How to choose fiber optic pigtails?
Table of Contents:
- What are fiber optic pigtails
- Applications of fiber pigtails
- Advantages of using factory-terminated pigtails
- Fiber pigtail versus fiber patch cords
- Fiber optic pigtail splicing
- Fiber pigtail specifications
- Fiber optic pigtail types
- Fiber pigtail color code
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What Are Fiber Optic Pigtails?
A fiber pigtail is a single, short, usually tight-buffered fiber optic cable with a factory-installed connector on one end, and un-terminated fiber on the other end.
Fiber optic pigtails are used to terminated fiber optic cables via fusion splicing or mechanical splicing as shown in the picture below.
The end of the pigtail is stripped and fusion spliced to a single fiber or a multi-fiber trunk. Splicing of pigtails to each fiber in the trunk "breaks out" the multi-fiber cable into its component fibers for connection to the end equipment.
High quality fiber pigtails combined with correct fusion splicing practices offer the best performance for fiber optic cable termination.
99% of single mode applications use pigtails, but pigtails are also used in many multimode applications.
Advantages of Using Factory-Terminated Pigtails
- Lower labor costs
- Factory guaranteed high quality
Fiber Pigtail versus Fiber Patch Cords
- Pigtail has only one end with connector installed, the other end is left open. While both ends of a fiber patch cord has connectors installed.
|Fiber Pigtail (unjacketed)||
Fiber Patch Cord (jacketed)
- Fiber patch cord could have two different connectors installed on each end, such as from SC to ST. While fiber pigtails have only one connector.
SC to ST Fiber Patch Cord
- Fiber optic patch cords are usually jacketed, while fiber pigtails are usually unjacketed. Since fiber pigtails are usually spliced and protected such as in a fiber splice tray.
- Fiber patch cords come in simplex (1 fiber), duplex (2 fibers), or even 12 fibers count (MPO connector patch cables)
Simplex LC-LC patch cord (1 fiber)
Duplex LC-LC patch cord (2 fibers)
MPO-MPO patch cord (12 fibers)
MPO fan out to 12 LC connector patch cable
- Fiber patch cords can be cut into two pieces to make two pigtails.
This is because testing a pigtail in the field is not easy. The unterminated end is difficult to check until the pigtail is actually spliced to the equipment.
Some installers avoid this problem by buying unjacketed fiber patch cord, testing its performance, then cutting it into halves as two pigtails.
Fiber Optic Pigtail Splicing
Fusion splicing is the process of fusing or welding two fibers together by an electric arc. Fusion splicing is the most widely used method of splicing as it provides for the lowest loss and least reflection, as well as providing the strongest and most reliable joint between two fibers.
This video shows the fusion splicing process.
Fiber Pigtail Specifications
Fiber pigtail specification shows fiber type, connector type, polishing type, ferrule material, insertion loss, return loss, tensile strength, operation temperature and other critical parameters.
Here is one example from two MU connector pigtails.
MU Single Mode Fiber Pigtail
MU 50/125µm OM2 Multimode Fiber Pigtail
|Patch cord Type||MU Fiber Optic pigtail|
|Insertion Loss (dB)||≤0.2||≤0.25|
|Return Loss (dB)||≥45||≥50||≥60||N/A|
|Repeatability (dB)||IL≤0.2 RL≤5||IL≤0.1|
|Vibration (dB)||IL≤0.2 dB RL≤5dB||IL≤0.2 dB|
|Exchangeability (dB)||IL≤0.2 dB RL≤5dB||IL≤0.2 dB|
|Operation Temperature (℃)||-40℃ ～+80℃|
|Ferrule Material||Zirconia Ceramic|
|Cable Diameter (mm)||Ø0.9, Ø2.0, Ø3.0|
Fiber Optic Pigtail Types
Fiber optic pigtails are available in various types based on several factors:
- Connector Types
- Fiber Types
- Application Environment
- Fiber Counts
LC Connector Pigtail
SC Connector Pigtail
ST Connector Pigtail
FC Connector Pigtail
MTRJ Connector Pigtail
MU Connector Pigtail
E2000 Connector Pigtail
Fiber optic pigtails can be made with any optical fiber types. Here we are listing the most common ones.
Multimode Fiber Types List
Fiber Size List
OM1 Multimode Fiber
OM2 Multimode Fiber
OM3 10G Multimode Fiber
OM4 10G Multimode Fiber
OS2 Single Mode Fiber
Regular Indoor Pigtail
Regular indoor pigtail has no special protection, just bare fiber.
Enclosed with stainless steel tube inside the outer jacket, armored fiber pigtails could provide extra protection to prevent damage caused by rodents, construction work, weight of other cables.
Designed with a stainless steel strengthened waterproof unit and armored outdoor PE jacket, this pigtail can be used in harsh environment like communication towers, military applications, etc. It is mainly deployed in outdoor connection of fiber transmitters.
Fiber optic pigtails are usually sold in packs of 6 or 12. Each individual pigtail is color coded according to industry standard TIA-EIA-598-A.
LC Connector Pigtail (6 pack, color coded)
LC Connector Pigtail (12 pack, color coded)
Pigtail Color Code
Fiber optic industry standard TIA-EIA-598-A defines the color coding to identify individual fibers in a single fiber cable tube.
Optical fiber pigtails follow the industry standard TIA-EIA_598-A color coding scheme to identify themselves.
Here are the colors and the position they represent.
For 13 fibers and higher the color code is repeated every 12 and the buffered fibers or sub-cables are striped once for every additional 12.
13 = Blue with one stripe
14 = Orange with one stripe
24 = Aqua with one stripe
25 = Blue with two stripes