Fiber novice makes progress

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As I said in my original missive 4 months back, this really belongs in
something like comp.lan.fiber, or sci.fiber.basics but there are no such
groups.

Starting from more or less nowhere, I've gotten fiber strung across my
campus (with some help, and donated fiber) and fiddled around with
getting equipment racks in place at various buildings. Yesterday I
trimmed and stripped 156 fiber ends and today I finally gritted my
teeth, popped the separator on a pack of epoxy, loaded a syringe and got
down to business making connections. Epoxied and baked 16 connectors,
cleaved and polished 12 of those. My back is in knots from stress (hours
of fiddly work), but the job went better than I had any right to expect,
given that up to this point fiber connections and I have only had a
"book and web learning" association.

Did not break any fibers while getting them into connectors. Actually
only broke one while stripping 156.

Getting the bead of epoxy through the ferrule proved easier to manage
(enough, but not too much) than expected, while getting the right amount
into the back part of the connector while withdrawing the needle was
harder, with nothing to see and so little volume used that the
graduations on the syringe were not any help.

2 gram epoxy packs were more than enough - despite a heat-cure-only
epoxy with a 4 hour pot life, it still claimed only a 45 minute syringe
life - I think it was about 1.5 ml and I probably only used 0.5 ml of it
- perhaps next time I'll try leaving "about half" in the package after
mixing, and see if I can get two syringes of use-time out of it. 4 gram
pack would have been an utter waste.

Some of the cleaves were a bit too much (fiber snapped while being
scribed) but they all look good when polished, so evidently none managed
to fracture down into the ferrule despite my poorly calibrated scribing
force.

Was very happy to have gotten a microscope with dual mode
(Oblique/coaxial) lighting. For a complete novice, scoping the fibers as
polishing progressed was helpful, and with singlemode fiber only one of
the two modes (oblique) shows the core. Both are good when checking for
dirt and scratches, as they highlight different things.

Should get easier from here.

--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Re: Fiber novice makes progress
Ecnerwal wrote:
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Well done.

Cheers

Phil Hobbs

--
Dr Philip C D Hobbs
Principal
ElectroOptical Innovations
55 Orchard Rd
Briarcliff Manor NY 10510
845-480-2058

email: hobbs (atsign) electrooptical (period) net
http://electrooptical.net

Re: Fiber novice makes progress
Dmitri(cabling-Design.com) had written this in response to
http://forums.cabling-design.com/fiberoptics/Fiber-novice-makes-progress-913-.htm
 :
Ecnerwal wrote:

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Ah, polishing fibers on college campuses! Brings up some nice memories of
having a few thousand SM  ends done one summer.

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16-24 connectors is all you can do from a pack of epoxy due to the syringe
needle clogging up (I think you write about it further down) and the oven
capacity. Which oven do you have, BTW?

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A player (with good headphones) with some low tempo music or an audiobook
on some light subject works best to to keep stress at bay. "Rise and fall
of the Roman Empire" and Pink Floyd (lots of) kept me going for a few
months.

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Heat setting epoxy is the best type for someone just starting out - no
time pressure (like 1 min for anaerobic type) usually makes the process go
much smoother.

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Apply pressure to the syringe and wait until the bead of epoxy is approx
1/3rd of the diameter of the ferrule, then keep the pressure on the
syringe (so it won't suck the epoxy back in) and withdraw the needle

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Good idea but I don't think it'll work too good because its viscosity in
the package during that time will increase to the point where it will be
hard to squeeze through the needle anyway. I never tried though because
extra epoxy was always at hand - most of the time we had left overs from
other jobs and some were approaching shelf time so needed to be used up
anyway. I'd be interested to learn about the outcome if you try.


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This is the part that requires most practice and the scribe always has to
be sharp and preferably new. If you can, get a new one every 1000 or so
cleaves - they are not terribly expensive and a sharp one makes a log of
difference. Again, heat-setting epoxy is best for a novice because it
forms a protective cone at the tip of the ferrule that prevents the crack
from going too deep. Makes for a bit longer polishing but less ends need
re-doing due to bad cleaving.  

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Did you get a microscope with an optical laser safety filter? Can be
useful if students start getting involved in helping with IT - never know
what's shining into it from the other end. I can sort of see ends
energized at 850nm as a dark red spot but 1300 and up - no chance to see
what's coming at you. Fluke's FT140 with a safety filter can be very
useful in alleviating the fiber technician anxiety :)

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It definitely will! First 156 are always the hardest! ;)

My email should be decipherable, feel free to drop a message if you need
do discuss any part of your project. I understand you're braving the whole
thing in DIY mode, so I'd be happy to help if I can.

Good luck!

-------------------------------------
Best Regards,
Dmitri Abaimov, RCDD
http://www.cabling-design.com/homecabling/
Home Cabling Guide, Cabling Forum, color codes, pinouts and other useful
resources for premises cabling users and pros

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Re: Fiber novice makes progress
 info_at_cabling-design_dot_com@foo.com (Dmitri(cabling-Design.com))
 wrote:

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FIS - got an old one (but it's the same as the current model other than
the block) with a connector block for what looks like 8 FDDI, and bought
an LC connector block (24 holes, FC/ST/D4 on the back side that I never
expect to use) new from FIS. Shaving a few dollars to help my tiny
budget survive - the used one seems to work as well as a new one (which
would be used by the time I was done with it....)

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I did try this, and it did work (40 LC connectors from a 2 gram pack,
and I still had epoxy left in the syringes.) Mind you, the epoxy data
confuses the issue; one chart says 45 min syringe, another says 90 min
syringe, both say 4 hour pot. This is the FIS quick-cure (heat cure
only) which sets in 5 min at 100C (and turns from amber to red, nice
touch so you know it's cured) though I have been belt-and-suspendering
it to stay for at least 15 minutes after the last connector, as I don't
have more than 24 (that I'm actually connecting right now) at any one
location anyway. I suspect the pot life is quite conservative, actually,
and yesterday I split the package but never even opened the (mixed)
second half, as the syringe was working fine for at least 90-100 min.
The remainder is about like honey today.

That may be (from the MSDS) Epo-Tek 353ND, just packaged conveniently.

I have enough bad personal (non-fiber related) history with superglue
that I was not too interested in going that route, even though it meant
having to buy an oven. As it turns out, that has been for the best, I
think.

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Scribe is brand new, carbide. I got no responses to my query about why
there are ruby and sapphire scribes, and why would I want one .vs.
carbide, so I got a Panduit carbide because all the fancy scribing
machines use carbide wheels, Panduit is a decent brand IME, and it was
cheap at Amazon (the fact that it costs less & looks about 9 times
better than the cheapest thing FIS sells was gravy, though largely
irrelevant.) Had 12 scribes on it at the end of the day I wrote the
above. Won't hit 1000 on this campus - if I did, even with my tiny
budget, I could afford a new scribe or replacement tip if I could find
it for less than the cost of a whole new scribe (I hate it when prices
are not logical.) Of course, with used diamond abrasives available,
sharpening it would also be possible...

The polishing time (getting the epoxy blob off) is not very tedious, and
beats the heck out of having to do connectors over.

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Yes, it (FIS Compact) has a laser filter (I'm at 1310), but one of the
upsides of a very small operation is that the far end of the fiber is
locked, and I have the only key. So long as I don't get stupid/careless,
I won't have live fibers.

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Actually, after that first day doing 16 it got much better, simply from
knowing what I was up against in practice, rather than merely in theory.
I was, for instance, far more worried about breaking a fiber off in the
connector than has turned out to be warranted by actual experience,
since the possibility had been mentioned in several sources (along with
the checking that it wasn't by making sure the tip would pull back.) Got
a work flow sorted out and could approach it with more calm.

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I've been checking to make sure the ferrules move when I'm done. Some
are a bit stiff, so I have at least partly had this problem. I think I
have a better feel for it now. I spent some time waffling (or covering
options) due to a possible donation that did not happen, so I'm sitting
on 100 sm SC connectors I won't be using, but everything I'm installing
is LC.

--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Re: Fiber novice makes progress
Dmitri(cabling-Design.com) had written this in response to
http://forums.cabling-design.com/fiberoptics/Re-Fiber-novice-makes-progress-917-.htm
 :

Ecnerwal wrote:

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never

These ovens will outlast you and me - getting a used one was a prudent
choice.

BTW, if you are pinching pennies, FIS may not be the least expensive
option. They are good and the selection is very nice but for absolute
lowest prices we've found Kitco ( http://kitcofo.com/ ) to be a good
balance between price and quality. There were some quality issues way in
the past, but it's a great product now.      


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This is very much dependent on the ambient temperature, too: at factories
where they connectorize patch cords, I've seen them keeping mixed packs
literally on ice (in portable coolers as it were) for the duration of the
8 hr shift.  

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Now I'm thoroughly confused: when you mix epoxy and hardener (remove the
separator, use it to squeeze the plastic pouch back/forth until the entire
content becomes mixed and evenly colored - red), there are no longer any
halves - the etire package contains the same mix. Were you trying to mix
only parts of the package? I don't know how this could be done and it
sounds like a recipe for disaster anyway. Do you literally separate (cut
with scissors for example) parts A and B before they are mixed, then mix
in a cup of some sort? I wouldn't do it because they are accurately
proportioned for the size of the whole package. But then, again, maybe I
just misunderstood.


 
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Definitely for the best - the heat curing epoxy is also much harder than
other types and polishes better and make a much better yield, even for an
experienced installer.


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Hmm... I thought I responded back then to the scribe question, well, too
late now, you've made the best decision on your own anyway.


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You never know - fibers get mixed up, equipment gets turned on/off
accidentally (I've seen equipment sitting in the closet, turned on for 5+
years before someone cared to investigate what it is and why it's on)  and
additional people get involved (but not until you've finished all the
hardest parts :) )


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LCs are nice but give a lot of grief to some of us with, how should I say,
less compact fingers (and shorter nails), especially in high density
cross-connects. I've taught a class on installation and witnessed some
people were unable to handle such a small part and I've had some less than
fun time myself trying to disconnect LCs from high density panels. So,
from this point on in your college all IT recruits would have to pass
dexterity tests before getting hired :)

Cheers,
D.



-------------------------------------
Best Regards,
Dmitri Abaimov, RCDD
http://www.cabling-design.com/homecabling/
Home Cabling Guide, Cabling Forum, color codes, pinouts and other useful
resources for premises cabling users and pros



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Re: Fiber novice makes progress
 info_at_cabling-design_dot_com@foo.com (Dmitri(cabling-Design.com))
 wrote:

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They are good for some stuff, and close by. When I thought I was buying
cable they looked phenomenal compared to everything else I looked at
(prices per meter as good as or better than prices per foot for
equivalent cable.) Some stuff they are absurd about - the scribe already
mentioned, Kevlar shears and pucks all came from Amazon after price
comparisons. Their pucks are 3 times the price of Paladin pucks from
Amazon, and I can't quite imagine that they are 3 times as good. A bunch
of stuff I got from *B*y. And I had some useful donations - a huge one
from ADC, and smaller ones no less appreciated from 3M and Ripley.

I just took a quick look at the kitco site, and NO. Sorry, I can't stand
dealing with a website that won't admit to a price (and I've generally
found them to cost more than ones that will admit to a price when I have
asked - I did a _lot_ of that at the beginning of this project.) Every
item I looked at wanted me to submit a quote request to find out how
dearly they cared to sell it. I don't have much, if anything, more to
buy at this point anyway.

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You just misunderstood. I was trying to make that clear with the (mixed)
above, but evidently failed. I mixed the whole package. I divided the
mixed epoxy and put the clip back on before loading the (first) syringe.
In the case that there's a second syringe later, I load it from the
other half, later. Yesterday, I never used the second half - that is
what's gotten to "honey-like" consistency today. Just trying to milk the
"pot life" .vs. "syringe life" aspect a little. Ice would also make
sense for the second half.

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I think you did, but it may have been after I already had made up my
mind while nothing was coming in for a while after I pitched that stone
into the waters.

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I turned off a phone line this fall that had been disused (but costing
$50+/month) for 2 years. Additional people is remotely possible, but
pretty remote. But I'm glad to have the filter in place, even if I never
need it.

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They make tools (ie, Skinny Fingers, et al) to help the finger-enhanced,
which seems better than not hiring people due to physical
characteristics that can be overcome with assistive devices. In my case
I avoided cross connects, so they are all easy enough to reach - if they
were not, I'd add a tool to the bag. The part where I need to fiddle
with which glasses I'm wearing depending on what I want to look at is
already in full swing for me.

--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Re: Fiber novice makes progress
Dmitri(cabling-Design.com) had written this in response to
http://forums.cabling-design.com/fiberoptics/Fiber-novice-makes-progress-913-.htm
 :
Ecnerwal wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Looked at your post from 4 months ago and realized you are doing LC
connectors (I think it sounded like a final choice back then anyways). So,
with these little ones you should be very extra careful not to inject too
much epoxy - they are susceptible to a very inconvenient problem whereby
the epoxy can get out of the ferrule and onto the spring and glue the
spring and ferrule frozen. This makes the ferrule no longer movable and,
although it can still mate with a good, spring-loaded ferrule of a
factory-made patch cord, it won't mate with another frozen one. That makes
the issue harder to detect until you need to make that one important
connection between two ends both of which you connectorized. Found that
out a hard way, so watch out!


-------------------------------------
Best Regards,
Dmitri Abaimov, RCDD
http://www.cabling-design.com/homecabling/
Home Cabling Guide, Cabling Forum, color codes, pinouts and other useful
resources for premises cabling users and pros



--
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|              *** a better way to USENET ***              |
| no-spam Web and RSS interface to your favorite newsgroup |
|      sci.optics.fiber - 859 messages and counting!       |
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