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  • N7731A/N7734A Fiber Optic Switches
Dec 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 5, 2011 — Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced new optical switches that enable more cost-effective optical transceiver manufacturing tests and higher efficiency in optical component and cable verification.

Optical switches are used in fiber optic test systems to automatically route optical signals. They optimize manufacturers’ investments in automated test equipment by improving repeatability and throughput and by supporting parallel measurements on multiport devices.

The N7731A dual 1 × 4 and the N7734A 1 × 13 optical switches are available for single-or multimode fiber optic connections. They make accurate measurements and render automation easier with fast switching time and flexible control with LAN, USB 2.0 and GPIB (general-purpose interface bus) connections.

Features and specifications include repeatability of ±0.01 dB, with ±0.004 dB typical; switching time of <20 ms; lifetime of >1 billion cycles; 816 × VXI plug-and-play driver support; and an N77xx GUI (viewer graphical user interface).

Manufacturers can use signal source and analysis instrumentation more effectively in a parallel-test configuration. They can test multiple cables or components together during temperature cycling. Inherently parallel components, such as those used for optical interconnections for 40- or 100-G Ethernet using 10-Gb/s components, call for identical testing in multiple paths. These applications are well supported by the 1 × 13 switch configuration, and the 13th path often can be used as a permanent reference path.

Automated testing with switches also improves tests by avoiding repeated reconnections during measurements. The switching repeatability of the N77 devices assures that the signal level is constant from cycle to cycle.

Multimode fiber applications are challenging because signals are distributed over a variety of mode groups that can have different loss and delay in a link. For dependable multimode transceiver testing, the instrumentation should not change this modal distribution. The multimode switches are designed with very short collimated paths between fibers, so signals propagate in practically the same distribution as through uninterrupted multimode fiber.

Designed for high test throughput, low cost per channel and a narrow footprint, the N77 series optical test instruments are built on a common platform and provide a common PC-based user interface. A complete set of control interfaces simplifies integration with manufacturing control systems.

All N77 series optical test instruments also offer “just enough test” with low hardware overhead; a built-in international power supply; and an SCPI (standard commands for programmable instruments) command set, compatible with existing instrument categories for easy drop-in replacement.

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