Understanding Fiber Termination Tools: What's Needed to Get the Job Done?
Fiber optic tools are very different than those used for coax, twisted pair and other copper-based cables. The below article explores the commonly used products for terminating and integrating fiber optic cable, connectors and accessories.
You can view the tools in action in one of our step-by-step termination videos.
We also have an unboxing video of the fiber termination kit.
You can browse all of TechLogix's tools online.
Kevlar / Aramid Yarn Sheers
Fiber optic kevlar and aramid yarn sheers are used for cutting fiber optic cables. Optical cables are surprisingly strong and kevlar sheers are essential for trimming the cable from the spool and cutting cables to length. A good sheers features a stainless-steel micro-serrated blade.
Three-Hole Jacket Stripper
Fiber optic three-hole jacket strippers remove the outer jacket and inner strand coatings from the fiber optic cable. The largest hole is designed for the outer cable jacket, the middle hole reduces the inner 900µm buffer to 250µm, and the smallest hole reduces a 250µm strand to 125µm. Actual use will be dictated by the cable and connectors you are working with (most fiber tools are universally compatible with a variety of different cable and connector types).
Precision Wheel Cleaver
The precision wheel cleaver cleanly cuts (or "cleaves") the fiber optic strand. A high-quality cleaver essentially scores and snaps the glass strand, ensuring a clean transmitting surface. Cleaving the fiber strand during termination is essential because the kevlar sheers and three-hole stripper will crush and/or crack the glass during normal use.
Look for a cleaver with an adjustable wheel. This will provide better longevity and compatibility with a variety of cable types.
Visual Fault Locator (VFL)
The VFL generates a visible red laser which transmits through the fiber optic cable and connectors. It's essential for showing signal continuity and, depending on the type of connectors, can be used to troubleshoot termination. The VFL is also useful for finding out-of-spec cable bends and breaks because the red light is often visible through an overly torqued cable jacket.
Most VFLs are natively compatible with 2.5mm ferrule connections, such as SC, ST and FC-style connectors. LC connectors require a VFL adapter.
Visual Fault Locator (VFL) Adapter
The VFL adapter adapts a 2.5mm ferrule (such as those in SC, ST and FC connections) to the 1.25mm ferrule size used in LC connectors.
Metric Ruler and Marker
A complete fiber optic tool kit will also include a permanent marker and a metric ruler (make sure the ruler is metric!). These are used to measure and mark cable cut, strip and cleave lengths.
Cleaning Supplies: Wipes and Alcohol Bottle
A complete fiber optic kit should also have cleaning supplies, including lint-free wipes and alcohol. It's essential to clean optical strands prior to insertion into a connector or splice because any contaminants (think dust, oil and pollen) can cause the optic strand to misalign thereby creating loss. You can read more in this article.
The above images show the effect of contaminants on optical lenses.
Pen-Style "Click" Cleaners
Pen-style, or "click" style, fiber optic cleaners are used to clean contaminants from the optical lenses in connectors, couplers, adapters and electronics' ports. Most cleaners are rated for 800 - 1000 clean cycles and they are specific to either 2.5mm (SC, ST, FC) or 1.25mm (LC) ferrules.