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Nomadic fiber-optics tester supplants multiple instruments

Posted: 02 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:anritsu? test gear? rf spectrum analyzer? power meter? access master mt9081?

As a test-and-measurement house, Anritsu Co. has a good track record with respect to its portable test gear. In the recent past, the company has rolled out a number of high performance RF spectrum analyzers, power meters, and the like. These lightweight and battery-powered fiber optical system testers (they weigh less than five pounds) continues the trend.

The new ACCESS Master MT9081 series?with their short dead zone specs?also go a bit beyond Anritsu's predecessor ACCESS Master mt9080 instruments. The MT9080s are also compact otdrs (optical time-domain reflectometers) that are designed for metro area FTTx access network testing. But, the latest MT9081 Series are enhanced versions packing nifty color LCDs. Electrically, they also confer much better dynamic range.

They work with a variety of optical connectors (available as options), too. Once connected, they will let you rapidly zero-in on almost the exact location of a waveguide fault.

Finally, the new MT9081s also have the Ethernet/IP performance test capability that's mentioned in the company's press statement (on the left). As the press notes say, it's an option. The Ethernet/IP test function can measure exact download speed up to full wire-rate, for any Ethernet system, including 10M/100M Base-TX, and 1000Base-T connections.

Whether or not you choose the Ethernet option, the menu-based MT9081 handheld lets you run connection tests (such as ping tests, or trace route tests) by selecting measurement items displayed at the function keys on the LCD.

Standard features include the OTDR, a light source, and an optical power meter. If you like, a visible light source can be ordered as an alternative. I like the fact that lots of options are available for these instruments. That means that you can buy only what you need, and you can upgrade as you see fit.

Store and recall

In use, measurement conditions can also be saved to a file. That helps you make repeatable measurements by recalling the stored settings. For example, you can make a download throughput measurement after a connection is established, and save a file as large as a Gbyte in size.

The press release also refers to measurements of Gigabit Ethernet. That's significant since download speeds are now approaching the limits of PC performance, making it difficult to get accuracy using a PC-based analyzer. But, the MT9081's support for 1000Base-T lets you evaluate the full-wire-rate download throughput.

Built-in test functions

Anritsu mentions the system's built-in test functions. Having these in the same box as the OTDR is significant. All connection check, ping, trace route, download throughput, and throughput functions display results as either OK or NG (no good). If a test returns NG, the built-in basic test functions can be used to pinpoint and troubleshoot the problem. If you're in the field, you can also save protocol dump files for later analysis when back in the lab.

The ACCESS Master MT9081 also provides a counter measurement. With it, you can visually monitor target frame receive rates, as well as packet and error counts. That can help you determine if network bandwidth is being used efficiently.

There are also built-in automatic MDI and MDI-X (Medium Dependent Interface and Medium Dependent Interface-crossed) functions. This straight-through or crossed cable auto-sensing can help eliminate confusion when you're running in-exchange tests. The ACCESS Master MT9081 also has the capability of identifying locations of adjacent fault points.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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