Fiber optic cables are widely used nowadays in all sort of communication networks including data centers, ISP’s and geographically separated long distance networks for high speed communication. An optical time-domain reflectometer or OTDR is the first hand tool used by network technicians for testing fiber optic networks. It injects signals inside the fiber optic and then measures the reflections and use them to gather information about the fiber optic cable.
You may be interested in my previous post was about fusion splicing machines for creating permanent connections in fiber optic cable.
At a Glance:
If you have not used any OTDR previously i suggest you read “OTDR: Basic Practical Handbook” by Simone Cavigli. This book has detailed illustrations about how to read the graphs of light signals over time and find the fault in fiber optic cable in no time.
[update October 2020] Due to very amazing reviews received about Qiirun OTDR Fiber Tester, we have raised it to second location in our list. It will be very good idea to buy a protection plan so that you can get a full refund in case the OTDR malfunctions or breaks apart.
[update August 2021] We have recently added SKYSHL OTDR in our list after detailed analysis of the product. This product has got all five star ratings at Amazon and it combines all fiber optic tests in one device.
1) SKYSHL OTDRBest Pick
Our review team highly liked this OTDR, because of highest accuracy in results of Visual fault locator with test distance of up to 10 meters. It has builtin optical power meter that measures the power of signal very precisely. The SKYSHL OTDR finds the dead zone where the fault has occurred within few seconds. The OTDR comes with a free simulation software to process, generate and print report. It comes with high quality multilingual data simulation software to process the data and generate reports. It comes with two USB ports so you can connect with PC and other devices simultaneously. It can store up to 8000 group curves at the same time after that you can copy data to PC using the USB port. The internal laser source helps to accurately find the fault point of fiber optic cable. It is light weight but rugged, so you can carry confidently with you in field.
2) 1310/1550nm OTDR by SpeedWolfStaff Pick
One of the best OTDR available in market is no doubtedly from SpeedWolf. I my self have used it and found its reading accurate and quite helpful in troubleshooting. It also has most of 5 star reviews at Amazon which depicts customer satisfaction. The OTDR by SpeedWolf gives very accurate graphical representations of behavior of light signals. These representations are real time and you can also print them due to feature of PC remote access. It can be a great resource for the network admin or the technician as it precisely finds out the signal loss ratio along a stretch of fiber optic cable. It has 5.6 inch touch screen LCD with builtin Visual Fault Locator (VFL) module. Some other technical specifications are as given below
- Display: 5.6″ TFT-LCD outdoor-enhanced touchscreen with LED backlight
- Interface:3×USB port
- Power: DC 10V,AC100V-240V/50~60Hz;
- Battery: 7.4V/6.6Ah lithium battery
- Data Storage:Internal memory: [email protected]>80,000 groups of curve FC/UPC and SC/UPC adapter
- Testing Wavelength:[email protected] Range:32dB+30dB Event/Attenuation dead-zone:0.8/4m;
- Testing Distance: Dead zone test, 1.3km~120km (0.8~74.5mi)
- VFL: 10mW，CW/2Hz
3) Qiirun OTDR Fiber Tester (4 in 1)Budget Pick
This is another rich featured Smart OTDR which gave very good results in tests we conducted and it measured the loss of signals very accurately up to 60 km area. Also you can measure light at several wavelengths using the free builtin power meter. The only drawback we felt is its very small screen but in such a low price that’s not a bad purchase. The casing of the OTDR is very handy and saves it from dust in field. Another drawback is that it doesn’t comes with any manual however our team felt that the user interface is very easy to use. The graphs of the signals losses are also very clearly visible. This OTDR comes with Visual Fault Locator, Optical Power Meter , Optical Light Source and SC FC ST Connectors .
4) OTDR by ORIENTEK
Although ORIENTEK’s OTDR is our runner but still it out classes many other brands The best thing we like about the OTDR by Orientek is its high battery life that performs very well in field up to 8 hours of continuous use.
- 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
- Its two USB & SD interfaces help to store and transfer traces easily also you can connect to your computer.
- It can test the length, fiber loss, connector loss and other physical characteristics of fiber.
- Automatic detection of input laser signals.
- 5.6-Inch outdoor-enhanced touchscreen
- 7.4V/6.6Ah Built-in Lithium battery
- . Event Dead zone as lower as 1.5meter.
- Combined 1310nm+1550nm Testing Wavelength and 32dB+30dB Dynamic Range,
- 1.3km-120km (0.8~74.5mi) Distance Range.
- Muti measurement mode(Auto Mode Test, Manual Mode Test, Averaging Test Mode, Real-time Test Mode…), support Touching LCD and pressing keys.
- Warning function could prevent OTDR module from being damaged by optical signal in fiber.
- Real time measuring function, convenient to monitor the splicing process.
- Integrated 10mw Visual Fault Locator.
- Support English/ Chinese input, adopts friendly input interface,
- Totally simulate the computer keyboard input.
- Integrated with 8GB internal memory, more than 80,000 groups curve storage
- PC remote access and control function is available , which support the printing work of the measurement report.
5) D YEDEMC Optic Fiber OTDR with Built-in VFL
This is another very feature rich reflectometer and create very accurate graphical representations of signal losses in fiber optic cables. The best thing we like about D YEDEMC is that its a well established brand and it gives 2 years warranty and 60-day money-back guarantee. Power meter and light source are also builtin to this OTDR.
This OTDR adopt 5.8 inch color touch screen, button/ touch dual operation; Internal integration of eight major functional modules, multi-functional integration to help customers effectively solve the field test and maintenance; The highest 45 dB dynamic range, can penetrate optical splitter, effective PON network testing; Intelligent power-saving management, 20 hours long standby, efficient protection of test dimension Continuous.
Applications: It is mainly used to measure the length, loss and connection quality of all kinds of optical fibers and cables, and can be widely used in engineering construction, line maintenance and testing, emergency repair, and the development and production of optical fibers and cables.
6) D YEDEMC Mini-Pro OTDR
Being small D YEDEMC OTDR is ideal to carry in field and has a very strong battery timing. However it can only detect faults within a distance of 60 km. It comes with interchangeable FC and SC connectors. It has builtin Event Map function that can locate the point from where the fiber has been damaged. The GUI of the interface is given below
The builtin fault locator injects red light into the fiber and then find out the break point by judgment of leakage. This interface is shown below
The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with ST, SMA or MIC connectors but we think that its not a big deal as they can be purchased separately.
7 Komshine QX70 series OTDR
Komshine OTDR comes with TFT color LCF and automatic detection of input laser signals.It also has iOLM function which is highly beneficial for testing optical fiber networks without setting too many parameters.It can also be connected to computer for data analysis. It comes with Comes with OPM (optical power meter) 6 Wavelength , while the builtin visual fault locator can measure up to 10 mega watt.0.5 meters is the event dead zone where the OTDR can detect any other event within the fiber optic cable. Within the range of 3 meters, this OTDR can precisely measure the minimum distance of continuous non reflection event loss. Our review team suggests it because of 1 Year warranty and whole life technology support from the vendor.
Which ever OTDR you decide to buy but we think that it brings a lot of ease in the life of network technician. It will cost you few bucks but will save your time due to most advanced builtin features like fault locator. I will be really happy if you share your experiences in comment section below.