EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO, TSX: EXF) has unveiled the handheld Optical Xplorer, which the company touts as the first optical fiber multimeter (OFM). The Optical Xplorer combines power meter, optical loss measurement, and light source functions with the ability to locate faults in the manner of optical time domain reflectometers (OTDRs). It also offers an overall evaluation of the fiber connection based on a five-star rating system. Combined, the features enable significant acceleration of fiber installation and troubleshooting by enabling technicians, regardless of their skill level, to determine the quality of a link and diagnose potential problems without having to call in a second, more senior coworker, EXFO says.
The Optical Xplorer offers automated single-ended testing of the targeted link, presenting fiber length, loss, and optical return loss figures in less than 3 seconds. In addition to providing performance measurements, the unit uses the EXFO Advisor feature to provide a rating of 1 to 5 stars, based on algorithms EXFO preprograms at the factory. While technical team managers cannot change the rating parameters, they can instruct technicians on the minimal acceptable rating for a given application, EXFO says. Meanwhile, should the instrument detect a problem, it will automatically launch the Fault Xplorer function, which offers fault diagnostic capabilities that will uncover whether the fault lies with such common problem sources as fiber breaks, macrobends, bad splices, faulty connectors, etc. A Link Mapper feature, available on the PRO version, provides a more detailed look at connection points within the link to provide a more descriptive fault location reading. Both Basic and PRO version of the instrument are available in Installation (1310/1550 nm) or Maintenance (filtered 1650 nm) models.
The Optical Xplorer is intended for use on single-mode fiber links up to 40 km point-to-point. The company sees the Optical Xplorer as particularly useful in FTTx applications. EXFO says use of the Optical Xplorer enables front-line technicians to diagnose common faults without having to call in OTDR-equipped Tier 2 technicians, thus saving money. Other opex saving features include a field replaceable and patented Click-Out optical connector for the unit, lifetime calibration, and a rechargeable battery that supports 10 hours of use on a single charge.
“Too often, frontline technicians are equipped with test tools that are a compromise between cost, complexity and functionality,” said Stéphane Chabot, EXFO’s vice-president, Test and Measurement. “With our customers’ challenges in mind, we developed a revolutionary new fiber testing solution that’s easy to use—tailor-made for frontline field technicians, no matter their level of expertise. Optical Xplorer will help operators and contractors accelerate ROI, improve first-time-right metrics and increase customer satisfaction by equipping their technicians with a purpose-built tool and leaner methods of procedure.”
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