Jimma University Jimma Institute of Technology Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Communication Engineering Stream Module 4 Optics

and Optical Communication Optical Fiber Cables, Connectors, and Splices I. Optical Fiber Cables Optical cables are essential elements of an optical communications link. Cabling is the process of packaging optical fibers in a cable structure for handling and protection. In some applications bare fibers work just fine, such as fiber optic sensors and laboratory use. However for most communication applications fibers must be packaged in a cable for practical use. The major benefits of fiber optic cabling are: • Easy Handling Some communication systems require tens or even hundreds of fibers (such as a metro backbone system). Put fibers in a cable make it very easy to install and maintain. • Protection from damaging forces Fiber optic cables have to be pulled into place through ducts (outdoor) or conduits (indoor). Pulling eyes are attached to the strength members or cable outer jackets. This is critical for isolating the fibers from the applied pulling forces. Glass fibers cannot endure more than 0.1% to 0.2% elongation during installation. • Protection from harsh environment factors Cable structures protect fibers from moisture (outdoor cables), extreme temperature (aerial cables) and influx of hydrogen into the fiber (which causes light absorption peak at 1380nm which in turn impair fibers’ transmission properties). Fiber Related Design Issues Cabling of optical fibers involves enclosing them within some type of protective structure. The cable structure will vary greatly depending on whether the cable is to be pulled or blown into underground or intrabuilding tubes (called ducts), buried directly in the ground, installed on outdoor poles, or placed underwater. The objectives of cable manufacturers have been that the optical fiber cables should be installable with the same type of equipment, installation techniques, and precautions as those used for conventional wire cables. Properties of Optical Fibers

• Fiber strength • Dielectric (nonmetallic) nature • Small size and low weight Fiber Strength: Maximum allowable axial load - Mechanical property that specifies how hard one can pull on the cable before something snaps. Typical high quality optical fibers break after stretching around 0.5 to 1.0 percent. Fiber elongations during cable installation and afterward when it is in operation should be limited to 0.1 to 0.2 percent. To prevent excessive stretching, the cabling process usually includes the incorporation of strength members into the cable design. Some examples of strength members are strong yarns, steel wires and fiber rods. Dielectric nature of fibers: Nonmetallic cables are advantageous to use because of their low weight, immunity to ground-loop problems, resistance to electromagnetic coupling arising from adjacent electronics equipment or nearby lightning strikes, and can be run through explosive environments where electric sparks would be very welcome. Small size and low weight: Cable designs must take into account the small size of optical fibers both from the perspective of handling ease and from the desire to have a strong, low-weight cable. The cabling processing itself also color-codes each fiber by means of different jacket colors and arranges the small fibers systematically within the cable. Elements in a Fiber Optic Cables The construction design and choices of materials are vital in determining characteristics of a cable. The design factors for some types of fiber optic cables are listed below. Indoor cables: Fire safety is the number one factor in selecting indoor cables, particularly those that run through plenum spaces. Indoor cables must pass the flame-retardant and smoke-inhibitor ratings specified by NEC. Outdoor cables: Moisture resistance and temperature tolerance are the major factors when choosing materials for outdoor environment cables. They also need to be ultraviolet (UV) resistant. Aerial/Figure 8 Self-Supporting Cables: Aerial cables must endure extreme temperature ranges from sunlight heat to freezing snow. They also must survive high wind loading. Cable Jacket Materials Polyethylene (PE). PE (black color) is the standard jacket material for outdoor fiber optic cables. PE has excellent moisture – and weather-resistance properties. It has very stable dielectric properties over a wide temperature range. It is also abrasion-resistant.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC is the most common material for indoor cables; however it can also be used for outdoor cables. It is flexible and fire-retardant. PVC is more expensive than PE. Polyvinyl difluoride (PVDF). PVDF is used for plenum cables because it has better fire-retardant properties than PE and produces little smoke. Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) plastics. LSZH plastics are used for a special kind of cable called LSZH cables. They produce little smoke and no toxic halogen compounds. But they are the most expensive jacket material. Aramid Yarn (trade name Kevlar, developed by DuPont) Aramid yarn is a yellow color, fiber looking material. It is strong and is used to bundle and protect the loose tubes or fibers in the cable. It is the strength member to provide tensile strength along the length of the cable during and after installation. When a cable is pulled into a duct, the tension is applied to the aramid yarn instead of the fibers. Central Strength Member Many fiber optic cables has a central strength member, made of steel, fiberglass or aramid yarn. Central strength members are needed to provide the rigidity to keep the cable from buckling. Central strength members are common in outdoor cables and some high fiber counts indoor cables. Gel Compound Gel compound fills buffer tubes and cable interiors, making the cable impervious to water. It needs to be completely cleaned off when the cable end is stripped for termination. Ripcord Ripcord is a thin but very strong thread embedded just below the cable jacket. Its role is to split the cable easily without harming cable interiors.

Two Basic Fiber Structures Fiber optic cables are available in a wide variety of physical constructions. Fiber cables can be anything from simple simplex or duplex (zipcord) cables used for jumpers to 144-fiber cable for intercity transmission. However most of the fibers used in these cables come down to two basic configurations – 900 μm tight buffered fibers or 250 μm coated fibers (also called bare fibers). Actually tight buffered fibers cover a coated fiber(the coating is soft plastic) with a thick layer of harder plastic, making it easier to handle and providing physical protection.

The structure of a 250um coated fiber (bare fiber) • Core (9 μm for standard single mode fibers, 50 μm or 62.5 μm for multimode fibers) • Cladding (125 μm) • Coating (soft plastic, 250 μm is the most popular, sometimes 400 μm is also used) The structure of a 900um tight buffered fiber • Core (9um for standard single mode fibers, 50 μm or 62.5 μm for multimode fibers) • Cladding (125 μm) • Coating (soft plastic, 250 μm) • Tight buffer (hard plastic, 900 μm)

Fiber Optic Cable Construction - Two Basic Types Based on 900 μm tight buffered fiber and 250 μm coated fiber there are two basic types of fiber optic cable constructions – Tight Buffered Cable and Loose Tube Cable. Tight Buffered Cable Multiple color-coded 900 μm tight buffered fibers can be packed tightly together in a compact cable structure, an approach widely used indoors; these cables are called tight buffered cables. Tight buffered cables are used to connect outside plant cables to terminal equipment, and also for linking various devices in a premises network. Multi-fiber, tight buffered cables often are used for intra-building, risers, general building and plenum applications. Tight buffered cables are mostly built for indoor applications, although some tight buffered cables have been built for outdoor applications too.

Tight Buffered Fiber Optic Cable Sample Structure of a Tight Buffered Cable Elements in a tight buffered fiber optic cable 1. Multiple 900 μm tight buffered fibers (stranded around the central strength member) 2. Central strength member (in the center of the cable) 3. Aramid Yarn (trade name Kevlar, Kevlar was developed by Dupont) (wrapped around the fibers, for physical protection and cable pulling) 4. Ripcord (for easy removal of outer jacket) 5. Outer jacket (also called sheath, PVC is most common for indoor cables because of its flexible, fire-retardant and easy extrusion characteristics. )

Cross Section of a Tight Buffered Fiber Optic Cable Loose Tube Cable On the other hand multiple (up to 12) 250 μm coated fibers (bare fibers) can be put inside a color coded, flexible plastic tube, which usually is filled with a gel compound that prevents moisture from seeping through the hollow tube. Buffer tubes are stranded around a dielectric or steel central member. Aramid yarn is used as primary strength member. Then an outer polyethylene jacket is extruded over the core. These cables are called loose tube cables. Loose tube structure isolates the fibers from the cable structure. This is a big advantage in handling thermal and other stresses encountered outdoors, which are why most loose tube fiber optic cables are built for outdoor applications. Loose-tube cables typically are used for outside-plant installation in aerial, duct and direct-buried applications.

Fiber Optic Loose Tube Cable Samples Structure of a Loose Tube Cable Elements in a loose tube fiber optic cable: 1. Multiple 250 μm coated bare fibers (in loose tube) 2. One or more loose tubes holding 250 μm bare fibers. Loose tubes strand around the central strength member. 3. Moisture blocking gel in each loose tube for water blocking and protection of 250 μm fibers 4. Central strength member (in the center of the cable and is stranded around by loose tubes) 5. Aramid Yarn as strength member 6. Ripcord (for easy removal of outer jacket) 7. Outer jacket (Polyethylene is most common for outdoor cables because of its moisture resistant, abrasion resistant and stable over wide temperature range characteristics. )

Cross Section of a Loose Tube Fiber Optic Cable Types of Fiber Optic Cable (Most Popular Fiber Optic Cable Types) 1. Indoor Cables Simplex Fiber Cables A single cable structure with a single fiber. Simplex cable varieties include 1.6mm & 3mm jacket sizes.

Duplex Fiber Optic Cable Duplex-zip. This cable contains two optical fibers in a single cable structure. Light is not coupled between the two fibers; typically one fiber is used to transmit signals in one direction and the other receives.

Distribution Fiber Cables This compact building cable consists of individual 900µm buffered fiber, is smaller in size and costs less than breakout cable. Connectors may be installed directly on 900µm buffered fiber at breakout box location.

Breakout Fiber Cables Breakout cables are also called fanout cables. In tight buffered cables each fiber is only a 900um tight buffered fiber, but in breakout cables every fiber is a subcable by itself. Each fiber has a 2~3mm jacket, then outer jacket covers these subcables, aramid yarn and ripcord inside. This design allows users to divide the cable to serve users with individual fibers, without the need for patch panel. Breakout cable enables the quick installation of connectors onto 2+mm robust jacketed fiber.

Ribbon Fiber Cables Consists of up to 12 fibers contained side by side within a single jacket. Often used for network applications and data centers.

LSZH Fiber Cables Low Smoke Zero Halogen cables are offered as an alternative for halogen-free applications. Less toxic and slower to ignite, they are a good choice for many

internal installations. They are available as simplex, duplex and 1.6mm designs. This cable may be run through risers directly to a convenient network or splicing closet for interconnection.

2. Outdoor Fiber Cable Indoor/outdoor Tight Buffered Fiber Cables Indoor/outdoor rated tight buffered cables have riser and plenum rated versions. These cables are flexible, easy to handle and simple to install. Since they do not use gel, the connectors can be terminated directly onto the 900um fiber without difficult-to-use kits. This provides an easy and overall less expensive installation.

Outdoor Loose Tube Fiber Optic Cables Tube encloses multiple coated fibers that are surrounded by a gel compound that protects the cable from moisture in outside environments. Cable is restricted from indoor use, typically allowing entry not to exceed 50 feet.

Indoor/Outdoor Dry Loose Tube Fiber Optic Cable This cable is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. One advantage of this cable is that it eliminates the need for a splice or connector at the point where the cable transitions between an outdoor and indoor environment.

3. Aerial/Self-Supporting Figure 8 Fiber Optic Cables (Aerial/Self-Supporting Fiber Cables)

Figure 8 (aerial/self-supporting) fiber cables are designed to be strung from poles outdoors and most can also be installed in underground ducts. They have internal stress members of steel of steel or aramid yarn that protect fibers from stress. Aerial cable provides ease of installation and reduces time and cost. Figure 8 cable can easily be separated between the fiber and the messenger. Temperature range -55 to +85°C.

4. Direct-buried Armored Fiber Optic Cable Armored cables are similar to outdoor cables but include an outer armor layer for mechanical protection and to prevent damage. They can be installed in ducts or aerially, or directly buried underground. Armor is surrounded by a polyethylene jacket. Armored cable can be used for rodent protection in direct burial if required. This cable is non-gel filled and can also be used in aerial applications. The armor can be removed leaving the inner cable suitable for any indoor/outdoor use. Temperature rating -40 to +85°C.

5. Submarine Fiber Optic Cable (Undersea Fiber Optic Cable) Submarine cables are used in fresh or salt water. To protect them from damage by fishing trawlers and boat anchors they have elaborately designed structures and armors. Long distance submarine cables are especially complex designed.

Installation Methods Workers can install optical cables by: • Pulling or blowing them through ducts (both indoor and outdoor) or other spaces • Laying them in a trench outside • Plowing them directly into the ground

• Suspending them in poles • Laying or plowing them underwater Precautions: • Avoiding sharp bends on the cable • Minimizing stresses on the installed cable • Periodically allowing extra cable slack along the route for unexpected repairs • Avoiding excessive pulling or hard yank on the cable Direct-burial Installations  Fiber optic cable can be plowed directly underground or placed in a trench which is filled in later.  Plowing is not feasible in urban environment, a trench method must be used.  Trenching allows the installation to be more controlled than plowing  Using the combined methods, plowing is being done in isolated areas and trenching being done where plowing is not feasible, such as in urban areas.  Warning posts or markers may be placed above ground to alert future digging operators to its presence Pulling into ducts  To reduce pulling tensions during cable installation, the inside walls can have longitudinal or corrugated ribs, or they have been lubricated at the factory.  A duct can contain a pulling tape running along its length for easy identification of distance  End plugs can be added to prevent water and debris from entering the duct. Air-assisted Installation  Using forced air to blow a fiber cable into the duct  Cable jetting or HASB (high airspeed blown) method – referring to the cable installation scheme of utilizing the friction of the air moving the cable jacket  Air-assisted cable installation methods: (a) force of air is in the fiber, (b) force of air is in the end piston Aerial Installation  Stationary reel technique – this methods stations the payoff reel at one end of the cable route and the take-up reel at the other end  If a messenger wire is used, first this wire is installed between poles with an appropriate tension and sag calculated to support the fiber optic cable. The messenger must be grounded properly Prepared by: Sherwin N. Catolos, meece

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