Case Study: RF hole-in-one for NEP's Presidents Cup coverage

President's Cup trophy
Neal Romanek
Case Study
February 18th 2016 at 1:07PM : By Neal Romanek

RF specialist ETL Systems provided the Australian systems integrator with the ability to easily switch between cameras and transmitters

NEP Australia – wholly owned by NEP Group Inc. – is one of the largest and most experienced outside broadcast and studio facilities company in Australia, providing broadcast infrastructure for major sport and studio productions across the country and internationally. NEP facilitates more than 2,000 hours of live and recorded Australian broadcast television each year. The company is also internationally recognised for its technical expertise in host broadcasting major events and managing complex projects, including the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit and the 2015 Presidents Cup golf tournament.

For the 2015 Presidents Cup, NEP facilitated four days of PGA action from Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, on behalf of the host broadcaster, NBC Sports Group, and unilateral broadcast clients PGA TOUR, Golf Channel, Jupiter TV Japan, Chinese Golf Network and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) South Korea.

The tournament was televised to a potential worldwide audience of 1 billion viewers.

Challenge

In a turnkey broadcast solution for this massive international event, NEP needed to supply and deliver flyaway kits, radio frequency (RF) cameras, graphics and edit workflow. 27 NEP broadcast technical experts travelled to Incheon for the event, supported by more than 200 NBC crew. 38 tonnes of broadcast equipment was shipped from Sydney, Australia, and the NEP team laid more than 42km of course cabling. A total of 54 high definition cameras captured every shot.

NEP needed to switch multiple antennae to multiple receivers depending on the location of the nine wireless cameras, selecting the best antenna depending on the cameras location on the golf course.

Solution

NEP decided to contact ETL Systems, a RF equipment designer and manufacturer with over 25 years’ experience. ETL’s equipment has a reputation for being reliable and adaptable and its team of in house engineers can customise products to meet specific customer needs.

After NEP described the nature of the situation and explained what they wanted to achieve, ETL Systems suggested the Enigma series router as a reliable and cost-effective option. The Enigma router is a highly resilient matrix that provides hot-swap of all active components for resilience and reliability in service. It has dual redundant CPU and power supply modules with single input and output cards. Self-diagnostic tools allow for sustained and continuous monitoring along with local and remote control functions via a simple web browser interface. The matrix can be supplied part populated and expanded in increments of one for future requirements.

Outcome

The ETL Enigma series router formed the basis of all NEP’s complex wireless camera operations. It provided a much more cost effective option than multiple receivers and ASI switches – with costs scaling one per camera as opposed to three or more per additional camera – and even turned out to cost less than three additional receivers.

Enigma Series router

The use of switching in RF from the low-noise block downconverters (LNB) – rather than having to rely on the less effective packet switching schemes as employed on ASI stream management – allowed real Maximum Ratio Combining diversity. It also allowed easy monitoring of all antennae in the system by using one router output to feed a spectrum analyser.

As requirements grew, the router was able to be expanded further by adding additional cards. NEP first purchased the router as a 32 output x 12 input version and expanded to 20 inputs ahead of the Presidents Cup golf in Korea. This upgrade allowed NEP full coverage of the course without having to use cranes or cherry pickers to improve signal availability.

“From the day it arrived, the ETL Enigma series router has formed the basis of all our complex wireless camera operations," said Buddhi Fonseka, senior link technician at NEP Australia. "If the application calls for switching multiple antennae into multiple receivers, the ETL routers are a great choice.” 

Andrew Bond, ETL Systems sales director, said: “When NEP came to us, we knew right away what the best solution would be for their job. Our RF products are designed to be reliable, easy-to-use and adaptable, and so it is very satisfying that our Enigma router is recognised for this and that NEP is pleased.”