When operating in demanding, harsh environments, a wide range of rugged fibre optic connectors are available to ensure reliable connectivity. These connectors can be broadly categorised into two groups: Physical Contact and Expanded Beam connectors.

  1. Physical Contact connectors feature a ferrule housed within a robust, ruggedised casing offering the lowest insertion loss. However, they may be susceptible to dirt contamination.
  2. Conversely, Expanded Beam connectors mitigate the risk of contamination but exhibit a slightly higher insertion loss.

To gain a deeper understanding of Expanded Beam connectors, please continue reading below.

Who needs ruggedised fibre connectors?

Some of the typical applications for rugged fibre include:

Military Communication
Military tactical fibre communications systems
Offshore structure and boat
Offshore / Sub-sea systems
Live audio broadcast and television outside broadcast (HDTV Fibre)
CCTV Cameras
Mobile CCTV Systems (Security, Military, Police surveillance)
Mining rig
Mining control / communication systems
Seismic Vibrator Vehicle
Seismic Exploration

What is Expanded Beam?

The key advantage of an Expanded Beam fibre connector design, is that the fibres are protected from both external factors, such as the elements, and also each other. Unlike the traditional butt joint method, which necessitates precise alignment of each fibre core to within a micron, expanded beam employs a precision lens. This lens optically expands the light emitted from each core by approximately 40 times its original size, and subsequently refocuses it back into the mating connector.

A lens ensures there is no physical contact between the fibres or the mating lenses. By maintaining a small gap between the lenses, the connector effectively minimises the impact of dust, debris, temperature variations, vibration and dirt on the lights path. Additionally, the lens design allows for easy cleaning without risking any damage to the fibre. For instance, if a connector is accidentally dropped into the mud, it can simply be washed or wiped clean and then reconnected. In summary it provides maximum reliability with the minimum of user intervention.

Our tactical fibre optic cable assemblies are built using high quality, UK designed and manufactured Expanded Beam Connectors. This enables us ensure better availability alongside the highest levels of optical performance and reliability.

Expanded Beam Connector
1, 2 and 4 Way Expanded Beam Fibre Optic Connector

What is an Expanded Beam Fibre Optic Cable System?

Typically, an Expanded Beam tactical fibre optic cable system consists of the following components:

1. Rugged, Reliable Expanded Beam Fibre Connectors

Expanded Beam fibre connectors are often used in military, aerospace and other harsh environment applications where dust, dirt and other environmental factors can interfere with optical connections. Renowned for their ruggedness and reliability, they are the ideal choice in situations where dependable optical performance is critical.

Equipped with a fully sealed shell and rubber covered grip ring, Expanded Beam connectors also feature a hermaphroditic coupling. This means they can mate directly with each other, eliminating the need for additional couplers. This allows for simple and rapid deployment but also quick and easy extension of the system whereby you can simply daisy chain several reels of cable assemblies together.

Due to their resistance to contamination and physical misalignment, Expanded Beam connectors require less maintenance compared to their traditional fibre optic connector counterparts. This, in turn improves system uptime and reduces maintenance costs.

Universal Networks has two ranges of Expanded Beam:

  1. F BEAM® is part of our highly successful ArmourLux family of deployable fibre products. The range is available in 2 or 4 fibre channel options supporting both singlemode and multimode fibre.
  2. Neutrik FIBERFOX is a multimode assembly available in 2 or 4 fibre channel options.

For enhanced flexibility, hybrid assemblies are also available, for example: multimode & singlemode, fibre & copper power.

ArmourLux F-BEAM® Expanded Beam Assembly for harsh environments. Offering 2CH/4CH hermaphroditic, HMA compatible, military certified connectors, with a durable, bend insensitive tactical fibre cable.
ArmourLux F-BEAM® Expanded Beam Fibre Assembly

2. Dependable Mil-Tac Fibre Optic Cable

Here at Universal Networks, we take pride in offering high quality Expanded Beam fibre cable assemblies that are specifically engineered to excel in demanding environments. Our assemblies utilise a robust and durable Mil-Tac cable, designed to withstand repeated deployments and retrievals in harsh environments. This cable is extremely strong, boasting a high crush resistance while remaining lightweight and flexible.

The cable incorporates bend-insensitive fibres tightly packed within aramid yarn, ensuring minimal signal loss even in the event of accidental kinking. This design offers reliable and uninterrupted optical performance, even in the harshest conditions.

Our Expanded Beam fibre cable assemblies have undergone rigorous testing and have proven their effectiveness in military tactical fibre optic cable field applications. However, their versatility extends beyond the defence industry. They are also well-suited for applications in petrochemical, mining, and broadcast industries, where reliable and high-performance connectivity within harsh environments is essential.

fibre optic cable

3. The Complete Assembly on a Deployable Reel

A variety of portable deployable reels are available to suit different lengths of fibre cable. These can be lightweight durable plastic or metal in construction, and have a hand carry handle or a frame and straps for back mounting.

Cable Reels

4. Bulkhead and Tail Assemblies

At each end of the cable assembly you will need to convert the expanded beam connector to a more traditional butt-joint connector such as SC, LC, ST, FC etc. For this we offer a bulkhead assembly with ruggedised tails or pigtails.

These can be mounted into a 19” panel (shown) or a bespoke arrangement, or be free ends (unmounted).

Tactical Fibre Bulkhead
Bulkhead with LC Tails in Panel
F BEAM® Jam Nut Bulkhead
F BEAM® Jam Nut Bulkhead
F BEAM® Square Flange Bulkhead
F BEAM® Square Flange Bulkhead

Universal Networks has developed several ranges of fibre optic assemblies suitable for harsh environments, including deployable reels with rugged tactical or armoured cable, to provide extra protection against loss of connectivity from accidental damage.