Fiber and Cable: More Data Means New Tools

Cables that carry data at up to 86 percent the speed of light.
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Cables that carry data at up to 86 percent the speed of light.

Think a cable is just a cable? At Belden, for example, they're making cable now with the kind of performance and consistency they could barely imagine 10 or 15 years ago.

Part of the reason, says Steve Lampen, the company's multimedia technology manager, is that computers are doing the actual manufacturing, testing their own work 1,000 times a second, consistently making cables that carry data at up to 86 percent the speed of light.

They squeeze billions of nitrogen bubbles into the molten plastic that goes around cables, creating an insulating material that's two-thirds air.

And that's important for today's connectivity demands. Military and many other users demand more rugged tactical tools; and the ever-growing data demands—3G and, in due time, 3D—bring a need for newer cables that can go the distance with that payload.

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Gefen USB 400FO And, more and more users want convenience of field termination of their fiber-optics.


At the 2010 NAB Show, Belden showed some if its latest, including a dual-camera version of its workhorse Brilliance 1694A precision digital video cable. The new Brilliance 1694D, made of a pair of 1694A coaxes in a single construction, works for dual-link 1080p/50-60 applications and for SDI, HDSDI, 3D and 3D-HD video.

The concept—fusing the two cables together in one easy-to-handle unit—isn't all that complex, but it drew plenty of attention at NAB.

"We put it in a jacket so you don't have to," Lampen said. "Sometimes things are so simple you think they're stupid, when in fact, they're brilliant."

Belden also has extended the reach of the Brilliance line with the 1794A, carrying 1080p/50-60 314 feet (96 meters) by the SMPTE formula, up from about 250 feet for the 1694A. But at the NAB Show, Belden sent 1080p/60 from a Grass Valley Trinix router all the way to the end of its test cable at 544 feet.

Belden also has a new super-rugged version of the 1694A. The 1694WB is designed for outdoor events, and direct burial applications and underwater shooting.

The company also drew attention at NAB with a product to greatly simplify a time-consuming task. The new FiberExpress Brilliance Fiber Optic Connector enables fiber terminations in five seconds or less, in just three simple steps.

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If you need to terminate SMPTE 304M hybrid fiber runs but don't have the specially trained personnel on hand, the new ModBox modular fiber rack system enables easy connections without a major investment.

Clark Wire and Cable introduced the ModBox at NAB.

It's user-configurable, field-deployable, and includes Clark Focus Guide, Clark DataTac, T-FOCA, Triax and Neutrik OpticalCon connector formats.

Expansion units for the ModBox system are available in two types, self-contained break-out modules or flat-panel bulkhead mount connectors. Break-out type modules feature discrete electrical and fiber connectors (ST, SC or LC) on the back-panel to facilitate local onsite termination, eliminating the need for specialized tooling and labor.

Clark also debuted its CAT5-FLEX-SH flexible and shielded category 5e cable for tactical applications. It's designed for portable, staging and ENG applications that require TIA/EIA or ISO category 5e interconnects able to withstand abuse and repeated flexing, and it delivers added EMI and RF rejection performance.

It has a flexible, rugged and abrasion-resistant jacket and is compatible with industry-standard RJ45 tooling and connectors.


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Gefen's USB 400FO extends any high-speed USB 2.0 device up to 1,640 feet (500 meters) from the source over multimode fiber-optics cable. The receiver end is also a four USB 2.0 hub.

The USB 400FO sender unit is connected to the source using the supplied USB short cable. The USB peripheral(s) are connected to the receiver unit at the extended side. Two LC-terminated fiber optic cables are used to link the sender to the receiver.

This is a new version of the existing part number, EXT-USB-400FO, and can provide extension facilities for anything that requires a USB connection over a distance, such as a USB camera or USB hard drive.