—single-mode); laser, LED and OPM (mini
fiber tools—single-mode and multimode); LED
and OPM (mini fiber tools—multimode); and Fusion Splice Contractor Kit (fusion splicer, cleaver,
fiber stripper and extra battery).
Panduit product manager James Swigert
said there are several options for terminating
fiber optic cable, and each method requires a
slightly different set of tools.
“A typical tool kit will include consumables
such as wipes and cleaner as well as tools such
as strippers and cleavers,” he said. “Cam connectors, such as our OptiCam, typically require
a proprietary termination tool.
“Proper fiber handling and termination techniques are of great importance. Cleaving, the
method of cutting the fiber strand to length,
greatly affects the performance of the connector and the success of the termination.
“Putting too much tensile strain on a cable
and bending around too tight of a corner during
installation can cause a number of problems that would not be noticed until
after a cable was terminated and tested. Installers should make themselves
aware of the recommended bend radius
and tensile specifications of the cable
they are installing,” Swigert said.
A recent improvement that Swigert
cited is the connector cradle for the OCTT
Greenlee Communications product manager Keith Foord said technicians must have
the appropriate tools and the training to use
them properly to install and commission fiber
optic networks. Tools and instruments need
to be easy to use so technicians understand
Foord cited recent improvements in several
tool categories. Fusion splicers are easier to
use than the older versions that required more
training and adjustments.
“Splice-on connectors are being used to
replace mechanical connectors; mechanical
connectors are prone to failure, reliability issues
and can cause high return loss and high inser-
tion loss events, which will limit bandwidth,” he
said. “Splice-on connectors introduce no inser-
tion or return losses; thus, [they] are the choice
of high bandwidth fiber networks. One-click
fiber cleaning pens are available, which make
cleaning of the ferrule and bulkhead easier and
more effective than ever before.”
Foord said common errors when installing
fiber include “not cleaning and inspecting fiber
connections. More than 70 percent of all fail-
ures in fiber optic networks can be attributed
“[Problems come from] failure to clean and not
performing ARC calibrations on fusion splicers.
The operation of fusion splicers can be mastered
quite quickly if the technician adheres to the training provided. This includes the cleaning and ARC
Greenlee’s fusion splicer and cleaver kit