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7 Safety Tips For Using an OTDR

Optical time domain reflectometers are optical instruments that emit laser radiation. Though this level of radiation is generally not considered dangerous, you can still get injured with improper use. TTI OTDRs are designed and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s safety standards, and are supplied to the user in a safe condition. Failure to follow safety warnings and cautions can result in harm to the user or damage to the instrument, as well as void your warranty.

1. Never look directly into the optical output of fiber optic test equipment. The exposure to direct laser radiation can result in serious eye injury. Always avoid looking directly into the optical output port while the instrument is on, and ensure the protective dust cap is placed back onto the detector port when the instrument is not in use. You should also avoid looking directly at the unconnected end of optical fibers, and always keep the unconnected end pointed at a non-reflective surface if possible.

2. Before connecting a fiber to the OTDR, ensure that the fiber has no active optical sources or instruments connected to the other end. Skin or eye damage could result from high power sources such as erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), and instrument damage could occur, which would void your product warranty. TTI OTDRs will not operate properly with active fibers, so each instrument is equipped with an intelligent protection circuit to avoid damage from live fiber connections. Even with this protection, high power output from EDFAs or other equipment can damage detectors and should never be connected to the OTDR. If a live fiber is connected to the OTDR and a scan is attempted, a warning dialog will be displayed on the screen, and you should immediately remove the live fiber from the OTDR.

3. Clean all connectors in use thoroughly prior to connection to the appropriate port of the OTDR. Fiber optic connectors are easily contaminated or damaged. The connection to the OTDR is physical contact type of connection, and dirty or damaged connectors can result in poor launch conditions at minimum, even leading to expensive repairs. For TTI products, use UPC finish connectors only, and do not insert APC connectors into the optical ports, unless the product is designed for and marked accordingly for use with APC style connectors.

4. Always use batteries and charging cords supplied by the manufacturer to power your OTDR. Installing other battery and power cord types, or using the charger without the proper batteries installed greatly increases chance of fire or risk of shock to the user.

5. Avoid using a damaged AC adapter, and avoid inflicting damage to the instrument, charger and batteries. To further avoid fire and shock hazard, do not expose these items to rain or excessive moisture, do not use if there are obvious signs of damage to the cord or batteries, and don't puncture the batteries. Although the front panel is weather resistant, care must be taken to avoid liquids and contaminants around the fragile optical and electrical connectors, and the glass display.

6. Ensure you are using the correct charger for the local line voltage. Pairing the wrong charger with the local line voltage increases risk of fire and shock. If you are unsure if your charger is compatible with the local voltage in your area, refer to the manufacturer's unit specifications, found on the company website.

7. Never open the instrument for any reason. Touching the inside of the OTDR with your fingers or a metal object could lead to fire or electric shock, as well as damage to the instrument. If opened, the instrument may also lose calibration, requiring a factory reset.

Following these safety tips, in addition to correct instrument procedure located in your user's manual, will help you to use your OTDR effectively and avoid personal injury on the job.


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