Air Blown Fiber (ABF) Installation Toolkit

Abstract

Current optical fiber installation occurs generally over distances of several miles.  It employs large compressors, and generally uses an inert gas like nitrogen, and very long lengths of fiber.  The equipment is expensive and cumbersome, with a several person crew at both ends of the piping.  The fiber is installed using compressed gas after the conduit/piping is installed, and the compressed gas “pulls” the fiber along to the other end.  This installation approach is excellent for long cable runs but impractical for short runs of several hundred feet, especially if the installers have completed their efforts and have to return for a short run.

Description

Current optical fiber installation occurs generally over distances of several miles.  It employs large compressors, and generally uses an inert gas like nitrogen, and very long lengths of fiber.  The equipment is expensive and cumbersome, with a several person crew at both ends of the piping.  The fiber is installed using compressed gas after the conduit/piping is installed, and the compressed gas “pulls” the fiber along to the other end.  This installation approach is excellent for long cable runs but impractical for short runs of several hundred feet, especially if the installers have completed their efforts and have to return for a short run.

The invention is “Air Blown Fiber (ABF) Installation Toolkit” which is a simple tool to install optical fibers over a very short distance, generally 300- 500 feet or less. Applications include installing short optical fiber lengths within a building, say from the first floor to the second or third floor, or perhaps from one building to another that is across the street.  Existing fiber conduit is used.  It is estimated that the ABF could be used over a maximum distance of 1,000 feet.  The invention consists of a “T” coupling with one end connected to a fiber optic conduit, another to a low compressed air line (about 30-50 psi), and a brass tubing connection to insert the optical fiber.  Two people are required, with one stationed at the ABF optical fiber insertion point, and one at the other end to pull out the fiber when it reaches the other end.  Depending upon the size of the optical fiber or fiber bundle, different sized “T” connectors and attached can be used.  A compressed air source of about 35 psi (air) is required.

The device is reduced to practice, operational, and currently employed for installing short lengths of optical fibers.  Little training is needed to use the ABF.  In general, a 300 foot length of fiber can be installed in about 15 minutes or less.

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Marketing Information

Benefits

The invention is obvious once disclosed.  It is proposed that pricing be considered for a Home Depot or Lowes type sale where the pricing would be about $50-$99 for a box containing a “T”, several connectors, aluminum and plastic tubing, and epoxy, and instructions.  If desired, some optical fiber connectors could also be included.  The total cost of the parts is about $10 or less, and an experienced installer could find these as “spare parts”.  However, it would be convenient for installers who are not so handy, to just buy an inexpensive installation kit.     

Applications

The invention is applicable to a number of applications where short lengths of optical fiber need to be installed, such as from one floor to another in a building.  The invention is also applicable to cable installers where a conduit is already installed such as from a TV or DSL/High speed internet junction box to a house.  It can also be used in a home to add additional fiber if a conduit is in place.

It is predicted that as more optical fiber is used, every telephone and cable installers, as well as electricians would like one of these kits.  This could be a very large market, and it is easy to envision a hardware store, like Ace, Home Depo, or Lowes, selling these kits.   Parelli, Molex, and British Telecom are also companies that have an interest as a distributor.

Tech Transfer Details

  • 10/28/2011
  • Paul Betten, Ph.D. (630) 252-4962 fax-5230
  • 06/28/2011

Details

A patent has been applied for but abandoned.   Written instructions describing a list of materials, and installation, and that document will be copyrighted. 






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