Fibre optic connector inspection probes
What is a fibre optic inspection probe & which one do you need?
A fibre optic connector inspection probe is used to inspect connector end faces on patch cords or on connectors installed behind adapters. Often you can use these probes with PCs or test platforms that have a USB interface. Or you can use Bluetooth for wireless connection to mobiles, tablets or laptops. You can then analyse the images and store them, or generate reports.
Older style direct viewing inspection microscopes are considered legacy equipment and are not recommended for inspecting connectors. There are potential risks associated with them and they cannot be used to inspect connectors behind panels. Any assessment of the end face quality with older style direct viewing microscopes is purely subjective, so the criteria of inspection standards cannot be applied. Also there is no way to store an image for documentation purposes.
Learn when, why and how to inspect fibre optic connectors
If you need to learn when, why and how to inspect fibre optic connectors then you can do so on many of OTT’s courses including the Certified Optical Fibre Installer (COFI) and Certified Fibre Characterisation Engineer (CFCE) courses.
If you are working on the installation and maintenance of core telecom fibre optic networks then the COFI core course is for you. If you are working on the installation and maintenance of enterprise, datacomms, or local area (LAN) networks then you’ll find that the COFI Enterprise course is designed specifically for you.
What video inspection probe should you buy?
The first generation of video inspection probes usually used an analogue video camera that was hard wired to a hand-held display. These were OK for inspecting connectors for cleanliness but did not include any analysis of the image to give a pass/fail result. Some were able to store the inspection images.
The second generation of video inspection probes use a digital video camera that is connected to a host platform via a USB lead. The host platform may be another piece of test equipment with a suitable display such as an OTDR, or may be a PC. These systems are then capable of full analysis of the end face image to produce a pass/fail reading against Standards and also to store the results and produce reports.
The third generation of fibre optic connector inspection probes have gone wireless, usually with Bluetooth connectivity to a mobile device such as a smart phone, or to a host test platform. Some of these probes also include autofocus for fast, reliable and repeatable imaging and analysis.
Below you’ll find useful links to the market leading manufacturers, to help you research and decide which inspection probe to buy.
You can find out about the connector inspection software, that these probes use, on the OTT field guide page here.
AFL offers solutions ranging from standalone inspection scopes to probe options for direct connection to OTDRs or a PC.
The FOCIS Flex Fiber Optic Connector Inspection System is a handheld Bluetooth® inspection probe with integrated screen. It has a rechargeable battery, integrated display, pass/fail analysis and internal storage so it can be used independently without needing an external OTDR or device with a display.
The FOCIS WiFi2 probe is ergonomic and lightweight with a single multipurpose button, a single multi-colour functional status LED, and a battery charging port. The status LED allows the operator to assess the cleanliness of the fibre endface quickly as well as checking for a “fiber not found” error notification. It can be used with a large range of inspection adapter tips for both patch cord connectors and bulkheads.
FOCIS WiFi PRO
The FOCIS WiFi PRO system consists of a DFS1 Digital FiberScope, a Portable Application Link WiFi unit.system and the AFL FOCIS application software. This set up links connector inspection and analysis to the users’ mobile phone or tablet. It automatically analyses connectors according to defined standards and you can save, recall and share results via email, text or cloud applications.
FIP-400B Wireless fiber inspection probe
The FIP-400B Wireless fiber inspection probe is a fully automated fiber inspection solution, with automatic focus and image centering. It utilises EXFO’s ConnectorMax2 software and features a pass/fail LED, so users can perform connector certification without having to look back at the smartphone or linked device. The probe can be extended to work with multifibre connectors by adding the automated multi fibre connector inspection tip.
FIP-400B USB fiber inspection probe
The FIP-400B is a handheld fibre inspection probe with USB connection to link to various EXFO test units or a laptop etc.
The MAX-FIP is a rugged tablet-inspired design featuring a large screen for precise viewing of even the smallest defects on fibre endfaces.
Viavi offer a range of solutions for inspecting fibre optic connectors on patch cords or in bulkheads. A selection are featured below.
The FiberChek Sidewinder is a handheld inspection and analysis tool for multifibre connectors such as MPO, using VIAVI’s FiberChekPro software. It has acceptance criteria to industry standards such as IEC-61300-3-35 built in and results can be stored on the device or exported using WiFi or USB connection to a PC and mobile devices.
FiberChek Probe Microscope
The FiberChek probe is a handheld inspection and analysis tool for single fibre connectors. It can inspect fibre end faces on patch cords and in bulkheads and has built-in capabilities for image viewing, auto-focus, Pass/Fail analysis, storing/recalling results and export using WiFi or USB connection to a PC and mobile devices. You can view a series of videos on how to use it here.
P5000i Fiber Microscope
The P5000i Digital Analysis Microscope is a portable handheld microscope used to inspect and certify both the bulkhead (female) and patch cord (male) sides of fibre connectors as well as other optical devices, such as transceivers. It is compatible with multiple Viavi test platforms, laptops or mobile devices.
Dimension Technology, founded in 2007, is an innovative Chinese supplier of Fiber visual inspection instruments, with resellers around the world.
Dimension AutoGet Wifi is a foldable, all in one handheld endface microscope. It offers a fully automatic, one step process with integrated HD touchscreen, IEC or user-defined analysis criteria, multiple data transfer methods, such as SD card, Wifi or USB and one-click inspection for MPO and other connectors, with more than 50 kinds of adapters.