About OTDRsToolsTake DataMeasure Loss
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OTDRs are valuable tools for testing fiber optics. They can verify splice loss, measure length and find faults. OTDRs are also commonly used to create a "picture" of fiber optic cable when it is newly installed. Later, comparisons can be made between the original trace and a second trace taken if problems arise. Analyzing the OTDR trace is made easier by having documentation from the original trace that was created when the cable was installed.
OTDRs work like "optical RADAR," sending out a test pulse and looking for return signals. This means OTDRs need access to only one of the fiber for most testing. Unlike meters and sources however, they do not measure loss like the actual transmission system, so they are not used for testing end-to-end loss.
There are a few different types of OTDRs that you may consider using to test the fiber optic cable plant.
Labratory OTDRs are typically used in test labs. They have an extrmely long range with many options and they are most commonly used for testing cables within manufacturing plants or for experimentation purposes in scientific laboratories. The cost for a labratory model OTDR may start at $40,000.
Mini OTDRs (right) are portable and designed for field testing. They have built in screens and provide data storage as traces are collected in the field. The price rises the number of options are added onto the machine (printers, storage capacity, etc.) Mini OTDRs sell for $12-25,000.
Before you continue, you should read Understanding OTDRs
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