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Black Box Explains…Fiber Ethernet adapters vs. media converters.

When running fiber to the desktop, you have two choices for making the connection from the fiber to a PC: a fiber Ethernet adapter or a media converter like our... more/see it nowMicro Mini Media Converter.

Fiber Ethernet adapters:

  • Less expensive.
  • Create no desktop clutter, but the PC must be opened.
  • Powered from the PC—require no separate power provision.
  • Require an open PCI or PCI-E slot in the PC.
  • Can create driver issues that must be resolved.
  • May be required in high-security installations that require a 100% fiber link to the desktop.

  • Media converters:
  • More expensive.
  • No need to open the PC but can create a cluttered look.
  • Powered from an AC outlet or a PC’s USB port.
  • Don’t require an open slot in the PC.
  • Plug-and-play installation—totally transparent to data, so there are no driver problems; install in seconds.
  • The short copper link from media converter to PC may be a security vulnerability.
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    Black Box Explains...Choosing the right headset.

    Black Box offers several headsets for office use. Choosing the right one for your application depends on your needs.

    First, do you need a monaural, binaural, or stereo headset? Monaural headsets... more/see it nowhave only one earpiece, making it easy to have over-the-phone conversations as well as face-to-face interactions, such as in a busy call center setting (see models HS402 or 64338-31, for example). Binaural headsets have two earpieces, which are on the same audio channel (HS113A or 2009-820-105). They are great when a user needs to have long, over-the-phone conversations. Stereo headpieces also have two earpieces, but operate on distinct audio channels. These last types of earpieces are best for listening to music.

    Secondly, comfort is a big factor, especially if you have to wear a headset all day. Do you want an over-the-head model? Or would you prefer to wear your headset behind the ear? Headsets with two earpieces are almost always over-the-head models (see H16N). For long-wear applications and optimum sound quality, these are a good choice. Over-the-ear models are better for in-office interactions, or for when you are on and off the phone all day (26089-11 or M140). The sound quality is still excellent, but they enable you to also be aware of your environment.

    Thirdly, choose an amplifier that matches your telephone and the way you work. The Two-Prong Carbon Amplifier (HS101A) is designed for phones that have a two-prong headset port. Several headsets have amplifiers built-in, such as the Elite Call Center Headset (HS111A).

    Most Black Box headsets are noise-canceling models that reduce background sounds. They are ideal for busy office environments.

    We have wireless headset models, plus cords, plugs, and adapters that enable extra mobility during calls. In addition, we carry extra parts such as earhooks, ear pads, headbands, and microphone covers. collapse


    Black Box Explains... Fan-out kits.

    Furcating is the process of adding protective tubing to each fiber within a loose-tube cable. It can be a headache-inducing task if you don’t have the right tools. If you... more/see it nowbend the cable or buffer tubes past their recommended bend radius, or if you allow them to kink, you’ll end up with substandard cable connections and splices that can break down over time. And, if the cable is outdoors, it can become exposed to the elements. The end result: a damaged cable without optimal transmission performance.

    That’s why a fan-out kit is an absolute must during furcation. These kits enable you to branch out the fragile fiber strands from a buffer tube into protective tubing so you can add a connector. And, you can do it without using splicing hardware, trays, and pigtails.

    To separate the fibers, use the kit’s fan-out assembly, which is color-coded to match the fiber color scheme. The assembly protects the cable’s bend radius. It also eliminates excessive strain on the fibers by isolating them from tensile forces.

    Several types of fan-out kits are available for both indoor and outdoor cross-connects. The outdoor kits include components that compensate for wider temperature fluctuations. Some kits are used to terminate loose-tube cables with 6 or 12 fibers per buffer tube. Others enable you to furcate and terminate more than 200 loose-tube cable fibers, sealing the cable sheath and providing a moisture barrier at the point of termination. These kits require no additional hardware.

    Although it’s recommended that you terminate loose-tube cable at a patch panel, that might not always be possible. For this, there are “spider“ type fan-out kits, which affix a stronger tubing to the bare fiber. The tubing is typically multilayered, consisting of a FEP inner tube that holds the individual fiber, an aramid yarn strength member, and an outer protective PVC jacket. Once you strip back the cable jacket, you thread the fibers into the fan-out inserts. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Cabinet accessories.

    Once you’ve chosen your cabinet, whether it be a customized Elite or an energy-saving ClimateCab, it’s time to add accessories for even more function.

    Cabinets have two sets of rails,... more/see it nowfront and back, where you can mount shelves, trays, cable managers, and power strips.

    Shelves
    Shelves are an easy solution for storing things that aren’t rackmountable. The shelves attach to the rails; servers or other equipment sits on the shelves. Make sure the shelf has the weight capacity you need—some can hold hundreds of pounds. For easy access to components in your cabinet, choose a sliding shelf. There are also vented shelves that improve air circulation within the cabinet.

    Although most shelves fit 19" rails, there are shelves that go on the less-common 23" rails. There are also brackets that can adapt many devices intended for 19" mounting to 23" rails.

    Keyboard trays
    Keyboard trays are space-saving solutions that also keep your data center organized. They slide neatly into your cabinet or rack—and out of your way—when not in use. And they usually fit into only 1U of rack space.

    KVM trays
    Further reduce clutter in your server room by using KVM trays that are 1- or 2U high mounted in your cabinet. Special features of Black Box® KVM trays include rock-solid construction, LEDs on the front panel for easy location in a darkened data center, and integrated KVM switching.

    Front-panel controls enable you to use the buttons on a monitor bezel without pulling out the keyboard. Some trays have USB ports for access.

    Cable managers
    Cabinets usually have built-in troughs for cable routing, knockouts for cable pass-throughs, and tie-off points for cable management. You can also add horizontal or vertical cable managers to the cabinet’s rails to manage and route cables more efficiently. Cable managers control bend radius to protect cables from hidden crushes, kinks, and snags, and reduce maintenance time by keeping your cabinet neat and organized. Plus, properly managed cables help to improve airflow.

    SpaceGAIN
    If you’ve got no room to spare in your cabinet, think SpaceGAIN. You might not think of a patch panel as an “accessory,” but SpaceGAIN angled-port and angled patch panels are not your average panels. They free up valuable space and eliminate the need for horizontal cable managers. You save time and money by routing cables directly into ports. And SpaceGAIN high-density feed-through patch panels enable you to fit 48 ports into only 1U of rack space, with no punchdowns needed.

    To save even more space, use SpaceGAIN 90° Right-Angle CAT5e/CAT6 cables. Their up, down, left, or right angles save up to 4" of space in crowded cabinets.

    PDUs and UPSs
    Control the distribution of power in your cabinet with a power distribution unit (PDU). A PDU can be basic or “intelligent,” with surge protection, remote management, or power and environmental monitoring. Integrate a PDU directly into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for extra reliability.

    Fans and blowers
    Ventilation in your cabinets is critical for keeping vital equipment cool.

    An enclosure blower draws cool air from a raised floor at the bottom of the cabinet and delivers it right across the front of servers or other network components. It fits on standard 19" rails and uses only 2U of mounting space. This high level of ventilation lowers the temperature of cabinet hot spots by up to 15° F. Lowering temperatures protects your electronics against failure caused by overheating, which may enable you to install more equipment.

    Fan panels or fan trays direct maximum airflow with very little noise to heat-sensitive rackmounted equipment. Position them in your cabinet wherever you need them the most.

    Most network devices take in air through their front panels and expel it out the back. Filler panels in unused rack spaces help keep cool air in the front of the cabinet where it can be used by the equipment.

    Security
    Most cabinets come with a lock and key, but more advanced options are available to provide a higher level of security. Keyless options include combination locks and biometric locks that read fingerprints. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Serial ATA technology.

    Introduced in the mid 1980s, the Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) interconnect soon became the industry-standard parallel input/output bus interface for connecting internal storage devices. Ultra ATA, which builds on the... more/see it noworiginal parallel ATA interface, has become the most commonly used type of interconnect.

    But in recent years, sharing digital video and audio files over high-speed networks and other data-intensive uses has placed greater demands on hard drives, optical drives, and media-storage peripherals. So, not surprisingly, Ultra ATA now faces competition from a new technology—Serial ATA.

    As the name implies, this new interconnect uses a serial bus architecture instead of a parallel one. Serial ATA currently supports speeds up to 150 MBps. Further enhancements could to boost rates as high as 600 MBps.

    Compared with Ultra ATA, Serial ATA offers distinct advantages, including a point-to-point topology that enables you to dedicate 150 MBps to each connected device. Each channel can work independently and, unlike the “master-slave” shared bus of Ultra ATA, there’s no drive contention or interface bandwidth sharing.

    Compared with Ultra ATA’s parallel bus design, Serial ATA requires a single signal path for sending data bits and a second path for receiving acknowledgement data. Each path travels across a 2-wire differential pair, and the bus contains four signal lines per channel. Fewer interface signals means the interconnect cable requires less board space.

    Serial ATA also uses thinner cables (no more than 0.25" wide) that are available in longer lengths (up to 1 meter) as well as an improved connector design to reduce crosstalk. It also offers hot-swappable capabilities.

    Although Serial ATA can’t interface directly with earlier Ultra ATA devices, it complies fully with the ATA protocol, so software between the two interconnects is compatible. collapse


    Black Box Explains…OM3 and OM4.

    There are different categories of graded-index multimode fiber optic cable. The ISO/IEC 11801 Ed 2.1:2009 standard specifies categories OM1, OM2, and OM3. The TIA/EIA recognizes OM1, OM2, OM3, and OM4.... more/see it nowThe TIA/EIA ratified OM4 in August 2009 (TIA/EIA 492-AAAD). The IEEE ratified OM4 (802.ba) in June 2010.

    OM1 specifies 62.5-micron cable and OM2 specifies 50-micron cable. These are commonly used in premises applications supporting Ethernet rates of 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. They are also typically used with LED transmitters. OM1 and OM2 cable are not suitable though for today's higher-speed networks.

    OM3 and OM4 are both laser-optimized multimode fiber (LOMMF) and were developed to accommodate faster networks such as 10, 40, and 100 Gbps. Both are designed for use with 850-nm VCSELS (vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers) and have aqua sheaths.

    OM3 specifies an 850-nm laser-optimized 50-micron cable with a effective modal bandwidth (EMB) of 2000 MHz/km. It can support 10-Gbps link distances up to 300 meters. OM4 specifies a high-bandwidth 850-nm laser-optimized 50-micron cable an effective modal bandwidth of 4700 MHz/km. It can support 10-Gbps link distances of 550 meters. 100-Gbps distances are 100 meters and 150 meters, respectively. Both rival single-mode fiber in performance while being significantly less expensive to implement.

    OM1 and 2 are made with a different process than OM3 and 4. Non-laser-optimized fiber cable is made with a small defect in the core, called an index depression. LED light sources are commonly used with these cables.

    OM3 and 4 are manufactured without the center defect. As networks migrated to higher speeds, VCSELS became more commonly used rather than LEDs, which have a maximum modulation rate of 622 Mbps. Because of that, LEDs can’t be turned on and off fast enough to support higher-speed applications. VCSELS provided the speed, but unfortunately when used with older OM1 and 2 cables, required mode-conditioning launch cables. Thus manufacturers changed the production process to eliminate the center defect and enable OM3 and OM4 cables to be used directly with the VCSELS. OM3/OM4 Comparison
    850 nm High Performance EMB (MHz/km)

    OM3: 2000

    OM4: 4700


    850-nm Ethernet Distance
    1-GbE
    OM3: 1000 m

    OM4: 1000 m


    10-GbE
    OM3: 300 m

    OM4: 550 m


    40-GbE
    OM3: 100 m

    OM4: 150 m


    100-GbE
    OM3: 100 m

    OM4: 150 m

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    Black Box Explains...The difference between the SurgeArrest and power strips.

    It says UL® listed, so it must be okay, right? Don’t be fooled. The $5.99 surge suppressor you picked up for your home PC may be nothing more than a... more/see it nowmultiple outlet extension cord.

    UL® listed means that a product has been submitted to Underwriter’s Laboratories® for safety testing in certain categories. The strip protector you just bought is probably listed in the extension cord category. It won’t stop harmful surges from destroying equipment data.

    The UL® listing for surge suppressors is UL® 1449. APC® SurgeArrest® products received the best UL® 1449 rating. Some vendors rate surge protection on the basis of joule energy. But let-through should be compared.

    Basically, let-through is a measure of how much of a spike or surge each protector will let though to your electronic equipment. The lower the let-through rating, the better the suppression. And the SurgeArrest is guaranteed forever—even if it takes a catastrophic hit. It may be the last surge protector you buy. collapse


    Black Box Explains...DDS vs. T1.

    DDS (Digital Data Service) is an AT&T® service that transmits data digitally over dedicated leased lines. DDS lines use four wires, and support speeds up to 56 kbps; however, DDS... more/see it nowis actually a 64-kbps circuit with 8 kbps being used for signaling. You can also get 64-kbps (ClearChannel™) service. Since the transmission is digital, no modems are needed. Dedicated digital lines are ideal for point-to-point links in wide-area networks.

    T1 is a dedicated transmission line operating at 1.544 Mbps. It’s comprised of 24 DSOs, each supporting speeds of 64 kbps. The user sends data at N x 56 or N x 64 over T1 circuits. T1 operates over twisted-pair cable and is suitable for voice, data, and image transmissions on long-distance networks. collapse


    Black Box Explains...On-screen menus.

    When the ServSwitch™ brand of KVM switches was first introduced, there were only two ways to switch: from front-panel push buttons or by sending command sequences from the keyboard. While... more/see it nowthis was more convenient than having a separate keyboard, monitor, and mouse for each CPU, the operator still had to remember key combinations and which server was connected to which port—leading to many cryptic, scribbled notes attached to the switch and to the workstation.

    But with the advent of on-screen menus, an operator can use easy-to-read, pop-up menus to identify and select CPUs. It’s even possible to give each CPU a name that makes sense to you—names like “MIS Server,” “Accounting Server,” and so on.
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    Black Box Explains...IEEE 1284

    Introduced in 1994, the IEEE 1284 standard addresses data-transfer speeds and distance for parallel interfaces. Standard parallel interfaces support speeds of up to 150 kbps at distances of up to... more/see it now6 feet (1.8 m); IEEE 1284 parallel interfaces can send your data over 100 times faster at up to five times the distance!

    Although the Centronics® interface enabled only unidirectional computer-to-peripheral data flow, the IEEE 1284 interface enables bidirectional flow so peripherals can send data to the computer.

    The IEEE 1284 standard covers five separate parallel modes, from the original Centronics (with which it’s compatible) to the high-performance Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) mode. The computer negotiates with the attached device to determine which mode to use. collapse

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