Network analyzing products feature ruggedness, portability

Jan. 1, 2005
Three manufacturers believe the cabling market is ready for innovative network analyzing products and OTDRs.

Three manufacturers believe the cabling market is ready for innovative network analyzing products and OTDRs.

Companies that are now introducing network analyzing products include:

• Fiber Instrument Sales (Oriskany, NY;, which now has a mini-OTDR that is a fully functional certification OTDR. The device has certification software that enables optical-fiber installers to interface the OTDR with a PC. The company has also announced the FIS Portable Video Microscope, which has a four-inch screen and 200x magnification.

• Agilent Technologies (Palo Alto, CA;, which has announced the N3909A, a portable polarization mode dispersion differential group delay analyzer. The company has also introduced a handheld network-performance tester that lets network technicians test Gigabit Ethernet by running RFC 2544 performance benchmarking to verify throughput at full line rate.

• Tempo (Mesa, AZ;, which recently launched its AT8L LAN Toner 2, designed for the maintenance of voice and data wiring systems in commercial applications.

FIS' portable microscope is battery powered, and can last three hours on one charge. It is a video microscope with a four-inch LCD monitor. The microscope is used for inspection of the endface of any optical fiber connectors. It is designed to be easily usable in the field. The device costs $695.

The microscope is designed to produce large endface images of most standard optical fiber connectors. It was built and tested for harsh environments associated with field use. The unit is housed in a rugged, waterproof case. The microscope is compact and lightweight, and is powered by eight NiMH rechargeable AA batteries, or an AC adapter that is included with the kit. It features LED illumination, which eliminates bulb replacement.

The unit includes a charging adapter with a low battery indicator. A universal 2.5 mm scope adapter is included.

"It was a concept we came up with through other projects for a few different types of microscopes," says Jim Inman, research and development representative for FIS. "We just combined a few things together to come up with this.

"There is not really anything exactly like it out there, and so far we've been selling them as fast as we can build them," says Inman.


Contractors can use the FIS mini-OTDR to print out a document with the required certification verification as a reference.

"Primarily, they [end users] want to see that there is no excessive loss in the fiber," says Don Biron, test equipment product manager for FIS. "You use this to put a pulse suppressor in the front or back of the fiber, and it shows you have good throughput on both connectors, and no excessive loss."

Fiber Instrument Sales now has a mini-OTDR that is fully-functional certification OTDR.
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The software, used in conjunction with the mini-OTDR, is designed to provide an affordable certification solution. It is designed to let installers use the mini-OTDR to view and store traces in the field, and then download them to their office PC for further analysis and for printing out certification documents.

The software is compatible with Windows 98, 2000 and XP, and includes certification forms and a test pattern documentation form. The certification software costs $99, and is free to existing owners of the FIS mini-OTDR.

The compact and portable OTDR, which costs $3,900, weighs under three pounds. The unit stores up to 255 traces, has a long battery life and is available in both MAN and LAN versions. The OTDR features a short dead zone and two-point and splice loss modes. The unit is available as a "ruggardized" field model or as a desktop model, in either singlemode or multimode versions.

Portable analyzer

The Agilent N3909A is a field-portable polarization mode dispersion (PMD) /differential group delay analyzer. The product is designed to bring laboratory quality accuracy and reliability to field-testing applications.

The N3909A measures PMD, giving the user information about an optical fiber's useable bandwidth. This allows decisions on bandwidth potential to be based on more reliable information, helping service providers make the best use of their installed fiber plant.

The analyzer uses a new implementation of the Jones Matrix Eigenalysis method, and is designed for field use to reduce troubleshooting time and network downtime. The analyzer delivers wavelength-resolved differential group delay data. It provides critical data and spectral attenuation at the same time, enabling network troubleshooting to be possible whenever PMD might be involved. Faults can be quickly and accurately identified and isolated, reducing the time required to fix network problems.

Tempo recently launched its AT8L LAN Toner 2, designed for the maintenance of voice and data wiring systems in commercial application.
Click here to enlarge image

Agilent has also introduced a handheld network-performance tester that is designed to let network technicians test Gigabit Ethernet by running RFC 2544 performance benchmarking to verify throughput at full line rate. The Agilent NB2620A FrameScope Pro uses an auto-test feature that measures the performance of network resources such as DHCP and DNS. It also uses file, e-mail and Web servers, enabling troubleshooting of elusive performance bottlenecks.

The tool can test 10/100/1 Gbit Ethernet copper connections and fiber connections via a standard SFP interface. It is designed to give installation technicians the flexibility to solve problems without the assistance of protocol analyzers and the engineers required to operate them.

"This is really targeted to two separate markets," says Chuck Ganimian, business development manager for Agilent. "The first is the contractors that do installations for metro Ethernet. The secondary market is the enterprise market, those installations and troubleshooting networks at typically large corporations, and anyone installing or troubleshooting Ethernet LANs."

Ganimian says the company built the NB2620A FrameScope Pro after getting feedback from the WireScope 350.

"We basically took the WireScope 350 and all the feedback we got from that product, and integrated it into this with a bunch of updates," says Ganimian. "It has newer computing power, a new operating system, and all of the components have been upgraded with the latest technology."

LAN Toner

Tempo, meanwhile, has launched the AT8L LAN Toner 2. The device is designed to identify and troubleshoot problems in building communications wiring.

Agilent Technologies' N3909A is a field-portable polarization mode dispersion/differential group delay analyzer.
Click here to enlarge image

"We developed this product to meet the needs of installers who wanted one tool to track cabling and determine problems in modern communications wiring," says Jim Carefoot, product manager for Tempo. "They need a simple, flexible device that can help them handle the most common tasks they face."

The AT8L LAN Toner 2 can be used to identify and troubleshoot common problems found in communications wiring systems. It can also trace hard-to-find Category 5 and Category 6 cabling. Its active digital functions are compatible with 10/100Base-T LAN systems.

Integrating several tools, the toner is designed to provide digital interaction with LAN hubs and switches, splittable tone connections for tracking high performance LAN cable, a telephone service indicator, powered Ethernet check, selectable tracing tone sounds, and a series-connectable breakout adapter for RJ-11 or RJ-45-equipped links.

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