Fiber U Self Study

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Fiber Optic Testing, Lesson 1: Overview of Fiber Optic Testing - What Needs Testing

Objectives: From this self-study lesson you should learn:
  • What needs testing?
  • What is involved in visual fiber optic inspection and testing?
  • How is optical power  like voltage iin electrical systems?
  • What is "loss" and what are the different ways it can be measured?
  • What can OTDR testing tell you?
  • What role does testing have in restoration?
  • What is the role of standards in fiber optic testing?

Fiber optic testing includes testing of various components (fiber, connectors, PON splitters, etc.), subsystems (patch cords, cable plants, factory prefab cable assemblies) and systems (complete communications systems.) Components are usually tested in labs during the development phase or factories when manufactured. Many if not most fiber optic techs are more concerned with testing cabling systems as they install them or are troubleshooting problems.

In this course, we will spend more time on installation testing with some side trips on component testing for those interested in that aspect of fiber optic testing. In order to test installed cable plants, we use visual tests (microscope inspection, visual tracing and fault location),  optical power and loss tests (optical power and insertion loss), OTDR or backscatter tests (length, loss, troubleshooting) and more complex tests for special applications. Methods used for testing various components or systems like outside plant and premises networks will vary, so we'll try to explain the differences.

It's always best to start with an overview. In this first lesson we will view a video and and read a section of the Online Guide that give you an introduction to fiber optic testing and the instruments before we go into more detail.

And a word about standards: Most fiber optic standards cover some aspect of testing; the rest generally cover component specifications or usage that depend on testing to verify those specifications or performance parameters. It's important to understand the intent of standards as well as the content, although neither may be obvious. Component standards are generally written for future systems, goals for manufacturers to aim for when creating new products, but they sometimes forget about the installed base. FOA has been working on creating test standards that are more easily understood and applied and we'll cover those too.

How The Fiber U Program Works
Each lesson plan in the course leads you to read online or printed materials (with an emphasis on the online using the FOA Guide), watch FOA YouTube Videos, complete some activities and take the quizzes. Each lesson plan will be self-contained. Lesson plans open in new pages so the course overview page stays open to lead you to the next lesson or you may use the link at the bottom of the page.

Student Assignment

Read the references, watch the videos and take the quizzes (Test Your Knowledge)

In this lesson, the video gives an overview and the Online Reference provides more detail.

FOA YouTube Videos
FOA Lecture 12: Fiber Optic Testing Overview  (This video will give you an overview of fiber optic testing to get you started on this course. It will help you understand some of the terms we use and the tests we will cover in more detail later in the course.)
FOA Standards (Overview of standards and the FOA standards program)

Online FOA Reference
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics,
Basics: Fiber Optic Testing  
(This section of the FOA Guide will give you an overview of fiber optic testing to get you started on this course. It will help you understand some of the terms we use and the tests we will cover in more detail later in the course.)
Fiber Optic and Cabling Standards (Understanding what standards are and how to use them properly.)

FOA standards program (FOA's work to develop sensible standards.)

Reference Textbooks, Printed Versions
FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics, Chapter 8
FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics, Chapter 8 

Extra Credit Reading
Assignments beyond the basics required for the course will be listed as extra credit: Fiber Optic Jargon (with quiz)

Test Your Knowledge
Online Quiz

Next Lesson, #2 Fiber Optic Test Instruments 


Table of Contents: The FOA Reference Guide To Fiber Optics

(C)2016, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.