Fiber-optic follies

Many veteran copper-cabling installers have found themselves adapting to the role of novice fiber-optic-cabling installer as the demand for fiber-to-the-desk networks increases. One veteran installer reports that he has thoroughly enjoyed being a student again, after years of mentoring younger installers. He says he has enjoyed a few humorous observations of youngsters in action and shares two of those observations with us.

Jul 1st, 1998

Patrick McLaughlin

Many veteran copper-cabling installers have found themselves adapting to the role of novice fiber-optic-cabling installer as the demand for fiber-to-the-desk networks increases. One veteran installer reports that he has thoroughly enjoyed being a student again, after years of mentoring younger installers. He says he has enjoyed a few humorous observations of youngsters in action and shares two of those observations with us.

First is the story of the technician who either didn`t attend fiber-optic training or caught the narcoleptic bug that has been floating around the cabling industry and unfortunately slept through a good portion of the training. Whatever the case, this young technician redefined fiber polishing. Our veteran installer recalls, "This lad was having a tough time getting his optical connection to work. He had terminated the fiber to the connector, done all the polishing, and the circuit just wasn`t working."

Frustrated, the technician apparently decided that because polishing pucks and film weren`t working, maybe saliva and denim would. Our seasoned installer remembers, "As I walked around the corner ready to give him a hand, I saw him spit on the connector, wipe it on his jeans and say, `That ought to do it.` "

But although the spit-shine approach may work on a pair of wingtips, it`s not the best way to polish a fiber-optic connector. Eventually, the young technician cut the uncooperative connector off the fiber-optic cable and reterminated the fiber.

Another fiber-related mishap involves an installer who remembered almost everything he learned in fiber-optics training but left quite a bit to be desired in the common-sense department (which, unfortunately, is not part of most fiber-optics training classes).

This installer knew enough not to look into the end of the fiber to see if the optical signal successfully traveled from its laser source to its termination point. So he pointed a fiber cable at a wall of the telecommunications closet (TC), hoping to see the beam of light on the wall. How-ever, the TC was so well lit that the installer couldn`t tell if any light was coming from the cable.

Priding himself on his ingenuity, this installer decided he would shut off the TC`s light so it would be easier to see the lightwave against the wall. The idea doesn`t sound bad, and wouldn`t have been--if the installer had shut off only the light to the TC. Instead, he threw the main circuit and shut off the electricity throughout the entire building.

"I`m not sure if it was a mistake or a bad judgment call," says our veteran correspondent, who was working on the same job. "To this day, that installer claims he thought he was simply turning off the light in the closet. But the light switch is located on the wall and the main circuit is located in the breaker box."

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