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PHYSICS TODAY

How a Dirty Connection is Ruining your Trace Results

Are you struggling to get a clean trace with your OTDR? The solution might be simpler than you think. All too often, technicians blame their OTDR after it gives them repeatedly unusable traces, leading to time-wasting, costly manufacturer repair requests. The high-quality, sophisticated instruments available today can alert the user when an improper or unclean connection, rather than a faulty instrument, is causing a bad trace.


Follow this procedure with your DWDM OTDR to ensure you have a proper connection and a good, clean trace every time.


A dirty connection will ruin your trace


Always check both ends of the connection to ensure there is no debris prior to use. Take a look at the connection port on the instrument with your video probe. A dirty connection will contain debris in the form of visible black specs or scratches.

Dirty Connection with Visible Debris

If you see debris in your connector port, be sure to clean the port with your cleaning tool, and re-check the connector with the probe to ensure the debris has been cleared. If there is a significant amount of debris present, you may have to clean the port more than once.

Clean Connection: No Debris

Now that you have a clean port, check the other end of the connection by probing the cable. If debris is visible, clean the cable with the cleaning tool in the same manner as the port.

Once both ends of the connection are rid of debris, you can be sure you have a clean trace.


Don’t mix up your connectors


Another way to ensure an accurate trace is by making sure you connect the APC connector to the APC Port. If you locate the port on your instrument, it should say ‘SM APC’ on it. One common error is for people to insert the UPC end of the cable into the APC port on the instrument. This will always create an improper trace.

Taking the time before you use your instrument to clean the connector and port, and checking that you are using the correct APC connector will save you both time and money, and enable you to get a good reading every time.


Check out TTI's instructional videos to view other time-saving tips and tricks to save you time and money when using your fiber optic test equipment.