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Tips for Using and Maintaining Fiber Patch Cables

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Posted on April 8, 2020
August 3, 2020
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Fiber patch cables are common assemblies seen in optical communications to link devices and network components. To ensure normal optical transmission and fiber durability, it is necessary to get familiar with the user instructions and precautions. This post will introduce the precaution for taking care of fiber patch cables from the perspectives of connecting, disconnecting, and routine maintaining, which is recommended for you to prevent a series of possible harmful consequences.

Connecting and Disconnecting Fiber Patch Cables

Fiber patch cables can be used with many network devices, such as optical transceiver modules, fiber adapter panels, fiber cassettes, media converters, and other products having fiber optic interfaces. The following part will introduce the general steps for connecting and disconnecting fiber patch cords, taking connecting a fiber patch cable to a transceiver installed in a network switch as an example.

Connecting Fiber Patch Cables


  • Remove the rubber safety caps covered on the fiber optic connectors at both ends of fiber patch cables and remember to keep these caps well.

  • Remove the cap from the optical transceiver.

  • Insert the cable connector into the optical transceiver.

  • Fix and fasten the fiber patch cables by placing fixing elements on a loop to help cables maintain their shape.

Disconnecting Fiber Patch Cables


  • Disable the interface in which the optical transceiver is installed by running a command.

  • Carefully unplug the cable connector from the transceiver.

  • Cover the transceiver with a rubber safety cap.

  • Cover the cable connector with a rubber safety cap.

There are some points that should be noted during the connecting and disconnecting process:


  • The installation personnel needs to be skilled enough with an understanding of the network layout so as to ensure the quality and safety of the installation.

  • Always wear safety glasses and protective glasses to avoid electric shock or touching fiber shards. Anti static wrist strap band is necessary to reduce static electricity when operating with active devices.

  • Pay attention to the bending radius of the fiber patch cords. Excessive pulling or squeezing will possibly cause damage to fiber jumpers.

  • Do not let the jumpers hang free from optical transceivers or run free on the floor randomly. It is very likely to stress the cables at the fastening point or break the cables once pulling the cables accidentally

  • Never look directly into the end of fiber cables when there is a laser coupled to it for the safety of your eyes.

  • Avoid frequently inserting or removing fiber patch cables from devices or the fiber end face will produce wear.

  • Thoroughly clean the working area after the completion of installation.

Maintaining Fiber Patch Cables

The daily maintenance for fiber patch cables matters a lot in the fiber optic system. There are two main aspects to which you should pay attention during routine maintenance.

Keep Fiber Patch Cables Clean

It is often heard that special attention should be given to the fiber optic patch cable cleaning, but are you clear why it is so important? In brief, for reliable and robust fiber optic networks. According to an industry survey by a major telecom company, contamination is the number-one reason for troubleshooting optical networks. Fibers are so fragile that once they are covered by dust or other contaminations, the optical signal can be degraded. What’s more, the metallic particles worn by the bodies and fiber housings of the fiber optic connectors will block a fiber, which will cause signal loss, thus eventually reducing the network performance and causing a great loss for businesses that rely on fiber-optic networks.

Generally, fiber optic cleaning refers to cleaning fiber connectors. How to ensure you clean fiber connectors using correct ways? There are two main cleaning methods: dry cleaning and wet cleaning, each performing different functions. Reel-type fiber cleaners, pen cleaners, fiber cleaning wipes, and foam swabs are the common fiber connector cleaning solutions. More information about these solutions and cleaning steps is available in How Much Do You Know About Fiber Connector Cleaning?

Store Fiber Patch Cables Properly

No matter a fiber cable is in use or out of use, there is one significant point to be considered: Do not bend or stretch your fiber cable too much. It is often the case when working with fiber optic cables, people stretch or bend them. For this reason, the worst case is the fiber may get damaged. Some breakage caused by bending can be visible, but some loss may not, such as microscopic fiber deformations caused by very low temperature, displacement of a few millimeters caused by buffer or jacket imperfections, poor installation practice or other factors. Since such loss can not be seen by the human eyes directly, it will be overlooked and things can get even worse over time. In case of a huge loss when the fiber patch cords must be replaced, the following essential elements need attention:


  • Design your fiber cable pathway using proper tools or components to protect fibers, such as horizontal cable managers.

  • Do not bend fiber patch cables beyond their minimum bend radius, especially in those tight spaces of high-density fiber patching areas.

  • Make sure not to hit the fiber connector against anything! On the one hand, those ends may get abraded or broken. On the other side, broken glass at the fiber end can cut someone’s skin. It is suggested to use protective caps when storing or pulling fibers.

  • OTDR and optical fiber microscopes are recommended if you need equipment for measuring and identifying any faults such as breaks within the fiber cable or overall attenuation.

Conclusion

This post lists some common issues to be considered and the related suggestions when working with fiber patch cables. Following these simple fiber cable using tips can help deploy a safer and more stable fiber cable system.