In the past, fiber optic connectors posed a deep concern for network installers because they were difficult to use. But today, manufacturers are making connectors that are more user-friendly and that adhere to certain industry standards. Thanks to these improvements, more and more companies are turning to fiber optic systems to build their business networks.
Functions of Fiber Optic Connectors
The fiber optic connector has several functions. It aligns the fiber with emitters in transmitters, adjacent fibers in splices, and photo-detectors in receivers. With the development of various connector styles, each one has its own advantages, disadvantages, and capabilities. All fiber optic connectors have four basic components, which are the ferrule, connector body, cable, and coupling device.
Types of Connectors
For multimode networks such as those used in buildings and campuses, the ST is the most common fiber optic connector. This connector has a long cylindrical ferrule for holding the fiber and a bayonet mount. The ST connector is considered the most popular multimode connector because it is cheap and easy to install.
The SC fiber optic connector, which is a snap-in connector that latches with a simple push-pull motion, is used in single mode systems. This connector shows excellent performance and is also available in a duplex configuration. The MU connector is more popular in Japan and looks like a miniature SC with a 1.25-mm ferrule.
A standard ceramic ferrule connector, which is half the size of an ST connector, is the LC connector. This connector is used in single mode systems, performs well, and is easily terminated with any adhesive. A connector that is similar to the LC, but has a shutter over the end of the fiber is the E2000/LX5.
Used in multimode systems only, the MT-RJ connector is duplex with both fibers in a single polymer ferrule. Pins are used for alignment with male and female versions.
The Opti-Jack is a rugged, but neat duplex connector designed around two ST-type ferrules in a package that’s the size of an RJ-45. This connector has both male and female (jack and plug) versions.
An inexpensive duplex connector that uses no ferrule at all is the Volition connector. This connector aligns fibers in a V-groove like a splice. Mainly used for pre-terminated cable assemblies is the MT connector, which is a 12-fiber connector for ribbon cable.
Inspecting Fiber Optic Connectors
To diagnose any problems or to check the quality of the termination procedure, a fiber optic microscope is used to inspect fiber optic connectors. The microscope allows inspection of the connector from any angle either by tilting the connector or illuminating the angle.
When inspected, the connector should have a smooth and scratch-free finish with no signs of cracks or chips on the fiber where it is either pulling back into the ferrule or protruding from the end.
Fiber Optic Connectors and Safety
As a safety precaution, a worker should always check to make sure there is no power present in the cable before looking at it in a microscope. The fiber end face of a connector should never be touched. Always keep unused connectors covered with a plastic dust cap and discard any damaged connectors.
With the wide variety of fiber optic connectors available today, companies can easily convert to fiber optic networks and start enjoying the benefits of a faster, more efficient work environment.