Specialized Cabling Systems for Military Applications

April 6, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

When you hear the word “military” you probably think of tanks, weapons and camouflage. Military communications and cabling systems may not be the first things that come to mind, but they certainly are an important part of military operations.

 

Cables being used in combat zones face more rigorous requirements than those used in everyday civilian applications. Military voice, video and data systems are designed for rapid deployment in harsh environments with exposure to extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust and moisture. Cables in these systems are also exposed to heavy EMI and RFI from motors, switching power supplies and nearby microprocessors, all of which can be detrimental to network performance.

 

These extreme conditions would render a commercial communications system useless, so combat-specialized infrastructure products have been designed to meet the needs of today’s combat-ready network systems.

 

Here are some examples of products and technologies designed to meet the needs of military communications networks.

 

Fiber Optics

 

By design fiber cables are immune to EMI and RFI sometimes encountered in the combat theatre. Additionally, fiber optic cables are now offered in special crush and impact-resistant designs and some military-styles are available with armored jacketed cable.

 

Connectors such as the Straight Tip (ST) are fitted with heavy tension springs to ensure proper mating when exposed to major shock and vibration. They are also offered with locking mechanisms for additional protection against optical disconnects.

 

Other fiber optic connectors for military applications feature Ingress Protection (IP) rated designs with screw lock mating and extra-strength strain reliefs of over 250 Newton’s to ensure a solid connection during field use.

 

Shielded Ethernet Cable

 

Shielded Cat5e or Cat6 copper cables are the way to go when fiber cabling isn’t an option. Military applications require shielded twisted pair (STP) copper cables and rugged military-style connectors for most applications. STP cabling reduces the damaging effects of EMI and RFI sometime encountered in the field.

 

Other Ethernet cabling options for military apps include IP68 rated cables that utilize ruggedized Anodized or Zinc Alloy finished connectors and double shielded, high-flex, UV and Oil resistant FR-TPE (Flame Retardant Thermoplastic Elastomer) jacket that is CMX outdoor rated to stand up to the toughest environments.

 

Jacket Compounds

 

Whether you’re using fiber or copper cables, the cable jacket compound should always be taken into consideration. The outer cable jacket of many copper and fiber cables is usually made of PVC material that is toxic when burned and can accelerate a fire spreading.

 

Low-smoke zero-halogen (LSZH) jackets are a much safer solution and a popular choice for military applications. As the name implies, LSZH cables produce minimal smoke and no halogen, both of which can be harmful to people and expensive communications equipment. LSZH cables will also self-extinguish which makes them ideal for enclosed spaces such as ships, aircraft, tanks and other vehicles.

 

Polyurethane jackets are sometimes used in military applications because of their ability to withstand damaging UV rays, oil and petroleum-based products, and mechanical abuse. Though cables with a Polyurethane jacket will also release toxic gases and will not self-extinguish like LSZH cables.

 

5 Fun Facts About Fiber Optic Cables

September 1, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Sure they are lightweight, thin and fast, but what else is there to know about fiber optic cables? Whether you know everything about fiber cable or are a fiber novice, we have got a treat for you.

   

Here are 5 fun facts about fiber cables: 

1

 Fiber optics has a long history.

Though fiber cabling debuted in the 1950s, the technology for fiber optics dates back long before the 20th century. As far back as the Roman Empire, glass has been drawn into fibers. In the 1790s the French Chappe brothers invented the first optical telegraph. In the 1840s two physicists demonstrated that light could be bent by jets of water in fountain displays. In 1854 a British physicist used a stream of water to prove that light could be bent. And in 1880 Alexander Graham Bell patented an optical telephone system called a photophone.

 

2.        Fiber cables are not fragile.

Some aspects of working with glass fiber do require more care, but fiber optic cables are designed to withstand some of the most rugged installations. In fact, the military often depends on fiber cable to keep communication open in the toughest conditions. For a quick comparison, fiber optic cable can be rated to withstand more than 200 pounds of pulling tension (depending on cable construction); while Category rated Ethernet cables are limited to approximately 25 pounds (per TIA/EIA-568A standards).

 

3.        Fiber cables support wireless networks too.

Telecommunications companies rely heavily on fiber optic cable to carry wireless phone and data signals from towers back to the central network. Fiber is their top choice because of its great bandwidth, low attenuation and extreme distance capabilities.

4.  
  Fiber cables are a green technology.

We can all do our part and fiber optic cables are no different.  The amount of energy it takes to send a flash of light across a fiber optic cable is significantly less than that required to send electrical signals (copper cables). Less energy means less carbon output, lower emissions and greener operations. 

 

5.        Fiber cabling is not a one-trick-pony.

        Fiber optic cables are not limited to voice, video and data transmission.                         They are now used in many areas including:

·       Hydrophones (Seismic & SONAR)

·       Imaging optics

·       Digital Signage

·       Spectroscopy - the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation

 

For more information on fiber optic cables and fiber technology, click here.

 

The Advantages of Fiber Optics in Harsh Environments

December 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM

A few weeks ago we posted about ruggedized cabling and how important it is to use such cables in applications with harsher environments. As a follow up, today we’ll talk about several benefits of using fiber optic technology in harsh environment communication systems.

 

First of all, fiber is immune to EMI and RFI "noise" which is commonly encountered on a manufacturing floor or processing plant. This could be a huge factor when planning for a network set up.

 

Secondly, fiber can support very long distances before a repeater is necessary, covering thousands of kilometers either inside and/or outside of an industrial facility.

 

Fiber also offers higher bandwidth compared to copper cabling and can be used in voice, video and data applications. This is commonly seen with IP surveillance cameras and NVR's located throughout a facility.

 

Lastly, the cost of fiber continues to decline as many manufacturers (both domestic and foreign) can now produce high quality fiber cabling, connectors, and transceivers.

Amazing features and its inexpensive? We’ll take it!

So if you are considering changing over to fiber cables or are already in need of connectors, adapters and other communication components for harsh environments, look no further.

 

You can choose from a wide variety of L-com fiber optic cable assemblies for harsh environments that are industrial and military grade. There are multiple cable options, including Single mode and Multimode as well as special crush and impact resistant jacketed fiber cables.

 

In addition to cable assemblies, take a look at the couplers and adapters meant for harsh environments. The Mil ST line of connectors and couplers meet or exceed 100% of the requirements of the military specification MIL-C-83522.

 

These highly durable connectors and couplers are built to withstand extreme temperature change, shock, vibration and corrosion. They are ideal for military, aircraft, spacecraft, shipboard and land-based applications. An added bonus with these connectors is that they are available in either locking (ANX, ANY) or non-locking (DNX, DNY) variations and use a convenient screw boot that eliminates the need for a cumbersome boot tool.

The Ruggedized COTS ST Connectors and Couplers, which are designed to be a more economical counterpart to the MIL-C-83522 line, feature a non-optical disconnect with nickel-plated brass or stainless steel configurations.

 

Finally, have a look at the FOC-XPLC2-MM and FOC-XPLC2-SM Industrial LC Plugs. These plugs provide a robust fiber connection in virtually any harsh environment. In addition to offering IP66/IP67 protection, the cable to plug strain relief has been dramatically improved over standard fiber jumpers. The plug kits include duplex Single mode or Multimode LC fiber connectors, industrial plug housing, a specialized fiber bend relief boot and heavy duty strain relief crimp components.

 

What fiber optic networking products have you used in your harsh application? Share with us below.

 

Advantages of Fiber Cabling You May Not Have Considered

September 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

 

First things first, we aren’t claiming that fiber is outright better than copper cabling.

 

We understand that as data and network design requirements vary, some applications may need copper cabling. In these cases, copper is likely the best choice and perfectly suited for that network or application.

 

What we ARE saying is that in other instances there may be advantages to using fiber in your application. 

 

When you consider the many elements that are involved in designing your network- such as cost, dependability, durability, resources, space, etc.- it will be helpful to know more about how using fiber can positively impact your network.

 

As with any technology related implementation, one might also want to consider the environmental impact that the network will have. Fiber has some environmental advantages that we will go over. 

 

So here they are, the facts about why fiber could be beneficial to your application!

1.       It generally requires less power

 

Overall, fiber uses less power to transmit at a longer distance.

 

Look at redundancy, for example. Copper backbones and Intermediate Distribution Frames (IDFs) could be converted to fiber optic direct from a centralized data center all the way to the desktop. When you eliminate the need for IDFs, you eliminate the need for all the extra space, cooling, cabling and power backup they require. This will generally mean less power consumption, especially at longer distances.

 

Copper also has limited run distances, so getting data from point A to point B can be an issue if the connection exceeds 100 meters, whereas fiber provides much further distance support.  

 

If you absolutely need copper, consider that higher quality copper cables result in less re-transmission of data and therefore less power consumption. Also, inexpensive and portable Wireless CPE units can be used remotely to provide a secondary communications link when fiber cannot be installed due to cost or physical barriers.

 

Note that fiber optic media converters can help transition your copper network to fiber optics if you choose a hybrid network design.

 

 

2.       Saves on Resources

 

Why? Fiber is lighter by nature of its composition. Therefore supporting structures can be less robust.

 

Also, since fiber runs all the way to the destination without a repeater for most networks, there is less need for intermediary network closets which saves on floor space and power consumption.  This also saves on HVAC needs too (which provides energy savings).

3.       Efficiency

 

Fiber cabling is as good as it gets for efficiency and security in network applications.  This is because it is free from threat of corrosion and is resistant to atmospheric conditions such as lightning or other electrical interference. Fiber is also resistant to environments where vibration and EMI/RFI interference might be present. And, fiber-optic cables don’t interfere with other devices.

 

Fiber proves its efficiency especially when you look at the use of materials over time for upgrading. Upgrades can be rather difficult with copper wire, though not with fiber because the real capacity of fiber is only partially utilized at today's network speeds. Cable and telephone providers often use fiber because it gives them greater reliability with the opportunity to offer new services, such as digital phone service and internet connections. 

 

With fiber cabling the signal also has a constrained loss rate, which means that very little signal is lost over rather long distances. Lastly, fiber is very hard to tap and steal data from since it transfers data with light.

 

 

4.       Saves on Waste

 

To put it into perspective, one fiber cable can do the work of TEN copper cables. That’s less material being used for manufacturing, thus less material ending up at the landfill.

 

As mentioned above, the reduced need for upgrading fiber networks also saves on waste as you are disposing of fewer cables over time.

  

All points considered, choosing the best connectivity media for your application is a balancing act. Armed with the facts you need about the implications of fiber technology, now you can consider what is most important to you and what best suits the requirements of your network.

 

The Ultimate List of Fiber Cable Connectors and Colors

June 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

You can practically see the rainbow when you look at our fiber cable offering on our website or in our catalog. 

 

In the world of fiber optics, there’s a standard color scheme to identify each and every type of fiber cable.  

 

And then there are all of those connectors to choose from… ST, SC, LC, MTRJ…

 

Though you may have heard of them, it can be challenging to identify the difference between each type of connector. 

 

We’re here to break it down. In the following tutorial, we’ll highlight some of the most common colors and connector types that you should be aware of. 

 

If you’re going to deploy a new network system using fiber or would like to better organize your existing fiber cables, you’ll want to stick around.

 


COLORS

 

So what do they all mean?

 

Traditionally, the following jacket colors have been used to define Single mode and Multimode fiber cables:

 

Yellow

9/125 Single mode

 

Orange

50/125 Multimode

 

Aqua

50/125 
(10 Gigabit Optimized)

 

Slate (Gray)

62.5/125 Multimode

 

 
 
 
 

Over time, the use of fiber has expanded in many applications and the need for different jacket colors has become a requirement for some customers. In today’s telecommunications networks you might also see different jacket colors used to denote different services or devices.

 

For example, if you have already allocated your traditional orange 50/125 cables to all of your high speed server connections, you can now add blue 50/125 fiber cables to denote WAN router connections.

 

By using colors to identify services/devices, troubleshooting is made easier, thereby decreasing network downtime. 

 

L-com has also developed a line of red, blue, green and yellow jacketed fiber cables which make port and service locations easier to find in dense equipment racks. 

 
 
 

       

 

 



CONNECTORS

 

In addition to the range of cable jacket colors, you can choose from an extensive variety of Fiber Optic connector types

 

The most common connector types you’ll see are: LC, SC, MPO and ST style connectors.

 

All of these types of connectors can be used with either Multimode of Single-mode fiber.

 

There are three types of polishes which can be applied to a fiber connector: PC or Physical contact, UPC or Ultra Physical contact and APC or Angled Physical contact.

 

Each polish type exhibits a different level of back reflection. Back reflection is a measure of the light reflected off the end of a fiber connector. This light is measured in decibels. For certain applications, the amount of back reflection on a fiber connector is critical.

 

L-com’s fiber connectors include commercial grade field installable fiber optic connectors as well as rugged IP67 fiber connectors for use in harsh environment applications.

 

In addition to our fiber connector video, check out one of the most popular technical resources we have- our Fiber Optic Connector Chart- that can help you find the fiber connector you’re looking for.

 


WAIT, THERE’S MORE…

 

In addition to standard commercial and industrial connectors, there are also Keyed LC Singlemode 9/125 assemblies which have a variety of COLORED CONNECTORS.

 

L-com's Keyed LC line of Fiber Optic Cable Assemblies offers mechanical network security for organizations desiring to segregate networks due to privacy or security concerns. Each Keyed LC connector is color coded for identification and features a mechanical key which prevents users from accidentally connecting the cable to the wrong jack. 

 

There are a total of 12 colors available including: Brown, Cobalt, Gray, Magenta, Olive, Orange, Pink, Red, Turquoise, Violet, White and Yellow. These cables are OFNR rated to meet strict building codes and utilize Single mode 9/125 fiber. Match the color of the Keyed connector to the corresponding color of Keyed coupler to create a secure network connection. 

 

Do your eyes hurt yet?

 

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