Antique Equipment - Any antique wisdom?

Having got about nowhere with begging for donations, I took a couple of flyers on cheeep stuff from the 'bay. New folks or those with short memories, I run a small high school network on a tiny, miserly budget. None of it's here yet, but I'll cast a net for information, if there's any to be had...

I've got a pair of Orionics fusion splicers, circa 1984 & late '85 - FW303 & FW304A


A Laser Precision TD-9950 OTDR with a 955 (1300/1520 SM) module that the self test reports, passed, as a 953 (1300 SM) Either is fine, I run a

1300 SM network, but it's a bit odd that the module (clearly marked 955 in the picture) reports itself differently. Unlike some I didn't bid on, it passes the self-test, anyway.

The good, albeit expensive if needed, news is that Aurora Electronics (who makes the FW312 and some non-Oronics splicers) claims to support the older Orionics equipment, and even say they have recently rebuilt an FW304A. New electrodes would be available from them, but I'd love to know if they interchange with any more common splicer.

Laser Precision seems to be good and dead with no successors, but several places will "calibrate" them if needed.

Any further information beyond what little there is at (watch the wrap):

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Would be wonderful. I'm hoping the splicers actually have the manuals, since those are $50 each from Aurora. I have no idea how the 304A is "improved" (I assume, as it's newer) over the 303 - both look pretty much manual operation, and the 304A is nowhere on the web except for a patent mention of the brochure. Anyone got a brochure? Or a long memory? Anybody used one or the other or both?

I'm also wondering if the Laser Precision modules, which look like they would have room for it, put a launch fiber coiled up in the module, or if I'll need to make a launch fiber to get any use from that. I can see I'm either going to have to pay too much for a biconic connector (guessing from photos and datasheet) or open the module and replace the connector with something a bit less legacy, for starters.

While $30,000 would be nice to get the nice toys (or even $7,000 to get the bottom-of the barrel new ones) I'm hoping to get to functional-if-clunky-and-limited with, thus far, under $250 invested in the splicer/OTDR parts of the puzzle. We'll see how that pans out when stuff gets here. It's somewhat more optimistic than my default assumptions, but would be nice if it sort of pans out. I assume the splicer internal batteries are dead, but if they work from external power that's fine.

Fortunately I can put up with splice loss considerably above what the current crop of fancy automagic splicers manage, as my links are pretty short.

Advance thanks for any helpful antique pearls of wisdom (or whiz-dumb as the case may be.)

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