Fiber Optic Connectors - The Complete Guide


Fiber optic connectors are totally different than any other electronic or electrical connectors because they have to be perfectly clean in order to work. But most people do not know this fact and could easily ignore its importance. Another fact is that fiber optic connections are harder to trouble shoot in case of service outage. There are generally five main components to a fiber connector, the ferrule, the body, the coupling structure, the boot and the dust cap.

Fiber optic connectors are usually very sensitive thus prone to damage and contamination. To keep the devices in working condition for a long time, you should clean them regularly.

Compressed air is also referred to as "canned air". It is used to blow dust from fiber connector end face. It is least expensive and effective for large dry particles. Non-abrasive approach which won't scratch the connector. But it is little or no effect on particles below 3 microns in diameter. And proved to be ineffective if the contamination includes oil, fingerprints, dried solvent residue, etc.

Lint-free wipe and solvent was the first developed approach for cleaning fiber connectors. The oldest one used some sort of lens paper, cloth and sometimes solvent to clean. The most common solvent is IPA which tends to leave a residue as it dries slowly and dissolved/suspended solid are left behind. It is cheap and work well if trained properly. New types of solvents which leave almost no residue are becoming more popular. But its disadvantages are apparent - Unreliable; Largely depends on technician's skill.

You should use a cleaning card to clean the connector which is usually sold in many stores dealing with optic cable products. Once you have the card, you should peel the plastic cover, hold the connector between your thumb and forefinger and then using firm pressure, swipe the connector on the card in an "N" motion.

When swiping you should be cautious and ensure that you don't swipe over the same space twice. This is because doing this will result to contamination and even damage of the device. To be on the safe side you should swipe only once.

Once the connector is clean, you should now connect it to your device. For you to do this successfully and easily, you should first locate the connector keyway and then hold the connector with the keyway at the upper most side.