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Don’t Tell Us Connector Cleaning Does not Matter!

A high-performance fiber optic network requires low attenuation and low reflectance values to obtain the necessary bit error rate level. Unfortunately, all it takes is one contaminated or damaged connector to slow down or disrupt a transmission system.

In the images below, see how cleaning connectors significantly reduces insertion loss and reflectance and the effects of cross contamination.

Cleaning Makes a Difference!

These two dirty connectors are not an uncommon thing! We mated them ‘as is’ and tested for insertion loss and reflectance.

Dirty_Conn1.png     Dirty_Conn2.png   Dirty_Conn_Trace.png

We then cleaned the connectors with a dry one-click cleaner, mated them again, and ran the same test. Connector images and results have improved dramatically.

Clean_Conn1-(1).png     Clean_Conn2-(1).png   Clean_Conn_Trace-(1).png
Images courtesy of AFL Test & Inspection

Contamination from a Dirty Test Lead

Below is a clean connector – one end of your link where you’ll connect your test cord for optical loss testing.

Clean_Test_Lead1.png     Clean_Test_Lead2.png

Add a Dirty Test Lead!

Dirty_Test_Lead1.png     Dirty_Test_Lead2.png

This could be a test lead that someone carries around in their test equipment bag or tool kit. The technician may have lost the dust cap or even wiped it on their shirt. They plug that test lead in and mate it to your clean connector.

Dirty_to_Clean1.png     Dirty_to_Clean2.png

Images courtesy of Fluke Networks

Ouch! See what your clean, undamaged connector looks like now? Cross-contaminated by the dirty test lead!

It is important to recognize the difference between contaminants and end face damage. To do so requires a good inspection scope with the digital video ones being the safest and most versatile. Inspecting and cleaning both ferrules and adapters is essential as cross contamination from one dirty plug can contaminate its mating plug.