DIY fiber optic microscope

Fiber optic microscopes are used to inspect connectors to check the quality of the termination procedure and diagnose problems. A well made connector will have a clean, smooth, polished and scratch free finish. There is not be any signs ofcracks, chips or fiber not even with the ferrule front. The magnification for viewing connectors can be 30 to 400 power but it is best to use a medium magnification. Dealextreme sells cheap Illuminated Pocket 60X to 100X Zoom Microscope that can be used for this if you make yourself a simple adapter that hold the fiber optic connector nicely in place when you want to look at it. It is hard to keep it steady while holding it at hand. You need to work out some kind of universal adapter for 2.5mm ferrules (works with FC/SC/ST connectors) and maybe another for 1.25 mm ferrules (LC and MU connectors) to keep the fiber well in place when you look at it.

A lot of “bad” fibers can be traced back to dirty connectors. You can see the dirt with microscope. But usually it is always easiest just to clean the connector every time you suspect it could be dirty. So always clean the fiber before plugging it into an interface. Cisco document Inspection and Cleaning Procedures for Fiber-Optic Connections gives you a lot of information on fiber connector cleaning.

WARNING: Remember to check that no power is present in the cable before you look at it in a microscope ­ to protect your eyes! The microscope will concentrate any power in the fiber and focus it into your eye with potentially hazardous results. Some commercial fiver microscopes have laser safety filter in them but this DIY model does not have it.

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19 Comments

  1. Alia Markegard says:

    This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.

    Reply
  2. Terina Guttery says:

    I really like your site

    Reply
  3. Wilford Leopold says:

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    Reply
  4. Benedict Chenevey says:

    really nice blog, great work, decent to study.

    Reply
  5. tomi says:

    I don’t like this kind of software products at all. All kinds of spam comments keep coming in to this blog that needs to be deleted.
    Wed blogging space would be be better of without such products!

    Reply
  6. Rae Bregel says:

    Hi there I’m keen on your submit

    Reply
  7. Bret Ausmus says:

    Heya¡­my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to ask..is there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

    Reply
  8. Tim Surls says:

    I was going to purchase a leupold scope, but after researching and reading some reviews, I chose a celestron scope instead. I use it almost daily in the woods, and am very happy with it. I guess it’s all about what you will be using it for.

    Reply
  9. Graham says:

    I only think that fiber optic scope can only be used in medical field but your explain about the product is interesting and easy to follow.
    what if I didn’t use LC and Mu connectors?

    Reply
  10. kim@fiberoptic microscope says:

    Very interesting to read and it is in fiber optic. Is this out in the market and is it already used by in the industry as of now?

    Reply
  11. Luigi Fulk says:

    I simply want to say I am newbie to blogs and honestly enjoyed this page. Probably I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly come with incredible stories. Cheers for revealing your blog.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It seems that this product looks like the microscope that I used attached to iPhone/iPad:

    100X Zoom LED Digital Microscope Lens Case w/ Clip for iPhone / iPad / Cellphone / Tablet – Black
    http://dx.com/p/100x-zoom-led-digital-microscope-lens-case-w-clip-for-iphone-ipad-cellphone-tablet-black-241824?r=85273703

    I think that combination of microscope and tablet/smartphone would be a good tool to inspect fiber optics. I think more easy to use than just microscope on your eye especially if you normally use glasses (I think it would be better, I have not tried though..)

    Other products microscope add on to cellphone:

    Universal 60X Telephoto Lens Set for iPhone / iPad / Samsung / HTC + More Cellphone / Tablet PC
    http://dx.com/p/universal-60x-telephoto-lens-set-for-iphone-ipad-samsung-htc-more-cellphone-tablet-pc-237176?r=85273703

    60X Zoom LED Micro Lens Microscope w/ Protective Case for iPhone 5 – Silver
    http://dx.com/p/60x-zoom-led-micro-lens-microscope-w-protective-case-for-iphone-5-silver-168485

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fiber-optic technicians: How confident are you about your connector cleanliness?
    http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/2014/05/fiber-connector-cleanliness-lw.html

    In mid-2005, the eye care community breathed a sigh of relief when the first fiber inspection probes made their way to the market. These probes were able to display an image of the endface on an LCD rather than directly on a tech’s retina. However, this image had to be interpreted. What constituted a defect or contaminant had to be based on user knowledge and gut instinct; depending on the quality of the focus, image centering, and several other parameters, there was always a chance of misinterpretation.

    Regardless of the power of the on-board intelligence, poor focus and poor image capture will lead to errors. More often than not, an out- of-focus speck, scratch, or trace will simply not appear on the screen. The intelligent software will give the connector a thumbs up, when in reality it should not have. This is what is referred to as a “false positive.” As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

    Many papers and studies have shown the impact that connector cleanliness has on network issues and failures. Unfortunately, very few technicians, operators, and managers acknowledge this.

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fiber-optic video scope configured for Windows operating systems
    http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/2016/11/rms1-truvue-fiber-optic-video-scope.html

    The RMS-1 TruVue Fiber Optic Video Scope is now configured for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10, its inventor Edward J. Forrest recently announced. RMS-1 is direct digital photography and records in still and motion imagery.
    “The RMS-1 TruVue Fiber Optic Video Scope is the only device that can ‘see’ beyond the customary and limited field-of-view as noted in IEC-61300-3-35,” Forrest explained. “This is an important advance as debris present in many sectors of the fiber-optic connector, heretofore not possible to be seen, can contribute to reflectance and insertion loss. The instrument can be used for field service, production lines, and a very essential asset for training applications.”

    “In addition to the customary horizontal endface, RMS-1 can easily see the vertical ferrule as well as soil points of the fiber-optic connection,” Forrest said. “RMS-1 is thought to be the only device on the market able to capture direct digital images of fiber-optic connector surfaces beyond the limited areas commonly understood as Zone 1-2-3.” Forrest characterizes a connector in three-dimensional terms in Zones: 1-2-3-4-5.

    Reply
  15. die cheap says:

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The remarkable evolution of modern fiber-optic connector inspection probes

    http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/print/volume-25/issue-7/features/installation/the-remarkable-evolution-of-modern-fiber-optic-connector-inspection-probes.html?cmpid=enl_cim_cimdatacenternewsletter_2017-07-20&email_address=tomi.engdahl@netcontrol.com&eid=293591077&bid=1816974

    It’s mid-2017 and nearly everyone is aware that the information technology world encircling us is simultaneously getting both faster and denser. Bits of data are flying through optical network links at rates of 100 billion bits per second and higher, and the feature sizes in the network processor chips at the ends of these network links continue to shrink, as roughly and famously predicted by Gordon Moore. Multifiber connectors such as MPO, MT, and MXC are putting more and more less-than-human-hair diameter glass fibers into tighter spaces. With single MPO connectors increasingly using 16 fibers at 25 Gbits/sec per fiber, the asset value of these 400-Gbit/sec short-reach Ethernet links is exceedingly high, making data center infrastructure equipment failures due to connector contamination completely unacceptable to savvy management teams. Microscopic connector endface dirt and debris cause light reflections and attenuation – the enemies of optimal optical signal transmission.

    Thankfully there now exist excellent quality and easy-to-use tools for inspecting and cleaning fiber endfaces. In particular, the brief history and evolution of fiber microscopes shows a compelling level of innovation, in terms of optics, electronics and software.

    Reply
  17. tomi says:

    Please post your question related to this topic here. I will try to answer them…

    Reply

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