Jim Hayes

Fiber Optics Columnist and Freelance Writer

HAYES is a VDV writer and trainer and the president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at www.JimHayes.com.

Articles by Jim Hayes

July 2011
Two different instruments that are often described as “works like radar” can test copper and fiber cabling. For copper, it is a time-domain reflectometer (TDR). For fiber, it is an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR). These instruments are alike in some ways but different in others and are equally tricky to use. How well do you know these gadgets? Answers and explanations are in red. 1. READ MORE
June 2011
We questioned your knowledge of cabling testers last month, so now let’s see how well you know how to troubleshoot problems with those testers. Correct answers and explanations are in red. 1. If a copper certification tester fails an unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable, what is the most likely problem? A. Cable is too long B. Too much attenuation C. Alien crosstalkD. READ MORE
June 2011
Last month, I mentioned the poor quality of some fiber optic patchcords I tested. This month, I examine the subject of cable quality, both fiber and copper. The old saying goes, “a chain is only as stong as its weakest link,” and that is especially true for cabling. A well-installed cable plant that passes all performance and/or certification tests can be undone by faulty patchcords. READ MORE
May 2011
  Editor's Note: This is the correct quiz that was supposed to be included in the May print issue. We apologize for the mixup. There are many tools available for testing voice, data and video cables. Some are designed for specialized testing required to verify installation or troubleshoot problems. How well do you know these test tools? Correct answers and explanations are in red. READ MORE
May 2011
The entire performance of a fiber optic (or copper) network depends on the performance of the patchcords used for interconnects and for connecting communications equipment, but it’s easy to take patchcords for granted. They are inexpensive, often not tested properly, and sometimes treated poorly. READ MORE
April 2011
Handling cables and patchcords is a major source of damage and performance degradation in systems. Let’s examine your understanding of how to care for them during installation, testing and moves/adds/changes. Correct answers and explanations are in red. 1. The biggest cause of problems with fiber optic cables is _________.A. DirtB. BreakageC. TensionD. Moisture READ MORE
April 2011
Now that we have covered what an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) is and where to use it, let’s look at how to actually make measurements. Begin by setting up the instrument properly, as that is the key element in making good OTDR measurements. READ MORE
March 2011
In fiber optics, there seems to be a lot of confusion about where and how one properly uses an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR). READ MORE
February 2011
Data centers are ideal markets for the electrical contractor because they have a lot of communications cabling and require vast numbers of power cables for the digital electronics and air conditioning. How familiar are you with data centers? The correct answers and explanations are in red. READ MORE