The fiber optic patch is a length of fiber cabling fitted with LC, ST, SC, OR MTRJ connectors at each end. Fiber patches are also referred to as fiber optic cable or fiber jumpers. Fiber patch connects and allows transmission between devices and networks. These cords are ideal for a large number of applications ranging from LAN applications, data centers medical imaging, mechanical engineering, cable TV networks, telephone lines, and so on.
Specialized fiber optic cables are also used for intercontinental communication links. Data line cables are laid underneath the ocean for communication between the continents. There are several types of patch cables in the market when it comes to fiber patch cables.
Factors to consider for the Right Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Some of the factors to determine when choosing fiber optic patches are:
The Connector Type
Optical connectors are being used to connect fiber optic cables to the network devices. Both the ends of the fiber optic patch contain different connectors. These are LC, SC, ST, FC, MPO, and MTP. Different connectors are in use to plug into different devices. If similar port type devices are being connected then use the same type of connectors on both ends, such as LC-LC, SC-SC, MPO-MPO. However, if different port type devices have to be connected then the connections LC-SC, LC-ST, LC-FC are appropriate. The common available connector types of fiber patch cord are:
LC -Lucent Connector:
LC connector is a square-like shape connector that uses a pull-push mechanism. Lucent connectors are simple to use and inexpensive to produce. It is one of the most common and popular types of connectors.
SC –Standard or Square Connector:
The connector is square, like an LC, but twice the size. It also holds into place using a push/pull mating mechanism. It is durable and has a simple installation for both point-to-point and passive optical networking.
ST -Straight Tip Connector:
It is an older style round connector that uses a bayonet plug and socket. It is being used for commercial wiring. It is easy to install and low in cost in comparison to other connectors.
MTRJ- Mechanical Transfer Registered Jack:
MTRJ gets part of its name from RJ style modular plug due to the resemblance between them. The MTRJ connector is popular for small form factor devices due to its small size. It uses two fibers and integrates them into a single design. the main usage of MTRJ connectors is for networking applications.
Fiber Patch Cord Operation Types – Choose Simplex or Duplex?
According to the number of fiber strands several fiber strands, there are Simplex and Duplex fiber patch cords. Simplex indicates that the fiber patch cable contains a single strand of glass fiber. Duplex is regarded as two fiber patch cables put side by side, which are being used for common transceivers. Simplex signals are sent in one direction, hence it is used where only a single transmit or receive line is required between devices.
Duplex patch cords are consists of two strands of glass or plastic fibers. These are most commonly used for duplex communications between devices. Duplex patch cord allows a separate transmit and receive through the cables. Common uses of duplex signals are, telecommunications, fiber switches, Ethernet switches.
Single Mode or Multimode
The mode of a fiber cable determines how light travels through within itself. As per the variations laid by International ISO/ EC/11801, fiber cables are broadly categorized in two modes. The multi-mode fiber prefixed by OM and the single-mode fiber is prefixed by OS. The varieties of multi-mode are OM, OM2, OM3, OM4 and Single-mode varieties are OS1 and OS2. The difference between the two modes is in core diameter.
Single fiber patch cord uses 9/125um glass fiber, wherein, 9 represents the diameter of core and 125 is the diameter of cladding. Multi-mode fiber patch cord uses 50/125um or 62.5/125um glass fiber. A single-mode fiber optic patch cord is used for long-distance data transmission. The distance range is 5000 meters to 10,000 meters with a transmission speed of 1 to 10 gigabit Ethernet. The larger core of the multi-mode fiber optic patch allows more signals to be transmitted. However, it does not maintain signal quality for long-distance transmission. It is ideal for short-distance transmissions.
Hence, if a large amount of data has to be moved over a short distance, then multi-mode fiber optic patches are appropriate. The single-mode and multi-mode varieties have different speed capabilities, bandwidth, and distance. The right type depends upon the hardware which is being used with them.
Select the Right Cable Length
The fiber optic patch cables are available in different lengths. They are usually available in length from 0.5m to 50 m. The length should be as per the distance between the two devices that are to be connected.
Select the Right Connector Polish Type
When connectors are installed at the end of the fiber it reflects the light on the fiber thus disrupting signals. Hence to increase the efficiency of fiber optic, connectors are being polished to different shapes. This minimizes the back reflection. There are three kinds of polish types for fiber patch cords:
- PC – Physical Contact
- UPC – Ultra Physical Contact
- APC – Angled Polished Connector.
PC and UPC are both polished with no angle through the end phase. APC patch cable end face has a polish at an eight-degree angle. The return loss of PC, UPC, and APC is -40 DB, -50 DB, and -60 DB respectively. Higher return loss indicates lower reflection and better connector performance. APC has the lowest back reflection due to the angled surface. PC polish type fiber connector is out of trend and instead, UPC polish types are more popular.
Choosing the polish type also depends upon the application and operability. Applications that are more sensitive to return loss and where high precision signals matter, APC are more preferred. Currently, APC is used in applications such as FTTx, passive optical network, PON, and wavelength-division multiplexing, WDM, networks. For the less sensitive digital systems like Digital TV and Data systems, UPC is ideal. Usually, the connector color of the APC patch cable is green, and of the UPC patch cable is blue.
Fiber optic jacket protects shielding and conductors within the cable. A jacket is the first line of defense against moisture, flame, chemical, and environmental damage to fiber-optic patches. The jacket serves as a smooth and low friction surface for able placement. The jacket material is application-specific. The material determines the jacket’s robustness and its resistance against chemical and UV radiation. The common three types of jackets are:
– PVC: Polyvinyl chloride It is the most common material used for the outer jacket. It is strong, flexible, and low cost. It is fire resistant and used in many applications.
– OFNP: which stands for Optical Fiber Non-conductive Plenum. It is used in the plenum area, i.e. the area between the ceiling and floor above it. This space is mainly reserved for the circulation of air. It is suitable for ducts and other spaces used for environmental air.
– LSZH: This jacket type stands for Low Smoke Zero Halogen. It describes a jacket material that gives off very little smoke and is fire-resistant. LSZH is ideal for applications where lots of people are confined in a certain place such as offices, airports, and train stations.
– Armored Cable: It consists of a cable surrounded by a steel or aluminum jacket and then covered with a polyethylene jacket. Double tubing allows these cables to withstand high crushing pressures, resistance to abrasions. It provides mechanical and rodent protection. This makes them suitable for running along with floors and other areas where they may be stepped on. Mainly found in outdoor cables. It can be used aerially or placed in underground enclosures.
While selecting a fiber optic, consider its performance and capability with various applications. Alongside we need to consider availability and price. Also one needs to consider the operating environments where the fiber optic cables will be used. Human safety and environmental protection should be of high concern. All these will provide a conducive environment. This will result in the appropriate function of fiber optic patches.