Fiber optic cable installation is much more dependent on the attachment system than you might think. How cables connect to the entire system dictates the success of the network. The optical signals that pass through the link can only do so triumphantly with minimal interference, low attenuation, and the least possible return loss if the cables are attached correctly. That is why fiber optic pigtails play such an important role in optimal connectivity that is utilized in 99 percent of single-mode applications.
We want to introduce you to the fiber optic pigtail world and cover the essentials for a better understanding of how the system works. We will also get into the ins and outs of fiber optic pigtail splicing.
Fiber Optic Pigtail – What Is It?
A fiber optic pigtail is actually the end of a fiber optic cable with fiber optic connectors on both sides of the cable only, leaving no connectors on the other side so that the connector side can come from the device and the other side can be fused together with the fibers of the optical cable.
Fiber optic pigtails are needed to produce accurate assembly for precise alignment of fiber components. They are routinely combined with fiber management equipment, such as ODFs, splice closures, or cross cabinets.
A fiber optic pigtail is a short section of a single-fiber fiber optic cable, which is terminated at one end with a plug, such as a half-coupler. It is usually unbuffered. The other side of the pigtail is left without connectors so that the side can be properly fused with the fiber of the optical cable. The exposed fiber at one end of the pigtail is the so-called braid. The end of the braid is stripped, and the joint is fused to one fiber of the multi-fiber trunk. Splicing pigtails to each fiber in the trunk “breaks” the multi-fiber cable into its component fibers for connection to the end device.
According to the National Electric Code, a pigtail wire needs to be at least six inches long, while the pigtail itself varies in short sizes. Each fiber optic cable requires a suitable termination, and this termination is the fiber optic pigtail we are discussing. Standards of pigtail plug terminations vary in terms of polishing, insertion loss, and return loss.
Types of Connectors Found In Pigtails
In fiber optic pigtails, we distinguish female and male connectors. Female connectors are mounted individually or in pairs inside patch panels and then connected to endpoints or patch fibers. Male connectors are an alternative connection directly to the optical transceiver.
Division of Connectors In Fiber Optic Pigtails
Fiber optic pigtails can be classified into many categories. One of them is the type of fiber. Then pigtails are divided into single-mode and multi-mode. Multimode pigtails use 62.5/125 micron or 50/125-micron multimode fiber optic cables and terminate with multimode connectors at one end. Single-mode pigtails use 9/125 micron single-mode cable and single-mode connectors.
An important element that differentiates fiber optic pigtails is also the type of connector. The two basic categories are PC (Physical Contact) and APC (Angled Physical Contact). The division criterion, in this case, concerns the difference in the cut of the end of the ferrule, such as the tube, which is a cover and a guide for the optical fiber in the connector.
The PC connector has a glass-to-glass contact, such as plugs, including PC, SPC, and UPC. In addition, individual plugs in pigtails differ in polishing and use in different types of devices and different infrastructures.
The Types of Fiber Optic Pigtail Connectors:
We can distinguish the following basic types of fiber optic pigtail connectors:
- ST (Straight Tip) Fiber Optic Pigtail is a bayonet connector. It has a ceramic (zirconia), metal (stainless steel alloy), or polymer ferrules, which are used in telecommunications (mainly in multimode LAN networks), industry, medicine, and sensors. The ST pigtail connector is the most popular option for multimode fiber optic LAN applications. The long cap made of plastic, stainless steel alloy, or zirconia has a diameter of 2.5mm.
- FC (Ferrule Connector) Fiber Optic Pigtail is a threaded connector that is available in PC and APC versions. The FC connectors are resistant to vibrations and are most often used in cable television. FC uses the advantage of the metal body of FC optical connectors, including the screw-type structure and high precision ceramic ferrules. With such exceptional features, Ferrule Connector Fiber Pigtails and related products are commonly used in general applications.
- SC (Square Connector) Fiber Optic Pigtail is a push-pull connector. It is very resistant to the loss of physical contact of the ferrules when pulling the cable. We use them as standard in telecommunications and cable television. The Square Connector is a non-optical disconnect connector with 2.5mm pre-radiused zirconia (ceramic) or stainless steel alloy (metal) ferrules. SC fiber optic cable is economical to use in applications such as CATV, LAN, WAN, test and measurement. Its superior price is another remarkable feature.
- LC (Lucent Connector) Fiber Optic Pigtail is a miniature connector with a snap-on function. These fiber optic pigtails guarantee high packing density. Customers willingly utilize them in various measuring devices.
- MT-RJ (Mechanical Transfer Registered Jack) Fiber Optic Pigtail is a type of duplex connector, the only connector that has an acceptable level of insertion loss up to 0.5 dB. MT-RJ Fiber Optic Pigtail is often used in the construction of LAN networks.
- The F-3000 Fiber Optic Pigtail is a versatile connector that is compatible with the LC (Lucent Connector) connector.
- The E-2000 is another type of push-pull connector with the ferrule being protected by a movable flap. This type of connector is often used by customers in telecommunications, cable networks, control and signaling applications/networks.
What is Pigtail Splicing?
As per the National Electrical Code for residential and commercial wiring, pigtail splice is the most common and standard method of joining together two or more electrical wires. When properly introduced and carried out, the wires are secure without the risk of falling out.