Low cost IR sensors protect telecoms equipment

Louise Smyth

SST Sensing has launched a series of leak detection sensors to protect outdoor telecoms infrastructure.

The Optomax devices use an inexpensive infra-red (IR) sensing mechanism in a compact, high performance liquid level switch with built-in microcontroller functions.

The principle of the sensor is simple - if a liquid comes into contact with the sensor tip it will change the properties of the optical set up, with light that was previously internally reflected being dispersed.

Less light is thus incident on the device’s phototransistor, leading to change in the output voltage.

The devices are aimed at the large proportion of telecom infrastructure located outdoors that are regularly be exposed to adverse weather conditions.

The threat of rainwater ingress is something that telecom companies need to safeguard against, as the damage that ensues can have dire consequences - resulting in prolonged service interruptions and costly repair work.

Carrying out systematic inspections can often be difficult, due to the large human resources needed and the fact equipment may be located in remote places.

Through this telecom operators/carriers can be rapidly alerted of the presence of water in fibre optic cabinets for base stations as well as pico cells.

As enclosures are packed with cabling and electronics, there is only limited available space.

The Optomax devices can be offered in an M10 housing, with a length of just 22.7mm for this type of application setting.

Supporting a working temperature range of -25˚C to +80˚C, these robust units can deal with severe fluctuations in environmental conditions and maintain long term operation.

The IR-based approach has the capacity to deliver an elevated degree of sensitivity. This means that there is no delay in response and valuable apparatus is not thereby put at risk.

“The impact of leaks on networking equipment can be heavy, with the consequential downtime being harmful to the telecom company’s reputation and raising frustration for their subscribers,” said Paddy Shannon, Technical Director at SST Sensing. “The implementation of our Optomax devices in this scenario is proving increasingly popular. Through only minimal investment, the ongoing functional integrity of vital telecom hardware can be assured.”