- Is Cleerline fiber actually glass?
- How is the glass protected on a Cleerline fiber?
- Are Cleerline fibers compatible with the system I’m installing?
- The system I’m installing today does not utilize fiber. Should I install fiber anyway?
- How long does it take to terminate Cleerline fiber?
- What are the key advantages of SSF™ fiber for my installers?
- Can I use Cleerline fiber to build Toslink cables?
Cleerline SSF™ Basics
- Can I polish SSF™ fiber?
- How do I remove the SSF™ “Soft Peel” coating?
- Can I use fiber optic strippers to remove “Soft Peel?”
- How much “Soft Peel” do I remove?
- Is cleaning the fiber with alcohol required for terminations with Cleerline fibers?
- How do I cleave Cleerline fiber?
- What does a cleaver do?
- What cleaver should I use?
- My cleaver is not working/not cleaving Cleerline fiber.
- How do I verify cleave quality?
- How do I verify my connection?
- What type of tester or verification equipment can I use?
- What is the industry standard for acceptable mechanical splice connector dB loss?
- What type of connector do I use?
- What is an Index matching gel connector (mechanical splice-type connector)?
- Can I re-use my connectors?
- What connectors will Cleerline fiber work with?
- Are Cleerline connectors and fiber compatible with SFP modules?
- Multimode vs. Single Mode
- How far can I run multimode?
- How does Cleerline fiber compare to standard fiber?
- What is the difference between distribution cable construction and Micro Distribution cable construction?
- I have a high tension cable installation or will be pulling cable through conduit. What do I need to do when installing?
Fiber Type and Installation
Cleerline SSF™ Basics
Is Cleerline fiber actually glass?
Yes. Cleerline Fiber incorporates a glass core surrounded by glass cladding. It is made in a similar fashion to all standard and bend insensitive fiber optic glass on the market. Cleerline fibers incorporate a polymer coating as part of the fiber that provide a variety of benefits. Cleerline fibers are stronger, safer, and faster to terminate than standard optical fibers.
How is the glass protected on a Cleerline fiber?
The glass is protected with an integral proprietary polymeric coating that makes up the outer diameter of the overall 125 micron diameter of the fiber. It is very hard like glass, but more durable. This coating eliminates the need for the typical plastic “buffer” on standard fiber that has to be stripped/removed prior to termination. This Cleerline polymer coating also provides additional benefits:
- Protects the glass fiber as it is never truly exposed to the elements.
- Provides incredible bend insensitivity.
- Increased safety factor when working/terminating the fiber.
- Provides increased speed and efficiency in the termination process.
Are Cleerline fibers compatible with the system I’m installing?
Yes. Cleerline fiber meets or exceeds all of the standard industry performance requirements and specifications of standard glass fibers within their particular type/category. Cleerline fibers exceed specifications in regards to bend tolerance, durability, tensile strength, and many other areas when compared to typical glass fibers.
The system I’m installing today does not utilize fiber. Should I install fiber anyway?
Yes. Fiber is not just the next horizon for connectivity, the switch to fiber is happening right now. With the needs of data, communications, and video content transmission increasing exponentially it is only a matter of time as to when most all systems will require fiber.
How long does it take to terminate Cleerline fiber?
Depending on the connector system being utilized we have measured results anywhere from 1–5 minutes. At Cleerline we are constantly refining the process and looking at ways to minimize the time and expertise required.
What are the key advantages of SSF™ fiber for my installers?
Stronger—Cleerline fibers are stronger and more durable than typical glass fibers. With over 10,000x the bend capability and up to 400x the pull strength, Cleerline fibers allow for reliability and ease of use when installing and terminating fiber optics.
Safer—Cleerline’s unique design makes the fiber more flexible, and very difficult to break. The fiber is not prone to puncturing the skin, making Cleerline fiber a safer, friendlier product to handle for both the technician and the job site.
Faster—With Cleerline the glass fiber is never exposed to the elements and the termination process is greatly simplified. With reduced steps resulting in up to 80% savings and reduced tooling cost, Cleerline fibers simplify the process of fiber optic termination.
Can I use Cleerline fiber to build Toslink cables?
No. Toslink cables are a Toshiba optical audio cable and send signal via an LED light source. The cables are composed of a plastic optical fiber, which is much larger than a 50/125um glass fiber. As a result, these cables can only be cut in a larger factory.
Can I polish SSF™ fiber?
Cleerline fibers work to simplify the termination process. Cleerline fiber combined with Mechanical splice-type connectors allow for incredible advancements in efficiency, safety, and reduced tooling cost. With Cleerline’s integral polymer being incorporated as part of the glass fiber it is not recommended for applications that defeat these benefits. Cleerline can be polished if required.
How do I remove the SSF™ “Soft Peel” coating?
The SSF™ 250 micron soft peel coating can be easily removed with your fingertips/fingernails. Lightly scraping on the coating with your fingers/finger nails will easily remove the soft peel. Ensure the removal is complete by running your fingers down all sides of the fiber. Keep in mind even with the soft peel removed the glass is still protected and encased by the integral Cleerline polymer.
Can I use fiber optic strippers to remove “Soft Peel?”
Cleerline fiber has an integral polymer coating as part of the glass. This coating is part of the fibers’ overall 125 micron diameter. As a result the glass is never exposed and eliminates the need for a typical buffer type coating. The 250 micron soft peel coating can be easily removed with your fingertips/nails. The use of fiber optic strippers is not needed nor is it recommended to remove the Soft Peel coating.
How much “Soft Peel” do I remove?
Cleerline’s “Soft Peel” 250 micron coating can be used for measurement purposes (much like standard fibers 900 micron buffer) in place of the 250 hard acrylate buffer coating that is on typical fiber optic glass. It also can simply be removed if it is not needed. The amount of soft peel to remove is most typically determined by the connection system you are installing (just like with standard fiber).
The difference with Cleerline fiber is even with the soft peel coating removed there is never exposed glass due to SSF’s patented integral polymer. Cleerline has further simplified this process by evaluating the variety of pre-polished connector systems on the market and provides simplified instructional videos for terminating some of the most common connectors available.
Is cleaning the fiber with alcohol required for terminations with Cleerline fibers?
Standard fiber optic cable requires that the buffer coating on the glass be stripped and removed, exposing the bare glass fiber. In doing so typically a residue remains from the buffer; glass is exposed to the elements and contaminants that must be removed to protect the fiber from long term defects. Cleaning with alcohol is performed to remove this residue prior to cleaving. With Cleerline fiber no stripping is required and it is not necessary to perform this process. However, if desired, Cleerline fiber can be prepped with alcohol; although it is not required as in this case of Cleerline fibers the polymer coating is cleaned, and the glass is not exposed and is always encased and protected.
How do I cleave Cleerline fiber?
You can cleave Cleerline fiber like any other glass fiber. Note: due to the increased strength, bend, and durability of Cleerline fiber you might find that your cleaver needs to be adjusted to cleave or “score” the Cleerline fiber correctly. Although typical precision wheel cleavers are used to cleave Cleerline fiber, a wheel height adjustment may be required and is a simple 5–10 minute one-time process.
What does a cleaver do?
Fiber optic cleavers are designed to “score” the glass and break the fiber at a pre-determined angle. As with all glass, scoring glass and then breaking it is not precise and can cause fractures. The process of cleaving strives to reduce the fractures down the glass strand and produce fiber end faces that allow for proper signal transfer with the least amount of signal loss. There are many varieties of cleavers on the market available to today’s fiber optic technician. Precision wheel cleavers typically produce a higher quality and more consistent cleave and resulting fiber end face.
What cleaver should I use?
Not all cleavers are designed or created equally. Many are designed to cleave at a precise 0 degree angle while some are designed to cleave at a more forgiving 2 degree angle. Depending upon your link budget and type of fiber utilized please evaluate the best cleaver for your application. There are many different methods of cleaving. The most sophisticated use precise tension to pull on the glass during the process or include laser cutting devices. The least expensive method is commonly referred to as “score and snap,” using a carbide “tooth” and tension with the user pulling the glass to break it or “cleave.” The price of cleavers can also vary greatly. Higher quality cleavers typically utilize a precision blade that “scores” the glass during the cleaving process and are referred to as “precision wheel cleavers.” Precision wheel cleavers incorporate a wheel blade to “score” the fiber, usually being made from carbide, diamond, or other hard elements coating the surface of the blade. These types of cleavers can typically cleave at a high service rate producing a consistent fiber end face and are available at a reasonable cost for today’s fiber technicians.
When researching or looking at cleavers please note for any precision wheel cleavers you will want a cleaver that has wheel/blade height adjustments available. Cleerline fiber’s integral polymer coating not only protects the glass fiber, it also allows for extreme bend and durability and as a result it is a much stronger glass fiber. Some cleavers will require that the blade height be adjusted to properly “score” and cleave the glass fiber. Cleavers purchased through Cleerline come “pre-adjusted.” Blade height adjustments can also be performed in the field and typically takes approximately 5–10 minutes to perform.
How do I verify cleave quality?
Cleave quality can most commonly be evaluated with the use of an inexpensive cleave inspection microscope such as the Belden AX100910. This allows the user to view the quality of the cleave prior to insertion into the connector or for simple evaluation of the cleaver being utilized. When using high quality precision wheel cleavers this step is typically not necessary as the quality of cleave is highly repeatable. Cleavers that utilize a “score and snap” approach can produce consistent cleaves but having an inspection microscope can be beneficial for these types of cleavers.
My cleaver is not working/not cleaving Cleerline fiber.
This is specifically due to the SSF™ integral polymer coating that is part of the Cleerline fiber. This polymer is as hard as glass and has a number of different properties that strengthen the glass fiber. The polymer coating strengthens the glass fiber making it more durable and allows greater bend over standard fibers. Some cleavers that cleave standard 125um fiber without an issue may need to be adjusted to cleave the stronger, more durable Cleerline fiber.
The fix is relatively simple for most wheel type cleavers: with precision wheel cleavers, it is an easy blade height adjustment procedure. Please refer to the instructions provided with your cleaver or contact Cleerline Technology Group for more information. For most precision wheel cleavers this procedure is a simple 5–10 minute adjustment process.
How do I verify my connection?
The easiest and simplest way to verify your connection is using a simple Visual Fault Locator or VFL.
Of course there are more sophisticated and reliable ways to verify how well you made the connection. Just because you have light on the other end doesn’t mean you are not losing too much signal. A light source and power meter are the most common form of verification for identifying signal loss and ensuring that the power loss falls within an acceptable range. For longer connections/higher volume installations test equipment such as an OTDR would be a common verification tool that is utilized for these types of installations.
The type of installation and the equipment being installed work to dictate the testing that may be required. That being said, for the AV professional the link budget on most multimode transceivers is very high, and the tolerance for mediocre connections is higher than in the Telecomm or other “Mission Critical” type industries. Know your equipment and requirements before deploying it in the field, as you should with all systems and equipment.
What type of tester or verification equipment can I use?
As with all standard fiber optic equipment, Cleerline fibers can be tested per industry standards utilizing optical light sources, power meters, and OTDR’s. In most cases a VFL tester can verify that a connection has been successfully made. Dependent on the application of the installation, the link budget (or loss budget, determined by measuring the total loss of all connectors, cable, and installed patch cables) may be such that additional tools and testers may/may not be required. Again, know your installation, application, and the equipment you are installing.
What is the industry standard for acceptable mechanical splice connector dB loss?
According to the EIA/TIA 568 standard for mechanical splice connectors, acceptable loss is 0.75dB.
What type of connector do I use?
Cleerline fibers are compatible with all common “quick connect” mechanical splice-type connectors, commonly referred to as “no polish” type. If you are currently installing fiber optic systems and making mechanical splice-type connections then the answer is most likely to continue to utilize your current connector system. There have been many advancements in fiber optic connector technology over the past few decades. Currently there is a wide variety of mechanical splice or “quick connect” type pre-polished connection systems. A wide variety of manufacturers have attempted to provide advancements/innovations to simplify the termination process with each connection system. These types of connectors when combined with Cleerline fiber allows for incredibly efficient and durable connections. Cleerline Technology Group has evaluated the many varieties of these types of connectors for both speed and quality.
What is an Index matching gel connector (mechanical splice-type connector)?
A simplified explanation is in an optical fiber connector for both installation and/or repair which provides for the semi-permanent joining of two fibers through the use of a plastic or metal connector containing a sleeve filled with index-matching gel and a ferrule. This gel joins or fills the gap between the optical ferrule that is located in the connector and the cleaved fiber that is inserted for termination. The “joining ” of the fiber and the ferrule completes the connection or “termination.” Gelled mechanical splices win on cost, reduced complexity, ease of assembly, and, in severe environments the mechanical pliability and sealant qualities of a gel help ensure reliable long-life service. The refractive index of an optical gel is engineered to match the refractive index of the fiber (or lenses or other transparent materials in electro-optical devices) virtually eliminating the large differential optical impedance between air in the gap and the signal carrying light guides. Signal reflection is minimized.
Over their existence during the last 25 to 30 years there have been many improvements to this type of connection system. The connectors, gels, and ferrules utilized have all been refined during this time period. Misconceptions exist today regarding their reliability and performance. The use of mechanical splice connectors in the USA lags behind those of other countries that have deployed fiber optic cabling at a substantially higher rate. Asia specifically with countries such as Japan and South Korea have deployed tens of millions of these types of connections in their telecom and data deployments. This trend is continuing around the world with this type of connector becoming the accepted connection of choice due to the many factors discussed above.
Can I re-use my connectors?
That depends. If you are using epoxy style crimp on fittings, the answer is no. These types of connectors are cheaper but require more work, and a much higher degree of training. They are also more difficult to use so they create a significant amount of waste.
With Mechanical Splice-style connectors, they are more expensive, but they are easier to use and are generally reusable between 3–5 times depending on the manufacturer.
What connectors will Cleerline fiber work with?
The process of selecting connectors for Cleerline fiber is the same method as with standard fiber optic cable. The fiber type, Multimode or Singlemode is the first item to be taken into consideration when selecting the appropriate connector. Making sure that the connectors are specific to the given type of fiber so that they match the fiber core size, diameters, speed, etc., is all part of this process.
Are Cleerline connectors and fiber compatible with SFP modules?
Yes, Cleerline connectors are compatible with SFP (small form-factor pluggable) modules. Most frequently, SFP modules require 2 strands of fiber with LC connectors.
Multimode vs. Single Mode
The fiber type is predominantly determined by the data rate of the system. Multimode fibers cannot handle data rates as high as Singlemode fibers because of modal dispersion or more simply multimode fiber is designed to have different modes traveling down it that arrive at the receiver in a different order than they were sent. Singlemode fiber is designed for long haul/high data rates whereas multimode is used for shorter distances and multiple signals. Because of the differences in construction it is easier and cheaper to terminate multimode fibers with their large core diameters than singlemode fibers, which have a much smaller core.
Single mode has a smaller core size that multimode. The most common is typically a 9 micron core coupled with glass cladding surrounding it making up an overall 125 micron diameter–commonly referred to as 9/125. Multimode fiber has a larger core size. Although there are a variety of sizes of multimode fibers, the most common version today utilizes a 50 micron core with glass cladding surrounding it making up an overall 125 micron diameter—commonly referred to as 50/125.
How far can I run multimode?
Multimode optical fiber (multimode fiber or MM fiber or fibre) is a type of optical cable mostly used for communication over short distances, such as within a building, building to building, or on a campus. Typical multimode links have data rates of 10 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s over link lengths of up to 600 meters (300 m for 10 Gbit/s) more than sufficient for the majority of premises applications. Because of its high capacity and reliability, multimode optical fiber generally is used for backbone applications in buildings. An increasing number of users are taking the benefits of fiber closer to the user by running fiber to the desktop or to the zone. Standards-compliant architectures such as Centralized Cabling and fiber to the telecom enclosure offer users the ability to leverage the distance capabilities of fiber by centralizing electronics in telecommunications rooms rather than having active electronics on each floor. Review your installation and equipment requirements to determine the fiber that best fits each application.
How does Cleerline fiber compare to standard fiber?
Cleerline fibers meet all of the standard performance requirements and specifications that other standard glass types adhere to within their specific categories. In most all cases Cleerline fiber not only meets but exceeds these specifications, some exponentially—bend strength and durability being just a few examples.
What is the difference between distribution cable construction and Micro Distribution cable construction?
Micro Distribution cable does not utilize a 900um tight buffer within the construction.
I have a high tension cable installation. What do I need to do when installing?
When pulling cable through conduit or installing under high tension, be sure to attach the pull string to the Aramid/Kevlar yarns (strength members) within the cable. This will prevent damage to the glass fibers and prevent distortion of the outer jacket.