Rowing teams from Oxford and Cambridge Universities again took to the Thames recently for the annual boat race, with hire company Presteigne providing specialist facilities. The company delivered RF and camera facilities, and implemented a new wireless mesh technology to route a large number of differing sources over one RF network.
Outside broadcast company CTV needed to get fixed camera positions along the length of the river course, plus a number of mobile cameras, back to the production vehicles near the start at Putney.
“We had to provide eight RF cameras in three fixed locations, plus two cameras on each of the two racing boats, four cameras on three vessels following the race including the umpire’s boat, and cameras on two helicopters,” explained Martin Sexton, manager of RF and special camera services at Presteigne.
“To manage all of this we implemented a wireless mesh which effectively covered the whole of the race section of the river,” he said. “This was driven from five hubs along the bank, connected into permanent BT fibre circuits, with the signals auto-switching as they move from hub to hub.”
Using RF technology from companies including Cobham and the new Net Caddie IP system from Bluebell Opticom, Presteigne was able to use IP for every source. The IP mesh network also reduced the number of technical operators required, as camera parameters could be controlled remotely.
Presteigne developed and proved the mesh network in-house, and this was the first time the technique had been used on such a large event, and over such a big area.