In fiber optic cable installation, how cables are attached to the system is vital to the success of network. If done properly, optical signals would pass through the link with low attenuation and little return loss. Fiber optic pigtail offers an optimal way to joint optical fiber, which is used in 99% of single-mode applications. This post contains some basic knowledge of fiber optic pigtail, including pigtail connector types, fiber pigtail classifications, and fiber pigtail splicing methods.
Fiber Pigtail Specification
Fiber optic pigtail is a fiber optic cable terminated with a factory-installed connector on one end, leaving the other end terminated. Hence the connector side can be linked to equipment and the other side melted with optical fiber cables. Fiber optic pigtail are utilized to terminate fiber optic cables via fusion or mechanical splicing. High-quality pigtail cables, coupled with correct fusion splicing practices offer the best performance possible for fiber optic cable terminations. Fiber optic pigtails are usually found in fiber optic management equipment like ODF, fiber terminal box and distribution box.
Fiber Pigtail vs Fiber Patch Cord: What Is the Difference?
Fiber optic pigtail has fiber connector installed at only one end, and the other end is left empty. While both ends of a fiber patch cord are terminated with fiber optic connectors. Patch cord fibers are usually jacketed, whereas fiber pigtail cables are usually unjacketed for they are usually spliced and protected in a fiber splice tray. Moreover, patch cord fiber can be cut into two pieces to make two pigtails. Some installers prefer to do this to avoid the problem of testing a pigtail cables in the field—just test the performance of a fiber patch cord, then cutting it into halves as two fiber pigtails.
Fiber Optic Pigtail Types
Fiber optic pigtails are available in various types: Grouped by pigtail connector type, there are LC fiber optic pigtails, SC fiber pigtails and ST fiber pigtails, etc. By fiber type, there are single-mode fiber optic pigtail and multimode fiber optic pigtail. And by fiber count, 6 fibers, 12 fibers optic pigtails can be found in the market.
By Fiber Type
Fiber optic pigtails can be divided into single-mode (colored yellow) and multimode (colored orange) fiber. Multimode fiber optic pigtails use 62.5/125 micron or 50/125 micron bulk multimode fiber cables and terminated them with multimode fiber optic connectors at one end. 10G multimode fiber cables (OM3 or OM4) are also available in fiber optic pigtails. The jacket color of 10G OM3 and OM4 fiber optic pigtail is usually aqua. Single-mode fiber pigtail cables use 9/125 micron single-mode fiber cable and terminated with single-mode fiber connectors at one end.
By Connector Type
According to different types of pigtail cable connector terminated at the end, there are LC fiber pigtail, SC fiber pigtail, ST fiber pigtail, FC fiber pigtail, MT-RJ fiber pigtail, E2000 fiber pigtail and so on. With different structures and appearance, each of them has their own advantages in different applications and systems. Let’s go through some widely used ones.
SC Fiber Optic Pigtail: SC pigtail cable connector is a non-optical disconnect connector with a 2.5mm pre-radiused zirconia or stainless alloy ferrule. SC fiber pigtail is economical for use in applications such as CATV, LAN, WAN, test and measurement.
FC Fiber Optic Pigtail: FC fiber pigtail takes the advantage of the metallic body of FC optical connectors, featuring the screw type structure and high precision ceramic ferrules. FC fiber optic pigtails and its related products are widely applied for the general applications.
ST Fiber Optic Pigtail: ST pigtail connector is the most popular connector for multimode fiber optic LAN applications. It has a long 2.5mm diameter ferrule made of ceramic (zirconia), stainless alloy or plastic. Hence SC fiber pigtails are commonly seen in telecommunications, industry, medical and sensor fields.
Like fiber optic patch cords, fiber optic pigtails can be divided into UPC and APC versions. Most commonly used types are SC/APC pigtail, FC/APC pigtail and MU/UPC pigtail.
By Application Environment
Some pigtail cables are specially installed to withstand the harsh or extreme environments, so here comes armored fiber pigtail and waterproof fiber pigtail.
Armored Pigtail: enclosed with stainless steel tube or other strong steel inside the outer jacket, armored fiber optic pigtails provide extra protection for the fiber inside and added reliability for the network, while reduce the unnecessary damage caused by rodents, construction work, weight of other cables.
Waterproof Pigtail: designed with a stainless steel strengthened waterproof unit and armored outdoor PE (Poly Ethylene) jacket, waterproof fiber pigtail is a great fit in harsh environments, like communication towers, CATV and military. Waterproof pigtail cable boosts good toughness, tensile and reliable performance, facilitating the use in outdoor connections.
By Fiber Count
Fiber optic pigtails could have 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24 and 48 strand fiber counts. Simplex fiber optic pigtail has one fiber and a connector on one end. Duplex fiber optic pigtail has two fibers and two connectors on one end. Each fiber is marked “A” or “B” or different colored connector boots are used to mark polarity. Similarly, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, 48 and more than 48 fibers fiber optic pigtails have their corresponding feature.
Fiber Optic Pigtail Splicing: Easy and Fast Fiber Termination
The quality of fiber pigtail is typically high because the connectorized end is attached in the factory, making it more accurately than a field-terminated cables. It can be attached to optical fibers by fusion or mechanical splicing. Given the access to a fusion splicer, you can splice the pigtail right onto the cable in a minute or less, which greatly speeds the splicing and saves significant time and cost spent on field termination. While for mechanical fiber optic pigtail splicing, it precisely holds a fiber optic pigtail and fiber patch cord together, the joint could be temporary or permanent, enabling light to pass from one fiber to the other. Always ordering fiber pigtail assembly a few feet more than you’ll need. The extra slack allows for splicing errors to be corrected. Besides, selecting fiber pigtail assembly with reliable quality would made the splicing process way easier.